Monday, 18 January 2021

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To end the tyranny of poverty and protect the planet

Infographic five elements

25.9.2015 - The UN member states have agreed on a new ambitious Sustainable Development Agenda to end poverty by 2030 and universally promote economic prosperity, social development and environmental protection.

“We are resolved to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want and to heal and secure our planet,” the 193 UN member states declared when agreement was reached on a landmark document called: “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

UN Sustainable Development Summit LogoBuilding on the success of the Millennium Development Goals or MDGs which helped lifting lift millions out of poverty, they have agreed 17 so-called Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs.

They are a new set of universal goals and targets that the states are expected to implement in the next 15 years. The new goals, including 169 concrete targets, are global in nature and universally applicable to all countries and not only to the developing countries as was the case with the MDGs.

“Often people say, ‘well you know, aren’t these too many goals? Can’t we just have a neat set of 8 or 10? Why do we need to have 17?’,” explains Amina J. Mohammed, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Sustainable development. “The truth of the matter is that the world is not in such a neat shape that could be reflected in a neat set of goals. It’s in a pretty big mess and what these do is address that, address it in a much deeper way.”

The UN has grouped the goals into five “essential elements”: people, planet, prosperity, justice and partnership. Let´s take a look at closer look at them.

goal 5People

People are at the centre of Sustainable Development and the first SDG -goal is “to end poverty in all its forms everywhere”. Here are some concrete examples:

  • Globally: Extreme poverty should be eradicated globally by 2030. Extreme poverty is measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day or 1 billion worldwide.
  • Locally: In addition poverty should be tackled according to national definitions. The European Union and OECD definition of poverty is living on 60% or less of the median income. In France this applies to 8.8 million people, who live on 987 Euros or less. If France would use this definition, at least half of these people or 4.4 million people should have been lifted out of poverty by 2030.
  • Hunger: More than 800 million people do not have enough food to eat and the second goal is to end hunger and achieve food security (Goal 2).
  • Gender equality: The achievement of gender equality and eliminating all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilations (Goal 5).

“This is the people’s agenda, a plan of action for ending poverty in all its dimensions, irreversibly, everywhere, and leaving no one behind,” says Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general.


Several of the SDGs are aimed at protecting the planet.

  • Climate Change: Goal 13 calls for “urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts”. Climate change, if left unchecked will rock back the development gains, that have been made over the last decades and will make further gains impossible.
  • Water: Goal 6 calls for universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all, as well as achieving access to sanitation and hygiene for all, and end open defecation.
  • Other goals call for the conservation of our oceans, ecosystems and biodiversity, sustainable consumption and productions and sustainable energy for all.

“It’s about behaviour. It’s about livelihoods. It’s about lifestyles. It’s about how we consume and we produce because clearly we can no longer continue to test the planet the way that we do,” explains Amina Mohammed. “The one thing about this wonderful planet that we have, the home that we have, is that it can exist without us; we cannot exist without it.”


Goal 8 calls for the promotion of sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth and full and productive employment and decent work for all.

  • Sustained growth: A target for at least 7% per annum GDP sustained growth in the least-developed countries is set .
  • Inequality: Goal (10) calls for the reduction of “inequality within and among countries.” In order to reduce inequality on country level member states commit to a growth of income of the bottom 40% of the population at a rate higher than the national average.

16Peace and justice

Goal 16 calls for the promotion of peaceful and inclusive. The preamble of the agreement states that: “There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development.”

  • Rule of law: The member states commit themselves to tackle the root of war and violence by promoting the rule of law and ensure equal access to justice for all and substantially reducing corruption and bribery in all its forms.


Goal 17 tackles the implementation and financing of sustainable development by revitalizing global partnerships.

  • Development aid: Developed countries commit themselves to implement the target of providing 0.7% of GNI in ODA to developing countries of which 0.15-0.20% to least-developed countries.
  • Taxes: Other concrete measures include support to developing countries to strengthen their capacity for collecting taxes and develop measurements of progress on sustainable development that complement GDP.

“For the first time, we’re not putting a band-aid on the problem,” says Amina J. Mohammed. “We’re looking at the root causes. And unless we make the investments to look at those root causes, we are going to continue to have the conflicts escalate, we’re going to continue to see the damage in the environment, and more and more people are going to be excluded.”

The new Sustainable Development Agenda; the Sustainable Development Goals and their targets; were negotiated for two years by the 193 member states of the UN after some of the most intense global public consultation in history. They will be formally adopted at a World Summit at the United Nations General Assembly 25-27 September 2015.


Learn more about the goals here and in the video below:

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