About the SDGs

Sustainable Development Goals

The UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) 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" (https://sdgs.un.org/goals (opens in a new tab))

The 17 goals, which consist of 169 targets and 232 indicators, form a plan for countries to follow after the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by all UN member states in 2015.

The SDGs follow on from the UNs Millennium Development Goals, which aimed to reduce extreme poverty, disease and hunger (2000-2015). The SDGs can be described as more ambitious; for example, they also include goals related to inequality, the environment and climate change (People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership; the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (opens in a new tab)).

The term "sustainable development" was popularised by the World Commission on Environment and Development (also known as the Brundtland Commission), which published the report "Our Common Future" in 1987, and is used in a wide range of contexts.


Each of the 17 SDGs have a goal and several targets; for example:

  • SDG 2 is referred to as "End hunger", and the goal is summarised as "End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture"
  • Target 2.4 is one of eight targets under SDG 2: "By 2030, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality" (https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal2 (opens in a new tab))

The 169 targets focus on specific aspects of the overall goals, and may include desired outcomes, pathways and measures, or specific groups of people or countries. Each target also has associated indicators to help monitor progress towards achieving the target.


Statistics and reports



Learning resources

Organisations and networks