By Nudge Sustainability Reporter Emanuel Manko
On Friday last week (25 September 2015), world leaders adopted the Post 2015 Global Development Agenda that contains a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nations in New York, USA. This is an outcome of Rio + 20 summit that took place three years ago.
However, what exactly does that mean? This means that 193 UN member states signed and agreed on 17 goals that contain 169 targets to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030. All governments around the world will be using these goals in framing their policies over the next fifteen years in order to bring about sustainable development for all human races. These goals follow and expand on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which were agreed by governments fifteen years ago and are due to expire at the end of this year.
Therefore, to achieve this, businesses, governments, civil societies, and other development stakeholders will work together for the next fifteen years under the light of these new goals in a way that people and planet benefit. The UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-Moon stated, “The New Sustainable Development Agenda embodies the aspirations of people everywhere for lives of people, security and dignity on a healthy planet”
Why the Sustainable Development Goals matter
As the MDGs deadline approaches, there is much unfinished business. About 1 billion people still live on less than $1.25 a day – the World Bank measure on poverty – and more than 800 million people do not have enough food to eat. Women are still fighting hard for their rights, and millions of them still die in childbirth.
Moreover, the MDGs made no mention of human rights and did not specifically address economic development and in reality, they were considered targets for poor countries to achieve, with finance from wealthy states. Conversely, every country will be expected to work towards achieving the SDGs. (The guardian)
Get to know them. Here are the Sustainable Development Goals with some of their targets:
Goal 1: No poverty
End poverty in all its forms everywhere. The world wants to ensure that all people regardless of their gender, race, language or culture have equal rights to economic resources, access to basic and financial services as well as appropriate technology to eradicate extreme poverty.
Goal 2: Zero hunger
End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. With the increasing impact of climate change the world wants to end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round.
Goal 3: Good health and well-being
Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. Regardless of age, health is essential to sustainable development, the reason why the world wants to achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.
Goal 4: Quality education
Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. The world wants to ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality education and all learning opportunities regardless of their status all around the world.
Goal 5: Gender equality
Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Girls and women must be equal partners to boys and men in all life opportunities, the world wants to end all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.
Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation
Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. With at least 1.8 billion people globally who still use a source of drinking water that is fecally contaminated, the world wants to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water as well as proper sanitation for all, while paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations.
Goal 7: Affordable and clean energy
Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. One in five people still lack access to modern electricity while three billion people rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating. Together with the impact that energy has on climate change, the world wants to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix and double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency.
Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth
Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all. The Global unemployment increased from 170 million in 2007 to nearly 202 million in 2012, of which about 75 million are young women and men. Together with the impacts of financial crisis, the world wants to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value.
Goal 9: Industry, innovation, infrastructure
Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation. With basic infrastructure like roads, information and communication technologies, scarcity of electrical power and water many developing countries, the target is to develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and trans-border infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all.
Goal 10: Reduced inequalities
Reduce inequality within and among countries. With inequality in income being a threat to an equal and shared economic growth, the world wants to achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the population at a rate higher than the national average. Moreover, the world wants to empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status.
Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. The world wishes to ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums and provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, and children, persons with disabilities and older persons.
Goal 12: Responsible consumption, production
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns. In this goal, the world wishes to rationalize inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption by removing market distortions, in accordance with national circumstances, including by restructuring taxation and phasing out those harmful subsidies, where they exist, to reflect their environmental impacts, taking fully into account the specific needs and conditions of developing countries and minimizing the possible adverse impacts on their development in a manner that protects the poor and the affected communities.
Goal 13: Climate action
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. The impacts of climate change are felt mostly in developing countries with frequent drought affecting most of the vulnerable groups such as farmers. Here one of the set target is to promote mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management in least developed countries and Small Island developing States, including focusing on women, youth and local and marginalized communities.
Goal 14: Life below water
Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources. Oceans cover three quarters of the Earth’s surface, contain 97 per cent of the Earth’s water, and represent 99 per cent of the living space on the planet by volume. However, pollution and climate change threatens most of the oceanic ecosystems all around the world which is why we need to sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans
Goal 15: Life on land
Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss. Despite the fact that our livelihood depends on the earth, threats such as deforestation and soil erosion still poses serious problems on these ecosystems. Drought and desertification is also on the rise each year, amounting to the loss of 12 million hectares and affects poor communities globally. Of the 8,300 animal breeds known, 8 percent are extinct and 22 percent are at risk of extinction. (UNDP). This has forced the world to ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and dry lands, in line with obligations under international agreements.
Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
Over 4 billion people, in almost all countries of the world, lack access to justice while corruption, bribery, theft and tax evasion cost some US $1.26 trillion for developing countries per year; this amount of money could be used to lift those who are living on less than $1.25 a day above $1.25 for at least six years. Under this goal, the world has set to target the following: Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels, substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms, Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels and promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all.
Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals
Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development. Now the goals are all set, here is the best part, how can we all achieve these complex reforms together without leaving anyone behind? The answer is simple, alliances among civil societies, businesses and governments all around the world is necessary. Through international capacity building support, transfer and sharing of technology as wells as international trading systems the world may achieve these goals all together.
The work is not over, it has just get started. Officially, these goals are to be in action by January next year. If we need to achieve these goals together, the time to change our life styles is now just as Mrs. Amina J. Mohammed, the UN Secretary General’s special advisor on Post 2015 Global Development Agenda stated, “It’s about behaviour, it’s about livelihoods, it’s about lifestyles. It’s about how we consume and we produce because clearly we can no longer continue to test the planet the way that we do”
Societies need to be responsible while governments must no longer do things the way they used to, transparency and their accountability will lift all of us out of global challenges and by 2030, we would be celebrating the achievements all together. To learn more about the goals and their targets please visit http://www.undp.org. Join this movement to make all these goals known to the rest of the world. Join the conversation in all social media using #action2015 to raise awareness of SDGs.