17 Sustainability Goals to Change the World

The world today: 836 million people live in extreme poverty. One out of nine have to go to sleep hungry. The planet – both on land and under water – is increasingly uninhabitable. Something’s wrong.

For the first time in history, the United Nations stand together to drive the planet towards a sustainable direction worthy of life for humans and the environment. On September 25th 2015, the United Nations adopted an agenda, which defines this ambition with 17 sustainable development goals and 169 sub-goals. The objectives should be achieved by 2030.

I personally can’t identify with every goal and the objectives don’t necessarily correspond to the objectives of Journey to Real Life. However, as part of this revolution it is important that we focus on our commonalities to change the world. The current system was created by people and a new system can be built by people like you and me. Goals are not achieved by doing nothing, we have to know them, work on them and lead as role models.

In this article I lay out the 17 UN sustainability goals and show you people who are working on meeting them. I hope this gives you a spark of inspiration.

The 17 UN Sustainability Goals

1. End Poverty

According to the first sustainability goal, by 2030, extreme poverty should be eradicated, so that all people have the opportunity to fulfil their potential. According to the definition extreme poverty currently refers to people who live on less than 1.25 dollars a day. Also, the number of people living in poverty should be reduced by half in each individual nation.

This objective inspires me to pay a fair price for what I consume and paying attention to buying fair trade products.

2. End Hunger

Access to safe, nutrient-rich food is to be ensured for all people in the world by 2030. Malnutrition should also be a closed chapter of the past. Access to a productive and sustainable agriculture supports this goal.

This goal inspires me to help farmers around the world with the help of micro-credits, to locally produce food for their communities.

Natural pest control techniques such as the push-pull technology, can ensure a sustainable food production with natural remedies.

3. A Healthy Life for All

By 2030, it should be possible for all people of all ages to live a healthy life. This includes things such as the reduction of road accidents by half (by 2020) and maternal mortality during pregnancy to a maximum 70 out of 100’000 cases.

This goal inspires us to continue to post healthy plant based recipes.

4. Quality Education for All

By 2030, completely free access to primary and secondary schools should be provided to all boys and girls. In addition to reading and writing, employment skills and entrepreneurship are to be acquired, as well as the transfer of knowledge to serve the development of the sustainability goals. All of this should be available regardless of gender, disabilities or origin.

This goal inspires me to continue to invest, in the education of people, who can not afford secondary school in their countries. We finance education directly to people we know, and through kiva.org, a platform where education can be paid with micro-credits for people around the world.

The educational researcher Sugata Mitra is working on giving children, particularly in remote locations, access to self controlled learning with the help of the internet.

5. Gender Equality

Discrimination against women and girls should be stopped. This includes reforms to equate women with regard to the participation in economic activities and power, as well as the right to property and inheritance.

This goal inspires me to become more conscious of how I discriminate people based on their gender and to counteract this.

The youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan fights for gender equality and peace and justice in general.

6. Clean Water and Sanitation for All

Over 1.8 billion people today only have access to contaminated water. By 2030, access to safe and affordable drinking water should be enabled for all people. In addition, all people should have access to toilets. The protection and restoration of water ecosystems such as mountains, forests, rivers and Lakes belong to this goal as well.

This goal inspires me to not leave any waste when I’m in the mountains, at the sea or the Lake and to take more care of nature.

Companies like LifeStraw enable a sustainable access to safe drinking water by means of portable water filters.

7. Affordable Sustainable Energy for All

By 2030, the share of renewable energies is to be significantly increased and all people should be guaranteed access to affordable, reliable and modern energy.

This objective inspires me to choose the option with the most modern and renewable energies that my electricity company has to offer for my own household.

8. Decent Work for All and Sustainable Economic Growth

By 2030, all men and women, including youth and people with disabilities, should be able to have a decent job.

This goal inspires me, similar to the first goal, to whenever possible buy fair trade products and to avoid products that are made by people working in destructive conditions. In my case this particularly relates to clothing.

Companies like Peopletree create decent jobs in competitive markets such as the apparel industry.

9. Build Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure

This goal is about mobility and urban development, as well as about the promotion of technological developments and scientific research. Many countries seek an industrialization of their society, which should be sustainable and resistant.

This goal inspires me to make use of innovations such as the water-efficient Showerloop shower, energy from a cheap homemade wind turbine and from homemade solar panels the next time I visit Angola (my country of orgin).

Visionaries and makers such as the participants of the POC21 Camp show us with all sorts of projects, that it is possible to build a sustainable infrastructure.

10. Reduce Inequality

By 2030, all the people, both within, and between the countries, should take part in the progress and in economic and political life.

This inspires me to increasingly collaborate with people from different countries on the issues of sustainable development online.

11. Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements

Half of humanity now lives in cities. By 2030, cities should be affordable for all residents and slums should be upgraded. The conservation and improvement of air quality and waste management should be taken into account during the urban development.

This goal inspires me to build an earthship together with Lisa, in Angola. We have visited an Earthship Workshop in Seattle (Washington, United States), in which we have helped to build an eco friendly house from recycled materials such as plastic bottles and tires.

12. Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns

By 2030, all countries should have achieved a sustainable management of natural resources. The effects of waste and chemicals on humans and the environment should be limited and reduced. Promoting awareness of individuals to a sustainable lifestyle is part of this goal.

This goal inspires me to to buy high-quality products, which I can keep for a long time, rather than only taking the price into consideration. I want to reduce my waste and my consumption in this way.

The short film «The Story of Stuff» prompts us to reflect on our consumption. We can all contribute to the solution of this problem, by changing our lifestyle from “always more”, no matter the costs, to “always integral” and converting the linear consumption process to a cyclical in itself closed system.

13. Combat Climate Change

Between 1880 and 2012 earth tepmperature has risen by 0.85°C. Between 1901 and 2010 the sea level has risen by an average of 19 cm. This has a direct impact on places such as Thule, and Tuvalu. Action on climate change will be integrated as an integral part in national politics and the laws of all countries.

This goal inspires me to continue to forgo the consumption of animal foods and to learn more about climate change, to make my contribution to a positive development.

14. Conserve and Sustainably Use the Oceans

The oceans and life under water should be preserved. Water pollution has therefore to be diminished while saving life under water.

This objective inspires me to produce less plastic waste, as plastic waste often ends up in the oceans.

15. Halt and Reverse Land Degradation

By 2030, a sustainable way of managing our forests, fighting the spread of Deserts and of stopping the degradation of land and biodiversity should be realized.

This goal inspires me to continue buying mainly organic and Demeter food, as the conventional food production makes degredates the soil over the years.

The movie Inhabit portrays permaculture activists, which are working on creating paradises.

16. Peace and Justice

All people should be enabled to live in peace. This includes compliance and enforcement of rights and laws in the form of efficient, corruption-free judiciary, police and State institutions, which play a crucial role.

This goal inspires me to preserve peace between me and other people in my personal environment.

17. Global Partnership

A successful implementation of the sustainable development goals requires cooperation between Governments, businesses and civil society. This means every one of us is needed. The exchange between the countries on Science and technology and a common approach for sustainable development belongs to this goal.

You can support these goals by being activa yourself, being part of an organization, bringing innovations to the market, being politically or financially active through or starting an organization or a company.

Let’s join forces to create a fairer and more sustainable world together!

Are you in?

Our goal with Journey to Real Life is to support you on your journey to sustainability in connection with pleasure. Tell us in the comments how you support the sustainability goals in your life or tell us and the other readers about projects and people who inspire you.


P.S. Feel free to share the article on social media in case you like it. We would appreciate.

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