Michael Green on the Sustainable Development Goals4 min read

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In 2015, the United Nations drew up a set of 17 goals to achieve by 2030 around important factors like health, education, and environmental protection. These Sustainable Development Goals are now adopted by 193 countries and represent a level of international collaboration unparalleled in human history.

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All 193 member states of the United Nation have adopted 17 global goals to be achieved by 2030, known as the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs. The The SDGs commit them to individual and joint action for the good of all on the planet. They offer a framework and blueprint for achieving sustainable global prosperity and represent international cooperation on a scale unequal in human history.

The 17 SDGs include:

  1. No Poverty
  2. No Hunger
  3. Good Health and Well-Being
  4. Quality Education
  5. Gender Equality
  6. Clean Water and Sanitation
  7. Affordable and Clean Energy
  8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  10. Reduced Inequalities
  11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  12. Responsible Consumption and Production
  13. Climate Action
  14. Life Below Water
  15. Life On Land
  16. Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
  17. Partnerships for the Goals

Each of the 17 goals is underpinned by several targets that add specificity. For example, SDG6 on water features targets for water quality, access to drinking, water use efficiency, and more. The SDGs are a successor to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which ran from 2000 to 2015.

Each country adopting the SDGs are responsible for establishing national policy that offers a concrete plan for achieving SDGs in their country. Organizations and institutions are also encouraged to frame their own strategic objectives around the SDGs, creating a global task force of cooperation and joint interest.

Progress toward achieving the SDGs is continuously updated at: https://sdg-tracker.org/.

As with any large scale criticism, they are not without their detractors and weaknesses. For example, the SDGs do not include explicit goals related to LGBTQ rights or racism. Further, some think of the SDGs are conflicting (e.g., can we have economic growth and sustainable consumption?) and not focused enough on the most urgent of goals. And at present, we simply are not doing enough to achieve the SDGs.

However, simply garnering widespread agreement on the SDGs is a monumental achievement in international cooperation and coordination. The Goals demonstrate humanity’s growing ability not only to largely agree upon its intended trajectory but to coordinate resources and action on a vast level. And they are an opportunity to more fully acknowledge that the fate and well-being of all countries and all humans are inextricably linked with one another.

What can you do to advance the SDGs in your own life?

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Legacy: The Sustainable Development Goals in Action

by Masami Sato and Paul Dunn

This brilliantly conceived and crafted book shows how ‘ordinary’ people are adopting, embracing and applying the Sustainable Development Goals and directly changing our world. More importantly, this book shows you how you can tread that pathway with them.

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Published by Peter Schulte

Peter Schulte is the founder and editor of Kindling. Peter is also Senior Digital Engagement Associate for the Pacific Institute and the UN Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate, connecting businesses to sustainable water practices. Peter holds a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from University of California, Berkeley, and an M.B.A. in Sustainable Systems from Pinchot University. He lives in Bellingham, WA with his partner Sara, child Owen, and cat Winnie.

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