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Sustainable Development Goals: Will The World Stick to Its New Year’s Resolutions?


Worldwatch Institute

February 2, 2016

As those of us who struggle to keep our resolutions know, following through on a New Year’s commitment isn’t easy. This year, however, the world has big plans. Last September, at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015, 193 countries signed on to tackle 17 goals and meet 169 targets “to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want” and “to heal and secure our planet” by 2030. On January 1, 2016, these Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) came into force. Will the world be able to stick to its New Year’s resolutions?

Learning from the Past

The SDGs were designed to overcome the shortcomings of their predecessors, the recently expired Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). While these eight objectives to halve global poverty between 1990 and 2015 were praised by some for bringing a focus on human development factors—rather than pushing solely for economic growth—the agenda also was criticized for being difficult to implement equitably across countries and within communities.

Shifting into Synergies

Building on the concept that people and the planet are intimately interconnected, the earlier MDGs were expanded to include environmental and human rights issues. The UN’s 2030 Agenda recognizes the importance of “the link between sustainable development and other relevant ongoing processes in the economic, social and environmental fields” to move the world forward.

Unresolved Challenges

Clearly, the SDGs reflect a concentrated effort by the UN to address past weaknesses. Despite this soul-searching, however, the SDGs still have complications.

7 Steps to Success

How does the world plan to see its commitment through, despite the challenges ahead? The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network has put together a guide to help stakeholders get started in their goals. Below is an overview of seven steps to SDG success:

  1. Know where you stand
  2. Make a long-term plan
  3. Visualize success
  4. Recruit partners at all levels
  5. Embrace technology
  6. Find the funds
  7. Track your progress

Read more from Gaelle Gourmelon, Marketing and Communications Director of the Worldwatch Institute, originally published in the January issue on the Worldwatch Institute blog:


Fair Trade, Finance & The Social Economy, Environment & Climate