The Sustainable Development Goals

We all know that the Sustainable Development Goals are expected to be achieved by 2030. There are 17 of them and they are going to make the world a better place.


What are they? Why are they supposed to be accomplished by 2030? How can they be implemented in our daily life? Why are they a necessity for a better future?

Well, search up the internet, take one question at a time, and you’ll find all your answers. Though, it is very difficult to browse through the entire internet and find the answer to one particular question, especially when countless articles on the same topic are flooding it. Frankly, it might take days, to pinpoint the solution to one particular argument. The SDGs are not a new term for many, but let’s be honest, not all of us have learned them by heart. Many people don’t even know the entire list, and there’s a high chance that you are one of those many people.

That is the reason why, after conducting intensive research, we have compiled this comprehensive guide focusing only on the SDGs. We have tried to elucidate all the questions regarding the SDGs, in this article. Each SDG is broken down into three portions for a better understanding, namely – What is it? Why is there a need? How can it be implemented in daily life?

Keep on reading to turn your but’s into oh’s.

  1. No Poverty

More than seven hundred million people live in poverty. They do not have access to basic human necessities. Going to a doctor, being able to spell even their own name, getting access to clean water and sanitation, having two meals a day – all of these are luxuries to them. To help these people, the number one goal is to end poverty in all of its forms. Unemployment, illiteracy, work exploitation, all of these are core reasons for poverty and to end them, means putting an end to poverty.

Everybody deserves to be able to have their basic rights, to have their basic necessities. Sadly, most people don’t realize it. Instead, they see poverty as a reason to socially exclude these people, which is wrong. As an individual, it is your responsibility to help those in need. Instead of socially excluding those people, include them in your life. Help them, and try your best to do that without hurting their moral values. Just because a person belongs to the underprivileged part of the society, doesn’t mean they are worthless. Give charities, collect donations or conduct fundraising campaigns to help the poor people. If you are willing to go an extra mile, to eradicate poverty or help someone in need, you can also conduct car-drives to provide monthly rations in poor communities. Even if you won’t be helping millions or hundreds of people, at least you were able to help one person or one family; and that’s more than enough, just don’t let the kindness fade away.

2. Zero Hunger

SDG 2 envisions a world where no one goes to bed hungry. Right now, there are more than 149 million children under 5 years of age that are chronically undernourished. 149 million is just the count of children, the number is sure to rise up to 300 million if adults are included too. Additionally, poor nutrition causes 45% of deaths of 3.1 million children each year. Again, that’s only the data of children under five, what count will we have if adults are also included? That’s enough data to provide a clear picture of how worse this issue has become, and how worse it is becoming with every passing day.

So how do we reduce that many people dying of hunger to almost 0? This is not just the government’s job to provide people with food, it is yours too. How will someone living in Washington, USA know how many people need to be fed in Juba, South Sudan? Just like that, governments should not be held responsible to feed every single person of the state. It is the responsibility of every person to make sure that no one in their community goes to bed hungry.

Be mindful of the poverty-stricken people. Make sure you give regular charity and make regular donations. Keep it in mind that the circulation of wealth and food conservation is really important to achieve this goal. You can do food-drives, or open up a charity food house which gives free or cheap food to all those in need. It is also necessary that you refrain from wasting food. Cook only enough food that you can finish, don’t throw it away; people are starving to death out there. 

Did you hear?
Rizq is a Pakistani social enterprise that collects excess food from restaurants and events, then repackages them and distributes it amongst the poor. Find out more about them

Apart from that, hunger is not only a problem in the less privileged society, but it is also a problem in even the privileged society. You never know what people in your neighborhood are going through. That’s why keep checking on your neighbors, see if someone is going through a financial crisis, and help them out. Be considerate of others.

3. Good Health and Wellbeing

Dealing with the good health and wellbeing of the citizens of this world, SDG 3 is a necessity. It is important to focus on providing more tips on how to reduce ambient pollution, increased funding of health systems, improvised sanitation, and hygiene, and increased access to physicians. Achieving this goal means eradicating a wide range of diseases and addressing other persistent and emerging health issues. People who are deprived of good health, are to be given access to it. Goal number three also means that the medical facilities and labs are to be improvised all over the world so that everyone is granted the facility of good health systems. It also deals with child health, maternal health, HIV/Aids, malaria, and other such diseases. 

