What are the global goals?

5 June is world environment day – the United Nation’s main vehicle for raising awareness of environmental issues. I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about the UN’s global goals – a project close to my heart and something I became a part of with my voluntary placement with Raleigh International.

The 17 global goals for sustainable development

In 2015 world leaders came together as part of the United Nations (UN)* and agreed 17 goals for sustainable development** by 2030. These goals have the power to end poverty, fight inequality and stop climate change. It’s now up to all of us, governments, businesses, civil society and the general public to work together to build a better future for everyone.

the-global-goals-grid-blackThe goals are unique because they call for action by all countries, poor, rich and middle-income. They also acknowledge that for sustainable development to work you need to harmonize economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection.

Why are they important?

If you imagine providing easily accessible water to a community where villagers would normally have to walk 2 hours to get it, then think of the difference those 2 hours gained could make to a child’s education, you start to see how different development areas working together can make a real difference.

I think the magic of these goals is that they all connect with each other whilst breaking down complex issues into attainable targets. You can choose a goal that you feel passionate about and there’s a lot of resources that can help you.

How do we help?


Get hold of some great shareable content that you can use to help spread the word, just look at the ‘Get involved’ section at the bottom of www.globalgoals.org.


I got involved through Raleigh International who deliver International Citizen Service (ICS) programmes. It was an amazing experience that was well organised and gave me skills for life, so I can’t recommend it enough.

There are a number of other sustainable development charities that work towards the goals, including Think Global,  Foundation of Sustainable Development and World Wildlife Fund (WWF)


See the global goals campaigns that you can get involved with.


If you’re a teacher visit www.worldslargestlesson.globalgoals.org for lesson plans and resources.

How do we know we’re reaching the global goals?

All 193 member states of the UN have agreed on the 17 goals and are working towards 169 targets that have 230 indicators (a measure of success). These indicators are adopted by the UN’s Economic and Social Council and General Assembly. Governments will also develop their own indicators for their country to help measure success.

How much will it cost us to reach the goals?

There’s no definite answer but economist Jeffrey Sachs estimates $175 billion a year to eliminate extreme poverty – this is less than 1% of the combined income of the richest countries in the world.

To achieve all of the goals recent estimates suggest that 2% of the world GDP (a measure of everything produced by all people and companies in a country) will be enough.

Find out more abut the global goals

Watch the Goalkeepers 2017 highlights and more for some great talks by the likes of Trevor Noah, Will.I.am, Stephen Fry amongst many other speakers. This is an annual Goalkeepers event which last year was hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.

Get inspired by the latest action at www.globalgoals.org/news

UKSSD facilitates the delivery of the global goals in the UK.

Project Everyone has done great work to make the goals accessible to everyone, an agency devised by Richard Curtis.

*The UN is an international organisation founded in 1945 with the aim of preventing another conflict such as World War 2. It was founded with 51 member states and now has 193 member states. The UN is still guided by it’s founding charter which outlines the purposes and principles of the organisation.

**The UN’s definition of sustainable development is that it’s ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’ For it to be achieved we all have to work towards ‘building an inclusive, sustainable and resilient future for people and the planet’.




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