7 Aug 2015 Can you name any of the seventeen proposed Sustainable Development Goals yet? As the eight Millennium Development goals reach their due date this year, they have been the topic of many a discussion. The goals were set up by the United Nations at the beginning of the new millennium, when world leaders gathered to shape a vision to fight poverty, and have kept civil society and governments quite busy over the past fifteen years.
Ambitious new goals
Looking at the new goals we see that they are pretty ambitious; like ‘End poverty in all its forms everywhere’, and ‘End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and sustainable agriculture’.
In the Guardian Sustainable Business of this Monday, Bjorn Lomborg, adjunct professor at Copenhagen Business School, expresses his opinion on the new goals. According to Lomborg, focusing on all the different SDGs really means having no focus at all. He argues there are four SDGs that are really worth investing most of the resources in; indoor air pollution, coral reefs, cleaner energy and cutting subsidies; fossil fuel subsidies in particular.
The last point that Lomborg makes is an interesting one, he writes: ‘When selecting environmental targets, both businesses and politicians should pick them, not for how lofty and ambitious they sound, but rather for how much benefit they would deliver for the environment. Getting us all to focus on these smart targets could be the single best thing we do in the next 15 years’.
Looking back at the MDGs
But, what were these MDGs again and what has actually happened to them over the last 15 years? The eight defined goals were: 1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; 2. Achieve universal primary education; 3. Promote gender equality and empower women; 4. Reduce child mortality;. 5. Improve maternal health; 6. Combat HIV AIDS, malaria and other diseases; 7. Ensure environmental sustainability and 8. Global partnership for development. IDH has been focusing mainly on goals 7 and 8, and indirectly on the first goal as well.
Together, different companies and organizations throughout the world have achieved quite some progress on these topics. According to the UN, ‘unprecedented efforts have resulted in profound achievements’. A UN report was issued earlier this year, indicating the successes, but also mentioning the areas that are still lacking behind. An example of the latter is ‘Climate change and environmental degradation undermine progress achieved, and poor people suffer the most.’
So there is work left to do! In the coming years, IDH will keep tackling these issues, and we are looking forward to monitoring the process on the SDGs.