The Sustainable Development Goals are a first in human history—a global compact to create a future where nobody is left behind.
The 17 goals were adopted by all countries at the United Nations in September 2015.
They encompass every aspect of human and planetary wellbeing; a universal call to action to end poverty, to protect Earth and ensure all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
They also come with a deadline: 2030
The goals were followed, in 2015, by the Paris Climate Agreement— another groundbreaking achievement where 196 countries plus the European Union pledged to keep the planet’s temperature at “well below” 2C higher than when the industrial revolution began.
Every country that signed on for Paris also agreed on their Nationally Determined Contributions—pledges that would help them reach their goals.
Member states pledged to mobilize financing, enhance national implementation and strengthen institutions to achieve the sustainable development objectives of the 2030 Agenda, and leave no one behind.
However, as we enter a new decade it is abundantly clear that much more action is needed. Very few countries have made the changes to keep the promises they have made. And we need everybody on board.
Ten years to save the world
“It is necessary to think of new ways of accelerating SDGs action for those that are still behind in meeting the goals.”
- UN General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande
Last year’s Sustainable Goals Summit—the first since the 2030 Agenda was adopted—brought renewed calls for action and concrete plans to get back on track.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres welcomed the progress being made by governments beginning to integrate the SDGs into their national policies, but he said deadly conflicts, the climate crisis, gender-based violence and persistent and rising inequality were holding everybody back.
World leaders called for a decade of action to deliver the SDGs by 2030 and announced more than 100 ‘accelerated actions’—voluntary undertakings to speed up progress.
Trillions of dollars will be needed, so partnerships at all levels of society, but particularly with marginalized groups, will be critical.
Who’s doing what?
The World’s largest Lesson in Nigeria will teach some 500,000 children about the goals.
Sweden has pledged to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2045.
Mexico pledges to eradicate energy poverty by 2024.
The UK will end its contribution to climate change by 2050.
The University of Beirut will create a research community to achieve the SDGS in renewable resources in the Middle East.
The challenges we face
“I sensed wide recognition that we are off track to achieve the Goals by 2030 and real determination to get us back on track.”
- UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed
Climate change is a major barrier to almost all the goals and The Heat is On, a report by UNDP and UN Climate Change ahead of the Climate Action Summit, finds there are promising signs from all corners of the globe, including from the most vulnerable nations who are already feeling the adverse effects of climate change.
It says developed nations more focused on long term goals to phase out greenhouse gases now need to match those with urgent, short term plans.
Better data and evidence.
Stronger links between climate change action and the SDGs.
Robust plans to monitor progress.
The way forward
As a human family we’ve never done anything like this before. It’s uncharted territory: we are going to have to overhaul the way we live and do business, produce energy and food, dispense justice, and empower the most disadvantaged.
But we have no choice but to step forward; we can already, almost daily, see the cost of inaction played out in real time; widespread global climate and political protests; entire forests ablaze; unprecedented levels of desertification; ancient cities flooding; millions of people forced to migrate.
The SDGs represent our only hope of addressing these complex and intertwined issues.
We have the answers and UNDP is committed to mobilizing resources, raising the ambition to meet the goals and fostering concrete solutions that link the goals to the real world concerns of ordinary citizens.
There is hard work ahead, but the good news is, there is still time.
“We must step up our efforts. Now.”
– UN Secretary-General António Guterres