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The World Is Watching: Sustainable Development Goals


You may remember the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, created 17 years ago. The results from this global effort were not insignificant, and they’ve now inspired the continuation of effort in the form of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Past Success

Some successes of the Millennium Development Goals, specifically in regards to environmental sustainability, include:

  • 98% of ozone-depleting substances have been eliminated since 1990
  • 9 billion people have gained access to on-premises piped drinking water
  • 91 percent of the global population is using an improved drinking water source—an increase of almost 2 billion people since 1990

These advancements in global sustainability and health were achieved through the unified purpose of national governments – large and small. Humanity and the planet’s health have improved, on average, over recent years due to the dedication of everyday people who work to improve the world over the long term.

New Sustainable Development Goals 2030

Many of the factors addressed in the Millennium Development Goals have been adopted by the more recent Sustainable Development Goals. Continuous improvement is needed to maintain a reasonable standard of living and support the Earth we humans know and love.

From the Sustainable Development Goals Preamble:

We are determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations.

Access to Water and Sanitation

Providing sanitized drinking water for everyone encompasses “improving water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling.” This includes sustainably gathering water from renewable resources.

Affordable, Reliable, Sustainable and Modern Energy

The United Nations seeks to improve energy efficiency, sustainable energy and technology, and reduce the use of fossil fuels by 2030. In general, “promote investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technology.”

Quality Education for All and Promote Lifelong Learning

The UN wants the world to supply affordable or “free, equitable and quality” childhood, pre-primary, and primary education for girls and boys, including literacy and numeracy. This goal includes “knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development.” Education about issues such as climate change will help the next generation succeed beyond what we have in the past.

Promote Sustainable Industrialization and Foster Innovation

Working together, countries should come up with new ways – large and small – to reduce carbon footprint in the industrial sector by adopting new and retrofitting outdated technology. Countries should adopt “clean and environmentally sound technologies.”