The Sustainable Development Plan of the United Nations; The 2030 Agenda by Ama Serwaa Sarkodie Mensah

This article is to create awareness about the UN’s Sustainable Development Plan from 2000-2030. It is a compilation of works of others from various sources and references (which are provided below).

The Millennium Development Goals

The MDGs were concrete and specific goals which helped establish some priority areas of focus in international development.

But one of their biggest criticisms were: by being so targeted, they had left out other, equally important areas.

“The MDGs helped to lift more than one billion people out of extreme poverty, to make inroads against hunger, to enable more girls to attend school than ever before and to protect our planet,” the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon explained.  

But he didn’t finish there. “Yet for all the remarkable gains, I am keenly aware that inequalities persist and that progress has been uneven.”

The United Nations Millennium Declaration, signed in September 2000 commits world leaders to combat poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation, and discrimination against women. The MDGs are derived from this Declaration, and all have specific targets and indicators.

MDG 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger

The target of reducing extreme poverty rates – people living on just $1.25 a day – by half was met five years ahead of the 2015 deadline. Globally the number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 836 million in 2015.

However, target of halving the proportion of people suffering from hunger has narrowly been missed. The proportion of undernourished people in the developing regions has fallen from 23.3 per cent in 1990 to 12.9 per cent in 2014.

MDG 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education

Primary school enrolment figures have shown an impressive rise, but the goal of achieving universal primary education has just been missed. The primary school enrolment rate in developing regions reached 91 per cent this year, up from 83 per cent in 2000. 

MDG 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women

About two two-thirds of developing countries achieved gender parity in primary education. Progress has been particularly strong in Southern Asia. Only 74 girls were enrolled in primary school for every 100 boys in 1990. Today, 103 girls are enrolled for every 100 boys.

MDG 4: Reduce Child Mortality

The global under-five mortality rate has declined by more than half since 1990 – dropping from 90 to 43 deaths per 1,000 live births. This falls short of the targeted drop of two-thirds.

In practical terms this means 16,000 children under-five continue to die every day from preventable causes. A terrible reality made worse by the fact we know what each one of these major killers are, and what can be done to thwart them.

MDG 5: Improve Maternal Health

Since 1990, the maternal mortality ratio has been cut nearly in half. This is an impressive result, but as well with goal 4 it falls short of the two-thirds reduction that was aimed for. There were an estimated 289,000 maternal deaths in 2013.

MDG 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases

The results with MDG 5 are mixed. The target of halting and beginning to reverse the spread of HIV/Aids has not been met – although the number of new HIV infections fell by 40% between 2000 and 2013.

According to the UN, over 6.2 million malaria deaths have been averted between 2000 and 2015, primarily of children under five years of age in sub-Saharan Africa. The global malaria incidence rate has fallen by an estimated 37 per cent and the mortality rate by 58 per cent

MDG 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainably

Between 1990 and 2015, 2.6 billion people gained access to improved drinking water, meaning the target of halving the proportion of people without access to safe water was achieved. Worldwide, 2.1 billion people have gained access to improved sanitation.

MDG 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

Official development assistance from wealthy countries to developing countries increased by 66 per cent in real terms between 2000 and 2014, reaching $135.2 billion.

Sustainable Development Goals

“I am pleased to share some good news for people and planet,” UN Secretary-General Bank Ki-moon said to a packed room of press delegates. The good news? After three years of negotiations and debate, 193 countries had agreed to a set of development goals bolder and ambitious than anything that has come before them.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – part of a wider 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These eight goals, set by the United Nations back in 2000 to eradicate poverty, hunger, illiteracy and disease, expire at the end of this year.

These Goals are 17 global goals set by the United Nations General Assembly.

The SDGs cover social and economic development issues including poverty, hunger, education, gender equality, global warming, environment, sanitation, social justice and others.

On 1 January 2016, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — adopted by world leaders in September 2015 at an historic UN Summit — officially came into force

Goal 1: No Poverty

Besides aiming to eradicate extreme poverty, Goal 1 takes a comprehensive approach to poverty as a whole by including a target on relative poverty based on national definitions. The poor are particularly vulnerable to economic and political crises, loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services, and natural disasters and violence. 

1.1: By 2030, eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, currently measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day

1.2: By 2030, reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions

Goal 2: Zero Hunger

Although the situation has improved in numerous countries, many people still suffer from hunger and malnutrition around world. Undernourishment affects nearly 800 million people worldwide – most of them women and children. The aim of the 2030 Agenda is to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition around the world within the next 12 years. 

2.1: By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round

2.2: By 2030, end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving, by 2025, the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under 5 years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women and older persons

Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being for People

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have made a significant contribution to improving global health, e.g. in the fight against diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. 

However, results have failed to meet expectations in many areas, such as reducing child and maternal mortality.

