The UN Sustainable Development Goals
In the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution 70/1, “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, which was adopted by the Heads of States on 25 September 2015, an ambitious and universal development agenda was outlined for the global community. The implementation of that bold and transformative plan of action over the next 15 years could shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path, leaving no one behind.
At its forty-sixth session, in March 2015, the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC) endorsed the formation of the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) which is composed of States members of the UN and includes regional and international agencies as observers. The mandate of the IAEG-SDGs was to develop and implement the global indicator framework for the targets of the SDGs. In March 2017, during the forty-eighth session of the UNSC, States agreed on this framework, and in July 2017 it was adopted by the UNGA.
In order to promote accountability to their citizens, Member States committed to provide for systematic follow-up and review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the national, regional and global levels, using the global indicator framework developed by the IAEG-SDGs. This framework is refined annually, and the latest refinement was conducted at the fifty-third session of the United Nations Statistical Commission (E/CN.3/2022/41). In addition, the framework was reviewed comprehensively by the Statistical Commission at its fifty-first session in March 2020 and the next comprehensive review will be conducted at the fifty-sixth session, to be held in 2025. As per the latest refinement, the UN global SDG framework contains 17 Goals, 169 Targets and 232 unique Indicators. These Goals are briefly described as follows:
Goal 1 calls for an end to poverty in all its manifestations, including extreme poverty. All people everywhere, including the poorest and most vulnerable, should enjoy a basic standard of living and social protection benefits.
Goal 2 seeks to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition and to achieve sustainable food production by 2030. It is premised on the idea that everyone should have access to sufficient nutritious food, which will require widespread promotion of sustainable agriculture, a doubling of agricultural productivity, increased investments and properly functioning food markets.
Goal 3 aims to ensure health and well-being for all at all ages by improving reproductive, maternal and child health; ending the epidemics of major communicable diseases; reducing non-communicable and environmental diseases; achieving universal health coverage; and ensuring access to safe, affordable and effective medicines and vaccines for all.
Goal 4 focuses on the acquisition of foundational and higher-order skills; greater and more equitable access to technical and vocational education and training and higher education; training throughout life; and the knowledge, skills and values needed to function well and contribute to society.
Goal 5 aims to empower women and girls to reach their full potential, which requires eliminating all forms of discrimination and violence against them, including harmful practices. It seeks to ensure that they have every opportunity for sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights; receive due recognition for their unpaid work; have full access to productive resources; and enjoy equal participation with men in political, economic and public life.
Goal 6 goes beyond drinking water, sanitation and hygiene to also address the quality and sustainability of water resources. Achieving this Goal, which is critical to the survival of people and the planet, means expanding international cooperation and garnering the support of local communities in improving water and sanitation management.
Goal 7 seeks to promote broader energy access and increased use of renewable energy, including through enhanced international cooperation and expanded infrastructure and technology for clean energy.
Continued, inclusive and sustainable economic growth is a prerequisite for global prosperity. Goal 8 aims to provide opportunities for full and productive employment and decent work for all while eradicating forced labour, human trafficking and child labour.
Goal 9 focuses on the promotion of infrastructure development, industrialisation and innovation. This can be accomplished through enhanced international and domestic financial, technological and technical support, research and innovation, and increased access to information and communication technology.
Goal 10 calls for reducing inequalities in income, as well as those based on sex, age, disability, race, class, ethnicity, religion and opportunity—both within and among countries. It also aims to ensure safe, orderly and regular migration and addresses issues related to representation of developing countries in global decision-making and development assistance.
Goal 11 aims to renew and plan cities and other human settlements in a way that fosters community cohesion and personal security while stimulating innovation and employment.
Goal 12 aims to promote sustainable consumption and production patterns through measures such as specific policies and international agreements on the management of materials that are toxic to the environment.
Goal 13 is focused on climate change, which presents the single biggest threat to development, and its widespread, unprecedented effects disproportionately burden the poorest and the most vulnerable. Urgent action is needed not only to combat climate change and its impacts, but also to build resilience in responding to climate-related hazards and natural disasters.
This Goal seeks to promote the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal ecosystems, prevent marine pollution and increase the economic benefits to small island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources.
Goal 15 focuses on managing forests sustainably, restoring degraded lands and successfully combating desertification, reducing degraded natural habitats and ending biodiversity loss. All of these efforts in combination will help ensure that livelihoods are preserved for those that depend directly on forests and other ecosystems, that biodiversity will thrive, and that the benefits of these natural resources will be enjoyed for generations to come.
Goal 16 envisages peaceful and inclusive societies based on respect for human rights, the rule of law, good governance at all levels, and transparent, effective and accountable institutions. Many countries still face protracted violence and armed conflict, and far too many people are poorly supported by weak institutions and lack of access to justice, information and other fundamental freedoms.
The 2030 Agenda requires a revitalised and enhanced global partnership that mobilises all available resources from Governments, civil society, the private sector, the United Nations system and other actors. Goal 17 emphasises the need for increasing support to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States, which is fundamental to equitable progress for all.
Monitoring and reporting the SDGs in an EU context
The United Nations and the EU are natural partners in the efforts to shape a safer and better world for all. The EU made a positive and constructive contribution to the development of the 2030 Agenda, and it is committed to implement the SDGs in all its policies and encourages EU countries to do the same.
The European Commission has developed the EU SDG indicator set, used to monitor progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals in an EU context. This indicator set has been developed in a very broad consultative process, which involved many stakeholders including the Member States, Council Committees, NGOs, academia, and international organisations. The EU SDG indicators have been chosen both for their policy relevance for the EU and their statistical quality. The indicator set is reviewed annually and comprises 102 indicators distributed over the 17 Goals as set by the UN. 31 of these indicators are multi-purpose indicators (MPIs) and monitor more than one goal.
Eurostat is the statistical office of the European Union. It reports on the progress of the SDGs in an EU context and provides detailed information on each SDG, including visualisation tools and direct access to data.
Such information can be found here: https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/sdi/overview
NSO work on the SDGs
- The identification of existing data sources and statistical products (national and international) that address the UN SDIs framework directly as well as other statistics which are relevant in measuring Malta’s progress towards achieving the SDGs
- The identification of the data gaps in Malta’s monitoring and reporting in line with the SDI framework
- The allocation of national experts to all the SDG indicators
- The setting up of SDG-related Task Forces
- General national coordination of SDG statistics
You may access the Sustainable Development in Malta: Statistical Information on the 2030 Agenda in Malta – 2021 publication from here.
Additional information and Links:
More information on the UN SDGs can be found here: https://sdgs.un.org/
The UN Global SDG Database can be accessed here: https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/dataportal
Every year, the UN Secretary General presents an annual SDG Progress report, which is developed in cooperation with the UN System, and based on the global indicator framework and data produced by national statistical systems and information collected at the regional level. The latest report for 2022 can be accessed here: https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2022/
EU SDG Portal: https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/cache/digpub/sdgs/