“The Future we want”. This is the name of the outcome document adopted during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in 2012. The document described the lessons of 20 decades of development experience, through the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and was also the cornerstone of a new era for sustainable development, the 2030 Agenda. Implemented in 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development resulted from three years of discussions about the development we want for the next 15 years. This Agenda, containing 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), meant to be universal. Dealing with issues ranging up from sustainable cities, clean energy, climate change, to end of poverty and gender equality, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals are ambitious. But they are the turning point for a global development agenda which is supposed to improve everyone’s lives.
And “after only one year, the SDGs seem to be better known than the Millennium Development Goals”, underscored Xavier Longan, from the UN SDG Action Campaign staff. A success that could be explained through the commitment of all, governments, experts, civil society and citizens, in a spirit of transparency.
In early 2017, the first UN SDGs’ report was published reviewing progress made to date, and efforts that remain to be made. Concerning SDG1, ending poverty in all its form, the goal is far from achieved. Indeed, one in eight people still live in extreme poverty. And while this rate did decrease from 26% to 13% between 2002 and 2012, many other forms of poverty impact people, mainly youth.
Furthermore, the agenda is also committed to tackle gender equality and education. The report points out that in 2013, 59 million children at primary school level were out of school. Moreover, 757 million adults across the planet were unable to read and write. Promoting gender equality takes several forms, including combatting female genital mutilation or underage marriage. Yet, it is also about encouraging women’s representation in some places where they are a minority, such as in politics or science.
Insuring sustainable development is also working on sustainable economic growth. In this regard, the SDGs aims to improve the life of the 30% of people living in urban slum-like conditions and fighting against high levels of air pollution in big cities. The biggest challenge is for the least developed countries, which still have to develop better access to energy and water. Indeed, “water stress affects more than 2 billion people around the globe, while 1.1 billion people still don’t have access to energy”, the reports alerted.
Finally, the Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for efforts to combat climate change and improve our natural environment. As the report states, “climate change presents the single biggest threat to development, and its widespread, unprecedented effects disproportionately burden the poorest and the most vulnerable”. Through the SDGs, the world is committed to fight against this issue, as shown by the signature of the historic Paris Agreement in April 2016. The report highlights that “175 Member States promised measures to take ambitious climate action and ensure that global temperatures rise no more than 2 degrees Celsius”.
Learning from the experience of the Millennium Development Goals, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a global agenda dealing with issues of our current world. Nowadays, sustainable development is not only about giving everyone the right to live in peace and dignity, it is also a vital necessity to ensure the future of humanity. Thus, if the 17 goals are so ambitious, this is because we can’t wait anymore, if we want to give the opportunity to next generations, deciding the future they want.
To learn more about 2030 SDGs, please, visit: https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2016/The%20Sustainable%20Development%20Goals%20Report%202016.pdf