Though it might seem off-topic to many, the situation of today’s world was explained very well by the Dalai Lama when he once said, “We waste our health for wealth, and then we waste our wealth for health.” One’s health and wellbeing are more important than anything, though it is mostly ignored in the modern world. You see, most people prefer wealth over health, this also includes mental wellbeing. That’s why they keep themselves unintentionally deprived of the care their body and brain are begging ever so increasingly. Goal 3 is also about creating awareness about the importance of good physical and mental health.

With the global pandemic of Covid-19, people are coming to realize the importance of sanitation and hygiene, though it should have been realized a long time ago. With sustainable development goal 3 being achieved, it is a possibility that any such diseases are prevented in the future. Again, we all have the responsibility of acting wisely and implementing SDGs in our daily lives.

As an individual, here’s how you can take care of your health and wellbeing, as well as of those around you:

  • For communicable diseases:   
  1. Take care of your personal hygiene. Be mindful and careful during any public interaction because you never know which communicable disease someone might be suffering from. 
  2. Keep a sanitizer with you at all times, and make regular use of it.
  3. Wash your hands as often as you can.
  4. Don’t share your towel, toothbrush, and other sanitary items with anyone – diseases are most commonly transmitted through them.
  5. Do not drink from someone else’s glass/bottle, diseases like Aids are easily spread through that. If possible, carry a disposable glass with you at all times.
  6. When coughing or sneezing, please cover your mouth! 
  7. Drink as much water as possible.

Life Hack:
Don’t have a sanitizer? Well, don’t worry, you can make your own hand sanitizer with 3/4 cup of isopropyl or rubbing alcohol (with 99 percent alcohol volume), 1/4 cup of aloe vera gel, and 10 drops of essential oil, or you can use lemon juice instead. Put them all in a bowl and mix it with a spoon. Then, beat it with a whisk, until it has a gel consistency and voila! You can find out more

  • For Non-communicable diseases:
  1. To avoid diseases like cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes, exercise often.
  2. Report to a physician for regular, monthly checkups. 
  3. Get your lipid profile and complete blood count checked regularly. 
  4. Include healthy food in your diet, refrain from too much oily or salty food.
  5. Reduce the use of tobacco and alcohol.
  6. Eat fruits and vegetable
  7. Drink as much water as possible!

Mental Health:

  1. Talk about what you are feeling, it’s totally okay to talk about your mental health, it does not make you weak or vulnerable.
  2. Stay active. Exercise or take a walk down the lane, anything that helps you stay active because it helps to boost your self-esteem. Go to the park, stay close to nature; it helps to refresh your mind.
  3. Eat and drink sensibly. A good diet is good for your physical and mental health, both. Drink as much water as possible (yes, it is the third time we mentioned it because it is that important).
  4. Do something you’re good at, even if it is playing Pac-Man. 
  5. Keep in touch with friends, and keep away from people that radiate negative energy; it is good for both of you.
  6. Take a break, even though your work schedule is pretty tight, you have to make time for yourself. Take regular breaks, even if they last for only about an hour.
  7. Accept who you are. We all are unique in our own ways, and that’s a good thing. Accept your true self, be yourself. Not only does that help boost confidence, but also helps you unlock your true potential.

It is important to note that all of the above-mentioned steps should also be reciprocated; encourage others to do the same. If you know someone who cannot afford all of those (financially or morally), support them.

4. Quality Education

Remember when in the first algebra class, the teacher wrote all those algebraic equations on the board? Wasn’t it difficult to make out those sums? You opened the textbook and all the sums were just a combination of alphabets and numbers as they danced in front of your eyes. Your mind was a surging perplexity. Colorful spots flashed in front of your eyes, every time you focused too much on the complex sums, threatening to crack your skull open if you focused too much. Well, do you recognize that feeling?

