United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: What are the 17 SDGs

What are the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, comprise 17 objectives aimed at fostering more sustainable development, spanning across a variety of issues, from the environmental to the social. The United Nations (UN) describes the mission of the SDGs as “a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all by 2030”. Each goal is broken down into specific targets, so they can be more easily translated into tangible action. The goals are interrelated, which means that action towards a particular goal will have an impact on the outcomes of other goals. They are meant to be achieved by the year 2030, a considerable ambition.


Why are the UN Sustainable Development Goals Important?

The 17 Goals are set in a way where everyone can contribute. Whether big or small, their contributions will add up to solving the world's most pressing issues such as poverty and climate change. The Goals serve as a reminder for everyone to play their part to ensure these goals can be achieved by 2030, to strive to make the world a better place. 

While the SDGs are a framework for governments, institutions and NGOs to redesign their policy decisions, they are also a clarion call for all citizens to contribute to achieving these goals.


History of the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Although the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were only officially adopted by UN member states in 2015, its history goes a little further back in time.

  • In 1972, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment discussed the family’s rights to a healthy and productive environment in Stockholm, Sweden.

  • More than a decade later in 1983, the World Commission on Environment and Development was set up by the UN. It created the most well known definition of sustainability to date, which is “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

  • Nine years after the commission’s establishment, in 1992, Brazil hosted the inaugural United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), colloquially known as the Earth Summit, in Rio de Janeiro.

  • Two decades later in 2012, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) was held. Prior to the UNCSD, Colombia had proposed the concept of the SDGs in July 2011.

  • By January 2013, the Open Working Group had been established to list out specific targets for the SDGs.

  • Finally, in 2015, all 193 members of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Out of 92 paragraphs, the 59th paragraph describes the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Every year, the SDGs are reviewed and progress is tracked during the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. Most of the goals are set to be met by 2030, but some are due by the end of 2020.


The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals

In total, there are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Their building blocks are 169 targets, 1,034 events, 1,221 publications and 5,285 actions. Let’s take a closer look at each of the SDGs.


UN Sustainable Development Goal 1: No Poverty

End poverty in all its forms everywhere


Basic Statistics

  • Number of targets: 7

  • Number of events: 54

  • Number of publications: 48

  • Number of actions: 804


Poverty is defined by Cambridge Dictionary as “the condition of being extremely poor”. Since 2015, the World Bank has classified those living on less than $1.90 a day as suffering from poverty, adding a definite quantitative metric to the definition (World Bank, 2020).


Poverty is a problem that goes to the root of the most fundamental human rights. Below the poverty line, people struggle to meet daily necessities for survival, such as clean water, sanitary living conditions, and education. Without these essential resources, quality of life is severely impacted. Poverty is most concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa and, around the world, it is more prevalent in rural areas than in urban centers.


There are a number of causes of poverty, but many experts believe that inequality - which includes discrimination on the basis of gender and ethnicity, political conflict, and domestic violence - is a primary factor (World Vision, 2020), as it often results in limited access to resources. Furthermore, the lack of adequate infrastructure, such as a reliable food supply chain and healthcare system, could undermine an individual’s ability to work and make a living to support them and their dependents. Climate change has also exacerbated poverty, by increasing the frequency and severity of natural disasters. This affects the natural environment on which a lot of rural communities depend for crops to consume and sell.


Global Progress

Poverty has fallen from 36% to 10% between 1990 and 2015 (World Bank, 2020). In absolute numbers, 1.2 billion people have been lifted out of poverty, which can be seen as a remarkable feat. Life expectancy has risen, while infant mortality, hunger and child labor have been steadily declining (Matthews, 2018). The fall in poverty is attributable to strong economic growth in countries like China and India.


Although poverty is in decline, some experts have criticized the $1.90 threshold set by the World Bank as being too low, and for its lack of relativity (Lowrey, 2020). Depending on where a person lives, $1.90 is worth different things. Even in so-called poor countries, that amount of money can probably only be used to buy bare essentials, with no more left behind for education, healthcare or investment. Thus, this has led some experts to conclude that, though absolute poverty is falling, the shadow of poverty still haunts many. The UN estimates that over 70% of the world population is facing growing inequality (United Nations, 2020). The COVID-19 pandemic has also threatened to reverse decades of progress. All things considered, we still have a long way to go in striving for a poverty-free world.


