The importance of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

#social action #economy #ESG #climate action #SDG

In 2015, all the member states of the United Nations (UN) approved the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development - an action plan to help people and the planet, encompassing the 17 SDGs. On its 5th anniversary, and at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is devastating health and economy, this route map is more important than ever as a way towards a green recovery.

The 2030 Agenda seeks to achieve prosperity that is respectful of the planet and its inhabitants.
The 2030 Agenda seeks to achieve prosperity that is respectful of the planet and its inhabitants.

For years scientists have warned us that environmental problems, which are the consequence of human activity, represent a danger both to our health and that of the planet. The coronavirus has shown us that we are not immune to these threats and their impact must not allow us to forget the great challenge facing humanity: the fight against climate change. Organisations including the European Union (EU), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have already come out in favour of a Green Recovery to overcome this health, financial and social crisis by following the path mapped out by the 2030 Agenda in the search for a more sustainable world.


On 25 September 2015, the 193 member states of the UN approved the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an ambitious plan that sets out to achieve prosperity that is respectful of the planet and its inhabitants. This Agenda is made up of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), further broken down into 169 targets, to be met by 2030 with the intention of "leaving no-one behind". The threat of climate change is now more real than ever and the SDGs are crucial if we want to avoid compromising our children's future.

The 2030 Agenda is a continuation of the UN Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015) which were in their day the first international consensus on facing global problems such as the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, and to promote improvements in access to education. Although the targets were not fully achieved, they nevertheless provided the basis for significant progress which, in 2015, was extended through the 2030 Agenda and its respective SDGs.


The 2030 Agenda is based on five dimensions, also known as the 5Ps:


To end poverty and hunger, in all their forms and dimensions, and to ensure that all human beings can fulfil their potential in dignity and equality and in a healthy environment.


To protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change.


To ensure that all human beings can enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives and that economic, social and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature.


To foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear and violence.


To mobilise the means required to implement the 2030 Agenda through a partnership based on a spirit of solidarity and focused, in particular, on the needs of the most vulnerable.

The SDGs and their impact

on the economy, society, and the enviroment
Supported by a prosperous environment and society, the SDGs from an economic point of view are focused on industry, innovation and infrastructure, the reduction of inequality, responsible consumption and production; decent work and growth disassociated from environmental deterioration.
Social development is impossible if the environment is harmed and natural resources become scarce. Thus, the SDGs associated with clean energy, the eradication of poverty and hunger, peace and justice, sustainable cities, education, gender equality and health, serve as a foundation for the goals that are financial in nature.
A healthy environment is an essential starting point for promoting social justice and economic development. If we fail to meet the targets regarding clean water and sanitation, marine life, life on land and climate action, we will never achieve the other higher objectives.
Source: Stockholm Resilience Centre.

  SEE INFOGRAPHIC: The SDGs and their impact on the economy, society and the environment [PDF]



The member states publish voluntary reports on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Here are some of the initiatives resulting from some of them:

  • Spain. In the fight against poverty, inequalities and social exclusion, approval of a Minimum Living Income has been reported along with an increase in the Minimum Working Wage and help for students with special educational needs. The report also covers the approval of the Climate Change and Energy Transition Bill, which sets a national target to reduce GHG emissions by at least 20% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels.
  • Mexico. Among other short term projects, highlights include plans for a new General Water Law, providing social protection for women domestic and care workers and agricultural day-labourers, and the implementation of biodiversity conservation projects with productive activities for the most vulnerable communities in the country.
  • United Kingdom. Pursuing the target of "leaving no-one behind", the initiatives detailed in the report include the roll-out of policies in England to tackle the problem of loneliness among the young, infirm and elderly, as well as programs to teach English to immigrants; the approval in Scotland of the Fairer Scotland Duty, which obliges the government to look at how to reduce the inequalities caused by socio-economic disadvantage when taking strategic decisions; and initiatives to eradicate food poverty in Northern Ireland.