Why have UN sustainability goals been adopted?

By Lydia Newman (Photo by Anisur Rahman on Unsplash)

You might think it distressing to find that ‘humanity is currently using nature 1.75 times faster than our planet’s ecosystems can regenerate, equivalent to 1.75 Earths.’ But this could increase to approximately 3 Earths if the population continues to grow and reach 9.6 billion by 2050.

On the 29th of July 2019, we reached overshoot day; ‘the day when humanity’s annual demand on nature exceeds what Earth’s ecosystem can regenerate in that year.’ Overshoots first began in 1970 and there has never been an overshoot day as early as 2019’s date. If we implement the UN sustainability goals into our lifestyles, then there is a chance that by 2050 humanity could reach one-planet compatibility by pushing Earth Overshoot Day back by 5 days every year.

What global events have influenced the sustainability goals?


The sustainability goals work towards taking action to gain prosperity and peace for both the planet and the people inhabiting it. In 2015, there were a variety of prominent events that influenced the goals, these include:

  • Sendai framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (March)
  • Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development (July)
  • Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
    (UN Sustainable Development Summit – September – New York City)
  • Paris Agreement on Climate Change (December)
  • Annual High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (review of SDGs)

What are the UN sustainability goals?


  1. No poverty

  2. Zero hunger

  3. Good health and well-being

  4. Quality education

  5. Gender equality

  6. Clean water and sanitation

  7. Affordable and clean energy

  8. Decent work and economic growth

  9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure

  10. Reduced inequalities

  11. Sustainable cities and communities

  12. Responsible consumption and production

  13. Climate action

  14. Life below water

  15. Life on Land

  16. Peace, justice and strong institutions

  17. Partnerships for the goals



What do the goals entail?

Here, at Survey and Test we are energy and environmentally orientated and therefore a number of the goals form part of our day to day consideration. For example, goal number 7: affordable and clean energy; is a goal we perpetually seek to achieve.

Targets that have been set in order to achieve affordable and clean energy include:

  • By 2030 access to reliable, affordable and modern energy services should be ensured universally.
  • The share of renewable energy should be globally increased and energy efficiency should be double the global rate it is now by 2030.
  • International cooperation needs to be enhanced in order to allow access to clean energy technology and research, inclusive of renewable technology, cleaner fossil-fuel technology and energy efficiency.
  • Encouragement to invest in clean energy technology and energy infrastructure in order for these elements to be upgraded and expanded to all developing countries.

Why must we implement SDGs?

The recent dismay of the UK exceeding its annual ecological budget is about to put the implementation of SDGs to the test. If we do not act fast then soil erosion, biodiversity loss, collapse of fisheries, deforestation and CO2 atmospheric build up will continue to increase.

Low-carbon technologies have become essential in reducing the total humanity’s global ecological footprint, since at this present moment 60% of this total is accounted for by burning fossil fuels.

What can you do to help?

Find out about existing projects contributing towards moving the overshoot day back, or even take lead and use this as a platform to advance your own solutions towards one-planet living on: https://movethedate.overshootday.org/

This website has an innovative way of connecting people geographically and unites interests and goals under the themes: cities, energy, food, planet and population.

There is a possibility that we can push the overshoot day back by 93 days if we are able to reduce our CO2 emissions by 50%.Our existing renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency for buildings, electrical production and industrial processes has the potential to move overshoot day back by a minimum of 21 days.

Reference: https://unfccc.int/news/fossil-fuels-are-biggest-part-of-global-ecological-footprint

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