That is how a person feels when they don’t know how to read. Right now, about 617 million children and 750 million adults feel that way. Not all of them are out of school, though. Some of the children out of these 617 million children attend schools, but due to the lack of quality education, they cannot read or write. The fourth sustainable development goal deals with the education department because no-one deserves to remain illiterate in this world. Everyone has the right to get a quality education. The reasons behind this poor quality education system are lack of adequately trained teachers, equity issues, the poor state of schools, and lack of resources amongst the underprivileged community.

It is the job of governments to invest money in education, and properly implement quality education in all educational institutes. However, it is your job to invest yourself in educating people. Teach, even if you are still learning. If the maid that works in your house is uneducated, take some extra time and teach her one thing a day. Instead of throwing your old school textbooks away, donate them. Tutor children for free or volunteer at different schools for the underprivileged like The Citizens Foundation. Instruct the children you teach to teach these things to their friends as well. Additionally, you can also start street schools where you gather some poor children, and educate them. And when you see even a single person on whose life you have made a positive impact, you will realize then, the power of kindness. Together, let’s empower and educate every person who is not educated.

5. Gender Equality

Despite the seemingly rapid progress on gender equality, there is not even one country in the entire world that is on track to attain gender equality by 2030.

Not even a single country. Gender equality is not only a basic human right but is also necessary for laying the foundations of a peaceful, flourishing and sustainable future. Every woman and girl out there should be given equal access to education, decent work, health care, and representation in political and economic decision-making procedures. The fifth Sustainable Development Goal, specifically targets the discrimination girls and women face all around the world. It focuses on ending all gender-based discrimination and hatred. Gender Equality talks about the LGBTQ+ community as well as all men and women. It talks about providing every person to be able to live a life where they are not despised because of their gender and are instead given equal opportunities in all aspects of life.

The world leaders are responsible for making laws and introducing reforms that encourage gender equality, but to implement these reforms, it is the duty of the common man. All of us are capable of playing our part in a better world. Whatever your gender is, treat the opposite gender with the same respect that you want for your gender. Volunteer for the cause of all genders, and make sure that people around you feel safe despite the different gender.  Volunteering for the cause of all genders. Also, stay aware of your surroundings, report any kind of gender-based violence done to you or those around you to the relevant authorities (or any other type of abuse- this is just human of you to act at such times!).

Know that every single person is equal, and have their own rights. Nobody is allowed to hurt, judge, or discriminate against others – it does not make you cool or superior but shows how low and inferior your mentality is. Additionally, make sure that you spread awareness in your community. Be the change; start a chain reaction. If the world has to progress, the progress should be made with souls that link with each other, not with souls that hurt each other.

Good to know:
If female farmers had access to the same resources as males, hunger could be reduced by up to 150 million.

6. Clean Water and Sanitation

The sixth sustainable development goal is to improve sanitation and provide access to clean drinking water to everyone. Although clean drinking water is a basic necessity of life, most people are deprived of it. To these people, clean drinking water is a luxury they can never afford. Currently, more than 2 billion people live with the risk of reduced access to freshwater resources. Furthermore, there are about 2.4 million people who do not have access to basic sanitation services like toilets and latrines. More than 80% of wastewater that is produced from human activities is currently discharged into rivers or the sea without any kind of pollution removal. If the conditions of the world remain unchanged, at least 1 out of 4 people will be living in a country affected by recurring or prolonged shortages of freshwater by 2050. Under this goal, the target is to provide access to basic sanitation and clean water as well as to prevent water shortages to every individual.

What you can do to play your part is, stop wasting water and spreading awareness. To avoid the risk of germs in your water, boil it before drinking. Adding on, be mindful of the amount of detergent and other chemicals that you are draining off. In elementary grade, there used to be a separate chapter about the importance of water and the need to preserve it, students were asked to come up with different ideas on how they can save water. Then why don’t we implement those creative solutions in our day-to-day lives? Why don’t you actually put up posters to educate people about the importance of water? Why don’t you use bucket water instead of a hose to wash your car or water your plants? Why don’t you limit your bathing time or close the tap when you are brushing teeth? Why don’t you correct people around you when they are wasting water? See, these small and seemingly insignificant amendments in your daily routine can make a huge impact. When it comes to water conservation, remember that every single drop counts. Little drops of water make the mighty ocean.

