What are the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals?

Sustainability Magazine highlights the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals and why companies are reaching for these ambitious targets 

If you read any company sustainability strategy or report, it’s likely that it will contain one of the 17 United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). But what do these actually mean for organisations as they look to create a better future for people and the planet through environmental, social and governance (ESG) actions? 

The list of goals was created by the UN to target the key areas for development in relation to the 2030 global transformation agenda. In less than nine years, and beyond, the organisation is committed to granting people their human rights and fulfilment throughout their daily lives, to minimise the impact of commerce and the public sector on the environment, to bring peace to communities around the world, and allow partners to join on the journey. 

What are the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals? 

The list of SDGs is comprehensive and aims to act upon all global issues. This list includes: 

  1. No poverty
  2. Zero hunger 
  3. Good health and well-being
  4. Quality education 
  5. Gender equality 
  6. Clean water and sanitation
  7. Affordable and clean energy 
  8. Decent work and economic growth 
  9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  10. Reduced inequalities
  11. Sustainable cities and communities 
  12. Responsible consumption and production
  13. Climate action 
  14. Life below water
  15. Life on land 
  16. Peace, justice and strong institutions 
  17. Partnerships for the goals

Organisations are implementing Sustainable Development Goals

Since this set of goals was conceptualised, there has been a significant uptake in commitments towards some of these targets. The LEGO Group is following the solution with its commitments to SDG 4, which forms a huge part of its sustainability strategy as it aims to provide better education for young individuals.

Meanwhile, Hilton Hotels is supporting sustainable cities and communities through its commitment to SDG 11 and hopes to reduce negative climate impacts, resulting from unsustainable urban development. Nike — which has experienced some controversy in previous years over the production of its goods — is now working towards SDG 12 to ensure responsible consumption and production throughout its supply chain to drive responsible sourcing. 

As more companies highlight their strategic sustainability plans, we will see more firms implementing UN SDGs in the future. 


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