At the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2015, Heads of Government from 193 UN Members States gathered to ratify the Sustainable Development Goals. In doing so the international community committed that:

“We resolve, between now and 2030, to end poverty and hunger everywhere; to combat inequalities within and among countries; to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies; to protect human rights and promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls; and to ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources…”

What are the Sustainable Development Goals and what do they mean for the UK?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, or “the Global Goals”) are an initiative of the United Nations.

Together, the Global Goals set out an ambitious agenda for a better world by 2030 – fairer, safer, healthier, more prosperous and in better balance with nature. The goals have been described as “the closest thing the world has to a strategy”.

The Global Goals were born out of a vast consultation process and were ratified by 193 global leaders in September 2015. There are 17 goals, with 169 targets sitting underneath them, covering every facet of life on Earth – social, economic and environmental. 

Unlike the Millennium Development Goals which preceded them, the SDGs are not primarily focused on developing countries;  they are about sustainability everywhere.

The SDGs are a common blueprint for a sustainable future - as relevant to communities, households and individuals as they are to governments, businesses, and NGOs.

Despite the universal nature of the SDGs, they are sometimes misconstrued as a “developing world issue”. UKSSD’s work includes encouraging the UK government to follow through on its public declarations of support for the agenda by putting in place robust plans to achieve the Global Goals in the UK.

We believes that the SDGs are the ideal framework to address some of the greatest social and environmental challenges we face in the UK, including those listed below.

In the UK:

  • 8% of people are in poverty
  • 3 million people are undernourished
  • 40,000 people die from air pollution every year
  • 5% of young people in the North East are not in employment, education or training
  • We are set to miss the target of 15% of our energy coming from renewable sources by 2020

(Source: Newcastle University)