The United Nations adopted a plan for global sustainable development, calling on accomplishing significant improvements in terms of peace, people, prosperity, and partnerships as part of a 2030 agenda.
There are over 150 targets which they hope to achieve through the main 17 sustainable goals which act as calls to action for all member states of the United Nations.
A brief history of the SDGs
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by all United Nation member states during 2015. The plan was put in place to act as an urgent global call to action for all countries involved.
The SDGs mainly focus on diminishing inequalities and social deprivations through enforcing positive changes. They highlight improving key aspects of health, education and reducing inequality whilst simultaneously aiming to tackle climate change by preserving oceans and forests worldwide.
The goals themselves are numbered from 1 to 17, ranging from aims of zero poverty, gender equality, good health and well-being and global partnerships.
Essentially, the goals are a blueprint for countries to collectively work towards to help nations both domestically and other external countries around the world. The full list of goals can be located on the United Nations SDGs site.
Ultimately, the goals are all interlinked, you can’t achieve one without others being met, and all countries need to play their part for goals to be accomplished. Understandably, this is a difficult process to navigate given the turbulent global occurrences, as in times of violence and uncertainty, the landscapes of instability make the SDGs harder to meet.
Given the unprecedented times the world saw, and are still overcoming from the impacts of Covid-19, the sustainable development goals are vital now more than ever. Due to the coronavirus, the UN found that around 119-124 million people were pushed back into extreme forms of poverty in 2020 (UN). More notably, there is an estimated 4 billion people worldwide who are still not being assisted by any forms of short-term social protection.
Furthermore, it is highly important that these SDGs are prioritised so that actions can be put in place to improve the livelihoods of countless civilians and societies worldwide.
How can we as individuals make an impact?
Undoubtedly, it is the systems of power in countries that need to change for positive social changes to be instilled in society, however we as individuals can do our part to work towards achieving the SDGs.
The most compelling way we can individually assist the SDGs is through the power of education. By educating ourselves on the goals, and by staying alert of their importance both domestically and worldwide, the better equipped we will be to better our actions towards assisting our society. From this, you will be able to inform those around you, increasing public knowledge on the matters. Consequently, the goals will be spoken about more, and hopefully be demanded within social and political settings. You don’t even need to carry this out face-to-face, use social media to inform others by using the hashtag #GlobalGoals to encapsulate all corresponding SDGs media.
Given the vast number of sustainable pillars endorsed by the UN there will always be some form of action you can take to assist the larger movement. For instance, goal five indicates the need for gender equality and this can be assisted by you, as you can voice your opinion if you notice someone is being treated unfairly whether that be over gender, race or pay inequality within the workplace. Through raising concerns within your working environments and generally in day-to-day life, you are bringing the goals into action and making a positive difference, no matter how small it may feel.
Furthermore, it is important that those in higher powers in society are held accountable in acting to implement methods to achieve the SDGs within civilisations. As people, we should be mindful of policies when voting, and be conscious of people’s manifestos and how they link to the UNs goals when deciding, as this will have a significant impact on the goals being reached.
Small changes to aid the SDGs movement
Even just day-to-day tasks can be modified to assist the SDG goals, from turning off appliances when you’re not using them to save electricity, to composting food waste - small changes can still be impactful. Aim to use less fuel when out and about, why not try carsharing or use public transport alternatives, or walk where necessary to lessen the number of emissions entering our atmosphere.
Additionally, you should prioritise recycling by using reusable water bottles and using your own bags to help reduce plastic consumption, rather than resorting to purchasing plastic alternatives. Also, be mindful of what you are purchasing, you can see which products are sustainable by using platforms such as the Think Dirty App to assist you when shopping.
Moreover, try as much as possible to shop local and support your local businesses, as this will assist local individuals and lessen the food miles.
In terms of fashion, aim to shop only when necessary and from reputable brands that sustainably produce garments. Be mindful of the notion of circular fashion and upcycling when considering clothing. Importantly, you can donate any unwanted items to repurpose them and extend the cycle of clothing.
Therefore, it is clear that the SDGs are notable goals that can be met, should both we as individuals, and world leaders actively aim to eradicate inequality and poverty within our own civilisations and collectively worldwide.