We want to undo present and previous wrongs
To leave a better place for future generations
We are committed to help you ensure that all human beings can enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives and that economic, social and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature.
The scale of human impact on the physical Earth has reached dangerous levels, which threatens long-term progress against poverty and the well-being of rich and poor countries alike. The world economic system is already “trespassing” on the Earth’s “planetary boundaries,” [see Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet; Big World, Small Planet. Abundance within Planetary Boundaries]. Many natural resources and ecosystems essential for human and societal well-being are being threatened or destroyed, such as loss of biodiversity, air pollution, water shortages and pollution, deforestation and grasslands degradation, and soil contamination. Climate change is no longer a future threat but a stark current reality. We are already seeing the consequences of rising carbon dioxide concentrations and higher global temperatures, such as changes to the intensity and duration of extreme weather events and ocean acidification[1.11]. With the scale of global economic activity doubling roughly every generation we must change how the economy functions or the environmental consequences of growth will become overwhelming and indeed devastating.
The SDGs commit to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable production and consumption and the sustainable management of natural resources (including terrestrial and marine ecosystems), as well as taking urgent action to tackle climate change.
Make Sustainable Cities and Communities
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.
The target for 2030 is to ensure access to safe and affordable housing. The indicator named to measure progress toward this target is the proportion of urban population living in slums or informal settlements. Between 2000 and 2014, the proportion fell from 39 percent to 30 percent. However, the absolute number of people living in slums went from 792 million in 2000 to an estimated 880 million in 2014.
Movement from rural to urban areas has accelerated as the population has grown and better housing alternatives are available.
Promote Responsible Consumption and Production
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
The targets of Goal 12 include using eco-friendly production methods and reducing the amount of waste. By 2030, national recycling rates should increase, as measured in tons of material recycled. Further, companies should adopt sustainable practices and publish sustainability reports.
UN calls for the implementation of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production. This framework, adopted by member states at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, is a global commitment to accelerate the shift to sustainable consumption and production in developed and developing countries. In order to generate the collective impact necessary for such a shift, programs such as the One Planet Network have formed different implementation methods to help achieve Goal 12.
Take Climate Related Actions
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts by regulating emissions and promoting developments in renewable energy.
The UN discussions and negotiations identified the links between the post-2015 SDG process and the Financing for Development process that concluded in Addis Ababa in July 2015 and the COP 21 Climate Change conference in Paris in December 2015.
In May 2015, a report concluded that only a very ambitious climate deal in Paris in 2015 could enable countries to reach the sustainable development goals and targets. The report also states that tackling climate change will only be possible if the SDGs are met. Further, economic development and climate change are inextricably linked, particularly around poverty, gender equality, and energy. The UN encourages the public sector to take initiative in this effort to minimize negative impacts on the environment.
This renewed emphasis on climate change mitigation was made possible by the partial Sino-American convergence that developed in 2015–2016, notably at the UN COP21 summit (Paris) and ensuing G20 conference (Hangzhou).
At a 2017 UN Press Briefing, Global CEO Alliance (GCEOA) Chairman James Donovan described the Asia-Pacific region, which is a region particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, as needing more public-private partnerships (PPPs) to successfully implement its sustainable development initiatives.
In 2018, the International Panel of Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change, published a special report “Global Warming of 1.5°C”. It outlined the impacts of a 1.5 °C global temperature rise above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, and highlighted the possibility of avoiding a number of such impacts by limiting global warming to 1.5 °C compared to 2 °C, or more. The report mentioned that this would require global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) to fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching “net zero” around 2050, through “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. This special report was subsequently discussed at COP 24. Despite being requested by countries at the COP 21, the report was not accepted by four countries – the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait, which only wanted to “note” it, thereby postponing the resolution to the next SBSTA session in 2019.
Support Life Below Water
Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
Sustainable Development Goal 14 aims “to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.” Effective strategies to mitigate adverse effects of increased ocean acidification are needed to advance the sustainable use of oceans. As areas of protected marine biodiversity expand, there has been an increase in ocean science funding, essential for preserving marine resources. The deterioration of coastal waters has become a global occurrence, due to pollution and coastal eutrophication (overflow of nutrients in water), where similar contributing factors to climate change can affect oceans and negatively impact marine biodiversity. “Without concerted efforts, coastal eutrophication is expected to increase in 20 per cent of large marine ecosystems by 2050.”
The Preparatory Meeting to the UN Ocean Conference convened in New York, US, in February 2017, to discuss the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14. International law, as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), stressed the need to include governance instruments to consider “anthropogenic activities taking place outside of the ocean”. Concerns regarding ocean health in destructive fishing practices and marine pollution were discussed, in looking at the role of local communities of small island developing States (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs) to not forget that oceans are a large part of their economies. The targets include preventing and reducing marine pollution and acidification, protecting marine and coastal ecosystems, and regulating fishing. The targets also call for an increase in scientific knowledge of the oceans.
Although many participating United Nations legislative bodies comes together to discuss the issues around marine environments and SDG 14, such as at the United Nations Ocean Conference, it is important to consider how SDG 14 is implemented across different Multilateral Environmental Agreements, respectively. As climate, biodiversity and land degradation are major parts of the issues surrounding the deterioration of marine environments and oceans, it is important to know how each Rio Convention implements this SDG.
Support 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.
This goal articulates targets for preserving biodiversity of forest, desert, and mountain eco-systems, as a percentage of total land mass. A “land degradation-neutral world” can be reached by restoring degraded forests and land lost to drought and flood. Goal 15 calls for more attention to preventing invasion of introduced species and more protection of endangered species. Forests have a prominent role to play in the success of Agenda 2030, notably in terms of ecosystem services, livelihoods, and the green economy; but this will require clear priorities to address key tradeoffs and mobilize synergies with other SDGs.
The Mountain Green Cover Index monitors progress toward target 15.4, which focuses on preserving mountain ecosystems. The index is named as the indicator for target 15.4. Similarly, the Red Index (Red List Index or RLI) will fill the monitoring function for biodiversity goals by documenting the trajectory of endangered species. Animal extinction is a growing problem.
Because we all share this planet earth, we have to learn to live in harmony and peace with each other and with nature. This is not just a dream, but a necessity.