UN Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger

End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture


Basic Statistics

  • Number of targets: 8

  • Number of events: 42

  • Number of publications: 42

  • Number of actions: 737


One of the most problematic effects of poverty is hunger. Due to a lack of money, food has simply become out of reach for almost 800 million people. Hunger leads to malnutrition, which is a leading cause of preventable diseases, like anemia, and also death. Today, world hunger is on an upward trajectory. Around 690 million people, which make up 8.9% of the global population, suffer from chronic hunger. If nothing is done to resolve world hunger, we could have more than 840 million hungry people by 2030 (United Nations, 2020).


Since hunger results from poverty, tackling hunger means addressing the causes of poverty. Eliminating inequities and creating more reliable food supply chains are key to feeding everyone equally and providing their bodies with the necessary nutrients. Addressing climate change should also be a priority in the action plan against hunger, as droughts, floods and extreme temperatures could impact crop yields. On top of poverty, hunger is exacerbated by the problem of food waste. Although there is sufficient food to feed every person in the world, almost 1 in 3 of all the food produced in a year goes to waste, either because it is unwanted or has rotted. Technological innovation in food storage and distribution, donating leftover edible food, and buying only what you need are all effective ways to reduce unnecessary food waste.


Global Progress

Currently, the world is not on track to eliminate hunger by 2030. In fact, since 2015, hunger has been on the rise, after years of progress. The World Food Programme says that today 135 million people experience intense hunger caused by societal conflicts, economic woes, and climate change. There is still much to be done to feed every single individual in the world. Systemic changes at the agricultural and production levels are needed to squash hunger once and for all.


UN Sustainable Development Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages


Basic Statistics

  • Number of targets: 13

  • Number of events: 54

  • Number of publications: 42

  • Number of actions: 675


Health is a prerequisite of sustainable development. Over the years, life expectancy around the world has increased, thanks to reduced infant and maternal deaths, and better access to medical services. However, there are still serious diseases that need to be addressed, such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, and pneumonia. Risk for these illnesses can be reduced through proper hygiene and sanitation practices, as well as access to quality medical care. Other ailments arise from accidents, such as those on the road and in the workplace. Furthermore, the healthcare system is plagued with inequities. Insurance coverage has yet to become universal, and poverty has prevented people from getting the care that they need.


The COVID-19 pandemic that has defined 2020 showed the world how a deadly virus can wreak substantial havoc on the global economy and social life. Many individuals lost their source of income, small businesses struggled to make ends meet, and most importantly, a lot of casualties resulted. The outbreak is proof that health is a necessary foundation for sustainable development, and that cross-border collaboration is needed to tackle global health issues.


Global Progress

Prior to 2020, health outcomes had been improving on a few fronts. Life expectancy had lengthened and neonatal mortality had fallen. However, malnutrition had been on the rise. Since 1975, the global obesity rate has grown nearly three times (World Health Organization, 2020). Obesity is a significant predictor of all-cause mortality, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many other poor health outcomes. Growing obesity is ironic, considering world hunger is also on the rise. Aside from physical ailments, mental health issues have increased by 13% between 2007 and 2017, according to the WHO. This has corresponded with an increase in substance abuse and suicide. However, over the years, the subject of mental health has gained more attention and received less social stigma, increasing the avenues of treatment for individuals suffering from mental health disorders. More collective effort is still needed to make healthcare accessible to everyone.


UN Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all


Basic Statistics

  • Number of targets: 10

  • Number of events: 42

  • Number of publications: 30

  • Number of actions: 1151


Throughout history, education has helped lift people out of poverty and facilitate socioeconomic mobility. Research by UNESCO shows that with each extra year of schooling completed, an individual can earn up to 10% more than they otherwise would. Today, nearly 80% of the population are literate, that is they can read and write. However, inequalities persist, particularly in third-world countries where the disparity between males and females is larger.


Education inequality is caused by a variety of reasons. Poverty again could contribute to the lack of quality education. The wealthier a family is, the more it can finance a child’s education, which not only includes basic schooling, but also tuition and enrichment courses. Family dynamics also play a role in education quality. Children in single-parent households tend to perform less well than their peers who are living with two parents. Interestingly, it has also been found that students who started behind tend to stay behind, rather than catching up. Therefore, we need to close these educational gaps as early as possible.


