What are the UN Sustainable Development Goals?
April 7, 2023

What are the UN Sustainable Development Goals?


The United Nations (UN) was founded in 1945 to promote peace, security, and cooperation among member countries. It aims to address global issues such as poverty, climate change, and human rights through collective action and diplomacy.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 global goals established by the UN in 2015 as a roadmap for achieving a better and more sustainable future for all by 2030. These goals address various aspects of social, economic, and environmental development to improve living conditions and protect the planet for future generations.

The SDGs are crucial for global progress as they provide a comprehensive framework for addressing the world’s most pressing challenges. By targeting the root causes of poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation, the SDGs promote a more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable world for all.

The Origin of the SDGs

The SDGs were preceded by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of eight development goals established by the UN in 2000 with a target date of 2015. The MDGs focused on reducing extreme poverty, improving education, and promoting gender equality, among other objectives.

While the MDGs achieved significant progress in several areas, they were criticized for their narrow focus and lack of integration between social, economic, and environmental dimensions of development. In response, the UN developed the SDGs to build upon the successes of the MDGs while addressing their shortcomings and expanding the scope to include a broader range of issues.

The UN played a central role in facilitating the development of the SDGs, engaging governments, civil society, and other stakeholders in a comprehensive and inclusive process. Member countries participated in negotiations, contributed to setting priorities and committed to implementing the SDGs within their national contexts.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals

  • Goal 1: No Poverty – No Poverty aims to end extreme poverty in all its forms by 2030, ensuring that everyone has access to basic needs such as food, shelter, and social protection.
  • Goal 2: Zero Hunger – Zero Hunger seeks to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, promote sustainable agriculture, and ensure food security for all people.
  • Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being – Good Health and Well-being aims to promote physical and mental health, reduce mortality rates, and increase access to quality healthcare services for all.
  • Goal 4: Quality Education – Quality Education focuses on ensuring inclusive and equitable education opportunities for all, promoting lifelong learning, and improving educational outcomes.
  • Goal 5: Gender Equality – Gender Equality aims to eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls, ensuring equal opportunities and empowerment in all aspects of life.
  • Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation – Clean Water and Sanitation seeks to ensure universal access to safe and affordable drinking water, improve sanitation facilities, and promote sustainable water management practices.
  • Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy – Affordable and Clean Energy aims to provide access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy sources for all, while increasing the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
  • Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth – Decent Work and Economic Growth aims to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all, with a focus on eradicating forced labor, human trafficking, and child labor.
  • Goal 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure – Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure focuses on building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and fostering innovation to drive economic growth and development.
  • Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities – Reduced Inequalities seeks to reduce income inequality within and among countries, promote social, economic, and political inclusion, and ensure equal opportunities for all, regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender.
  • Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities – Sustainable Cities and Communities aims to make urban areas inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable by improving housing, transportation, and access to green spaces, as well as reducing the environmental impact of cities.
  • Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production – Responsible Consumption and Production promotes sustainable consumption and production patterns, aiming to minimize waste and the inefficient use of natural resources, while encouraging businesses and individuals to adopt more eco-friendly practices.
  • Goal 13: Climate Action – Climate Action focuses on urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts by strengthening resilience, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and promoting climate-related planning and education.
  • Goal 14: Life Below Water – Life Below Water seeks to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources, addressing issues such as overfishing, pollution, and ocean acidification to protect marine ecosystems and biodiversity.
  • Goal 15: Life on Land – Life on Land aims to protect, restore, and promote the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss.
  • Goal 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions – Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions focuses on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, providing access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels.
  • Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals – Partnerships for the Goals aims to strengthen global partnerships and cooperation for sustainable development, mobilizing resources, sharing knowledge, and leveraging technology to achieve the SDGs.

Implementation and Monitoring of the SDGs

Countries are responsible for implementing the SDGs within their national contexts, developing policies and plans that address their specific needs and priorities while aligning with global goals.

International organizations, such as the UN, World Bank, and regional development banks, play a crucial role in supporting countries’ implementation efforts, providing technical assistance, capacity building, and financial resources. Partnerships between governments, businesses, and civil society organizations are vital to achieving the SDGs.

Monitoring and evaluating progress towards the SDGs is essential to ensure accountability and inform policy adjustments. The UN and its agencies facilitate the collection and analysis of data, while countries are responsible for reporting on their progress using a set of global indicators.

Challenges and Opportunities

Achieving the SDGs requires overcoming numerous barriers, including insufficient financial resources, inadequate infrastructure, and unequal access to education and healthcare. Additionally, political instability, corruption, and lack of awareness about the SDGs can hamper progress in some regions.

Global cooperation is crucial for addressing these challenges and achieving the SDGs. By working together, countries can pool resources, share knowledge, and develop innovative solutions to common problems, ensuring no one is left behind in pursuing sustainable development.

Despite the challenges, the SDGs represent a unique opportunity to create a more just and sustainable world. By addressing the root causes of poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation, the SDGs can help improve living conditions for millions of people while protecting the planet for future generations.


The SDGs are critical for global progress, providing a roadmap for countries to work together in addressing the world’s most pressing challenges. By focusing on social, economic, and environmental dimensions of development, the SDGs promote a more inclusive and sustainable future for all.

Achieving the SDGs requires the concerted efforts of governments, businesses, and individuals. Governments must develop and implement policies that align with the SDGs, while businesses can adopt sustainable practices and contribute to the goals through innovation and investment. Individuals can also play a role by making more sustainable choices in their daily lives and advocating for climate action and social justice.

We can build a more equitable and sustainable future for all by working together to achieve the SDGs. This collective action will help address global challenges and create new opportunities for growth, innovation, and improved quality of life.

Understanding the SDGs and their relevance to your business can be complex. Veritrove can help you navigate this landscape and identify opportunities for your organization to contribute to its goals while enhancing your sustainability and social impact. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can support your journey toward a more sustainable future.


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