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2020 Kicks off a Decade of Change

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are targets for global development adopted in 2015, set to be achieved by 2030. At its heart are the 17 SDGs, which are an urgent call to action by all countries and all individuals to play a role in moving us towards a better world.

Ending poverty and other deprivations goes hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spark economic growth, tackle climate change, and work to preserve our oceans and forests. And YOU have a critical role to play in achieving these goals.

As you start do work that matters, and identify the causes and communities you care about, you can use these international goals to guide you and aspire to. Take some time to pinpoint the key areas you're most passionate about. The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals include the following:

01. No Poverty: End poverty in all its forms everywhere.

Despite having a job, 8 per cent of the world’s workers and their families still live in extreme poverty. Disasters, corruption, and instability often lead to a downturn in the trajectory of socioeconomic development and exacerbate poverty.

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02. Zero Hunger: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

Hunger is on the rise again globally and undernutrition continues to affect millions of children. Public investment in agriculture globally is declining, small scale food producers and family farmers require much greater support and increased investment in infrastructure and technology for sustainable agriculture is urgently needed.

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03. Good Health: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

Progress has stalled or is not happening fast enough with regard to addressing major diseases, such as malaria and tuberculosis, while at least half the global population does not have access to essential health services and many of those who do suffer undue financial hardship, potentially pushing them into extreme poverty.

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04. Quality Education: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning

Despite the considerable progress on education access and participation over the past years, 262 million children and youth aged 6 to 17 were still out of school, and more than half of children and adolescents are not meeting minimum proficiency standards in reading and mathematics. Rapid technological changes present opportunities and challenges, but the learning environment, the capacities of teachers and the quality of education have not kept up.

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05. Gender Equality: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

While some indicators of gender equality are progressing, such as a significant decline in the prevalence of female genital mutilation and early marriage, the overall numbers continue to be high. Moreover, there is insufficient progress on structural issues at the root of gender inequality, such as legal discrimination, unfair social norms and attitudes, decision-making on sexual and reproductive issues and low levels of political participation.

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06. Clean Water: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all

Despite progress, billions of people still lack safe water, sanitation and handwashing facilities. Data suggests that achieving universal access to even basic sanitation service by 2030 would require doubling the current annual rate of progress. More efficient use and management of water are critical to addressing the growing demand for water, threats to water security and the increasing frequency and severity of droughts and floods resulting from climate change. As of the time of writing, most countries are unlikely to reach full implementation of integrated water resources management by 2030.

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07. Clean & Affordable Energy: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all

Access to electricity in the poorest countries has begun to accelerate, energy efficiency continues to improve and renewable energy is making gains in electricity sector. Despite this progress, some 800 million people remain without electricity while access to clean cooking fuels and technologies needs dedicated attention. In addition, if Sustainable Development Goals 7, 13 and related Goals are to be met, much higher levels of ambition are required with regard to renewable energy, including transportation and heating.

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08. Decent Work & Economic Growth: Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment, and decent work for all

Inclusive and sustainable economic growth can drive progress and generate the means to implement the Sustainable Development Goals. Globally, labour productivity has increased and unemployment is back to pre-financial crisis levels. However, the global economy is growing at a slower rate. More progress is needed to increase employment opportunities, particularly for young people, reduce informal employment and the gender pay gap and promote safe and secure working environments to create decent work for all.

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09. Infrastructure & Industry: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation

Aspects of the prevailing global economic environment have not been conducive to rapid progress on Sustainable Development Goal 9. While financing for economic infrastructure has increased in developing countries and impressive progress has been made in mobile connectivity, countries that are lagging behind, such as least developed countries, face serious challenges in doubling the manufacturing industry’s share of GDP by 2030, and investment in scientific research and innovation remains below the global average.

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10. Reduced Inequalities: Reduce inequality within and among countries

Inequality within and among nations continues to be a significant concern despite progress in and efforts at narrowing disparities of opportunity, income and power. Income inequality continues to rise in many parts of the world, even as the bottom 40 per cent of the population in many countries has experienced positive growth rates. Greater emphasis will need to be placed on reducing inequalities in income as well as those based on other factors. Additional efforts are needed to increase zero-tariff access for exports from least developed countries and developing countries, and assistance to least developed countries and small island developing States.

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11. Sustainable Cities: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable

Substantial progress has been made in reducing the proportion of the global urban population living in slums, though more than 1 billion people continue to live in such situations. Urgent action is needed to reverse the current situation, which sees the vast majority of urban residents breathing poor-quality air and having limited access to transport and open public spaces. With the areas occupied by cities growing faster than their populations, there are profound repercussions for sustainability.

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12. Responsible Consumption & Production: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Worldwide material consumption has expanded rapidly, as has material footprint per capita, seriously jeopardizing the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 12 and the Goals more broadly. Urgent action is needed to ensure that current material needs do not lead to the overextraction of resources or to the degradation of environmental resources, and should include policies that improve resource efficiency, reduce waste and mainstream sustainability practices across all sectors of the economy.

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13. Climate Action: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

With rising greenhouse gas emissions, climate change is occurring at rates much faster than anticipated and its effects are clearly felt worldwide. While there are positive steps in terms of the climate finance flows and the development of nationally determined contributions, far more ambitious plans and accelerated action are needed on mitigation and adaptation. Access to finance and strengthened capacities need to be scaled up at a much faster rate, particularly for least developed countries and small island developing States.