What Are Sustainable Development Goals

In this chapter, we will discover the concept of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as defined by the United Nations. We will discuss each of the 17 SDGs and provide practical examples of how you can implement them in your daily lives. We will also explore how communities can work together to achieve these goals through collaborative projects and initiatives.

What are Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, are a set of 17 goals established by the United Nations in 2015 to achieve a more sustainable future for all. The SDGs are a call to action for governments, businesses, organizations, and individuals to work together towards a common vision: to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all.

The history of SDGs can be traced back to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio+20, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2012. The conference brought together world leaders to discuss sustainable development and establish a plan for the future. One of the outcomes of Rio+20 was the agreement to develop a set of Sustainable Development Goals to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that had expired in 2015.

In 2015, after three years of consultation and negotiation, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes the 17 SDGs and their respective targets. The SDGs address a range of issues, including poverty, hunger, health, education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, renewable energy, economic growth, climate action, and more.

Here are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals:

  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 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.
  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.

The importance of the SDGs

So why do SDGs matter? They provide a framework for achieving a sustainable future for all, and they are relevant to everyone, including individuals, communities, and businesses. By taking action to support the SDGs, you can improve you own life and the lives of others, while also contributing to a more just and equitable world.

As individuals, we can play a significant role in achieving these goals by making sustainable choices in our daily lives. For example, reducing energy consumption, using public transport, and reducing waste are all ways in which we can contribute to achieving SDGs such as affordable and clean energy, sustainable cities and communities, and responsible consumption and production.

However, sustainable development is not just about individual actions, it also requires collective action within our communities. By organizing and participating in community projects, we can create positive impacts that go beyond our personal choices. Whether it’s organizing a community garden, participating in a beach clean-up, or advocating for sustainable policies, there are many ways to take collective action towards achieving SDGs.

Moreover, by working together, we can create more significant impacts and drive systemic change. Collaborating with local organizations, government agencies, and businesses can create innovative solutions that benefit everyone in the community.

The Sustainable Development Goals are not just a set of lofty ideals. They are a tangible framework for creating a better world. By implementing SDGs in our daily lives and communities, we can contribute to a sustainable future for all. In the following sections, we will explore each of the SDGs in more detail and examine practical ways in which we can work towards achieving them.

Organizing community projects for promoting SDGs

Ready to take your sustainable efforts to the next level? Organizing community projects focused on achieving the SDGs is a fantastic way to make a difference on a larger scale! By working together with like-minded individuals, you can pool resources and skills to create impactful projects that address the most pressing global challenges.

Here are some tips to get started:

Identify the SDGs that matter most to your community

Take a look at the 17 SDGs and assess which ones are most relevant to your local community. Are there particular issues that are prevalent in your area, such as lack of access to clean water or inadequate waste management systems? Choosing SDGs that are aligned with your community’s needs will make your project more meaningful and effective.

Build a team

Find people who share your passion for sustainability and who are willing to lend their time, expertise, and resources to the cause. This could include local business owners, community leaders, and other volunteers who are committed to creating positive change.

Develop a project plan

Outline the specific goals, objectives, and actions for your project. What do you want to achieve? What steps will you take to get there? Make sure your plan is realistic and achievable within the timeframe and budget you have set.

Collaborate and network

Partner with other organizations and individuals who are working towards similar goals. Collaboration and networking can help you access new resources, share knowledge and expertise, and build a stronger, more effective project.

Measure and celebrate progress

Partner with other organizations and individuals who are working towards similar goals. Collaboration and networking can help you access new resources, share knowledge and expertise, and build a stronger, more effective project.

Remember, sustainable change doesn’t happen overnight, but with dedication and collaboration, you can create a more sustainable future for your community and beyond.

Inspirational Practice: The Plastic Bank

The Plastic Bank is a social enterprise that aims to reduce plastic waste in oceans and waterways while improving the lives of people living in poverty. The initiative works by establishing recycling markets in areas where plastic pollution is high, providing local communities with the tools and resources needed to collect and recycle plastic waste. In exchange for their plastic waste, individuals are given digital tokens that can be used to purchase basic necessities such as food, water, and cooking fuel.

This initiative contributes to SDG 14 by reducing plastic pollution in oceans and waterways, which has a detrimental impact on marine life and ecosystems. Additionally, it addresses SDG 1 – No Poverty by providing income opportunities and basic necessities to individuals living in poverty. The Plastic Bank has successfully implemented recycling markets in Haiti, the Philippines, and Indonesia and has diverted millions of plastic bottles from ending up in the ocean.

More information:

Questions to consider:


What do you think are the biggest challenges in reducing plastic waste in your community?


2. How could the Plastic Bank’s approach be adapted to work in your local context?


3. What are some creative ways to incentivize individuals and businesses to reduce their plastic consumption and recycle more?


4. How can we encourage governments and corporations to take more responsibility for reducing plastic pollution?


Have you personally made any changes in your daily life to reduce plastic waste? If not, what steps can you take to make a positive impact?