What is an SDG?
It sounds a little like a food additive, doesn’t it! Seriously, though, this acronym stands for Sustainable Development Goals – global targets set by the United Nations (UN), which all member countries signed onto in 2015 at the UN General Assembly. There are 17 of them, and they are all connected, so that doing well (or not so well) in one will affect another. The SDG vision is to “Leave No One Behind,” aiming to bring our most vulnerable citizens up first, before working on the large goals.
First, what does “sustainable” mean? We need to break it down. In essence, sustainability is something that will last; that can be renewed; that can be handed down for future generations. Most importantly, sustainability means something that will not be used up. There is always something saved for generations to come. We must nurture what we already have, and build resilience going forward. We must find the right balance between our lives and families, our work and aspirations, and caring for the environment. It’s a tough one, but we must find a way.
The United Nations Development Programme office in Jamaica keeps an eye on our progress with the SDGs, and provides updates (as it does with countries around the world). So, how is our island doing? As we explore each SDG in future issues (starting with the Big One: No Poverty) we will take a look at this in detail. Meanwhile, click here to find out more about why the SDGs are important to us.
Like Jamaica’s own Vision 2030 (the island’s National Development Plan), we are supposed to achieve the SDGs by the same year, 2030. The theme of leaving no one behind also ties in very closely with Vision 2030, which has as its top goal “Jamaicans are empowered to achieve their fullest potential.” That means every Jamaican, including our most vulnerable citizens. Goal 2 is to ensure a secure and just society and good governance; Goal 3 is for a prosperous economy; and Goal 4 is about the importance of our natural environment, including preparing for the dangers and disasters that climate change might bring.
How important is this in today’s complex world! Stay tuned as we explore each one of these goals in the current context of COVID-19 (which has changed everything), climate change, and other concerns that we live with every day: growing inequality, social unrest, and food security.
Yes, these are daunting problems, indeed. However, the SDGs tackle these issues in a proactive way. They are all about looking to the future and finding solutions. They are a planning tool for governments, civil society, private sector organizations, and citizens who are looking to head in the right direction. What kind of future does Jamaica want? As we move past and slowly emerge from the “COVID era,” what changes would we like to see? Perhaps our lenses need adjusting. Let’s think about it.
Here is a list of the UN Sustainable Development Goals:
Goal 1: NO POVERTY: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Goal 2: ZERO HUNGER: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture
Goal 3: GOOD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Goal 4: QUALITY EDUCATION: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Goal 5: GENDER EQUALITY: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Goal 6: CLEAN WATER AND SANITATION: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Goal 7: AFFORDABLE AND CLEAN ENERGY: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Goal 8: DECENT WORK AND ECONOMIC GROWTH: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all
Goal 9: INDUSTRY, INNOVATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Goal 10: REDUCED INEQUALITIES: Reduced inequality within and among countries
Goal 11: SUSTAINABLE CITIES AND COMMUNITIES: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable
Goal 12: RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Goal 13: CLIMATE ACTION: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Goal 14: LIFE BELOW WATER: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development
Goal 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
Goal 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
Goal 17: PARTNERSHIPS FOR THE GOALS: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
To learn more about each SDG, click on the boxes below.