On 1st January 2016, 17 global priorities adopted by world leaders in September 2015 at an historic UN Summit came into force. These ambitious goals were named Sustainable Development Goals. These SDGs are part of the 2030 Agenda, more formally known as “Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. They are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. They are interconnected: achieving any one of them will have a domino effect on the others.
The international community first decided to work together against global challenges in 2000. The goals it set out to achieve were called the Millennium Development Goals, which ended in 2015. The eight MDGs prioritised ending poverty. The 17 SDGs with 169 targets replaced the MDGs in 2016 and have a 2030 deadline. They build upon the earlier goals and seek to address their unfinished business.
The understanding is that the UN member states will frame their agendas and policies based on these universal priorities that aim to create a better world. All countries, acting together, will implement these universal goals, while taking into account their own levels of development, national realities and policies. The promise is that no one will be left behind and development—economic, environmental and social—must be sustainable. For this to happen, governments, civil society, industry and academia need to work together.
“We are the first generation that can end poverty and the last generation that can take steps to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”
—Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General, United Nations