What are Sustainable Development Goals?
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 interconnected goals adopted by the 193 member countries of the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. According to the United Nations, the SDGs are a “universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and improve the lives and prospects of everyone, everywhere” 1. The 17 goals, listed below, are one part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and so are intended to be achieved globally by 2030 2.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals:
- No Poverty
- Zero Hunger
- Good Health and Well-being
- Quality Education
- Gender Equality
- Clean Water and Sanitation
- Affordable and Clean Energy
- Decent Work and Economic Growth
- Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
- Reducing Inequality
- Sustainable Cities and Communities
- Responsible Consumption and Production
- Climate Action
- Life Below Water
- Life On Land
- Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
- Partnerships for the Goals
SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy is the goal that is most closely related to the energy system, though, due to the interconnected nature, many of the other SDGs also have components that are relevant to the energy system. For example, SDG 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere ensures the development of efficient energy sources that will create new economic opportunities and, in turn, save families money. SDG 7 will also advance SDG 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture by ensuring that everyone has access to the sustainable energy resources they require to cook their food and produce agriculture. Access to energy for clean cooking is also key to promoting SDG 5: Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all ages; the World Health Organization (WHO) estimate 4.3 million people die prematurely from traditional cooking technologies every year. Electricity access in schools is also a factor of SDG 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all 4.
In a slightly different vein, SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, relies on SDG 7 for easily accessible sustainable energy for the city to function on to meet the needs of urban dwellers. Also, SDG 12: Responsible Consumption is also highly relevant to SDG 7 since it requires access to ethically and sustainably sourced energy. For a final example, SDG 13: Climate Action, requires ample coordination with the energy sector to ensure we meet 2030 goals. The aforementioned examples offer insight into the interconnected nature of the SDGs and how they pertain to one another to achieve mutually beneficial goals. You can read more about energy and the SDGs here.
Sustainable Energy for All (SEforAll) is an international organization partnered with the UN with a special focus on supporting progress towards SDG 7 by engaging with and ensuring commitment from stakeholders, such as businesses, governments, consumers, and NGOs 5. They keep track of global development towards SDG 7 through their publication “Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report.” This report is made in collaboration with the International Energy Agency (IEA), International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the World Bank, and the WHO 6.
To expand on how the SDGs integrate into countries’ operations, we can study India’s efforts. The SDGs serve as guidelines for governments to reference when directing their efforts for optimal results towards 2030 goals. India has internalized these efforts into its project called the National Solar Mission. This project plays a critical function in increasing India’s capacity for renewable energy, rural electrification, and planning for the future of larger energy projects for India. This project targets the majority of the SDGs as it emphasizes a future for India in the clean energy sector, which supports climate goals for 2030 and poverty reduction, particularly in remote communities 3. India’s National Solar Mission is one strong example of how countries across the globe are projecting to meet the SDGs by 2030.
Recent blog posts about Sustainable Development Goals
Announcing the Global Youth Energy Outlook
August 31, 2020
Student Energy at COP25
January 13, 2020
Student Energy at the UN Climate Action Summit
September 20, 2019
To learn more about the SDGs, check out the wealth of information available here on the SDG Knowledge Platform. Additionally, check out local SDG initiatives in your area for opportunities to support SDG implementation, advocacy or research on a local level or by sourcing like-minded institutions that embody one or more of the SDGs to get involved with. Here is a global list of youth-led and youth-focused organizations that are committed to supporting the SDGs 7. Additionally, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Youth recruits volunteers for their global team. They also have a guide for how individuals, organizations and/or universities can take action 8
If you are interested in learning more about SDG 7, SEforAll has educational webinars that are free to access. SEforAll also invites youth to attend and participate at their annual forum.
The world will benefit from any contribution to the SDGs, whether your involvement entails choosing one SDG to focus on or a project that captures all of them.