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What are the SDGs?
The Basics

What are the SDGs?

The Basics is a series exploring the concepts and individuals essential to purposeful business.

2 minute read

7th Jul 2021

What are the Sustainable Development Goals?

The Sustainable Development Goals (or SDGs) were adopted by the United Nations in 2015. They act as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the environment and achieve peace and prosperity globally. 

The SDGs replace the Millenium Development Goals of 2000, which began a global effort to eradicate poverty. Fifteen years later, the SDGs are a commitment to finish what was started and go a step further. Sustainability now underpins every goal; climate action is recognised as a critical step in eradicating poverty and reducing disease. 

The seventeen goals, set to be achieved by 2030, are connected and interdependent; the UN recognises that in order to pursue one goal, the other sixteen must also be acted on. 

Sustainable development goals
The seventeen Sustainable Development Goals

“Sustainability now underpins every goal; climate action is recognised as a critical step in eradicating poverty and reducing disease.”

Why were they introduced?

In 2015, roughly 736 million people lived below the poverty line. In 2017, there were an estimated 821 million people who were chronically undernourished. As the climate crisis continues to worsen, poverty, hunger and disease rates will only rise. 

The SDGs are an effort to mobilise a global response to the urgent environmental, political and economic difficulties – like poverty and climate change – that our world faces. In order to tackle the enormity and complexity of these problems, a coordinated, committed and wide-reaching effort is required.

What impact do they have?

The SDGs are designed to have specific, measurable goals with a target date to be achieved by 2030. An online SDG Tracker was set up in 2018 in order to make progress and information about the goals more accessible, transparent and easily understood. 

Pooling the resources of global technology, science, creativity, diplomacy and finances is essential in order to action the SDGs, and so they also have an impact on a wide range of industries that contribute towards them. 

Resources for further learning:

“Humanitarian response, sustainable development, and sustaining peace are three sides of the same triangle.”

Antonio Guterres, Current Secretary General of the United Nations