The answer to this question is not an easy one. However, there are some guidelines set by the United Nations in order to help us get closer to understanding what it would be like if we lived sustainably on Earth.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were established in 2015 with 17 goals for humanity—goals which all 195 countries agreed upon and committed to working towards achieving over the next 15 years. A comprehensive road map to achieve global sustainability.
This blog post will summarize each of these 17 SDGs before discussing how they can be achieved in our lifetime through various sustainability initiatives around the world!
How can we ensure a sustainable future?
The sustainable future of humanity is a difficult one. We must make sure to protect the environment, which will, in turn, ensure that we have an Earth for generations to come. However, there are some initiatives underway or already implemented by various organizations around the world—such as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by United Nations member countries with 17 goals. These goals are for sustainable development including ending poverty, protecting the environment and ensuring sustainable global growth.
There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that all UN member countries committed to working towards achieving over the next 15 years in 2015:
- No Poverty
- Zero Hunger
- Good health and well-being
- Quality Education
- Gender Equality
- Clean Water and Sanitation
- Affordable and Clean Energy
- Decent Work and Economic Growth
- Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure
- Reduced Inequalities
- Sustainable Cities and Communities
- Responsible Consumption & Production
- Climate Action
- Life Below Water
- Life on Land
- Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
- Partnerships for the Goals (SDGs)
SDG number 1 - No Poverty
Ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services (e.g., social protection, education). This will allow them to live a life of dignity where they can become self-sufficient through working or starting their own business.
Extreme poverty, along with the elimination of all other types and degrees of deprivation, is recognized as the greatest global challenge and a crucial prerequisite for sustainable development in the 2030 Agenda.
SDG Number 2 - Zero Hunger
UN member states have agreed to end food insecurity and malnutrition by 2030. This means ensuring everyone has regular access to enough food, everywhere in the world. Almost 690 million people across the world were suffering from hunger in 2019, or roughly 8.9% of the global population, a rise of nearly 60 million in five years. While in In North America alone, there are 240 million tons of wasted food every single year. That’s enough to fill up New York City 50 times over.
Here is an interesting article about food waste.
SDG Number 3 - Good health and well-being
This goal aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all of all ages by addressing major health problems. Such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, heart disease and other non-communicable diseases—which are responsible for seven in ten deaths globally each year.
SDG number 4 - Quality Education
Ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes.
This goal will make sure children across the world get access to a quality public education system. Currently, 30 million school-aged children are out of school with half of these in conflict settings or fragile states such
SDG number 5 - Gender Equality
UN member states have committed to work towards achieving equal rights and opportunities for all men and women by 2030. It is estimated that more than 200 million fewer women are in the formal labour force as a result of barriers such as discriminatory laws, regulations and social norms.
SDG number 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
Ensure the availability of sustainable water-related ecosystems by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing wasteful use.
This goal aims to ensure a healthy living environment where people have access to clean air, food and safe drinking water as well as sanitation services—improving human health through the provision of basic services
SDG number 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
Meeting energy needs for sustainable development while addressing climate change and other environmental problems. Ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services by 2030.
This goal aims to ensure the provision of clean water as well as promoting the efficient use of electricity—while tackling issues such as global warming which has been influenced.
SDG number 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. Promoting innovation, infrastructure, technology development and transfer to developing countries in order to boost productivity.
This goal ensures the economic growth of all countries, ensuring that everyone has a chance to thrive in their jobs. It also makes sure to improve infrastructure—making it easier for people to get around and promoting innovation
SDG number 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
Promoting sustainable industrialization and innovation-driven growth. Enhance scientific research, promote universal access to technological infrastructure and foster the implementation of technology solutions for sustainable development.
This goal ensures that all countries have a chance to innovate and focus on new technologies which will encourage them to develop their country further—while tackling global warming through promoting green technologies.
SDG number 10 - Reduced Inequalities
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable institutions at all levels.
This goal ensures that countries can continue their efforts in reducing inequalities between rich and poor within a country—as well as ensuring peace across the world. It also aims to ensure
SDG number 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
Make human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Ensure access to basic services for all, build effective infrastructure at the local level. Promote sustainable industrial development through transformative innovation in key sectors
This goal ensures that cities are clean-living environments with easy access to public transportation as well as green spaces—ensuring a healthy environment where everyone feels safe and has access to public services.
SDG number 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
Promote sustainable production and consumption patterns by enhancing the shift towards environmentally friendly, resource-efficient modes of growth through policy frameworks at all levels; taking into account people's well-being and quality of life without compromising future generations' ability to meet their own needs.