The COVID-19 pandemic has unearthed inequalities in education throughout the world. As schools close, students are forced to learn from home with the help of technology. However, not everyone has equal access to the same gadgets and internet connection. Wealthier academic institutions can purchase the full versions of software, while others have had to rely on the subpar free versions and some did not even have the means to do so.


Global Progress

Improvements in education are most visible at the primary school level. From 1970 to 2018, the proportion of 25-29 year old adults who had completed primary school had grown 33 percentage points, from 50% to 83%. Similarly, the percentage of adults who have completed secondary schooling is expected to grow to around 75%. However, progress has been the slowest in tertiary education. By 2030, only about 50% of 25-29 year old adults will have completed tertiary education, which is defined as a minimum of 15 years of education. Inequities in education need to be addressed to create a fairer world that works for everyone, not just a select few.


UN Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality

Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls


Basic Statistics

  • Number of targets: 9

  • Number of events: 24

  • Number of publications: 30

  • Number of actions: 885


Gender equality is defined by Oxford Languages as “the state in which access to rights or opportunities is unaffected by gender”. The fight for gender equality is often related to girls and women’s rights, as they have historically faced discrimination as a group both in society and in the workplace. However, gender equality could also concern the LGBTQ+ community, which has also been frequently subject to discriminatory treatment.


You might be wondering why everyone should care about achieving gender equality. For starters, fair and equal treatment is a fundamental right to all human beings, regardless of their sexual orientation. Promoting gender equality helps to avert violence, particularly against girls and women. On top of that, gender equality helps pave the way to economic prosperity. By allowing everyone unfettered access to employment opportunities, we can maximize the utilization of talent. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, if women could participate in the economy the way men could, up to USD 28 trillion could be added to the yearly global GDP in 2025, which is 26% larger than with gender inequality. For context, USD 28 trillion is equivalent to the present American and Chinese economies combined. Finally, gender equality creates healthier and happier communities for all.


Global Progress

Despite major strides of progress towards gender equality, with more girls being enrolled in school and more women occupying leadership positions, we still have a lot of work to do before everyone can be truly equal. About 20% of girls and women from 15 to 49 years of age report being physically or sexually abused by an intimate partner over a 12-month period, according to the UN. Furthermore, the gender pay gap still persists to this day, with women making $0.81 for every dollar a man makes in 2020, according to PayScale. Gender equality will only be possible when all members of society actively commit to achieving it.


UN Sustainable Development Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all


Basic Statistics

  • Number of targets: 8

  • Number of events: 48

  • Number of publications: 42

  • Number of actions: 641


Water is truly a necessity for survival. Without food, humans can survive for around three weeks, but they can only last for three to four days without water. Furthermore, water is essential for sanitation purposes, such as for washing hands and clothes. Therefore, every single human being deserves to have reliable access to clean and safe water.


Oftentimes, the lack of access to clean water is the result of poor-quality or absent water management infrastructure. This is often the case in rural areas with poor governance or insufficient funds. Therefore, poverty usually goes hand in hand with water scarcity, which has been exacerbated by climate change.


Global Progress

According to UNICEF and WHO, 1 in 3 or 2.2 billion people around the world do not have access to potable water. Furthermore, 2 in 5 people have no basic hand-washing facility, and 673 million people are still defecating outdoors, rather than on a toilet. Considering our progress away from poverty, the lack of something as basic as water is egregious and demands immediate action. Without clean water, we cannot have healthy and productive communities.


UN Sustainable Development Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all


Basic Statistics

  • Number of targets: 5

  • Number of events: 24

  • Number of publications: 36

  • Number of actions: 677


Developing and developed countries both face energy issues, but of different kinds. It is estimated that 789 million people, mostly in developing nations, struggle with gaining access to electricity in 2018 (United Nations, 2018). The absence of electricity is a barrier to development, such as to entrepreneurial ventures and healthcare services. Furthermore, many people still use hazardous cooking fuels. Tackling poverty and inequality means ensuring safe electricity access to everyone on the planet.


At the same time, the current ways in which we are producing most of our electricity, that is by burning fossil fuels, is unsustainable in the long run. As climate change demands decisive action to stay below 1.5-2℃ of warming and avoid catastrophic outcomes, more sustainable energy sources are required, particularly in heavy-consuming developed nations. We need to untangle the complex web of politics that have allowed and encouraged the continuation of fossil fuel use, and push corporations and governments to pursue renewable energy.


