ABOUT THE GLOBAL GOALS
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to enable a decent life for all worldwide and at the same time preserve the natural basis of life for the longer term. They address economic, ecological and social aspects and solutions to global challenges such as extreme poverty, environmental degradation as well as injustice and discrimination.
They comprise of 17 ambitious and global goals, which were developed by the United Nations (UN) as part of its 2030 Agenda and is ratified by all member states. Furthermore, the Sustainable Development Goals are an immense economic driver. According to the United Nations, developing countries alone lack $2.5 to $3 trillion annually to achieve the goals. 380 million jobs are expected to be created worldwide in a wide range of industries as a result of attaining these goals. Up to $12 trillion in economic output is expected to be unlocked annually by the goals.
Since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, it has served as a framework for organisations, institutions and governments to work towards a more sustainable world. Today, 2030 is less than a decade away and we still face many challenges and difficulties to overcome.
Knowing about the 17 goals is the basis for achieving a better and sustainable future. Not all of the Sustainable Development Goals are equally relevant to you as an individual or business. However, knowledge about them is important as is minimising the negative impacts. Find out below what the goals are and why they are important for all of us.
Sustainable Development Goal 1 seeks to end poverty in all its forms, everywhere. Poverty is more than the lack of income and resources to sustain a livelihood. Its manifestations include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion, as well as a lack of participation in any decision-making processes.
High rates of poverty are found especially in conflict-ridden regions, and children are disproportionately affected. One in five children currently lives in extreme poverty.
According to the United Nations, more than 700 million people - or about 10% of the world's population - still live in extreme poverty and cannot afford the most basic needs such as health, education and access to clean water and sanitation. A large proportion live in sub-Saharan Africa and have to get by on less than $2 per day. Globally, the poverty rate in rural areas is more than three times higher than in urban areas, at around 17%.
This Sustainable Development Goal aims to end hunger, in other words, achieve food security and promote sustainable agriculture.
Currently, one in nine people in the world goes hungry or suffers from a permanent lack of essential nutrients. Children, again, are particularly affected by hunger. Every 10 seconds, a child dies of malnutrition. Climate change in particular is having a negative impact on soils, drinking water, biodiversity, forests and oceans. As a result, droughts and floods exacerbate the hunger problem.
Every 10 seconds a child dies of malnutrition.
"It is time to rethink how we grow, share and consume our food. If we get it right, agriculture, forestry and fisheries can provide nutritious food for all and generate adequate incomes, while supporting people-centered rural development and protecting the environment." (Source: United Nations)
GOOD HEALTH AND WELL-BEEING
Sustainable Development Goal 3 aims to ensure our health and promote well-being for all by 2030. Child health, maternal health, malaria and other diseases are all important issues to be considered on the path towards health and well-being. Progress has already been made in increasing life expectancy as well as in treating fatal diseases. Compared to 1990, 17,000 fewer children die each year, but there are still more than five million children who die before the age of five. Maternal mortality has fallen by 37% since 2000, but women in developing regions are 14 times more likely to die during childbirth compared to women in developed regions.
"Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being at all ages is essential for sustainable development." (United Nations)
Sustainable Development Goal 4 aims to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.
Over the past decade, there has been great progress in getting more people into school; educating girls and women; and improving access to education for all people worldwide. Yet more than 265 million children still do not go to school. Even those who do attend lack basic reading and mathematics skills. Reasons for the lack of quality education include unqualified teachers, poor school conditions and limited opportunities for rural children to attend school. To achieve the sustainability goal, more investment in education scholarships, better infrastructure of school buildings and improved teacher training workshops are needed.
265 million children cannot go to school.
"Obtaining quality education is the basis for sustainable development. In addition to improving the quality of life, access to education can help equip local people with the tools they need to develop innovative solutions to their own problems." (United Nations)
This Sustainable Development Goal aims to achieve gender equality by 2030 and seeks to strengthen the position of girls and women overall.
While gender equality, the strengthening of women's rights and equal access to primary education for girls and boys gradually improved at the beginning of the millennium, women and girls worldwide still suffer from severe violence and discrimination. Currently, there are no laws protecting women from domestic violence in around 50 countries. This continues to affect at least one in five women between the ages of 15 and 49.
The UN wants girls and women to have equal access to education, health care, decent work and representation in political and economic decision-making processes.
CLEAN WATER AND SANITATION
Ensuring access to clean water and sanitation for all is what Sustainable Development Goal 6 is all about.
Currently, more than 2 billion people have limited access to drinking water resources. By 2050, one in four people is likely to live in a country affected by chronic or recurrent drinking water shortages. Drought in particular is hitting some of the world's poorest countries very hard, exacerbating hunger and malnutrition. To improve sanitation and access to drinking water, there needs to be increased investment in ecosystem and sanitation management.
By 2050, one in four people is likely to live in a country affected by chronic or recurrent shortages of drinking water.
"Clean water for all is an essential part of a world we want to live in. There is enough drinking water on the planet to achieve this. However, due to poor economic conditions or inadequate infrastructure, millions of people - including many children - die every year from diseases caused by inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene." (United Nations)
AFFORDABLE AND CLEAN ENERGY
Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all is the aspiration of Sustainable Development Goal 7.
Energy is essential for most of the challenges of modern society. Energy continues, by and large, to depend on the use of fossil fuels, but these sources will not last forever. Scientists estimate that the world has consumed about 40% of all oil, and if consumption continues at the same rate, reserves will be exhausted in 50 years. We therefore need to integrate more and more renewable energy in housing, transport and industry.
"Energy is central to almost all the major challenges facing the world today. Working on this goal is particularly important because it is linked to other Sustainable Development Goals. Focusing on universal access to energy, increasing energy efficiency and enhancing the use of renewable energy through new economic and employment opportunities is critical to creating more sustainable and inclusive communities and resilience to environmental challenges such as climate change." (United Nations)
DECENT WORK AND ECONOMIC GROWTH
The aim is to promote sustainable, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
Declining labour productivity and a persistent lack of decent work opportunities are currently leading to an increase in unemployment. Incomes and living standards are falling. Today, more people are living in forced labour than ever before. This includes about 40 million people worldwide in agriculture, the textile industry or in the extraction of raw materials.
The current COVID-19 pandemic is expected to have a devastating impact on global unemployment. According to estimates by the International Labour Organisation, global working hours could fall by 14 per cent in the second quarter of 2020. This is equivalent to about 400 million full-time workers working a 48-hour week.
"Having a job in many places does not automatically mean escaping poverty. We need to rethink and reshape our economic and social policies if we are to fight poverty effectively." (United Nations)