What do the new UN sustainable development goals mean for you?

Professor Sarah Speight is lead educator on The University of Nottingham’s free online course “Sustainability, Society and You”. In this post, she discusses the United Nations’ (UN) new, global sustainable development goals and how the course links with them.

The new UN sustainable development goals

This Saturday, 24 October 2015, is United Nations Day, when member states celebrate the aims and achievements of the UN. One of the UN’s main priorities is to support sustainable development and in September 2015, world leaders committed to 17 global goals for sustainable development (pictured above).

These ambitious goals, ranging from ending extreme poverty to combatting climate change, were ratified by the UN and will set the development agenda for the next 15 years.

What have the UN goals got to do with you?

You might be thinking: “I’m sure that’s all very admirable, but it’s happening in the enclaves of an international organisation far, far away. What has it got to do with me as an individual?”

In fact, achieving the global goals for sustainable development does need everyone’s input. As the Global Goals website tells us: “If we all fight for them, our leaders will make them happen.”

The aim is to get the global goals onto every website, and by reading this blog post, you’re making a start in fighting for those goals.

What can you do in your own life to make a difference?

In “Sustainability, Society and You”, you will look at these global goals of the UN, an international organisation, and link them with what you can do in your own life to make a difference.

So, for example, you will take part in activities such as calculating your water footprint and conducting a waste audit to find out just how much waste you produce. In the online discussions, you can find out what sustainable steps other learners are taking, and that could influence you to introduce similar behavioural changes to your own life.

Making those small changes can help us protect our world for current and future generations.

What themes link the goals together?

In the course, we also ask you to relate the UN global goals to the sustainability agenda. We specifically show how health and wellbeing is a core theme that runs through the sustainable development goals programme.

But can you think of another theme, other than health, that you believe links the 17 goals together? Tell us in the comments below.

Or to find out more, join the free online courseSustainability, Society and You”.

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Comments (12)


  • mics uk

    🙂 happy to renew. congrats! 🙂

  • Pip Buchanan

    Respect & Responsibility connect all the UN goals. Each and everyone of us carries the responsibility to treat our fellow humans, and the planet we jointly share, with respect.
    This may only become a reality on a global scale if we can change the face of society – and demand an end to massive trans-national corporations & the collusive governments supporting them.

  • Alfred BAHATI

    The UN Global goals for sustainable development are a genuine idea. However in my own view, It is difficult in 2030 to get no poverty. And concerning hunger I have little faith that in 2030 we may reach zero hunge. Why, because the natural resources available and needed to feed the world population are now being exhausted, while the populations other side are growing. On my side, I strongly trust that, each one’s BEST WILLING (LOVE) must make a different on UN objectives.

  • Joseph Kyei

    I also think and believe that “peace, justice and strong institutions” links the 17 SDGs themes. Because social justice demands fair and equitable distribution of national resources. When this is than the marginalised in society will be empowered in all 3 dimensions(social, economic and environmental) that the SDGs seek to address. Therefore justice will lead to peace and justice is delivered only through strong institution.

  • Chol Philip Garang Nyok

    I think Sustainability can also be linked to Enterprising capacity. Through gradual changing enterprising capacity, natural resources like oil and gas resources can be turned from shortlived benefits into lasting benefits. This brings sustainability of prolonging resources for the economic benefits of society and for the future generations.

  • Thompson Taiwo A.

    In my view, I think the theme ‘peace, justice and strong institutions’ link all the goals together. Justice leads to peace and justice will ensure and promote strong institutions. When poverty rears it ugly head, a strong institution will give it a bloody noose. Also strong institutions will ensure all aspects of a society’s economy to work effectively and transparently. This will inturn promote productivity, banish povery and hunger, among others.

  • Liz Grieve

    Could ‘aspiration’ be considered a theme that links the goals? Certainly without it there can be little progress. Or even ‘optimism’! At the moment some of it feels as though it could be ‘blind optimism’……

    • Maria

      I think that it’s really important and necessary to save and preserve our world because it’s precious for our life but the aim is very hard to reach because of the economic and politic interestes. Certainly, we have to sensitize people about earth’s problems because they would be able to make the world better but we need to have strong institutions that must work for a sustainable development against the interests of the banks and multinational corporations. But as the history and the e philosophy thaught me , the humanity is naturally moved towards corruptions and wickedness:so it’s impossible to obtain a perfect world but, as the scientific progress teach us,it’s possible to make it better and better.

  • Dan Weaver

    What theme links the 17 goals together? What a great question. Maybe love and interdependence. I guess each of the world’s religions suggest mechanisms to reach some of these goals which might be of use, perhaps in translating goals to spiritual pathways (and functional pathways?) In this TED talk Michael Green suggests that economic growth (the way it functions now) has only limited potential: https://www.ted.com/talks/michael_green_how_we_can_make_the_world_a_better_place_by_2030
    Also, It’s a bit like a 21st Century, non-hierarchical, less individualistic, hierarchy of needs! (https://www.google.com/search?q=Maslow’s+hierarchy+of+needs)

  • Nele Schmitz

    A shared vision, priority setting and striving for equality in all these SDGs

  • Arjan Tupan

    Not sure how to put this, but simply looking at the 17 goals in the picture, it seems that ensuring every person on the planet can live a life as envisioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I think the first 8 goals at least are connected by that theme.

  • grace lee

    learn more