3.1: By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births

3.3: By 2030, end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases

Goal 4: Quality Education

The international community has reaffirmed the importance of education and good-quality training in improving the living conditions of individuals, communities and entire societies. Drawing many useful lessons from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the new sustainable development goal 4 goes beyond children’s primary education, highlighting in particular the link between basic education and vocational training. Furthermore, it emphasizes equity and quality of education in a life-long learning approach, two aspects which were not addressed in the MDGs.

4.1: By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes

4.2: By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education

Goal 5: Gender Equality

Goal 5 advocates equal opportunities for men and women in economic life, the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls, the elimination of early and forced marriage, and equal participation at all levels.

5.1: End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere

5.2: Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation

Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

Too many people still lack access to safely managed water supplies and sanitation facilities. Water scarcity, flooding and lack of proper wastewater management also hinder social and economic development. Increasing water efficiency and improving water management are critical to balancing the competing and growing water demands from various sectors and users.

In 2015, 29 per cent of the global population lacked safely managed drinking water supplies, and 61 per cent were without safely managed sanitation services. In 2015, 892 million people continued to practice open defecation.

In 2015, only 27 per cent of the population in LDCs had basic handwashing facilities.

Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

Clean energy production, energy from waste, renewable fuels, energy distribution and management, energy storage.

In 2016, 3 billion people (41 per cent of the world’s population) were still cooking with polluting fuel and stove combinations.

In the least developed countries, the proportion of the people with access to electricity more than doubled between 2000 and 2016.

Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

Globally, labour productivity has increased and the unemployment rate has decreased. However, more progress is needed to increase employment opportunities, especially for young people, reduce informal employment.

470 million jobs will be needed to absorb new entrants to the labour market between 2016 and 2030.Unemployment among youth (aged 15 to 24) reached 13 percent in 2014, nearly three times higher than the rate of adults.

Goal 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

Sustainable Development Goal 9 addresses three important aspects of sustainable development: infrastructure, industrialization and innovation. Infrastructure provides the basic physical facilities essential to business and society; industrialization drives economic growth and job creation, thereby reducing income inequality; and innovation expands the technological capabilities of industrial sectors and leads to the development of new skills.

More than 4 billion people still do not have access to the Internet, and 90 percent are from the developing world. Bridging this digital divide is crucial to ensure equal access to information and knowledge, and as a consequence foster innovation and entrepreneurship.

Goal 10: Reducing Inequalities

It is well documented that income inequality is on the rise, with the richest 10 percent earning up to 40 percent of total global income. The poorest 10 percent earn only between 2 percent. The poorest 10 percent earn only between 2 percent and 7 percent of total global income. In developing countries, inequality has increased by 11 percent if we take into account the growth of population.

These widening disparities require the adoption of sound policies to empower the bottom percentile of income earners, and promote economic inclusion of all regardless of sex, race or ethnicity.

On average, income inequality increased by 11percent in developing countries between 1990 and 2010.

Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Cities are hubs for ideas, commerce, culture, science, productivity, social development and much more. At their best, cities have enabled people to advance socially and economically. With the number of people living within cities projected to rise to 5 billion people by 2030, it’s important that efficient urban planning and management practices are in place to deal with the challenges brought by urbanization.

By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums

By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons

Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle
Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities
By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature

By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse

Goal 13: Climate Action

Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have increased by almost 50 per cent since 1990.Emissions grew more quickly between 2000 and 2010 than in each of the three previous decades

Target: Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries

Target: Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning

Goal 14: Life Below Water

Oceans cover three quarters of the Earth’s surface, contain 97 per cent of the Earth’s water, and represent 99 per cent of the living space on the planet by volume.

Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods.By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution

By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans

Goal 15: Life on Land

Goal 15 focuses specifically on managing forests sustainably, halting and reversing land and natural habitat degradation, successfully combating desertification and stopping biodiversity loss. All these efforts combined aim to ensure that the benefits of land-based ecosystems, including sustainable livelihoods, will be enjoyed for generations to come.

By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements.

By 2030, ensure the conservation of mountain ecosystems, including their biodiversity, in order to enhance their capacity to provide benefits that are essential for sustainable development 

Goal 16: Peace, Justice Strong Institutions


End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children.
Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all.
By 2030, significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime.
Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere.

Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals

Strengthen domestic resource mobilization, including through international support to developing countries, to improve domestic capacity for tax and other revenue collection

Mobilize additional financial resources for developing countries from multiple sources

Assist developing countries in attaining long-term debt sustainability through coordinated policies aimed at fostering debt financing, debt relief and debt restructuring, as appropriate, and address the external debt of highly indebted poor countries to reduce debt distress

Enhance global macroeconomic stability, including through policy coordination and policy coherence

Enhance policy coherence for sustainable development

Achieving the SDGs requires the partnership of governments, private sector, civil society and citizens alike to make sure we leave a better planet for future generations.