Real Leaders

How Have the U.N.’s Global Goals Fared One Year On?

World leaders one year ago agreed on an ambitious set of global goals designed to tackle the world’s most troubling problems such as extreme poverty and inequality by 2030 at the United Nations.

Described as a blueprint for the future, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with 169 targets address such daunting challenges as climate change, hunger, education, gender equality, sanitation, jobs, justice and shared peace.

We asked some participants about the progress of the goals one year in and what has worked and what has not:

Helen Dennis, Acting Head of Advocacy at Christian Aid:

“To date, SDG implementation is patchy. Some have embraced them – Norway is integrating the goals into its budget process. But global politics often seem to pull the wrong way. More people than ever are forcibly displaced, yet we see inertia in response to refugees. There are 700 million people living on less than $1.90 a day, yet countries cut aid budgets. There have been small steps towards tax justice but much more is needed. We now have a decent climate agreement but trillions still flow into fossil fuels. A year on, there is a pressing need for courage and leadership.”

David Nabarro, U.N. special adviser on 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

“My aim is for 2 billion people around the world to be aware of the SDGs by the end of 2017 and for another million people to become activists — to be change-agents who press decision-makers and who hold them accountable until we have transformed our world and made it more sustainable. Children and youth have a particularly important role to play, as the face of social movements, the drivers of social change and the torchbearers of a more sustainable future for generations to come.”

Amit Bouri, Chief Executive, Global Impact Investing Network:

“What will help us realize the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals of the U.N. is to more fully tap the power of the world’s investment capital. If sufficient investment capital can be channeled to these goal areas through impact investing, the SDGs are achievable.”

Joanna Rubinstein, Chief Executive and President, The World Childhood Foundation USA:

“The sexual abuse of children is a hidden public health crisis. At least one in 10 children in the world, 223 million, are affected. But, with the inclusion of a target in the new SDGs to end all forms of violence against children by 2030, world leaders can no longer close their eyes to this universal problem. We need new approaches to raise awareness about the problem of sexual abuse and the ways to address it.”

Mark Malloch-Brown, Chairman, Business & Sustainable Development Commission (BSDC):

“The challenge of how to scale up global development efforts to meet this ambitious agenda is becoming clearer. The levels of investment, entrepreneurship and innovation require that business joins in. There has been an inspiring number of businesses coming forward to contribute to achieving these 17 ambitious objectives for ending hunger and poverty, reducing inequality and tackling climate change. But most have not yet internalized the risks of inaction and continue to tip-toe around implementation.”

Paul Bissonnette, Action Plan Executor, Merit360, an international group of young leaders:

“I believe that for the SDGs to be achieved there will need to be cooperation and collaboration between the highly interconnected SDGs and among all nations. My passion is in the air we all breathe, but the problem is that we don’t all breathe the same air; for millions of people the air they breathe kills them. I am working on a project called SPARTAN which aims to employ satellites to measure global air pollution.”

Sara Enright, manager, BSR (Business for Social Responsibility):

“It is exciting to see leading companies incorporate SDG targets into their core business. Through developing products and services that address sustainability challenges, companies can make a positive impact on global development. Yet, this kind of social business innovation is far from the norm. Greater ambition and ownership is needed from the private sector to achieve the global goals.”


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