193 Countries Agreed on 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Why?

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon shares this “good news”.

After 3 years of negotiations and debate, 193 countries agreed to a set of 17 development goals more bold and ambitious than anything that has come before them.

But what are Sustainable Development Goals? Where have they evolved from?

These 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – part of a wider 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

There were 8 MDGs and they are going to expire by the end of this year (2015).


But why didn’t we just renew them? Why was there a need to re-evaluate and re-program the development goals?

  1. The MDGs as you can see were very focus, concrete, target oriented which was a good thing to begin with, right?
  2. Wrong – The structures and 8 categorisation metrics ended up being so rigid that we left out other more important areas.

A 2015 UN assessment of the MDGs found they fell short for many people:

“The assessment of progress towards the MDGs has repeatedly shown that the poorest and those disadvantaged because of gender, age, disability or ethnicity are often bypassed.”

Okay, fair point. So what do these SDGs look like? What went into the process of coming up with these 17 blocks of SDGs?

In response to the accusation that the MDGs were too narrow in focus, the SDGs set out to tackle a whole range of issues, from gender inequality to climate change.

The unifying thread throughout the 17 goals and their 169 targets is the commitment to ending poverty.

Eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. 



The consultation process to arrive at these 17 SDGs was one of the most transparent exercise ever to be undertaken in the UN history.

A million voices formed the part of the process.

Very quickly then, listing down the goals:

1) End poverty in all its forms everywhere

2) End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture

3) Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages

4) Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

5) Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

6) Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

7) Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

8) Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all

9) Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation

10) Reduce inequality within and among countries

11) Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

12) Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

13) Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts (taking note of agreements made by the UNFCCC forum)

14) Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

15) Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss

16) Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

17) Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development

Published with inputs from Sumer


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