In 2015, the United Nations established the 17 Sustainable Development Goals as a form of renewal of the millennium development goals (MDGs) established in the 2000s. These 17 goals (the SDGs) functioned as soft laws—or non-legally binding rules—on how to be sustainable and have introduced new mechanisms such as goals within each goal under time limits in order to have each nation be held accountable. The SDGs also have acknowledged the different paces and stages each participating government is in. All of these laws are crucial to truly being sustainable and with the 10th year anniversary of its creation coming in two years, I believe it is worth accessing some of these goals in depth in order to fully understand sustainability.
SDG 1 addresses the need to “end poverty in all forms everywhere”; which was the main focus of the MDGs. SDG 1 states that in order to end poverty we must: provide universal access to basic social services, develop social protections to those not able to protect themselves, and have strong support communities to aid victims of disasters and other tragedies.
SDG 2’s focus is to end hunger. The goal pushes to achieve food security by eliminating the existence of food deserts. It also focuses on the need for improved nutrition—which is extremely beneficial to newborns as the first two years of their diets determine if they will experience permanent stunted development—and focuses on sustainable agriculture and the need to eliminate food surpluses.
SDG 4 states the need for “inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. This goal demonstrates that the minds of the future should encompass all identities and thus to achieve this goal, we must push to not only make the demographic of education systems more equitable, but we need to make the quality equitable as well.
SDG 5 covers the need for gender equity, all efforts to advance equality must empower women. Furthermore, efforts for sustainability must provide adequate reproductive healthcare.
SDG 6 addresses that sustainability also implies universal access to clean,potable water; and providing all groups the right to water (e.g., the right to water for Indigenous communities).
The SDGs are expansive and are goals that rely on transparency and cooperation amongst the participating members. Its universal participation and collaborations with companies like Samsung have shown some progress being made in several of its goals. Lastly, we must acknowledge that each goal is indivisible and intersectional—in other words we cannot achieve one goal without all the other goals and acknowledges all goals intersect (i.e. gender equality needs advancements in education equity and great healthcare)—thus in order to be sustainable, we must be intersectional and leave no one left behind.