The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development”, is an intergovernmental set of goals and targets adopted by the United Nations on the 25th of September 2015. They follow and expand on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were agreed by governments in 2000 and expired at the end of 2015.


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The SDGs consist of 17 goals and 169 targets and indicators that UN member states adopted. They will be used to frame their agendas and political policies over the next 15 years; these goals are to be achieved by 2030. The SDGs were chosen to tackle the most important economic, social and environmental issues of our time.

This new agenda is universal: its implementation requires action by all countries, both developed and developing. And all actors should be involved: governments, civil society, the private sector, academia, citizens, etc.

These goals require collaborative partnerships across and between countries to balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic growth, environmental sustainability and social inclusion.


How will they be implemented?

It has been decided that there will be financial contributions from global institutions like the United Nations, the World Bank and the European Union, as well as from governments and the private sector. This is important as it does and will ensure that actions are taken in an integrated way, thus helping the goals become reality.

Moreover, in order to ensure successful achievement, a strong follow-up accompanies the SDGs and a review mechanism monitors progress and ensures accountability towards citizens. Indicators were adopted to measure the progress made in achieving the goals. Each indicator is assessed for its feasibility, suitability and relevance.


Who will be involved?

In order to achieve these ambitious goals, civil societies and NGOs need to be involved. They are needed not only to take action, but also to hold countries accountable for their decisions and to make sure policies are actually implemented.

In addition, the SDGs recognise the key role that businesses can and must play in achieving them. Companies that take action, in any way they want, can report on what they do, as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility strategy.

Furthermore, as part of this initiative, the United Nations published “The lazy person’s guide to saving the world”: a list of tips and tricks to make our everyday life more sustainable. This report shows that everybody can participate in sustainable development and that it doesn’t necessarily require big commitments and investments. It also shows that the aggregation of our small actions can have a big impact on a large scale.

In adopting the 2030 Agenda, there has been general consensus among the stakeholders. However, some countries such as the United Kingdom and Japan argued that there are too many goals. Some NGOs are also of the opinion that there should be fewer goals, however most agree that it is better to have more goals and include issues such as women’s empowerment, good governance and peace and security, rather than having fewer goals and leaving important issues out.


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