An in-depth look at the UN SDGs


The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all UN Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and in the future.

At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership.

They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.

The SDGs build on decades of work by countries and the UN.

Each goal’s purpose

The SDGs are the blueprint for achieving a better and more sustainable future for all. They address global challenges.

Goal 1: No poverty
End poverty in all its forms, everywhere.

Key stat – more than 700 million people still live in extreme poverty.

Goal 2: Zero hunger
End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.

Key stat – a third of the world’s food is wasted yet 821 million people are undernourished.

Goal 3: Good health and well-being
Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all, at all ages.

Key stat – vaccinations resulted in an 80% drop in deaths from measles between 2000 and 2017.

Goal 4: Quality education
Ensure inclusive and equitable, quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Key stat – over 617 million children and adolescents lack minimum proficiency in reading and mathematics.

Goal 5: Gender equality
Achieve gender equality and empower women and girls.

Key stat – one in three women has experienced physical and/or sexual violence.

Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation
Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Key stat – water scarcity affects more than 40% of the world’s population.

Goal 7: Affordable and clean energy
Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
Key stat – three billion people still lack clean cooking fuels and technologies.

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all.
Key stat – a fifth of young people are not in education, employment or training.

Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure
Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation.
Key stat – roads, water, sanitation and electricity remain scarce in many developing countries.

Goal 10: Reduced inequalities
Reduce inequality within and among countries.
Key stat – the poorest 40% of the population earn less than 25% of global income.

Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
Key stat – 9 out of 10 urban residents breathe polluted air.

Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
Key stat – by 2050, the equivalent of almost three planets could be required to sustain current lifestyles.

Goal 13: Climate action
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
Key stat – global CO2 emissions have increased by almost 50% since 1990.

Goal 14: Life below water
Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine sources for sustainable development.
Key stat – over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods.

Goal 15: Life on land
Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and biodiversity loss.
Key stat – forests are home to more than 80% of all terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects.

Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
Key stat – in 2018, the number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict exceeded 70 million.

Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals
Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.
Key stat – achieving the SDGs could open up USD 12 trillion of market opportunities and create 380 million new jobs by 2030.

The goals in terms of ESG

Investors demand quality ESG information when choosing where to invest.

Although not legally binding, the SDGs are an interconnected framework for organizations to report their impact and drive capital to contribute to achieving the goals. They can help to shape, communicate and report an organization’s strategies, goals and activities.

From this, organizations can identify and enhance the value of corporate responsibility and stakeholder relations, including regulatory requirements and helping to stabilize society and markets to use a common language and shared purpose.

We are seeing demand for UN SDG Assurance to verify how organizations use the SDGs.

Improving the quality of ESG information

There are massive benefits to improving your ESG information, and 80% of organizations worldwide now report on sustainability. This rises to 96% among the world’s 250 largest organizations (G250).

The benefits include:

  • Increased recognition, trust and credibility
  • Reduced risk and greater value
  • Improved Board and C-level engagement
  • Strengthened internal reporting and management systems
  • Improved stakeholder communications
How we can help

With over 25 years of sustainability experience, our ESG Assurance Solutions can help you to mitigate supply chain risks, implement better processes, address stakeholder concerns and accomplish sustainability goals.

Leveraging our expertise in compliance, verification and training services, we create solutions tailored to your specific requirements, including support with achieving and reporting on the SDGs.



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