The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 international development goals which set out to achieve universal health of the planet and people over the next 10 years. They were created by world leaders and ultimately cover sustainable development’s three dimensions:
- economic growth,
- social inclusion,
- environmental protection.
While the SDGs require seismic change from policy makers across industries, it’s also important to recognise that individual action has the power to create shifts within society and ultimately, on a global scale.
Having an understanding of the SDGs can influence our personal lifestyle choices and habits so that we can actively do our part.
Read on for what these 17 goals are and how we can each contribute towards achieving them.
The goal: No Poverty
What we can do: Covid-19 has caused an increase in global poverty – the first in decades. Now more than ever, we should aim to buy from companies that pay people fairly and if we can, share and donate to those in need. We can also address this issue by being aware of our own finances and saving, borrowing and investing responsibly.
The goal: Zero Hunger
What we can do: Also an issue that 2020 brought to light for many of us – the importance of reducing our food waste, being resourceful and buying locally and seasonally. Some simple actions we can immediately take; don’t over-buy food, check what you have first before heading to the shops and use what you already have at home. If you still find yourself with food leftover, there are some great alternative recipes other than throwing it away.
The goal: Good Health and Well-being
What we can do: Valuing our own physical and mental health and well-being is imperative, particularly so that we can best support others. We can do so by staying active if we are able-bodied, eating well and preventing the spread of infections and viruses by washing our hands, maintaining good personal hygiene and demanding access to medical care and vaccinations for all.
The goal: Quality Education
What we can do: Sharing our knowledge by teaching and inspiring others and keeping our brains active by learning throughout our lives. Supporting teachers and defending everyone’s right to an education.
The goal: Gender Equality
What we can do: Treating everyone equally, educating ourselves and others about sexism and raising our children with these same values. Defend women’s reproductive rights and opposing violence against women and girls.
The goal: Clean Water and Sanitation
What we can do: Saving water in and outside the home, investing in a filtration system if we can and using reusable bottles as opposed to buying bottled water. Also being aware of harmful substances such as chemicals which shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet.
The goal: Affordable Clean Energy
What we can do: Being aware of our energy usage, where it comes from and how we can save it. Using clean, renewable energy for heat, light and power if it is available to us, and buying from companies that are powered by renewable energy.
The goal: Decent Work and Economic Development
What we can do: Demand safe working conditions for all and ensure the products you buy were not made by exploited workers. Supporting local and independent businesses at home and if travelling abroad.
The goal: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
What we can do: Be aware of the plans for progress in the country you reside in and support construction and innovation that truly benefits people and protects the planet.
The goal: Reduce Inequalities
What we can do: Stay open-minded, listen and learn from others. Support activists/leaders who reduce inequality and protect vulnerable people.
The goal: Sustainable Cities and Communities
What we can do: Learn about local plans and take part in decisions if presented with the opportunity to do so. Prepare for emergencies if you live in high-risk areas, get to know your neighbours and local community and protect the wildlife and natural areas around you.
The goal: Responsible consumption and production
What we can do: Adopt a ‘waste-less’ attitude and reuse, repair, recycle, share and borrow. Educate yourself about sustainable development if you have the resources to do so, and engage in conversations with others on the topic.
The goal: Climate Action
What we can do: Eat more plants and cut down on meat and dairy consumption, walk and cycle rather than driving when you can, cut down on harmful air and sea travel. Engage in activism to demand that leaders take climate action.
The goal: Life below Water
What we can do: If buying fish or seafood, ensure it is sustainable and responsibly sourced. Take part in beach, canal and river clean-ups and avoid unnecessary plastic which can end up polluting our water and hurting animals.
The goal: Life on Land
What we can do: Protect native plants and animals, never buy products made from endangered wildlife and support companies and trusts that protect and restore nature.
The goal: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
What we can do: Resist corruption and abuse of power, support the institutions that have people’s best interests at heart, exercise your right to vote in local and general elections. Be kind, always.
The goal: Partnerships for the Goals
What we can do: Read up on the Sustainable Development Goals (check!) and share the information with others.
The awareness of intersectionality leads to an understanding of the differences between people’s struggles and the inequities faced by vulnerable populations. There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to tackling them. These goals interconnect in multiple ways and they have been designed to leave no one behind, with the overall aim to ensure a prosperous future for all.
Author: Eva Ramirez