The Sustainable Development Goals serve as a universal call to action to achieve a brighter, more sustainable future for generations to come. Created by the UN Member States back in 2015, the 17 Goals summarise the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, detailing a 15-year plan to end poverty, protect the planet, and improve the lives and prospects of all its inhabitants. As we stand today, there is noticeable progress being made towards our united objective, though sadly, not at the speed or scale required to achieve the Goals by the 2030 target. Here are a few examples of the progress being made all over the globe…
Protecting our oceans
With the popularity of ocean documentaries such as Seaspiracy and David Attenborough’s Blue Planet series, the general public’s attention has been focused firmly on preserving marine life, addressing illegal fishing, and conserving the delicate eco-systems residing below sea level. Since 2010, the number of marine protected areas all over the world has more than doubled. However, we’re still seeing a huge decline of fish stocks within biologically sustainable levels, and ocean acidity has increased by 26% since pre-industrial times — which negatively impacts the ocean’s ability to absorb CO2 and puts marine life at risk.
The availability of water and sanitation for all
Access to fresh water is to essential human health, food and energy security, and many other aspects of sustainable development. And yet, sadly, like many other natural resources, water is under threat, with half the world’s population experiencing sever water shortages at least one month a year. While most countries have addressed the importance of coordinating water resources and have put plans in place, there is still much more to be done in improving access to sanitation services, increasing wastewater treatments, and protecting and rebuilding freshwater ecosystems. Shockingly, two out of five health care facilities worldwide still don’t have access to soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, and three billion people lack the basic handwashing facilities in their own homes — potentially causing huge ramifications in the prevention of Covid-19 spread.
Reliable, green energy
On a brighter note, encouraging advancements are emerging in the world of renewable energy, with enhanced access to electricity in underdeveloped countries, and energy efficiency on the up — 17.5% of all energy consumption is now derived from renewable energy sources! Moving forwards however, more attention will need to be paid to improving access to clean and safe cooking fuels and technologies for three billion people, and expanding renewable energy outside of the electricity sector.
Combating climate change
As levels of greenhouse gases continue to climb, climate change is advancing at an alarming rate, with a visible impact occurring worldwide — as global mean temperatures soar, and sea levels rise. In order to restrict global warming to 1.5°C, carbon emissions will need to fall to 55% of the levels in 2010 by 2030, with a steep decline to zero emissions by 2050. Although there have been significant steps forward towards creating a more sustainable future for our planet, there is still plenty of work still to be done. To find out how you can join the movement, visit https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/.