How The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Enforce Positive Climate Action

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Working towards independent sustainability goals can feel like a never-ending task. Whether we are actively trying to recycle or bring regeneration into our lives fluidly, it is a daunting task. 

The 17 UN SDGs were developed on the four principles of integration, universality, inclusivity, and leaving no one behind, in hopes of uniting the world in a sustainable and green future. 

What Are The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals were the result of the 2015 UN Summit. Previous to the current 17 UN SDGs, the UN had already highlighted their shift of focus to sustainability in previous events. 

The first attempt to list a clear global agenda originated at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. After this meeting, it was clear that environmental priorities had to come to the center stage, but it was still unclear what these were or how they would be monitored. 

The second attempt at sustainable global platform unity was the Millennium Development Goals. The MDGs came into effect in September 2000 and were eight goals consisting of the following:

  1. Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger
  2. Achieving universal primary education
  3. Promoting gender equality and empowering women
  4. Reducing child mortality
  5. Improving maternal health
  6. Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria other diseases
  7. Ensuring environmental sustainability
  8. Developing a global partnership for development

While these goals generated activism towards HIV/AIDS and have been estimated to save nearly 21 million lives, they didn’t encompass everything or the entirety of sustainability. 

On September 25, 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by all 193 United Nations members. In this unprecedented amount of support and unanimous commitment, the new 17 SDGs delivered active momentum toward people and planet positive actions. 

What Are The Main Objectives Of The UN SDGs?

The UN Sustainable Development Goals, or the 2030 Agenda, were spearheaded by the former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Anan. It was clear that with these new 17 goals, all attention was to be given to the well-being of people and the planet, and they would have fifteen years to be achieved. The 17 UN SDGs are: 

  1. No Poverty
  2. Zero Hunger
  3. Good Health and Wellbeing 
  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

The language of the new UN SDG goals has been changed for inclusivity and also the length of time towards completion. This is a fifteen-year commitment, hence the title of the 2030 agenda. 

How Are The UN SDGs Monitored?

With such broad language for the UN SDGs, monitoring the progress of each UN member progress is a formidable task. Currently, 20 individual markers per goal help track progress and also take into account different hardships per country. 

For example, the first goal, no poverty, is being monitored through the following framework.

  • 1.1 By 2030, eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, currently measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day 
  • 1.1.1 Proportion of the population living below the international poverty line by sex, age, employment status, and geographic location (urban/rural) 
  • 1.2 By 2030, reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women, and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions 
  • 1.2.1 Proportion of population living below the national poverty line, by sex and age 
  • 1.2.2 Proportion of men, women, and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions 

These are only a fifth of the preliminary checkpoints for one goal and each of the seventeen have unique and inclusive layouts. The SDGs are active for fifteen years before the 2030 meeting where the UN will decide if they need to evolve, adjust, or stay the course. For the general public, the SDG Progress Annual Report and Voluntary National Reviews are available. 

What Are The Future Challenges For The UN SDGs?

Early critiques of the UN SDGs included that the goals were too political of a framework that did not cross into equality for all nations. The definition of poverty or challenges is different depending on the geographic landscape, so how can one goal be matched by all?

Other critiques of the UN SDGS include, the format of the goal ignores local context, represents more hopeful thinking rather than attainable action, and lacks data to support successful goal achievement. 

When dealing with a global dialogue, best intentions can often warrant similar concerns, and while an individual may feel helpless when faced with the adversary of climate change, there are small local solutions that contribute to the bigger success. 

Inclusive Regeneration Is The Sustainable Solution 

Handprint is a NatureTech company that empowers companies to act for People and Planet by accessing impact projects that are transparent, digitized and quantified, and of course aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Goals. 

Handprint offers solutions to clients seeking to act for nature and to contribute to the UN SDGs in a credible way. Learn more how Handprint sees the evolution of regeneration and corporate responsibility, explore our blog for further insights and success stories!