What are the Sustainable Development Goals?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 goals and targets designed to end extreme poverty over the next 15 years. The goals are universal so are expected to guide the policies and practices of all countries. They replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which end this year 2015.

There are 17 Sustainable Development goals including:

  • End poverty in all its forms, everywhere
  • End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and sustainable agriculture
  • Ensure access to water and sanitation for all
  • Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies

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A full list of the goals and targets is provided here.

Were the (old goals) Millennium Development Goals effective?

The MDGs saw the international community commit to poverty reduction on a level we’d never seen before. As a result, the number of people living in extreme poverty (less than US$1.25 per day) has more than halved to 836 million. The number of preventable child deaths also fell dramatically, from 12.7 million in 1990, to six million today. Find out more about what the MDGs achieved here.

What lessons did the world learn from the MDGs and why do we need new goals?

For all its success, the MDGs failed to serve the world’s most vulnerable children; those at risk of child labour, early marriage and other forms of violence. It also neglected people living in fragile or conflict-affected places such as Syria and Afghanistan.

Those responsible for drafting the new Sustainable Development Goals appear to have taken the critique on-board declaring in the SDGs document “we will endeavour to reach the furthest behind first.”

The United Nations’ Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson has also been quoted as saying “there can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development.”

What makes the SDGs different?

In addition to committing to reach the furthest behind this time, the goals and targets have taken into account feedback from ordinary citizens. Many organizations consulted with communities in developing countries to find out exactly what they thought would improve their lives. Further, the UN launched an online ‘My World’ survey asking people to prioritise the areas they’d like to see addressed in the goals. One Goal partners helped to ensure child nutrition was a prioritised issue.

How will the SDGs impact One Goal's work in the future?

Through its global advocacy work and the work of it's core partners, One Goal will help communities across Asia hold their governments accountable for progress. One Goal's partner World Vision, for example, will also integrate the goals into its own development and emergency-response programming.

The SDGs also present the possibility of a much brighter future for the next generation -- something the One Goal movement will celebrate. For Asia's children, that means the chance for all children to enjoy the benefits of good nutrition and to participate in grassroots sports like football that can teach life skills and health. One Goal is specifically celebrating SDG 2 which focuses on ending hunger and improving malnutrition: SDG2- End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

SDG2, Target 2.1: By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round

SDG2, Target 2.2: By 2030, end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving, by 2025, the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under 5 years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women and older persons.

Malnutrition is an underlying cause in nearly half of all child deaths. Every year, 6.3 million children die from preventable causes.

When will the SDGs take effect?

World leaders will meet at a special United Nations Summit in New York from 25-27 September to formally adopt the new goals. They will officially take effect in January 2016. The deadline for the goals is 2030.