Sustainable Development Global Goals

Sustainable Development Goals Graphic

On the 25th of September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 70/1 – ‘Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, often called ‘Agenda 2030’. This resolution constituted the adoption of a post-2015 development agenda, seeking to build on what had been attempted in the 15 years prior with the Millennium Development Goals. Central to Agenda 2030 are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, along with their 169 targets. These set out the broad and ambitious plan for the world’s development agenda from 2015 to 2030.

The goals are to be realised within four broad, but key, pillars:


The eradication of poverty and hunger, and the fulfilment of the full potential for all human beings with dignity and equality in a healthy environment


Proactively ensuring that the planet – its oceans, forests and natural resources - are protected for future generations by increasing sustainable consumption, decreasing degradation, and taking urgent action on climate change.


That economic growth occurs for the benefit of all human beings, to ensure prosperous lives, and reduce inequalities among and within countries.


The agenda is realised through a Global Partnership for Sustainable Development based on a spirit of global solidarity, with the recognition that everyone has a part to play – all countries, all stakeholders, and all people.

The principle of ‘Leave No One Behind’ underpins the agenda, striving for progressive universality, or to reach the most vulnerable first, as to refrain from exacerbating inequalities. While goal 10 directly addresses inequality, the philosophy of Leave No One Behind is relevant to all goals, and seeks to achieve a just, equitable, tolerant, open and socially inclusive world in which the needs of the most vulnerable are met.

There are interlinkages across most goals, targets and indicators, and a holistic, multidisciplinary approach to addressing all goals and issues, including all parties and stakeholders, is necessary for successful implementation. The Sustainable Development Goals are rooted in many past international treaties and agreements, such as human rights instruments like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The agenda strives to utilise a follow-up and review process that is robust, voluntary, effective, participatory, transparent, and integrated so as to make a vital contribution to the implementation of the goals and maximise countries accountability. This is carried out by in-built mechanisms for the follow-up and review of progress towards the goals such as the High-level Political Forum. The High-Level Political Forum is an annual conference in which states submit Voluntary National Reviews that track their progress towards goals, and stakeholders such as UN agencies, NGOs, civil society organisations, etc., have direct involvement in the monitoring of the SDGs. Domestic and regional participation with a variety of stakeholders is expected as to ensure national implementation of the goals.

17 Sustainable Development Goals

  • Goal 1 - End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Goal 2 - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  • Goal 3 - Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • Goal 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  • Goal 5 - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Goal 6 - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  • Goal 7 - Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  • Goal 8 - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Goal 9 - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  • Goal 10 - Reduce inequality within and among countries
  • Goal 11 -Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • Goal 12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Goal 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts*
  • Goal 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  • Goal 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  • Goal 16  - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  • Goal 17 - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

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SDG Academy

The SDG Academy, an initiative of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), offers free online courses available through the website, EdX, taught by some of the world’s leading experts in Sustainable Development.