Spotlight Series: Sustainable Development Goals

The Short Course “Building a Sustainable Future!” is all about futures. What kind of future do we want to live in? Such a vital question can never be answered without thinking about the present. What will have to change from where we are now to get the future we imagine?
One such document that can help us imagine pragmatic steps between the present and a desirable future, is the United Nations “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.[1]


This document spelled out 17 Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, which have to be achieved for a just and sustainable future society. They cover economic justice, equality, care for non-human life on the planet, infrastructure, energy and more.
It’s a document of great clarity and great importance. For the Short Course, we will use these goals as a starting point to explore the many different aspects of sustainability and hopefully these goals will help us to imagine a sustainable future!
In the following 17 parts of this Spotlight Series – we will dedicate one blog post to each of the SDG’s in order to introduce them and start thinking about them.

Reading those posts will be a great first point of contact and a good preparation for the course.
But before we get started with No. 1, I will talk a little bit more about the document itself:
The SDG’s are described in a document by the United Nations, which is officially known as “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. It’s the successor of the Millennium Development Goals, a list of eight goals dating back to the year 2000.[2] Those 8 goals were:

  1. To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. To achieve universal primary education
  3. To promote gender equality and empower women
  4. To reduce child mortality
  5. To improve maternal health
  6. To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
  7. To ensure environmental sustainability
  8. To develop a global partnership for development

While improvements have been made, these goals, set for the year 2015, were not – or only partially – reached.[3]
The SDG’s then were the result of an agenda aimed to replace the MDG’s for the next 15 years. There are now 17 goals and 169 specific targets. They build on the principles laid out in a document known as ‘The Future We Want’ and are regarded of goals of great urgency.

The final 17 goals were approved by all engaged in the negotiations and they were the first outcome from a UN conference that was supported by all major NGO’s. It is commonly perceived that while the MDG’s concerned themselves with the same problems, the SDG’s actually tackle the roots of the problems.

But SDG’s were not without criticism. Some reports criticises the 2030 Agenda as not ambitious enough, others point to the inherent contradictions, in particular in regards to calling for global economic growth.



But for anybody who wants to think constructively about the future of this world, the SDG’s are certainly no bad place to start!


This is part 1/18 of a series on the Sustainable Development Goals.






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