17 Sustainable Development Goals and What you Can do to Help

Five years ago, the United Nations created 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – a shared vision and social contract between the world’s leaders and the people. These goals are designed to motivate policymakers as well as everyday citizens, too. Using this framework for positive change can build sustainable communities and promote better use of our resources. Even the average person can make an impact, no matter how small the act.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on the fragility of global systems, exposed structural inequalities and forced humanity to face the climate crisis anew. Before the epidemic, The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020 conceded “the world was not on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by the target date of 2030”. Emerging from the pandemic, however, is renewed multilateralism and commitment to building a more inclusive and sustainable world.



Sustainable development has been defined as ‘meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. It’s about finding a balance that considers everyone on the planet and leaves no one behind.

For example, a third of the world’s food goes wasted, yet 821 million people are undernourished. Availability and access to clean water are fundamental to health and well-being, especially in stopping the coronavirus, yet water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of the world’s population. The atmosphere from which we all breathe contained record high CO2 levels and other greenhouse gases in 2019. Food, water and air – the basics – and they are currently not in balance.

Clearly, we have a lot of work to do. That is precisely why the SDGs are so crucial to society as a whole because we share a common vision. Each SDG enables both social and environmental sustainability while ensuring the health of our planet and communities.

Click for details on the 17 SDGs

At first glance, one might feel overwhelmed when they look at the goals. End extreme poverty? Reduce inequalities around the world? Those are massive goals, but even the average person can make changes to their daily routines that positively impact the environment, and in doing so, improve the lives of themselves and others. Check out the fun and clever guide developed by the UN that offers ideas for individual contributions to the SDGs.