The Sustainable Development Goals

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The sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were created by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. They replace and expand on the United Nations’ previous road map, the Millennium Development Goals that were adopted in 2000 (Times). The SDGs are a collection of 17 interconnected goals to serve as a blueprint in addressing global development challenges, such as poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, and more (dpicampaigns). In 2015, 193 countries of the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Development Agenda and its 2030 target date titled ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development'(Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform). Within each of the 17 goals there are individual targets, making up 169 targets in total.

The SDGs have been ratified by 193 member states, which have pledged to work towards achievement of each goal. Achievement of each goal is tracked using statistical data reported by participating member states, which is then tracked by the UN’s Statistical Division. The data is reported on the UN’s website (— SDG Indicators). However, some critics doubt the ability to achieve the lofty goals laid out in the SDGs agenda. Common criticism of the SDGs is availability of data, consistency of data, and reliability and accuracy of data.

Some criticize that there are just too many goals, and that less goals are more easily acheived (“The 169 Commandments”) (Kweifio-Okai). Another criticism is in competing goals, specifically, how to accomplish one goal while not negatively impacting another such as, “Technology that creates new jobs, but without polluting its environments” and “the environmental impacts of ending poverty” (Machingura and Lally) (Scherer et al.). Another criticism is that the cost of achieving these goals is simply too high; the costs of extending basic water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) services to the unserved costs US$ 28.5 billion per year from 2015 to 2030, or 0.10% of global product, according to the World Bank (Guy Hutton Mili Varughese).

While it is uncertain if the goals set forth by the SDGs will be obtainable by 2030, or ever, there has been some positive progress made so far. The 2018 UN report (TheSustainableDevelopmentGoalsReport2018-EN.Pdf) showed progress on many goals including, Goal 3, where the “maternal mortality rate has declined 37% since 2000; globally, from 2000 to 2016, the under-5 mortality rate dropped by 47%, and the neonatal mortality rate fell by 39%. With Goal 7, “From 2000 to 2016, the proportion of the global population with access to electricity increased from 78% to 87%.” There was progress in other goals as well.

Despite these uncertainties and successes, achieving all of the goals by year 2030 is nearly impossible. Perhaps with more accountability of member states such as, some sort of penalty for not meeting localized targets, there may be more success for the SDGs. Perhaps also, the ambiguity of the goals, especially with differences between different member states, is setting the SDGs up for failure.

More confidence could be had in the SDGs if there was more leadership and national ownership such as passing local legislature to implement SDG policy, and allocating government funding for SDG aligned projects. Collaboration, and cross-sector work could also warrant more confidence. It seems that in the U.S. for example, science, government, and industry all seem to work within their own silos. It is also up to the consumers and citizens to push government and industry towards alignment with the SDGs through means such as purchasing power and voting. These examples could all give more confidence in the feasibility of success for the SDGs.


Cite this paper

The Sustainable Development Goals. (2021, Feb 28). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-sustainable-development-goals/

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