Global Progress

To provide universal access to electricity, the International Energy Agency has estimated that USD 640 billion worth of investments are needed (Peters, 2018). Renewable energy is the fastest-growing energy source in the world (Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, 2018), but the global economy still needs to be decoupled further from fossil fuels. This can only happen through deep systemic changes, which can be catalyzed by government policies, corporate commitment, and international cooperation.


UN Sustainable Development Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all


Basic Statistics

  • Number of targets: 12

  • Number of events: 54

  • Number of publications: 48

  • Number of actions: 1182


In the 21st century, the rapid pace of technological change and the threat of climate change have transformed the economy. As a result the types of skills that are most sought after by employers are evolving, too. Although this has resulted in economic growth and new job creation, it has also rendered some existing jobs obsolete. Coupled with the lack of opportunities to develop in-demand skills, the technological revolution has left some people behind and widened the gap between the rich and the poor, both within and between nations.


While the wounds and scars from the Great Financial Crisis of 2008 still remain, another more severe economic recession caused by the sudden disruptions to economic productivity due to the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to affect employment, growth and livelihoods once more. Furthermore, in this day and age, human trafficking and modern slavery, in the form of unsafe working conditions and exploitation, continue to plague civilization.


Global Progress

Over the last few decades, poverty rates have declined and the middle class has grown globally as more people are able to attain employment. However, inequality is also growing. It is a threat to social stability and security. Furthermore, economic growth has mostly come at the expense of the environment, and income growth has stagnated or even declined. Therefore, a lot more work still needs to be done to foster sustainable economic growth for everyone.


UN Sustainable Development Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation


Basic Statistics

  • Number of targets: 12

  • Number of events: 54

  • Number of publications: 48

  • Number of actions: 1182


Inequality is made manifest through discrepancies in the availability and quality of infrastructure in different parts of the world. For instance, as previously mentioned, the lack of access to clean and safe water supplies is often caused by an absence of the necessary infrastructure. Other types of infrastructure include broadband networks, transport links, and energy sources. Without these basics, it is difficult to attain growth, development and equity.


In developed nations, industrialization and manufacturing have been on a downward trajectory. However, developing nations have seen a manufacturing boom in recent years. To allow for sustainable manufacturing practices and economic growth, research and innovation are needed to protect workers and the environment from harm.


Global Progress

From 2000 to 2015, global investment in research and development as a proportion of GDP increased to 1.7% from 1.5%. Today, 96.5% of the world population were covered by a minimum of a 2G network. However, the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific estimates that USD 434 billion per year is required to build infrastructure that can withstand disasters, including those caused by climate change. There is still plenty of room for technological improvement, particularly in developing countries.


UN Sustainable Development Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities

Reduce inequality within and among countries


Basic Statistics

  • Number of targets: 10

  • Number of events: 42

  • Number of publications: 30

  • Number of actions: 477


Different forms of inequality exist within and among societies, such as the aforementioned gender inequality, but also income and racial inequalities. Our current systems tend to benefit the rich more than anyone else. For instance, CEO salaries today are 278 times greater than that of the average worker (Cox, 2019). The wealthy have also enjoyed among the lowest tax rates, which means less funds are available for healthcare, education and social services for those who need them the most. Inequality among racial groups also persists, due to deeply embedded systemic racism.


Inequality is a problem for everyone, including the rich. It hinders economic growth and could result in higher crime rates. For instance, a wealthy business owner needs customers to be able to afford his/her products and services, and inequality threatens to reduce the number of people able to afford purchases. Furthermore, inequality can be self-perpetuating, in that the poor cannot afford the keys to social mobility, such as education, so they are stuck where they are. If left untackled, inequality could breed resentment and result in social upheaval.


Global Progress

Inequality among countries has actually been falling as previously poor countries become wealthier, but inequality within countries has both been on the rise and on the decline, depending on the country. In some mature economies, the wages of the lower and middle classes have remained stagnant. Moreover, globalization has made it easier for corporations to uproot their operations overseas if they are unhappy with government policies and regulation, thereby decreasing government’s ability or willingness to impose higher corporate taxes. Despite this, government plays an important role in creating more equitable societies. Through fiscal policy, government can redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor. Education financial aid and training programs dedicated to helping individuals develop in-demand skills can help them secure employment. All in all, equality makes life better for everyone, and is an essential part of sustainable development.


