The international community agreed on a timetable for the future with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted in September 2015 with a historic consensus between the 193 member states of the United Nations (UN). It applies a holistic approach in order to work towards the transformation of the world for the benefit of global sustainable development. For the first time it covers all three dimensions of sustainability: the social, economic and environmental. The Agenda makes all the countries of the world responsible, the developing and emerging states just as much as the industrialised nations. It defines a comprehensive framework for orienting national and international policy towards the tenets of sustainability.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) form the heart of the 2030 Agenda. Its scope is captured by five core areas (the so-called five Ps): people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership. The 2030 Agenda outlines the vision of a world without hunger or poverty that enables prosperity for all and at the same time takes into account the natural limits of our planet. It aims to realise a world in which peace reigns and human rights are respected. The prerequisite for achieving the Goals is a global partnership based on equality, mutual respect and common values. The five core messages also illustrate that the Goals are indivisibly linked and mutually dependent.
No one should suffer hunger or poverty in 2030. All human beings should be in a position to fulfil their potential in dignity and equality. Among other things, sufficient food, healthcare, access to safe drinking water and sanitation as well as access to quality education will be essential to achieve this.
The advances that have already been made in the fight against poverty are distributed unevenly around the world. As a result, differences are continuing to widen and extreme poverty is increasingly becoming concentrated in the countries of Africa. According to the UN, 75 per cent of the people affected by extreme poverty live in Sub-Saharan Africa. To counteract this development it will be necessary to resolve underlying problems and conflicts and protect the countries concerned against the impacts of climate change. Considerable efforts will also be required in relation to other Goals in order, for example, to achieve basic healthcare, especially for the most disadvantaged groups, or to realise quality education at all levels, including higher education. In addition to this, science and research will make an important contribution to achieving progress in the areas of health and food security.
Participation in economic, social and technological progress forms the basis for prosperity and a fulfilled life for all people. However, systematic inequalities continue to exist and participation is often more strongly linked to social background than personal potential.
People are discriminated against on the basis of their gender or physical characteristics. Although we are currently observing a global decline in unemployment, the low quality of jobs often remains problematic.
At the same time, economic developments need to be organised in a sustainable way so that they can be brought into harmony with the environment and climate protection efforts. In this context, the 2030 Agenda calls upon research to improve the development of innovative technologies. In particular, developing countries should be supported in increasing their academic capacities to develop sustainable models of consumption and production.
Protecting and preserving our planet to offer present and future generations a good place to live is a core concern of the 2030 Agenda. In particular, the effects of climate change are having a disproportionately stronger impact on the poor.
On the basis of current levels of global emissions it will no longer be possible to prevent a global temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius between 2030 and 2052. According to the UN, warming on this scale would have considerable consequences for food security and health as well as for ecosystems on land and under water. The 2030 Agenda calls for academic cooperation and the expansion of research capacities especially to protect the oceans. Ambitions and efforts to combat climate change and far-reaching environmental degradation must therefore be significantly increased to ensure that their impacts do not become even more severe. This is where the links between individual Sustainable Development Goals become clear: advances on certain SDGs – such as decent work and economic growth (SDG 8), industry, innovation and infrastructure (SDG 9), sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11) and responsible consumption (SDG 12) – could play a crucial role in combating climate change and preserving our environment. The prerequisite for this, however, is that the measures taken are climate-friendly.
A peaceful, just and inclusive society is the objective of SDG 16: peace, justice and strong institutions.
The 2030 Agenda states: “There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development.” Once again this shows the challenge of the inclusive approach: as a rule, people who live in unstable surroundings benefit least from advances towards achieving individual SDGs. Until 2030, according to the UN, 80% of the people who suffer from extreme poverty are expected to live in unstable countries. In addition to armed conflicts, civil societies in many regions of the world are coming under increasing pressure. According to the Freedom House non-governmental organisation, civil and political rights and liberties, such as freedom of expression and the right of assembly, are being restricted in more and more countries.
The Agenda for Sustainable Development outlines an ambitious vision of the world that covers all areas of life and demands “bold and transformative steps”.
Every country, every organisation and every individual is called upon to show solidarity and also to support and integrate the weakest. Funds must be mobilised at the national and international level and used in an equally responsible and purposeful manner. International cooperation in the sense of a global partnership is crucial for achieving the Goals and overcoming transnational and cross-thematic challenges. In this context, the 2030 Agenda calls for the enhancement of “North-South, South-South and triangular regional and international cooperation” for the fields of science, technology and innovation.