How is the United Nations working towards sustainability?
The United Nations has been encouraging member countries to take sustainability seriously. In September 2015, 193 countries agreed to adopt a set of 17 global goals to end poverty, protect the planet’s resources and improve equity for all. Officially known as Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the plan is spearheaded by the United Nations and builds on the Millennium Development Goals established in 2000.
The new goals call for action by all countries, poor, rich and middle-income to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. They recognize that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and address a range of social needs including education, health, social protection, and job opportunities, all while tackling climate change and environmental protection.
Sustainable Earth proudly encourages the adoption of the UN SDGs. We will have the planet we want, if we all work towards these worthy goals.
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
Click on a goal to learn more.
Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Reduce poverty and increase global resilience to climate change by expanding access to resources, ensuring equal economic and ownership rights, and creating sound policy for the poor and vulnerable, who will be most affected by climate change.
Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
End hunger by providing safe, nutritious, healthy and sustainably sourced food year round. This goal includes doubling agricultural productivity, increasing access to land and other resources, and expanding investments for the poor and vulnerable.
Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Increase global physical, mental and reproductive health and reduce preventable deaths. This goal includes reducing child mortality, epidemics, deaths from pollution and substance abuse, and increasing preventative health care and coverage.
Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning
Provide equal access to quality and affordable education for all to develop relevant skills for employment and achieve literacy. This goal will develop effective leaders for the future, especially those living in the most vulnerable countries.
Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Improve gender equality by eliminating gender discrimination and violence, expanding leadership opportunities, ensuring universal health access and enhancing economic opportunities for all women and children everywhere.
Goal 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all
Provide universal access to clean water and sanitation and reduce harmful pollutants that disrupt ecosystems and contribute to climate change. This goal protects and restores water-related ecosystems and expands sustainable water use for all.
Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Ensure access to affordable, reliable, renewable and modern energy services and increase energy efficiency to minimize harmful emissions. This goal includes international cooperation, expanded research and improved infrastructure.
Goal 8: Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all
Sustain economic growth and increase productivity through technological advancements, decent work for all, and jobs that promote local culture and products and sustainable tourism. This goal includes labor rights, eradication of forced labor and safer working conditions.
Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Invest in infrastructure -- transport, irrigation, energy and information and communication technology -- to promote sustainable economic development and human well-being. This goal includes financial services, environmentally sound technologies and expanded research.
Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries
Empower developing countries by reducing inequalities and sustaining income growth. This goal addresses discriminatory laws, social protections, wage policies, international trade and markets, orderly and safe migration.
Goal 11: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Ensure adequate, safe and affordable housing, public spaces and transportation and increase resilience to disasters. This goal addresses urban slums, rural areas, regional planning, global culture and a reduction of the environmental impact of cities.
Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Improve human health and reduce adverse effects on the environment by promoting sustainable management of natural resources, reducing food and other solid waste, better managing of chemicals and fertilizers, and improving reporting and procurement practices.
Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Combat climate change and increase environmental resilience by creating mitigation strategies, strengthening adaptive capacity, increasing climate policy, and improving education and awareness for climate action.
Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources
Protect biodiversity of oceans by reducing pollution, strengthening resilience, regulating fishing, increasing protection, increasing management, minimizing ocean acidification, and conserving marine and coastal ecosystems for sustainable use.
Goal 15: Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss
Protect the biodiversity of land ecosystems by increasing conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems efforts; implementing management and policy to stop desertification, deforestation, and degradation of natural resources; and ending poaching and the introduction of invasive species.
Goal 16: Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies
Ensure the success of sustainable development and non-discriminatory global governance for all by reducing all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere, ending abuse and trafficking of children, decreasing organized crime, corruption and bribery.
Goal 17: Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
Put these goals into action and create a global partnership by mobilizing the economy, promoting the diffusion of sustainable technologies, increasing in trade, and creating sustainable policies.
Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a plan spearheaded by the United Nations that builds on the Millennium Development Goals established in 2000. Visit the UN Sustainable Development Goals page to find out more.
Did you know?
This is what poverty looks like
- Could you survive on less than US$1.90 a day? More than 700 million people, or 10% of the world population have to get by on this amount, living in extreme poverty. The majority of those people live in sub-Saharan Africa.
- Having a job does not guarantee a living wage In 2018, 8 per cent of employed workers worldwide lived with their families in extreme poverty.
- High poverty rates are often found in small, fragile and conflict-affected countries.
- Poverty affects children the most with one out of five children living in extreme poverty.
This is one just one of seven "no poverty" targets the UN wants to reach by 2030
- Reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions.
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- An estimated 821 million people were undernourished in 2017.
- The majority of the world’s hungry people live in developing countries, where 12.9 per cent of the population is undernourished.