UN Sustainable Development Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable


Basic Statistics

  • Number of targets: 10

  • Number of events: 84

  • Number of publications: 54

  • Number of actions: 671


In recent decades, urbanization has taken over the world. Today, over 3.5 billion people are living in cities. By 2030, it is estimated that 60% of the global population will be city dwellers. Cities are the centre of economic activity, and they attract people from rural areas with various employment opportunities and a higher standard of living.


As more people settle in cities, we need to prevent overcrowding, ensure affordable housing, goods and services for everyone, and foster safe and healthy neighborhoods. We have seen how urbanization has given rise to severe air pollution, and how wealthy cities have failed to provide shelter to all of its inhabitants. If urbanization is to benefit everyone, cities need to be more sustainable.


Global Progress

According to Yale University, at least 150 million or 2% of the global population are homeless. 828 million people live in slums with unsanitary living conditions. Although cities only take up 3% of the Earth’s total land mass, they contribute to 60-80% of energy consumption and 75% of carbon emissions. For cities to be truly sustainable, they need to be managed in a greener, and a more efficient and equitable way


UN Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns


Basic Statistics

  • Number of targets: 11

  • Number of events: 48

  • Number of publications: 54

  • Number of actions: 846


Consumption and production are the backbone of the global economy and societal life. They have allowed people to get out of being self-sufficient, and increased the efficiency with which they live their lives, so getting rid of consumption and production is not an option. Yet, they also give rise to several issues, such as greenhouse gas emissions, exploitation of human resources, and excessive waste


As mentioned previously, every year, around 1 in 3 billion of all food produced, which equals 1.3 billion tons worth roughly USD 1 trillion, go to waste before they get to be eaten. Food waste gives rise to greenhouse gases, like methane, which contribute to the climate crisis. It is also such a pity, considering there are many people who are starving or undernourished. With population growth looming on the horizon, it is estimated that the equivalent of three planets’ worth or natural resources would be required to continue on our current patterns of consumption and production.


Global Progress

With economic growth, comes the growth in purchasing power around the world. Yearly consumption is expected to grow to USD 8.2 trillion in China and to USD 6 trillion in India by 2030. Despite growing awareness of the adverse impacts of reckless consumption and production, there is still much work to be done, such as enforcing more stringent policies, to ensure the world can attain responsible consumption and production by 2030.


UN Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Action

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts


Basic Statistics

  • Number of targets: 5

  • Number of events: 48

  • Number of publications: 36

  • Number of actions: 1046


The serious consequences of climate change have long been recognized, but it is only in recent years that the movement has gained substantial traction. Due to the lack of early decisive action, 2019 went down as the second warmest year in history, as greenhouse gas emissions reached new heights. As the climate continues to warm due to human activity, we have started to see the effects of said warming. Natural disasters have grown more frequent and intense. Droughts, wildfires and floods have disproportionately affected communities that were the least responsible for these disasters in the first place, as their homes are destroyed, food supply chains are disrupted, and sanitation is barely available.


In 2015, the Paris Agreement was adopted by 196 entities. It is an action plan aimed at fostering global collaboration in tackling climate change, with the explicit goal of keeping warming below 2℃. Climate change is the best example of a truly global issue that no one country, no matter how rich, can tackle on its own.


Global Progress

In 2017, the US retreated from the Paris Agreement under the Trump administration. This is concerning, because the US is the second-largest contributor of greenhouse gases in the world. Despite its withdrawal, there is positive news on other fronts. More than 1,000 major companies have pledged to reduce their carbon footprint. Investors are divesting from fossil fuel companies, as they realize that the future is all about renewable energy. Social awareness of climate change has grown, with climate change leaders such as the young Greta Thunberg. Although there has been some remarkable progress, countries need to quickly band together to truly tackle climate change and prevent a catastrophe from ensuing.


UN Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water

Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development


Basic Statistics

  • Number of targets: 10

  • Number of events: 90

  • Number of publications: 48

  • Number of actions: 1990


The Earth is 70% water, so a lot of the planet’s life exists under water. Marine biodiversity is essential in ensuring the health of humankind and the global ecosystem. Furthermore, water for human use comes from the Earth’s oceans, which flows into rivers, lakes, springs and other bodies of water. Looking after human health and ensuring access to clean and safe water means looking after the Earth’s waters.


