Skip to content



What are the Sustainable Development Goals?

- In 2015, an international agenda projected until the year 2030 was established, in which the member countries of the UN promised to enforce them.

What are the Sustainable Development Goals?

In 2015, the member states of the United Nations Organization, together with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and citizens from around the world, generated a proposal to develop 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which seek to achieve in a balanced way three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental fields (United Nations, 2022). The 17 SDGs are the following:

  1. End of poverty
  2. Zero hunger
  3. Health and well-being
  4. Education and quality
  5. Gender equality
  6. Clean water and sanitation
  7. Affordable and clean energy
  8. Decent work and economic growth
  9. Industry innovation and infrastructure
  10. Reduction of inequalities
  11. Sustainable cities and communities
  12. Responsible consumption and production
  13. Climate action
  14. Underwater Life
  15. Life of terrestrial ecosystems
  16. Peace, justice and strong institutions
  17. Alliance to achieve the objectives

Consequently, an international agenda projected until the year 2030 was established, which is made up of 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 goals. In this agenda, the member countries of the UN commit to enforce them and therefore to cooperate among themselves for their implementation. scope.

It is worth mentioning that in order to comply with them, a National Council for the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was established. Said Council has the responsibility of implementing the agenda, mainly serving as a coordination instance with the pertinent entities, be they governmental, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and/or civil society, in those technical aspects that are related to the national position regarding the Agenda and the SDGs. It also has the power to create Commissions and Technical Groups to study the progress and compliance with the SDGs (United Nations, 2022).

An annual report is made on the progress in the countries and in the world on the SDGs, at the same time, said report indicates the areas in which work remains to be done, as well as what measures can be taken to guarantee its reach in the future world.

Progress of the SDGs in the world

It is worth mentioning that before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the 2020 report, significant progress had been made in the world in areas such as improving maternal and child health, as well as reproductive and child health, as in what also refers to infectious diseases; it was also seen in expanding access to electricity and increasing the representation of women in government.

Thus, significant progress was made in SDG 3: since according to UN reports, 81% of births that occurred between 2014 and 2019 were attended by qualified health professionals, a figure that represents an increase compared to 64% in the period between 2000 and 2005 (United Nations, 2020).

It cannot be denied that significant improvements were also found in SDG 5, on gender equality. These are registered especially in the workplace, where there has been an increase in female representation in parliaments, with 24.9% in 2020 and a slight increase in their presence in managerial positions, from 25% in 2000 to 28% in 2019 (United Nations 2020).

On the other hand, in the objective in which there was more progress, it was in SDG 7 where there was great progress to expand access to electricity and improve energy efficiency: the global electrification rate rose from 83% in 2010 to 90% in 2018; access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking increased to 63% in 2018, from 60% in 2015 and 56% in 2010; and the proportion of final energy consumption corresponding to renewable energies increased gradually, from 16.3% in 2010 to 17% in 2015 and 17.3% in 2017 (United Nations, 2020).

Unfortunately, these advances have been offset around the world by growing food insecurity, the deterioration of the natural environment, persistent pervasive inequalities coupled with COVID-19, as this has unleashed an unprecedented crisis that further hampers the progress of the SDGs, which affects the world's poorest and most vulnerable people the most.

Inequality to achieve them

Unfortunately, the pandemic not only delayed the years of progress in the SDGs but also made more evident the great inequality that exists in the world in terms of health, education, economy and development. Since not all countries had optimal access to efficient health systems, nor the tools to continue receiving education, nor an economic system so efficient that it would sustain unemployment worldwide.

For this reason, in the SDG in which a delay has already been seen, it is in the reduction of poverty, because as a result of the massive loss of employment since "it is estimated that 114 million jobs have been lost in all countries, has caused between 40 and 60 million people to fall back into extreme poverty” (UN News, 2021).

Both the issue of the pandemic, the uneven growth of countries, as well as climate change cause great havoc in the eradication of hunger (SDG 2), where in addition the total number of people suffering from severe food insecurity has been on the rise since 2015 and there is still a very high rate of child malnutrition (UN News, 2021). The inequality that continues to exist between developed and developing countries is transferred to that which continues to exist in rural-urban areas, where children have high rates of malnutrition.

The region most affected by hunger today is South Asia, “where 34.4% of its children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition. Africa maintains its rates at 33%” (Unicef, 2019). The main cause of malnutrition in the world is poverty. Millions of children go without food or subsist on diets that are detrimental to their health because they have no other choice.

