What are the Global Goals?

Have you ever wondered: what are the SDGs? Who created them? When? Or will they be achieved? Then this blog is for you!

Today, we’re going back to basics and answering all your burning questions about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – or as we like to call them, the Global Goals.

The origin story

In September 2015, all 193 members of the United Nations adopted a plan to end poverty, tackle inequalities and protect our environment by 2030: the Global Goals.

17 Goals to transform our world for people and planet. This new set of Goals was devised out of a need to build upon the success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were in effect from 2000 to 2015.

The journey to the Goals began with a collective realisation that our world faces significant, interconnected challenges that require a unified response. Adopting the Goals was a huge milestone for global development because they are universal. They apply to all countries equally, regardless of their income levels or development status.

You, me and the SDGs

The Goals are more than just a list of objectives. They provide us all with the most effective blueprint to address global challenges. Yes, you read that correctly: all of us. You see, while the Goals were agreed upon and signed by world leaders, everyone has a role to play in ensuring they’re achieved.

Governments are the ones responsible for developing and implementing the policies that drive progress towards the Goals. Meanwhile, the UN and other international organisations are responsible for monitoring this progress and coordinating efforts.

That’s not all though. NGOs have the power to mobilise communities around the Goals and advocate for specific changes or policies. The private sector is also crucial, as businesses are the ones that can not only develop innovative solutions to tackle these global challenges, but can also invest in projects aligned with the Goals.

Finally, there’s you. You also have a tremendous amount of power to drive the Global Goals. Every day, you have the ability to make sustainable choices. You can use your voice to advocate for change. You can also get involved with your community and organise local initiatives that address specific Goals-related issues. Last but not least, you can hold your politicians accountable to the promises they made in 2015.

Will the Goals be achieved?

This is a complex question which doesn’t have a straightforward answer. We’re now just past the halfway mark to 2030 and unfortunately only 15% of the Goals are on track to be achieved.

The first few years after the Goals were adopted saw slow, but steady progress occur. Poverty rates were decreasing, access to education was on the rise and new innovations were improving health outcomes across the globe. But, as we know too well, COVID-19 put a major spanner in the works. The pandemic, coupled with increasing conflicts, geopolitical tensions and worsening climate change resulted in a stalling, or in some cases a complete reversal of progress.

Covid pushed millions of people into poverty, with extreme poverty increasing in 2020 for the first time in decades. Children across the globe were forced out of school and today, only 58% of children are able to read at a basic level when they leave primary school. It’s also devastating to learn that between 2021 and 2022, public funding for the production and consumption of fossil fuels more than doubled.

It’s not all bad news though! Progress is still happening in some areas. For example, the number of new cases of HIV has dropped by almost 30% since 2015. In the same period, women in 23 countries around the world have been elected as head of state or government for the first time. 687 million more people now have access to safe drinking water and 91% of the global population has access to electricity.

What should I do now?

The Global Goals are a bold, innovative vision for a better world. Achieving them by 2030 won’t be easy, but – to use a sporting analogy – we can still turn things around in the second half.

The Goals affect all of us. They’re woven into the fabric of our lives. For real, long-lasting change to happen, everyone needs to care about them and advocate for one or more of them.

This could be through conscious consumer choices, campaigning for change, or simply living a more sustainable lifestyle. Small actions ladder up to make a big difference. Everyday choices are powerful tools for positive impact. Consider how you can be a  conscious consumer – in the clothes you wear, the food you eat, and how you travel. Everyday actions like reducing your use of plastic, switching to clean energy providers or becoming more invested in a circular economy can help.

But that’s only one part of the picture. Achieving the Goals also requires deep, systemic change. Governments, corporations, and institutions must implement policies and practices that support sustainability and equity on a larger scale.

People today, especially young people, have more power than ever to drive systemic change, particularly through tools like social media. You have the ability to raise awareness, mobilise communities, and hold leaders accountable on a global scale. So don’t hesitate to use your voice and your platforms. You have the power to inspire widespread action and ensure that the Goals remain a top priority for everyone.

The journey ahead requires continued collaboration, innovation, and determination, but with the Goals as our guide, we have a clear path toward achieving a peaceful, equitable, prosperous future for everyone.