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What Are the Sustainable Development Goals?

Antoni Zolciak


May 1, 2020

5 min read

How can all of us make better daily decisions for a more sustainable future?

United Nations set a collection of 17 global goals to achieve a better and more sustainable world for everyone. The Sustainable Development Goals—or SDGs, for short—were agreed upon in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly. They address the challenges we all face as a global community: poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace, and justice.

The big idea is to achieve all of them by the year 2030 as a part of UN Resolution 70/1. All SDGs are rather broad and interconnected. In total, there are 169 targets for all of the goals, and each target has between one and three indicators used to measure progress toward reaching the finish line.

To specifically establish what we’re looking at, let’s list the Sustainable Development Goals quoting the United Nations

  1. No poverty
    End poverty in all its forms everywhere.
  2. Zero hunger
    End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.
  3. Good health and well-being
    Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
  4. Quality education
    Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
  5. Gender equality
    Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
  6. Clean water and sanitation
    Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
  7. Affordable and clean energy
    Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
  8. Decent work and economic growth
    Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  9. Industry, innovation, and infrastructure
    Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation.
  10. Reduced inequalities
    Reduce income inequality within and among countries.
  11. Sustainable cities and communities
    Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.
  12. Responsible consumption and production
    Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
  13. Climate action
    Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts by regulating emissions and promoting developments in renewable energy.
  14. Life below water
    Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
  15. Life on land
    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. Peace, justice, and strong institutions
    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. Partnerships for the goals
    Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

Sustainable Development. What is it?

The SDGs can be considered as an evolution of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — a set of eight goals established by the United Nations in 2000, following the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration. 

The historic background reaches further than 2000, though. The concept of SDGs dates back to 1972, to a United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm, Sweden, where the rights of a family to a healthy and productive environment were discussed. Nine years later, the United Nations created the World Commission on Environment and Development. During that time sustainable development has been defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

This quote has set the foundation for what is now known as the Sustainable Development Goals. In 2016, Ban Ki-moon, a former United Nations Secretary-General, said at a press conference that “we don’t have plan B because there is no planet B.” This thought is to this day considered a driver that guided the development and implementation of SDGs worldwide.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The SDGs are a part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is a resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25th September 2015. The document is considered a plan of action for people, planet, and prosperity. Eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions is considered to be the greatest global challenge and “an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.” 

Two other major outcomes from 2015 are integral to the 2030 Agenda: Addis Ababa Action Agenda and Paris Climate Agreement.

Addis Ababa Action Agenda is a global framework for financial flows with economic, social, and environmental priorities. 

Paris Climate Agreement, on the other hand, is a global treaty to limit—and hopefully reverse—climate change.

How Can We Support Sustainable Development Goals? 

At Cardinal Cryptography, we’re focused on cutting edge technologies that can assist in reaching the 2030 goals. Our primary priority is to get involved in projects that support at least one of the 17 goals and the circular economy in general. 

All companies can play a role and contribute to the SDGs. A good place to start is to get familiar with the United Nations Global Compact’s Making Global Goals Local Business brochure that provides an overview of how businesses—regardless of their scale—can support the achievement of SDGs by 2030. 

But SDGs are not only for companies, NGOs, or other organizations: they’re for individuals, too. The Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World is one of the documents prepared by the United Nations for a human being that wants to tackle the climate crisis on their own. Everything from saving electricity by plugging appliances off when not in use to shopping vintage goods, this guide is a starting point for most of us.


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