By Ryan Ryu ’25
Not many people know about the United Nation’sSustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but these 17 goals, 169 targets, and 232 indicators aim to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. They are the key to a sustainable future for this world.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 SDGs, an urgent call to action by all developed and developing countries in a global partnership. They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.
UN’s preamble states, “This Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. It also seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom. We recognise that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. All countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership, will implement this plan. We are resolved to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want to heal and secure our planet. We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path. As we embark on this collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets which we are announcing today demonstrate the scale and ambition of this new universal Agenda. They seek to build on the Millennium Development Goals and complete what these did not achieve. They seek to realize the human rights of all and to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. They are integrated and indivisible and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental.”
The SDGs are a continuation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were adopted in 2000 and focused on poverty reduction and related issues. The MDGs were successful in many respects, but they were criticized for not being comprehensive enough and for not taking into account the interconnections between different issues.
The SDGs were developed through a more inclusive and participatory process involving governments, civil society, the private sector, and academia. They reflect a broader understanding of sustainability and consider economic, social, and environmental dimensions.
The SDGs are also more ambitious than the MDGs, as they aim to address the root causes of poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation. They are meant to be universal, applying to all countries regardless of their level of development. And they are based on the principle of leaving no one behind, which means that efforts to achieve the goals should prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalized populations.
Since their adoption, the SDGs have become a global rallying cry for sustainable development. Governments, businesses, and civil society organizations worldwide have embraced them. They have also helped to catalyze new partnerships and collaborations and to raise awareness about the urgent need to transform our economies and societies in a more sustainable direction.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are key to the world’s future as they provide a framework for achieving a sustainable and equitable future for all people and the planet. They recognize that economic, social, and environmental sustainability are interlinked and that progress in one area cannot be achieved at the expense of another.
The SDGs address many pressing global challenges, including poverty, hunger, gender inequality, climate change, and environmental degradation. They are designed to be universal and applicable to all countries regardless of their level of development, and they prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalized populations.
The implementation of the SDGs requires collaboration and partnerships among governments, the private sector, civil society, and other stakeholders. The SDGs also encourage innovation, the use of technology, and the mobilization of resources to achieve the goals.
We can create a more just, equitable, and sustainable world by working towards the SDGs. This can lead to greater economic opportunities and improved living standards for people worldwide while protecting the environment and preserving natural resources for future generations.