7. Affordable and Clean Energy

Seventh on the list is Affordable and Clean Energy. The reason why you can read this article right now through your electronic device is energy. You can cook food, use the heater or AC, because of energy. That’s because energy is central to the majority of challenges and opportunities the world confronts today. Energy is a necessity of life. Despite that, some people do not have access to affordable and clean energy. More than 3 billion people lack access to clean energy for food production and are exposed to harmful levels of air pollution. Moreover, there are a little less than 1 billion people who do not have access to electricity!  

For progress to be made in any field of life, everyone must have access to clean energy. While advancements have been made in this regard over the past few years, more progress has to be made to achieve the goal completely. We are living in the era of technological advancements, an era where life can be made so much more efficient and sustainable, though you have to be willing to do it.  Use a bicycle to travel short distances, or go on foot. Not only will it reduce your carbon footprints in the environment, but it will also keep you healthy! If you have to travel larger distances, try doing car-pools or using public transport. Switch the modes of your daily commute. Also, switch off the fans and lights when they are not in use.

Fun fact:
Although women are the primary users and managers of energy in many households globally, they conserve more energy than men.

8. Decent Work and Economic Growth

Can you live on $ 2/day? Well, a rough estimate suggests that half of the people in this world live on $2 per day. The global unemployment rate keeps on increasing, and even having a job doesn’t guarantee a financially stable lifestyle in most countries. As labor productivity decreases, and the unemployment rate rises, living standards also decline due to the low wages. Work exploitation, insufficient investments, and gender wage gaps are one of the most common reasons for unemployment and indecent work. The progress is slow and uneven, which is why it is a necessity to rethink and re-equip the economic and social policies aimed at ending poverty.

The world leaders are required to introduce relevant reforms while the public is supposed to combat corruption and promote a sustainable as well as inclusive economic growth; where everyone is given an equal chance.

9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

When we talk about the industry, innovation, and infrastructure, we talk about technological advancements. Without technological advancements, industrialization will not happen and without that, we will not be able to progress or develop. Industries have to reconsider their methods of manufacturing so that they can reduce the emission of Carbon Dioxide. Investments are supposed to be made in high-tech products when it comes to manufacturing so that efficiency is increased. Additionally, it is crucial to invest in infrastructure (transport, irrigation, communication technology, energy, and information). The target of this goal is to:

  • Promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization
  • Develop quality, resilient, sustainable and reliable infrastructure
  • Support domestic technology development
  • Increase the access to financial services, as well as their integration in the value chains and markets for small-scale industries and other enterprises.
  • Enhance scientific research, and upgrade the technology.
  • Increase access to communications technology, and the internet.

10.  Reduced Inequality

What does goal number ten aim at? It aims to reduce inequalities within and amongst countries. Here, inequality is not only limited to gender but is extended to ethnicity, race, age, disability, class, religion, and sexual orientation. Inequality is a threat to social and economic development and destroys people’s sense of self-worth and fulfillment. Consequently, it can give way to criminal activities, diseases, and environmental degradation. Inequality includes hatred, racism, homophobia, transphobia, religious discrimination, sexism and all other forms of discrimination. It is necessary to realize that inequality is not something that is limited to one person, it spreads. And what would happen when differences amongst people continue to spread? Hatred will spread, and what will happen then? Peace and love will be eradicated. Inequality affects us all, not only one particular nation or country. Also, if people are being excluded from communities, how can the world be a better place for every person? Thus, inequality is an issue that needs to be addressed on a large and small-scale both.

People should stop judging others and spreading hatred. Love and peace are something worth spreading and being proud of, hate won’t get you anywhere.  