- In sub-Saharan Africa, the number of undernourished people increased from 195 million in 2014 to 237 million in 2017.
- Agriculture is the single largest employer in the world, providing livelihoods for 40 per cent of today’s global population. It is the largest source of income and jobs for poor rural households.
- If women farmers had the same access to resources as men, the number of hungry in the world could be reduced by up to 150 million.
This is one just one of seven "zero hunger" targets the UN wants to reach by 2030
- 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.
Did you know?
- 17,000 fewer children die each day than in 1990, but more than five million children still die before their fifth birthday each year
- Since 2000, measles vaccines have averted nearly 15.6 million deaths
- Maternal mortality has fallen by 37% since 2000
- But maternal mortality ratio – the proportion of mothers that do not survive childbirth compared to those who do in developing regions is still 14 times higher than in the developed regions
- 36.9 million people globally were living with HIV in 2017
- AIDS is now the leading cause of death among adolescents (aged 10–19) in Africa and the second most common cause of death among adolescents globally
This is one just one of thirteen "good health" targets the UN wants to reach by 2030
- End the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases
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- Enrolment in primary education in developing countries has reached 91 per cent but 57 million primary age children remain out of school
- More than half of children that have not enrolled in school live in sub-Saharan Africa
- 617 million youth worldwide lack basic mathematics and literacy skills.
This is one just one of ten "quality education" targets the UN wants to reach by 2030
- Ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education
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- Globally, 750 million women and girls were married before the age of 18 and at least 200 million women and girls in 30 countries have undergone female genital mutilation
- In 18 countries, husbands can legally prevent their wives from working; in 39 countries, daughters and sons do not have equal inheritance rights; and 49 countries lack laws protecting women from domestic violence
- One in five women and girls, including 19 per cent of women and girls aged 15 to 49, have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner within the last 12 months. Yet, 49 countries have no laws that specifically protect women from such violence
This is one just one of nine "gender equality" targets the UN wants to reach by 2030
- Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation
Did you know?
- 1 in 4 health care facilities around the world lack basic water services
- 3 in 10 people do not have access to safely treated drinking water
- Women and girls are responsible for water collection in 80 per cent of households without access to water on premises
- Between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of the global population using an improved drinking water source has increased from 76 per cent to 90 per cent
- Water scarcity affects more than 40 per cent of the global population and is projected to rise. Over 1.7 billion people are currently living in river basins where water use exceeds recharge
- 2.4 billion people lack access to basic sanitation services, such as toilets
This is one just one of eight "clean water" targets the UN wants to reach by 2030
- Achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all
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- 13% of the global population still lacks access to modern electricity
- 3 billion people rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating
- Energy is the dominant contributor to climate change, accounting for around 60 per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions
- The share of renewable energy in final energy consumption has reached 17.5% in 2015.
This is one just one of five "affordable energy" targets the UN wants to reach by 2030
- Increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix
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- The global unemployment rate in 2017 was 5.6%, down from 6.4% in 2000
- The global gender pay gap stands at 23 per cent globally and without decisive action, it will take another 68 years to achieve equal pay. Women’s labour force participation rate is 63 per cent while that of men is 94 per cent
- Despite their increasing presence in public life, women continue to do 2.6 times the unpaid care and domestic work that men do
- 470 million jobs are needed globally for new entrants to the labor market between 2016 and 2030.
This is one just one of twelve "decent work" targets the UN wants to reach by 2030
- Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value
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Innovation and Infrastructure
- Basic infrastructure like roads, information and communication technologies, sanitation, electrical power and water remains scarce in many developing countries
- 16% of the global population does not have access to mobile broadband networks
- For many African countries, particularly the lower-income countries, the existent constraints regarding infrastructure affect firm productivity by around 40 per cent
- Industrialization’s job multiplication effect has a positive impact on society. Every job in manufacturing creates 2.2 jobs in other sectors
- Small and medium-sized businesses engaged in industrial processing and manufacturing are the most critical in the early stages of industrialization and are typically the largest job creators. They make up over 90 per cent of business worldwide and account for between 50-60 per cent of employment
This is one just one of eight "innovation and infrastrucutre" targets the UN wants to reach by 2030
- Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and transborder infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all
Did you know?