Human activity is once again the culprit to many of the ocean’s ails. Overfishing and destructive fishing practices, such as the use of explosives, have deteriorated the ocean environment. Oil spills and the dumping of manufacturing waste into bodies of water have not only adversely affected marine biodiversity, but also the people who rely on water coming from these sources. Climate change has resulted in sea levels rising, and flooding coastal areas. Warmer waters have also adversely affected coral reefs.


Global Progress

More than 160 countries have signed the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). More countries are reporting and fighting rogue fishing operations. Countries have also protected marine areas.


UN Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life on Land

Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss


Basic Statistics

  • Number of targets: 12

  • Number of events: 48

  • Number of publications: 24

  • Number of actions: 666


Humans rely on nature for the air that we breathe, the weather, sustenance, and living space. Over the years, though, humans have transformed nearly 75% of the planet’s surface. Activities like urbanization and farming have required deforestation, exacerbating climate change and eroding biodiversity. As a result of mindless alterations, about 1 million animal and plant species face the threat of extinction.


Environmental health is also essential to preventing the emergence and spread of zoonotic pathogens, which can cross species barriers. The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us of the potentially devastating consequences of such pathogens, and of the importance of prioritizing environmental conservation.


Global Progress

Biodiversity-rich lands have become increasingly protected, growing from 29% to 44% between 2010 and 2020. More money has been earmarked for conservation efforts, growing from USD 78 billion to USD 91 billion annually. Had these actions not been done, 4 times as many birds and mammals could have gone extinct over the course of these 10 years. However, deforestation rates have not lowered as expected. Regulation of chemicals by the government is still very much lacking.


UN Sustainable Development Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels


Basic Statistics

  • Number of targets: 12

  • Number of events: 42

  • Number of publications: 36

  • Number of actions: 600


Sustainable development is built on a foundation of impartial institutions. Corruption causes taxpayer money to flow to the private pockets of politicians and government officials, instead of towards public infrastructure and services. The lack of public funds would hamper critical initiatives, such as welfare programs, and research and development for climate change. Despite this, bribery, theft, and tax evasion are rife at all levels of government, more so in some countries than others. Furthermore, weak institutions are inefficient at imposing the rule of law fairly. All of these issues could build up to result in social unrest, as they erode citizens’ trust in their government.


In 2018, more than 70 million people have left their homeland as they run away from war, persecution and conflict (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2019). Of these, around 28.5 million are of primary school age. Conflict disrupts children’s access and ability to gain the education that they need for social mobility. Moreover, as recently as last year, more than 350 journalists, human rights activists and trade unionists were murdered (United Nations Economic and Social Council, 2020). Their work is critical, as it often involves exposing the truth and what goes on behind closed doors.


Global Progress

In recent years, there has been increasing political and social tension within and among countries. With the rise of nationalistic movements, there has been growing hostility toward foreigners, including refugees. The wrongful killing of an African-American man named George Floyd by a white police officer in May 2020 is an outrageous example of how systemic racism still exists within government institutions. More work still needs to be done to improve the integrity and quality of the world’s institutions.


UN Sustainable Development Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals

Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development


Basic Statistics

  • Number of targets: 19

  • Number of events: 198

  • Number of publications: 102

  • Number of actions: 1218


Last, but certainly not least, the Sustainable Development Goals can only become a reality if countries band together and commit themselves to action. The problems that the achievement of the SDGs aims to resolve are inherently global. For instance, climate change cannot be resolved by just any one country’s reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and transition to renewable energy sources. Therefore, partnerships form the bedrock of progress toward SDGs. Global partnerships involve helping other countries through investments, policies that foster financial sustainability, technology transfers, and free trade.


Global Progress

The global collaboration that has taken place during the COVID-19 pandemic has enabled the speedy development of a vaccine. Scientists shared data on the genetic sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, allowing pharmaceutical companies to develop mRNA vaccines. However, on other fronts, global collaboration could be under threat. The rise of nationalism and economic protectionism is expected to reduce foreign direct investments by up to 40% in 2020. Humanitarian aid to least developed nations has also fallen. Therefore, more open discussions should take place to ensure a fair and equitable world for everyone.


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