This goal ensures that individuals are able to consume responsibly within a country— as well as making sure the production of goods is sustainable and not causing harm to the environment. It also aims to ensure democracy between countries so conflicts can be mediated in a peaceful way without compromising anyone's rights.
SDG number 13 - Climate Action
While food insecurity is a global issue, climate change has had an undeniable impact on food production around the world. Global warming creates higher temperatures in certain areas of the Earth which are conducive for growing crops while others become much drier or wetter than usual. These changes not only affect the amount of food that is produced but also the food quality, which can lead to food security issues.
SDG number 14 - Life Below Water
The world's oceans are at risk of becoming a plastic soup with significant impacts on human health and marine life if we do not reduce our use of plastics. It has been estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish if we continue to pollute our seas.
SDG number 15 - Life on Land
This goal focuses on protecting and restoring land, soil, forests and ecosystems that are critical for life by managing natural resources sustainably across a landscape-level – a significant change from traditional agricultural practices of farming which focus more on output than the environment.
SDG number 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
This goal focuses on ending violence against all women and children around the world by 2030. It also aims to create an "inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable future for all", which could include ensuring that everyone has access to justice, education, health care and economic opportunities.
SDG number 17 - Partnerships for the Goals (SDGs)
This goal focuses on strengthening international cooperation to achieve these goals by 2030 in order to create a more peaceful world where everyone has equal rights whether they are born locally or elsewhere.
What does a more sustainable future require?
The future is unpredictable and what will happen when we reach the year 2050 remains unknown. However, achieving sustainability in our daily lives requires a lot of effort from everyone involved. The best way to start making changes is by looking at one issue at a time such as reducing your carbon footprint or switching to sustainable sources for energy like solar panels. By starting to solve one issue, you are increasing the chances of making a more sustainable future. Below just a couple of examples of important global changes we have to undertake:
Reduce your meat consumption
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, livestock is responsible for 14.5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions or about eight million tons per year. That means that raising animals contributes more climate change pollution than all cars, trucks, trains, planes combined which is a huge problem considering meat consumption continues to grow globally every year. This is particularly important when you consider that the average person in a developed country eats around 200 pounds of meat per year, compared to less than 30 pounds for people living in developing countries. If you want to find out more in this article we answer to the question Is meat sustainable?
According to an Oxford University study, it would be theoretically possible to feed humanity without any farmed animals by 2040 if we all became vegan. Reducing your consumption can dramatically help fight climate change.
Fossil fuels are a HUGE problem
Fossil fuels are terrible for the environment and we have to stop using them. We must cut greenhouse gas emissions drastically in order to avoid their harmful effects on people, plants and animals all around us. The only way that this will be possible is if we start by stopping the extraction and production of fossil fuels as soon as possible. We need to stop burning coal, oil and gas in order for our planet to stay healthy, we need to implement alternative energy sources.
Helping nature thrive tackles climate change and biodiversity loss
Protecting nature is therefore a way to protect humanity as well. A reason why nature thrive is essential is that humans are mostly responsible for biodiversity loss: 50% comes from deforestation (that's why it's so important to protect forests) and 27% from climate change (that's why we need to protect and restore natural carbon sinks like wetlands, forests and oceans).
Stop biodiversity loss is therefore key in order to reduce all these problems that are threatening our planet. It can also be a benefit for humans: protecting ecosystems would lead to more jobs, improved health conditions and better quality of life.
Protecting nature is a way to protect humanity and the only one we have.
So what can you do for a sustainable future?
A better future requires that we all work together to create a better world for everyone. Sure, some people might think it is too big of an issue and there is no point in trying to solve these global challenges but if you focus on changing our habits and creating small collective actions we can make a positive impact more than we ever realized before! For example, there are many steps you can take to make your home more sustainable. One way is by using LED lights because they use 90% less energy than traditional bulbs and last 25 times longer! Also, if everyone used a reusable water bottle instead of buying plastic bottles we could prevent trillions of waste in landfills. The environmental impact we are having is huge, so it's time to finally take action!
The SGDs are an important part of the sustainable future. They will help in tackling global problems and ensuring that we have a planet for generations to come. It is up to us, humans small or large, powerful or not so much, young or old; it’s our responsibility as citizens of this Earth to make sure that the world is habitable for many years into the future. We can all do something about climate change - whether you're interested in volunteering your time with carbon offsetting projects, raising awareness by educating friends and family or supporting sustainable companies.