Sustainable Development Goals: What Are They and Why Are They Important?
As someone who has been interested in the United Nations’ work for as long as I remember, I always wanted to know what their long-term goals for peace and sustainability indeed were. In 2015, the United Nations provided its seventeen goals for achieving peace and prosperity. The seventeen goals are called the Sustainable Development Goals, outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Sustainable Development Goals piggyback on the failures and efforts towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is an action plan devoted to creating meaningful change for “people, planet and prosperity. It also seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom.” It places a particular emphasis on eradicating poverty as a critical component in the pursuit of sustainability.
There are five keystones in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnership. People deals with ending poverty and hunger, for all people, have the right to a healthy life.
Secondly, the Planet must be considered as the climate crisis poses an existential threat to the future of humanity. Natural resources and uplifting sustainable consumption and production are paramount to saving the planet.
Thirdly, prosperity discusses having economic, social, and technological processes and working in tandem with nature. Peace advocates for sustainable, meaningful peace to be established and manufactured.
Lastly, Partnerships must be done through global partnerships across the international community. Partnerships will only be successful if everyone’s experiences and perspectives are taken into account, especially the poorest and most disadvantaged in life.
The first sustainable development goal is to end poverty in all its forms everywhere. This will be achieved by eradicating at least half of the proportion to men, women, and children, implementing social protection policies, equal rights, and policy for economic resources.
This SDG attempts to end all forms of malnutrition, emphasizing agricultural productivity and assisting farmers with increased agriculture sustainability.
The third goal aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages by reducing global maternal mortality and infant mortality rates, eradicating the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and increasing reproductive and social rights access.
The fourth goal is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. This goal focuses on providing equitable access for historically marginalized groups, like people with disabilities, women, children, and youth. Access to education and acquiring technical and vocational training is paramount to SDG 4.
The fifth goal is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Equal access for women and girls will lead to the end of all forms of discrimination and oppression through greater access to sexual and reproductive health resources. Furthermore, increased economic and financial resources for women doing unpaid domestic work, creating fruitful living conditions for women.
SDG 6 works towards ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. It works to ensure proper sanitation and access to clean water and handwashing facilities.
SDG 7 provides access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all. Access to electricity and manufacturing sustainable and renewable energy sources are paramount for a sustainable future.
SDG 8 upholds that humanity must promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all. Especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global economy is in a devastating recession, reaffirming the need for sustainable work and economic growth.
SDG 9 deals with building resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and fosters innovation. This SDG is important currently in the global economy as there is a decline in investment and a need for more significant investment in critical industries.
SDG 10 works towards reducing inequality within and among countries. Global wealth inequality is at an all-time high and ever-increasing, leading to tremendous disadvantages in the Global South.
SDG 11 advocates for cities and human settlements to be inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. Issues surrounding air pollution, poor infrastructure, and increased slum settlements demonstrate how most housing options for most of humanity are unsafe, unsanitary, and unsustainable.
SDG 12 hones in on the importance of ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns. This SDG focuses on how natural resources and the eventual eradication of fossil fuels are necessary for sustainable consumption.
SDG 13 deals with taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. The Climate Crisis poses a threat to everyone on earth, so this SDG focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and using natural resources.
SDG 14 focuses on conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development, which deals with keeping marine life oceans free of pollution and health.
SDG 15 upholds the importance of protecting, restoring, and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably managing forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss. This SDG reaffirms the sanctity of preserving biodiversity, forests, and wildlife.
SDG 16 emphasizes the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provides access to justice for all and builds effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels. Democratic values and the promotion of freedom and liberties are fundamental in pursuing global peace and security.
SDG 17 advocates for strengthening the means of implementation and revitalizing the global partnership for sustainable development. This SDG emphasizes how international cooperation is key to implementing and maintaining the Global Goals.