International Glossary: Sustainable Development Goals

Closely following the retirement of the Millennium Development Goals in January of 2016, the UN instituted a new set of goals a year ago this month. Picking up where the MDGs left off, the Sustainable Development Goals are set to extend through 2030 - launching a 15-year program of global betterment. Designed to be a comprehensive, more ambitious list of objectives than the previous, global prosperity is being aggressively targeted. These goals are: 

Many of these goals may appear self-explanatory, and are designed to be. Setting objectives in plain language is key in simplifying what may otherwise be a complex initiative. On the surface, it is easy to grasp what the overall mission entails.

By the very nature of these initiatives, there will be overlap in transitioning between the MDGs and SDGs. Political, social and especially economic issues take a great deal of time and effort to remedy; for example, global poverty is likely to remain an enduring issue. In this context, the UN is focusing an combatting extreme poverty first, mitigating personal economic hardship. The primary goal is to decrease the number of people in developing regions who live on under $1.25 per day. Due to the fact that these changes in all categories are to take place over 15 years, we can expect changes to be incremental. The Sustainable Development movement is indeed a marathon, not a sprint. Gender equality, hunger, global health, sustainability and education carry over from the Millennium era onward. As might be expected, we should be seeing a cycle of specific goals being replaced by broader goals as time elapses; accordingly, new goals will be arise as global challenges emerge. 

The success of these objectives is tied to statistical analysis in the areas the UN deems most important, whether measured by dollar figures, percentages, proportions, or overall demographic analysis. Fortunately for those following the success of the UN's aims, these changes are reported in a transparent manner. However, it is important to note that some measures of success cannot be measured easily; as time goes on, impacts will become more clear. We can all play a part in making sure these impacts are strong, through active participation and compassion.