10 Must Know Facts about the Future of Sustainable Global Development.

Logo for the sustainable development goals

In 2012, the United Nations Rio+20 Summit took place in New York amid fears about the sustainability of our planet. Within a discussion to define the environmental and economic goals of the global community, the purpose of the conference was to come up with a plan to  ‘[meet] the needs of the present’ without compromising the ability of the future.’ On the 25 September, the 2030 Development Agenda entitled ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ was agreed upon by 193 countries. The Agenda created and  outlined the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SGGs) designed to guide global development towards a sustainable future. 

Here are ten must know facts about the future of sustainable global development: 

  1. The overriding aim of the SDGs is to end extreme poverty by 2030.

Extreme poverty is not only defined by insufficient income but the absence of fundamental necessities such as food, clean water and basic sanitation. The United Nations Special Rapporteur for extreme poverty and human rights, in 1983, described extreme poverty as ‘the absence of one or more factors enabling individuals and families to assume basic responsibilities and to enjoy fundamental rights’. Each of the seventeen Global Goals contribute to the resolution of extreme poverty.

  1. Creating the Sustainable Development Goals was a global effort. 

The Sustainable Development Goals are the product of a three year process of consultation involving 83 national surveys. The Rio+20 Summit was also attended by 192 United Nations member states. This makes it the largest summit in UN history.

This document provides a further insight about the outcome of the Summit.

  1. None of the Goals can be achieved in isolation, they are all interlinked.  

Progress towards each of the Global Goals is necessary for the success of the others. For example the third Global Goal, good health and well being, cannot be achieved without access to clean water, without educated professions to provide medical care and without the economic growth necessary to build a hospital. The success of one goal in this example has included progress within three others: clean water and sanitation, decent work and economic growth and quality education. 

  1. The Sustainable Development Goals have been drawn from the 23 human rights articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Sustainable Development Goals embody the same values and principles of peace, justice and freedom as the 23 human rights articles they are derived from. Many of the targets within the Goals also overlap with existing international human rights treaties. Therefore, as member states implement and work towards the Goals they are also furthering the progress of human rights within their own countries 

  1. The Sustainable Development Goals are not legally binding but all United Nations members have agreed to them. 

Although the Goals are not legally binding, nations are expected to implement a national framework for achieving them. Nations also have a responsibility to monitor progress towards the Goals and provide accessible data on their progress. 

  1. Every participating nation reports on the progress they are making towards the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Here in the United Kingdom, the Goals are outlined in the Agenda 2030: Delivering the Global Goals which was created by the Department for International Development. A report was compiled by civil society organisations in 2019 to review progress towards the goals and identify areas for improvement. 

  1. Each goal is comprised of a set of targets to help achieve them 

The 17 goals are comprised of 169 targets. Progress within these targets are measured by 232 independent indicators. For example, target 1.1 eradicate extreme poverty, is measured by the proportion of the population living below the poverty line according to their age, sex, employment status and geographical location. This website provides more information about how each of the targets are measured.

  1. The Sustainable Development Goals can be achieved by local and global efforts. 

Work towards the eradication of poverty and the implementation of human rights is not possible without the actions of everybody. This is why there are targets intended to be carried out at a government or policy level and as well as targets to be carried out by individuals in their local communities. Within the thirteenth goal, climate action, target 13.2 aims to integrate climate change measures into national policies and development planning. In contrast, target 13.3 relies on the actions of individuals to tackle climate change by recycling and purchasing reusable products. 

  1. The Sustainable Development Goals operate under an ethos of collective global action. 

The ethos of universal participation was cultivated partly due to the failings of the predecessor to the Sustainable Development Goals to meet the something of the climate crisis. The Millenium Development Goals were designed in 2000 as a structural guide for developing nations. However, change was limited by the exclusion of developed nations who are the primary pollutants contributing to the climate crisis. Therefore, to bring about rapid change the SDGs promote global action as a solution to global change.  

  1. The Sustainable Development Goals are all inclusive. 

None of the SGGs are deemed to have been met unless all people are included. This is why the pledge ‘leave no one behind’ was created as a slogan for this movement. 

For more information about the Sustainable Development Goals this is a really interesting article that discusses how Human Rights and the Goals for Sustainable Development are ‘two sides of the same coin.’