Did you know?
It is proved by evidence from the developing countries that the children in the poorest 20% of the population are still three times more likely to die before they turn five as compared to children from the richest quintiles. And over 16,000 kids die every day due to preventable diseases.

11. Sustainable Cities and Communities

By 2030, five billion people will be living in cities. To accommodate all of them, rapid urbanization is required. However, rapid urbanization also means facing a lot of difficult challenges. These challenges include congestion, lack of funds to provide basic services, shortage of adequate housing, removal, and management of solid waste, declining infrastructure, and increasing pollution. These challenges are difficult to overcome, but not impossible. If we all connect, share and be sustainable together, we can achieve this goal.

As a community, we should learn and share our knowledge with others. Help people in your surroundings to lead a more sustainable development, educate them and spread awareness. We should all adopt and promote the concept of minimalism, to achieve this goal. Furthermore, be mindful of the waste you are producing. Change your lifestyle to suit the needs of your environment, together we can build sustainable cities and communities where everyone gets the best of everything.

12. Responsible Consumption and Production

The name of Goal 12 is self-explanatory. Every individual, every state and every community is responsible for what they consume and produce. Responsible Consumption and Production is basically a hub-hub of most of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is about promoting the efficiency of resources and energy, providing access to basic necessities, decent jobs and a better lifestyle for all. So, if this goal is achieved, we will manage to be almost halfway there. However, this goal can only be achieved if we all unite, and move towards a better future.

We should make sure that what we consume or produce does not harm our environment. As responsible citizens of this world, we must reduce the use of substances that are destroying our ecosystem, such as plastic. Instead of plastic, use paper bags or the water-soluble and biodegradable plastic. If you go to a shop and you’re given something as small as a packet of biscuits or a refreshing box of juice, refuse to take the plastic shopper and carry those little things in your hand instead.

Whenever you use something individually, think of the impact it will have on the overall environment. For example, wasting too much water when washing dishes or when taking a bath can eventually lead to water scarcity, which is a problem so many parts of the world are facing. Be considerate of what you use. Use less for doing more and better.

13. Climate Action

Perhaps one of the most important SDG, Climate Action is the goal that deals with climate change- a phenomenon that threatens everything that exists on this planet. Ban Ki-Moon explained the climate crises so well in only one sentence, “Climate change is destroying our path to sustainability.” Indeed, climate change is destroying our path to sustainability. It is such a huge crisis, that if we don’t take immediate action, it threatens to destroy the entire planet. Weather patterns have started to change, sea levels are rising, greenhouse gas emissions are higher than they ever have been, and weather events are getting frequent. Global warming is basically a warning, it is a code red. The Australia bushfires, Polar Bears being forced to cannibalism, and the fire of Amazon Rainforest are just the beginning of how worse things can become. People are dying, animals are dying, and nothing is spared from the climate crises. Thus, it is important beyond explanation to act now. 

Yes, you cannot make the required laws and policies, but no, there is not something you can’t do. Even if you use a small amount of aerosol spray, it affects the ozone layer and worsens the climate crises. So, you can stop the use of aerosol sprays and deodorants. Stop using plastic that is not bio-degradable or water-soluble. Instead of carrying a plastic bag when you do groceries, carry a tote bag. Get creative with the way you lead a sustainable life, and soon you will love it!

Also, don’t add to the waste and remember the three Rs – reduce, reuse, and recycle. The power of these three actions is so much, that if we all implement them in our lives, we will manage to make a huge positive impact on the climate action goal. Planting trees and preventing trash burning is also a necessary step to reduce climate change.

Easy ways to reduce the effect of Climate Change:
Educate people, unplug your devices, say no to plastic, use public transport, switch to solar energy, and use electric vehicles. Remember, a tree a day keeps the climate baddie away.

14.  Life Below Water

Water is the most essential resource for mankind, but it is also the most exploited one. Throughout history, water has been essential in trade and transportation. It is used for multiple purposes; not only drinking, cooking and sanitation. But the seas, oceans, and rivers are getting polluted and acidified. Coastal Waters are being polluted and water pollution is increasing, which harms the functioning of biodiversity and ecosystems.