- In 2016, over 64.4% of products exported by the least developed countries to world markets faced zero tariffs, an increase of 20% since 2010
- Evidence from developing countries shows that children in the poorest 20 per cent of the populations are still up to three times more likely to die before their fifth birthday than children in the richest quintiles
- Social protection has been significantly extended globally, yet persons with disabilities are up to five times more likely than average to incur catastrophic health expenditures
- Despite overall declines in maternal mortality in most developing countries, women in rural areas are still up to three times more likely to die while giving birth than women living in urban centers
- Up to 30 per cent of income inequality is due to inequality within households, including between women and men. Women are also more likely than men to live below 50 per cent of the median income
This is one just one of ten "reduced inequalities" targets the UN wants to reach by 2030
- Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard
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- Half of humanity – 3.5 billion people – lives in cities today and 5 billion people are projected to live in cities by 2030
- 95 per cent of urban expansion in the next decades will take place in developing world
- 883 million people live in slums today and most them are found in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia
- The world’s cities occupy just 3 per cent of the Earth’s land, but account for 60-80 per cent of energy consumption and 75 per cent of carbon emissions
- Rapid urbanization is exerting pressure on fresh water supplies, sewage, the living environment, and public health
This is one just one of ten "sustainable cities" targets the UN wants to reach by 2030
- Ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums
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- Should the global population reach 9.6 billion by 2050, the equivalent of almost three planets could be required to provide the natural resources needed to sustain current lifestyles
- With rises in the use of non-metallic minerals within infrastructure and construction, there has been significant improvement in the material standard of living. The per capita “material footprint” of developing countries increased from 5 metric tons in 2000 to 9 metric tons in 2017
- 93% of the world’s 250 largest companies are now reporting on sustainability
This is one just one of eleven "sustainable consumption" targets the UN wants to reach by 2030
- Achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources
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- As of April 2018, 175 parties had ratified the Paris Agreement and 168 parties had communicated their first nationally determined contributions to the UN framework convention on Climate Change Secretariat
- From 1880 to 2012, average global temperature increased by 0.85°C. For each 1 degree of temperature increase, grain yields decline by about 5 per cent. We have seen significant yield reductions at the global level between 1981 and 2002 due to a warmer climate of maize, wheat and other major crops
- With current concentrations and on-going emissions of greenhouse gases it is likely that global temperature will increase my more than 1.5°C compared to 1850 to 1900 by the end of this century. Our oceans will warm and ice melt will continue. Sea level rise is predicted to be 24 – 30cm by 2065 and 40-63cm by 2100
This is one just one of five "climate action" targets the UN wants to reach by 2030
- Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries
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Life Under Water
- Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods
- Oceans serve as the world’s largest source of protein, with more than 3 billion people depending on the oceans as their primary source of protein
- Subsidies for fishing are contributing to the rapid depletion of many fish species and are preventing efforts to save and restore global fisheries and related jobs, causing ocean fisheries to generate US$50 billion less per year than they could
- Coastal waters are deteriorating due to pollution and eutrophication. Without concerted efforts, coastal eutrophication is expected to increase in 20 percent of large marine ecosystems by 2050
This is one just one of the ten "life under water" targets the UN wants to reach by 2030
- Enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources
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Life on Land
- Between 2010 and 2015, the world lost 3.3 million hectares of forest areas. Poor rural women depend on common pool resources and are especially affected by their depletion
- Due to drought and desertification, 12 million hectares are lost each year (23 hectares per minute). Within one year, 20 million tons of grain could have been grown
- Illicit poaching and trafficking of wildlife continues to thwart conservation efforts, with nearly 7,000 species of animals and plants reported in illegal trade involving 120 countries
This is one just one of twelve "life on land" targets the UN wants to reach by 2030
- Combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world
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Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
- Corruption, bribery, theft and tax evasion cost an estimated $1.26 trillion (USD) 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 $1.25 for at least six years
- The proportion of prisoners held in detention without sentencing has remained almost constant in the last decade, at 31% of all prisoners
- Violence against children affects more than 1 billion children around the world and costs societies up to US$ 7 trillion a year
- Every 5 minutes, somewhere in the world, a child is killed by violence
This is one just one of twelve "peace, justice and strong institutions" targets the UN wants to reach by 2030
- End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children
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Partnerships for the Goals
- Official development assistance stood at $146.6 billion in 2017. This represents a decrease of 0.6 per cent in real terms over 2016
- 79 per cent of imports from developing countries enter developed countries duty-free
- 30 per cent of the world’s youth are digital natives, active online for at least five years, but more than four billion people do not use the Internet, and 90 per cent of them are from the developing world
This is one just one of nineteen "partnerships for the goals" targets the UN wants to reach by 2030
- Enhance international support for implementing effective, targeted capacity-building in developing countries that support plans to implement the sustainable development goals, including through North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation
Personal actions can make a difference: ActNow
ActNow is the United Nations’ global call to individual action on climate change. The campaign is a coordinated effort to raise awareness, ambition, and action to mitigate climate change. We believe there is great synergy in the actions we can take to be more sustainable and steps that will positively affect our climate. By changing our behavior and making choices that help sustain our environment, we have the power to create a Sustainable Earth.