You may or may not have heard of the United Nations (UN) and their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), so, here’s a “basics” on them. They may seem a bit political, or economical, or bigger than what one can do anything about as individuals, so, I’ve included “my impact” for each.
There were originally 8 “Millennium development goals” (MDGs), when in 2000 189 nations committed to achieve a set of measurable goals including eradicating hunger, improving maternal health, promoting gender equality and ensuring environmental sustainability. These MDGs “expired” in 2015… and in 2015 the UN agreed 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the global development agenda for 2015-2030.
The SDGs all have a funky logo each and a number of targets. Here’s a quick look at them, with an added personal touch when I can! We can all at least think about these issues in our daily lives, we can think about those less fortunate to us and how we may be able to help even in small ways like turning the tap off whilst brushing our teeth.
Goal: End poverty in all its forms.
E.g. Target: By 2030, eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, currently measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day
My impact: Before I buy anything I try to find out as much as I can about the manufacturer or producer so I can reduce the money I contribute to modern slavery or unfair wages. I also choose to not contribute to companies that have offshore bank accounts meaning they pay less tax… I’m looking at you Amazon.
Goal: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
E.g. Target: By 2030, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality
My impact: I choose to buy a lot of my food at a local market, from a local producer. I always check where the produce I buy has come from, and opt for the closest country. I buy organic when I can and support local businesses, especially independents or cooperatives.
Goal: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
E.g. Target: By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being
My impact: I support the NHS, I give blood and during the global pandemic I wear a mask in public spaces. By looking after my own health, eating well, exercising and staying out of harm’s way I am reducing the time medical practitioners have to spend on me so they can help those in need.
Goal: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
E.g. Target: By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy
My impact: I’d like to find and support an organisation that sponsors and help people from less affluent backgrounds to be able to complete internships, so many unpaid internships still exist which only allow wealthy people to climb the career ladder faster.
Goal: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
E.g. Target: End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere
My impact: I support women business women, including garment markers that sell on Etsy, yoga teachers or bloggers that I can financially contribute to.
Goal: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
E.g. Target: By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity
My impact: I do my best to reduce my water use at home, I collect water in buckets in the garden to water my plants, I don’t use the hosepipe, I have short showers, don’t leave the tap on whilst brushing my teeth or whilst washing up.
Goal: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
E.g. Target: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
My impact: I switched my energy supplier to “Octopus”, so my electricity is from 100% renewable energy
Goal: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
E.g. Target: Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment
My impact: I am not an advocate for GDP* growth and don’t agree that this is a correct measure of how well a nation is doing. However, I do support small and independent businesses over big corps whenever I can.
*GDP means gross domestic product and is the universally used monetary measure of the market value of all the final goods and services produced by a nation.
Goal: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
E.g. Target: Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and transborder infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all
My impact: I try to support smaller enterprises where I can, and buy from independent sellers particularly local to support and encourage innovation and new ideas everywhere.
Goal: Reduce inequality within and among countries
E.g. Target: By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
My impact: I am anti-racist, anti-sexist and anti-transphobic. I sign petitions and speak out on these issues in my daily life with the hope that my speaking out helps more people to understand. Find and sign petitions at petition.parliament.uk
Goal: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
E.g. Target: By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all
My impact: I am an advocate for better, greener, safer and affordable public transport. I always try to opt for public transport when embarking on a longer journey.
Goal: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
E.g. Target: By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources
My impact: I refuse to excuse single use products, I opt for plastic free options whenever possible and I go out of my way to avoid products with excess packaging or production line. Reuse, Reuse, Reuse!
Goal: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
E.g. Target: Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning
My impact: I try to live with a low footprint; I buy less, reuse more, grow more, walk more and try to encourage everyone I know to do the same!
Goal: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
E.g. Target: By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans
My impact: I don’t eat fish, as someone who has cleaned a lot of beaches I know first hand the extent of fishing nets polluting our oceans and beaches. The destruction caused by the fishing industry doesn’t end with fishing nets; by catch, over fishing and illegal fishing practices such as shark finning are all destroying the natural ecosystems below the water.
Goal: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
E.g. Target: (halt biodiversity loss)
My impact: I don’t eat meat or dairy, the industrialised meat and dairy practices are detrimental to healthy land use and ecosystems. I also deliberately leave my garden “a bit wild” to attract more native insects, birds and mammals.
Goal: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
E.g. Target: Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere
My impact: I am anti-racist, anti-sexist and anti-transphobic. I will continue to speak out about these issues, attend protests, sign petitions and do what I can.
Goal: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
E.g. Target: Mobilize additional financial resources for developing countries from multiple sources
My impact: I try to make sure my money doesn’t benefit organisations that contradict this goal.
Goal definition and target explanations taken from sdgs.un.org/goals