Waterbodies are also a source of food, but people are exploiting marine life by over-fishing. Over-fishing can cause a drastic impact on marine life. Also, with marine pollution increasing, the life below water is affected as well. Plastic is strangling aquatic life to death, chemicals are poisoning them. The poison can also be transferred to humans, so it doesn’t only affect them but also humans. You see, life in all forms is equally important. Everything is interlinked, that’s how eco-systems work. Where there is life, there is a connection. So if one living being is harmed, the rest will be equally endangered. 

So, instead of throwing your trash in the sea, use dustbins instead. Stop the use of plastic, and dispose of harmful substances and chemicals properly.

15.  Life on Land

The Sustainable Development Goals envision a better world for all, not only humans. The betterment is for every form of life be it aquatic creatures, humans or animals; the betterment is for everyone and everything. SDG 15 talks about all life on land, especially the forests which are natural habitats to many species. Adding on, more than 1.6 billion people depend on forests for livelihood. Efforts are being made to achieve this goal and to combat desertification as well as protecting all life on land. 

Every individual should be appreciative of biodiversity, do not hunt animals and birds, instead make shelter homes for them. Report and discourage poaching. Afforestation should be promoted so that desertification can be combated. When small voices combine, they become loud. So discourage species trafficking as much as you can, speak and act against it. Do not buy or sell animals, birds or any other species.

Did you hear?
It looks like nature hit a reset button in Italy, during the Covid-19 lockdown. The canals in Venice are so clean that dolphins are showing up, and ducks are showing up in the fountains of Rome. Even wild boars are coming out to play, and air pollution has dropped drastically!

16.  Peace and Justice Strong Institutions

Decreasing crime-rate globally is also one of the most important issues that need to be addressed. Violence, corruption, trafficking, bribery, theft, murders and killings, abuse, homicides, bombing, and other criminal activities need to be dealt with more strictly. To build a society where everyone feels safe from constant threats, it is important to build strong peace and justice institutions. The most valuable ways to achieve this goal are to implement registration at birth globally and to create more autonomous national human rights institutions worldwide. 

On your part, you should do your research too. Take note, that policy documents are easily available everywhere, go through the policies of your country once, and understand what is expected from the government institutions. 

Always stand-up against what is wrong, even if it is a small corrupt act of your local store-keeper or if it is some big crime committed by a community leader. What’s wrong is wrong, and never accept what’s wrong. Make sure that you always raise your voice against unjust practices. The change starts with you. So if you want your state to implement strong and equal, peace and justice institutions, make sure you are not on the same path as them.

17.  Partnerships to achieve the goal 

The last goal deals with partnerships between governments, civil societies and communities to achieve the goals. The SDGs are not some small goals on the UN’s to-do list, they are huge and can only be achieved if the entire world contributes. That is why partnerships are vital to achieving the goals by 2030. All of the world’s cities have to put their hands together, and their differences aside, only then will it become possible to create the impact that is needed to turn these goals into reality.

It is important to realize that these partnerships are not only limited to world leaders. Every individual has to play their part. Thus, it is important that we create awareness, and motivate the people around us to achieve these goals. We have to keep spreading the message of the 17 SDGs around us. Tell the people around you how they can implement SDGs in their daily lives, keep everyone around you motivated to achieve them. Your family, friends, acquaintances, relatives, colleagues, mates, everyone is responsible for establishing partnerships to achieve the goals.

Hopefully, all of the above-mentioned points have helped you in finding out more about the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 agenda, as well as have helped you realize how you can play your part. Remember, every action counts so be as sustainable as you can. Cheers to the hopes of a better world for all of us, a world worth living in!


Rabeeta Abbas

Rabeeta Abbas, a fifteen-year-old Pakistani, has a lot on her bucket-list rather than simply slacking off and acing school exams. She writes, which, considering you’re reading this, you already know. An experienced writer, she is a firm believer in the strength of words. Through her social media Rabeeta strives to share her vision and inspire people to explore the different aspects of life that often escape the eye. To learn more, visit her IG handle: @rabeeta_

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