This Monday, September 18, 193 world leaders will come together as the United Nations General Assembly convenes in New York City for their annual meeting where they will be tasked with creating policies that affect countries around the world that affect issues like peace, security, and education. It’s no small task, especially as they look to see what progress has been made on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that were adopted 2 years ago.
About the Sustainable Development Goals
In order to rid the world of extreme poverty, the United Nations developed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. The Sustainable Development Goals follow on the heels of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that were issued in 2000. Thanks to the MDGs and progress made during those 15 years, 43 million more kids went to school, HIV infections were reduced by 40%, 2 billion more people received access to clean drinking water, and extreme poverty was cut in half.
While progress was made, more needs to be done.
Why the Sustainable Development Goals Matter
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are items that require action by all countries to improve the lives of people everywhere as the UN and its partners seek to build a better world and leave no one behind. With goals like ending poverty, reducing inequality, and climate change, there’s no doubt that they’re ambitious.
Here are a list of statistics from each of the Sustainable Development Goals that the UN is looking to change by 2030. I challenge you to not be moved by this list because these are the 17 reasons we can’t ignore the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals:
- About one in five persons in developing regions lives on less than $1.25 per day. (SDG #1- No Poverty)
- One in 4 of the world’s children suffer stunted growth because of malnutrition. In developing countries the proportion rises to one in 3. (SDG #2- No Hunger)
- More than six million children still die before their fifth birthday each year. (SDG #3- Good Health)
- 124 million children who could be in elementary, middle, or high school aren’t in school. 62 million of them are girls. (SDG #4- Quality Education)
- Almost 800 women die every day from complications in pregnancy or childbirth. (SDG #5- Gender Equality)
- An average of 5,000 children die every single day due to preventable water and sanitation-related diseases. (SDG #6- Clean Water and Sanitation)
- 1.3 billion people – one in five individuals around the world – still lack access to modern electricity. (SDG #7- Renewable Energy)
- Nearly 2.2 billion people live below the US$2 poverty line and poverty eradication is only possible through stable and well-paid jobs. (SDG #8- Good Jobs and Economic Growth)
- 2.5 billion people worldwide lack access to basic sanitation and almost 800 million people lack access to water, many hundreds of millions of them in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. (SDG #9- Innovation and Infrastructure)
- Women in rural areas are still up to 3x more likely to die while giving birth than women living in urban centers. (SDG #10- Reduced Inequalities)
- 828 million people live in slums today and the number keeps rising. (SDG #11- Sustainable Cities and Communities)
- More than 1 billion people still do not have access to fresh water. (SDG #12- Consumption)
- From 1880 to 2012, average global temperature increased by 0.85°C or 33°F. (SDG #13- Climate Action)
- Oceans absorb about 30% of carbon dioxide produced by humans, buffering the impacts of global warming. (SDG #14- Life Below Water)
- Of the 8,300 animal breeds known, 8% are extinct and 22% are at risk of extinction. (SDG #15- Life on Land)
- The rate of children leaving primary school in conflict-affected countries reached 50% in 2011, which amounts to 28.5 million children. (SDG #16- Peace and Justice)
- As of 2015, 95% of the world’s population is covered by a mobile-cellular signal. (SDG #17- Partnerships for the Goals)
There are lots more statistics associated with each and every Sustainable Development Goal. If the list feels overwhelming, that’s because it’s big job. To achieve progress on all 17 goals by 2030 is ambitious but not impossible.
As progress is made, lives are improved and the world becomes a better place for all but to make the Sustainable Development Goals a reality, everyone needs to do their part.
How to Learn More and Follow United Nations General Assembly Week
To learn more about the Sustainable Development Goals, read my post Stronger Together: How our Voices & Actions Will Change the World. This post features each goal, what it means, 3 quick facts to know, a resource, and how to get involved. Consider it your Cliff Notes to the Sustainable Development Goals.
Follow Along During UN General Assembly Week
Chances are there will be coverage of next week’s events in New York City online, in the paper, and on the news but you can follow along by:
- Tuning into Mashable’s Social Good Summit livestream on Sunday the 17th. The Summit unites a lively community of global citizens and progressive thought leaders in discussions relating to the Sustainable Development Goals and the world we want to live in by 2030. I’ve attended the Social Good Summit in the past and it’s wonderfully inspiring to be there in person but this year I will be tuning in from home.
- Watching the UN General Assembly live stream beginning on Monday the 18th via webtv.un.org
- Downloading and launching the SDG in Action app— This app puts information in the palm of your hand and there are other cool features like augmented reality messages from world leaders.
- Follow the hashtags- This year the conversation will be occurring using the hashtag #globalgoals #2030Now on social media. Look for photos on Instagram or tidbits in 140 characters or less via Twitter.
Learn How You Can Do Your Part to Save the World
It’s one thing to know about the Sustainable Development Goals. It’s another to act.
I know, you’re busy but so am I. And so is your neighbor, and their neighbor, and so on. But everyone can do their part and here’s how. Chances are you’re already doing some things to work towards the Sustainable Development Goals in your own home each and every day.
I love the The Lazy’s Persons Guide to Saving the World on the United Nations’ site. Even though we’re BUSY and not lazy, the post features easy actions that every person can take to make an impact. There are things you can do from your couch, at home, and outside your house. It’s brilliant because these are probably things you’re already doing or thinking about and always pestering your kids to do like:
- Moving away from paper bills and towards online bill payment
- Turning off the lights if you don’t need them
- Taking shorter showers
- Shopping local
- Bringing your own bags when you shop
- Vaccinating yourself and your kids to protect your family from disease and aid public health
- Exercising your right to elect the leaders in your country and community by voting
Since you’re already doing some of the above things to save the world, take a look to see what else you might be able to do because supporting the SDGs on an individual or family level is easy!