The Sustainable Development Goals (or SDGs) are a collection of 17 goals set by the UN General Assembly in 2015 for the year 2030. Effectively they are a blueprint for peace and prosperity for all people and the planet. The 17 SDGs are:
- No Poverty
- Zero Hunger
- Good Health and Well-being
- Quality Education
- Gender Equality
- Clean Water and Sanitation
- Affordable and Clean Energy
- Decent Work and Economic Growth
- Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
- Reducing Inequality
- Sustainable Cities and Communities
- Responsible Consumption and Production
- Climate Action
- Life Below Water
- Life On Land
- Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
- Partnerships for the Goals.
As you might expect, each goal has a list of targets which in turn can be measured with indicators. In total there are 169 targets and 232 approved indicators to measure compliance – so remembering or summarising what the UN hopes to achieve is not an easy task. There are however various tools which track and visualise the world’s overall progress towards the goals – and the best that I’ve seen is the Social Progress Index (SPI). (See Michael Green’s TED talk How We Can Make the World a Better Place by 2030 for an explanation of this Index).
Top of the 2019 SPI Rankings is Norway, whilst the UK is 13th and the United States is 26th. Sadly, progress since the goals were set five years ago has been uneven and if we keep going at our current pace we won’t meet the ambitious targets by 2030. Of particular concern are a) the poor and the most vulnerable and b) women and girls still face challenges in all areas. Plus there’s a huge discrepancy between the rich and poor and between rural and urban communities.
The INSEAD Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society launched a Speaker Series in 2019 that focusses on the SDGs, raising awareness about them both within the business school itself and eternally. Ex-CEO of Unilever, Paul Polman, opened the series and his excellent talk can be found on YouTube (see SDGs Speaker Series: Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever, “The SDGs: What’s in it for business?”). He described the SDGs as being our plan to leave no-one behind and to irreversibly eradicate poverty in a more sustainable and equitable way. He goes on to say that the SDGs are the biggest business plan that we’re sitting on from any perspective. (Paul has been involved with SDGs since the early days as he was selected by Ban Ki-moon to be a key business representative on the committee tasked with forming and building support for them.)
The 17 SDGs were designed to succeed the Millennium Development Goals (or MDGs) that were originally set in 2000 and were due by 2015. The UN hailed the MDGs as “the most successful anti-poverty movement in history” and while they weren’t all fully achieved, remarkable progress was certainly accomplished as a result of them. Commenting on the MDGs, Ban Ki-moon said “yet for all the remarkable gains, I am keenly aware that inequalities persist and that progress has been uneven.
In recent years, we’ve started to incorporate some of the UN SDGs into our projects either through the charities/communities we are trying to help or even the project build designs.
It is our belief that achieving the very ambitious targets of the SDGs will only be possible if everyone (that’s everyone – individuals, corporates, governments, non-profits, academic institutions, etc) gets involved. We all need to do our part. What are you doing to contribute?
If you would like help with contributing to the SDGs and, at the same time, you would like some world-class training for your staff, please reach out to Splash Projects. For more information, contact [email protected].