In 2015, the United Nations (UN) adopted ‘The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.’ The agenda is essentially a blueprint, a plan for the peace and well-being of the planet and people. The agenda describes both; plans that must be brought into action in the present and the future. These 17 Sustainable Development Goals 2030 form the heart of the Agenda for Sustainable Development. The SDGs recognise that the strategies used to tackle challenges such as ending world hunger and poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that spur economic growth, reduce inequality, and improve health and education. All these challenges must be solved while also addressing climate change and protecting our oceans and forests at the same time.
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The 17 Sustainable Development Goals2030 are:
1. No poverty – end poverty in all forms, everywhere
2. Zero hunger – the promotion of sustainable agriculture, achieving food security, and improving nutrition
3. Good health and well-being – ensure healthy lives for people of all ages
4. Quality education – make education inclusive and equitable and promote learning opportunities for everyone
5. Gender equality – the empowerment of women and girls
6. Clean water and sanitation – sustainably managing and making water and sanitation available for all
7. Affordable and clean energy – ensure that everyone has access to reliable, sustainable, affordable, and modern energy
8. Decent work and economic growth – promoting sustainable and inclusive economic growth, productive employment and decent work
9. Industry, innovation, and infrastructure – promoting sustainable and inclusive industries, fostering innovation, and building resilient infrastructure
10. Reduced inequalities – reducing inequality among and within nations
11. Sustainable cities and communities – making cities and human settlements sustainable, inclusive, resilient, and safe
12. Responsible consumption and production – ensuring patterns of consumption and production are sustainable
13. Climate action – ensuring that we take urgent action to combat the climate change and its impacts
14. Life below water – sustainable use of the seas, oceans, and marine resources for sustainable development and conserving them
15. Life on land – combat desertification, sustainably manage forests, stop and reverse land degradation, and stop biodiversity loss
16. Peace, justice, and strong institutions – promotion of inclusive and peaceful societies for sustainable development, building effective and accountable institutions across all levels and providing everyone access to justice
17. Partnership for the goals – revitalising and strengthening global partnerships for sustainable development
The SGDs represent a serious call for action against climate change by all developed and developing nations. A global partnership among all countries is an essential aspect of the SDGs.
It all started at the Earth Summit in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Around 178 nations adopted Agenda 21. Agenda 21 is a sum of action proposals for building a global partnership to protect human lives and the environment.
In September 2000, the UN held the Millennium Summit in New York. Here, the summit developed and proposed eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to reduce extreme poverty by 2015.
In South Africa in 2002, the World Summit on Sustainable Development adopted the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development and the Plan of Implementation. The adaptation of this plan reaffirmed the world’s countries’ commitment to protecting the environment and poverty eradication. The Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development and the Plan of Implementation built on Agenda 21 and the Millennium Declaration, emphasising partnerships between countries.
In Rio de Janeiro in 2012, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development developed a document titled “The Future We Want.” It was here that they decided to commence the process of creating a set of SDGs. The Sustainable Development Goals would build upon the MDGs.
In 2013, the UN General Assembly set up an Open Working Group. This group consisted of 30 members. The objective of this group was to develop a proposal for the Sustainable Development Goals.
In January 2015, the UN General Assembly began working on the post-2015 development agenda. This process resulted in the establishment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September 2015. They shaped the agenda around 17 SDGs acting as its core.
Presently, the UN’s Division for Sustainable Development Goals (DSDG) provides extensive support to help countries achieve the SDGs. The division helps countries tackle issues related to oceans, climates, energy, water, science and technology, transport, partnerships, etc. DSDG plays a vital role in overseeing the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. To help make the 2030 Agenda a reality, there must be a commitment among all stakeholders to implementing global goals. DSDG helps engage stakeholders and facilitate engagement among them.
Important Elements of the SDGs
The UN has identified key areas of critical importance for the planet and humanity. The UN believes that the Sustainable Development Goals will, over the next 15 years or so, stimulate action in these areas:
The UN is determined to help human beings fulfil and realise their potential in dignity and equality in a healthy environment.
We must protect the Earth from degradation. This can happen through sustainable production and consumption patterns. We must also sustainably manage our planet’s natural resources and take urgent action to combat climate change. We must implement measures to meet the needs of the present and future generations sustainably.
The UN is committed to providing prosperous lives to all people. They aim for everyone to live fulfilling lives in which social, technological, and economic progress occurs in conjunction with the principles of nature.
The Sustainable Development Goals aim to foster just and peaceful societies that are inclusive and free from violence. Sustainable development cannot occur without peace, and there can be no peace without sustainable development.
The Sustainable Development Goals address the need for countries to enter into a global partnership to achieve sustainable development. The partnership would result in and strengthen international solidarity. The participation of all nations and all people will ensure the world focuses on the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable.
Despite countries making considerable progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 2030, experts have mentioned that the world can collectively achieve none of the goals by 2030. The UN SDG Report published in 2019 showed just how much the world is failing to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Achieving zero poverty by 2030 is highly unlikely.
Experts have predicted that around 6% of the world’s population will remain in extreme poverty even in 2030. Compared to 2017, the 2019 report showed that global hunger had risen by 3.7 crore people. Some of the barriers to achieving the goals include weak capacity, inadequate structures and mechanisms in recognising financial opportunities and accessing available financial resources. Also, inequalities among and within countries make implementing some of the SDGs difficult. Governments will need to review and improve trade and investment, economic, and human rights policies keeping Agenda 2030 at the core of these policies.
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