Back in 2015 the 193 member states of the United Nations agreed on 17 Global Goals to be achieved by 2030. They are also called the Sustainable Development Goals, or ‘SDGs’. At the time UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon introduced the goals with a powerful call to action:
“We can be the first generation to end extreme poverty, the most determined generation in history to end injustice and inequality, and the last generation to be threatened by climate change.“UN Secretary General Ban-ki Moon
Agreeing the 17 goals was a remarkable, historic event. Achieving the goals by 2030 will require unprecedented commitment from governments, organizations and individuals worldwide. This is the first time we have had a coherent road map for where we want to go, as a planet, and what we want to achieve. It’s an exciting time.
Researchers have key role in this programme – they are the people who will help us to develop and improve the technology and systems we need to make the changes we want, measure our progress, and ultimately achieve our goals.
The 17 goals, also known as the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, are deceptively simple. If your local governments are committed to this programme, and engaged with the goals, you perhaps know this graphic?
This grid of goals is practical and beautiful, but also has some drawbacks. The goals cannot, and should not, be considered separately, confined to their own ‘boxes’. The 17 SDGs are highly interconnected. They can also be grouped under different sets of headings. Academic audiences often prefer this diagram which makes the larger systems visible.
Stockholm Resilience Centre 2016
There are many ways to use the SDG framework visually. As another example when we run our 2030 SDGs Game workshops we use another approach, grouping the goals according to the countries that initially seem to benefit most from each goal.
Researchers naturally have an analytical world view of the world, so we sometimes hear this:
‘Everyone wants these things – how does this help me with my research?’
The answer is that there are specific, measurable, targets behind all the goals that are very relevant to your research. One of the easiest places to see the target for each goal is our ‘Goals and targets‘ page where each target is listed under the appropriate goal. Take a look now, before moving on to the next article in this series where we show you how to locate your own research within the SDG framework, and then use that information in your work.