What are the sustainable development goals?
“The SDG framework was adopted by the United Nations in September 2015 which represents a universal call for action to protect the planet, end poverty and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030”
Sustainable development goals consist of 17 goals that represent the UN’s 2030 Agenda for a Sustainable Development Plan to address the world’s biggest issues such as climate change, poverty, and biodiversity loss. Ambitious goals such as this will require global collaboration to achieve within the time frame, but with 7 years to go until the goals are set to be met, are people aware of the ways in which they support them? Although the reliance lies heavily on member states to refer to these plans when creating new policies, civil society, including companies and individuals, are also asked to play their part. With 169 targets aimed at creating a more just and prosperous world, which ones should we focus on as individuals, and can one person contribute to these long-term ambitious plans?
Change first requires awareness
I was first introduced to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) while studying for my degree in Conservation Biology. Since then, they have been intertwined into many of the modules taught by the university to help educate and inform the next generation. Had I not been studying environmental science; I wonder if I would have heard of them by now?
In 2019, a global survey showed that 74% of adults had some awareness of the goals. Great Britain and Japan ranked the lowest, with 51% saying they had never heard of them. Which leads me to ask: are we doing enough to make the goals accessible to everyone? After all, it will require a huge team effort to achieve these by 2030! Thankfully, initiatives have been set up that aim to raise awareness and encourage action. ‘BSG for SDG’ provides accessible educational materials and a way of connecting with others to share your ideas and actions and adapt to a more sustainable way of living.
Think globally, act locally
Achieving long-term sustainability is not met by one person changing to adopt the perfect sustainable lifestyle. It is met with each person taking small steps daily to adopt sustainability into their everyday life. With campaigns, pledges, and actions being taken all over the world, initiatives such as BSG for SDG share tips for daily life that are linked to corresponding goals, so that individuals can adopt them into their own lives. For example, you can pledge to say NO to plastic bottles, which will support goals 12,13,14&15. There is access to easy-to-understand vocabulary, making learning about the SDGs accessible for more than just scientists and politicians. Initiatives such as this help to make the goals seem achievable and give the individual a sense of empowerment. It is important that everyday people feel like actionable changes are possible and that the goals are not as out of reach as they may seem if we all play our part.