Inequality, conflicts and wars are also behind child malnutrition in the world. Weather-related disasters cause serious food crises and increase food prices, in addition to harming the quality of agricultural products and therefore harming quality of life (UNHCR, 2020).

Likewise, the pandemic had an impact on the educational issue and reduced its progress, causing the closure of educational centers, which has kept 90% of students around the world (1,570 million) out of school and has revealed the existence of a large digital divide between children and young people from vulnerable and disadvantaged communities (UN Global Compact, 2020).

Inequality encompasses economic and social spheres, unfortunately while the figures on inequality remain abysmal, between rich and poor countries, most of which are in Africa, and those in developing countries such as Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Middle East, Latin America and Eastern Europe will not be able to have a favorable advance for all.

Well, the same inequality found in society, which shows that "99% of the world population has less wealth than the wealthiest 1% of the planet's population" (Oxfam, 2014). It is the same inequality that is translated between the richest States and the poorest, since most of the wealth is concentrated in the northern States, the most developed, such as the United States, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Japan and Israel.

The world is out of balance, because not all countries have access to health, education, food, drinking water or other basic goods and services. Public policies are not the same in all countries and cannot always be, therefore the importance of insisting on the definition of efficient economic models that allow salaries, which are the main source of income for individuals and families, to be sufficient to cover basic needs.

Inequality is also seen in the issue of health, and especially with COVID-19 since "the poorest and most vulnerable continue to be at greater risk of being infected by the virus and have been the most affected by the economic consequences", (News UN, 2022), there is also a great disparity in access to the vaccine.

According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), developing countries have been administered only a minimal proportion of COVID-19 vaccines, which has caused an increase in the differences between rich and poor countries. In September 2021, just over 3% of people in low-income countries had been vaccinated with at least one dose, compared to 60.18% in high-income countries (UN News, 2022).

It is true that the total number of vaccines administered has increased enormously, but so has the inequality in their distribution: of the 10.7 billion doses supplied worldwide, only 1% have reached low-income countries. This means that 2.8 billion people in the world are still waiting to receive their first vaccine (UN News, 2022).

On the other hand, the issue of climate change affects the entire population, however the detail is who will be affected before and how, since the poorest people and those who are in a vulnerable situation are the ones who will face the worst consequences of the environmental, economic and social stresses.

Among the many negative consequences that climate change brings with it, is food insecurity due to droughts or floods, at the same time that it will reduce the possibility of having access to a resource as important as water.

Likewise, the issue of food security must concern all of humanity because there are still many peasants in various regions of the planet who only rely on their domestic plantations as a way of life. Agriculture and livestock allow them to feed their families. But the dry seasons added to the extreme rainy seasons reduce their crops and damage their livestock, and they do not have the economic means necessary to adapt to the effects of climate change.

On the topic of economic growth and development, global foreign direct investment flows fell by 40% in 2020 compared to 2019. The 2020 report shows that the pandemic has brought immense financial challenges, especially for developing countries, with a significant increase in over-indebtedness (United Nations 2021).

In the area of gender equality, the COVID-19 pandemic has also negatively affected progress towards gender equality. Violence against women and girls has intensified in the home, with women bearing a disproportionate share of job losses and increased care responsibilities at home (United Nations, 2021)

In conclusion, it can be mentioned that all the countries, the United Nations, along with the rest of the actors in the international system, still have a lot to do so that no country is left behind in the various aspects covered by the current agenda.

Although significant progress had been made on some of the SDGs, as mentioned above, both the issue of climate change and the current COVID-19 pandemic have delayed progress and at the same time put new issues on the table. challenges for all countries to be able to achieve the 2030 Agenda. The members of the United Nations are aware of the inequality that exists in the countries in economic, political, social and environmental issues, the question is how they are going to be addressed.

Zhenmin, the Under-Secretary-General of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, indicated that “countries must be helped not only to stay afloat financially, but also to invest in their own development. To build back better, both the public and private sectors must invest in human capital, social protection, and sustainable infrastructure and technology” (United Nations, 2021).

To return to the goals of the 2030 Agenda, governments, cities, companies and industries must use the recovery to adopt low-carbon, resilient and inclusive development paths that will reduce carbon emissions, conserve natural resources and they will create better jobs, advance gender equality and address growing inequalities (United Nations, 2021).

The global community must first and foremost ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, as this remains a universal priority. The same international community has a great responsibility to be able to guarantee peace and security to its citizens and to the rest of the countries.



The best content in your inbox

Join our newsletter with the best of CEMERI

Related articles

undefined, CEMERI. “¿Qué son los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible?.” CEMERI, 15 ago. 2023,