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The SDGs stand for the Sustainable Development Goals. They are part of Agenda 2030, an international development agenda by the UN. The focus of the SDGs is on global sustainable development. By creating a balance between the world’s social, environmental and economic needs. For example, by actions that end poverty and protect the planet.  

 The SDGs replaced the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). As the previous goals only applied to developing countries. The latest goals are universal, meaning they apply to all nations. Another difference is that the SDGs focus more on the root causes of global challenges. This also means that the new goals are broader than the old ones.  

The SDGs  

There are 17 SDGs, divided into People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace or Partnership. For example, there is a goal for health (Goal 3), gender equality (Goal 5) and sustainable consumption (Goal 12). Other Goals are set for climate change (Goal 13) and strengthening the global partnership for sustainable development (Goal 17).  

The SDGs got created by the 193 member states of the UN. It was a transparent process that included governments, the private sector, scientists and civil society. The member states can report on their progress in achieving the goals as often as they want. The reports go to the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). Countries can also report their overall progress in achieving Agenda 2030 to the same forum. More so, the HLPF has a yearly meeting at the UN headquarters in New York.  

Picture of one of the SDGs: Quality education.

Global indicators

Furthermore, the UN provides the member countries with 230 global indicators. These help them to measure their sustainable development. Each country must turn these into so-called national indicators. More so, develop an action plan for change. However, these action plans are not legally binding.

Agenda 2030

The agenda aims to tackle the underlying problems in the world. Rather than only working with the symptoms, such as rescue camps for climate refugees. Therefore there is a mixed focus on direct action, such as reassuring access to food, with long-term sustainable projects.

The 2030 Agenda will work through, for example, local bodies. Each government that is a member of the UN has the responsibility to establish these bodies. The idea is to collect experts in areas such as culture, climate, environment, business and research. This is done with the hope of creating national action plans that align with the values of Agenda 2030.

Example of source: UNDP


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