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Blog, Sustainability

A (short) history lesson on the UN Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) build upon decades of work from the United Nations (UN).

In the 1980’s the UN established the Commission on Environment and Development (UNCED), to address major worldwide social & environmental challenges.
This led to a paper called Our Common Future, more commonly known as the Brundtland report.

The report outlined three fundamental components to sustainable development: environmental protection, economic growth and social equity, recognising that these were intrinsically linked. This report is still considered the backbone of the UN’s work on sustainable development and has influenced subsequent UN reports & recommendations.

Rio 1992
1992 United Nation Conference in Rio

The UNCED Rio Earth summit in 1992 was the largest environmental conference ever held and is where the Rio Declaration was masterminded. Building on the Brundtland Report, the Rio Declaration established principles to guide future development around the world. Its aim was to establish new and fair global partnerships amongst states, organisations and groups of people to drive forward global sustainable development. 

In 2000, came the adaptation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This notably set out the responsibilities of developed nations to help developing nations and included specific and quantifiable goals to be completed by 2015.

During the following years the MDGs seemed to galvanise momentum. The Final MDG Report found that the 15-year effort had produced the most successful anti-poverty movement in history. Although this was notable progress, there was still significant work needed to end hunger, achieve full gender equality, improve health and get every child into school. In addition, there was criticism that the MDGs didn’t focus enough on environmental issues, affirming the need for a renewed set of global goals.

Enter…. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), aimed at further progressing sustainable development to end global poverty and protect the environment.

Source: Eurostat

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