What are you looking for?

Knowing and Navigating the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals

Quality InsightsJanuary 19, 2023

Understanding and implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are key to achieving your sustainability and ESG targets.

Part of the blueprint for peace and prosperity

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all UN Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and in the future.

At the heart of it all

At its heart are the 17 SDGs, an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership.

They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.

The SDGs build on decades of work by countries and the UN, including its Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

Each goal’s purpose

Goal 1: No poverty

End poverty in all its forms, everywhere.

Key statistic – more than 700 million people still live in extreme poverty.

Goal 2: Zero hunger

End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.

Key statistic – a third of the world’s food is wasted yet 821 million people are undernourished.

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all, at all ages.

Key statistic – vaccinations resulted in an 80% drop in deaths from measles between 2000 and 2017.

Goal 4: Quality education

Ensure inclusive and equitable, quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Key statistic – over 617 million children and adolescents lack minimum proficiency in reading and mathematics.

Goal 5: Gender equality

Achieve gender equality and empower women and girls.

Key statistic – one in three women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence.

Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Key statistic – water scarcity affects more than 40% of the world’s population.

Goal 7: Affordable and clean energy

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

Key statistic – three billion people still lack clean cooking fuels and technologies.

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth

Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all.

Key statistic – a fifth of young people are not in education, employment or training.

Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation.

Key statistic – roads, water, sanitation and electricity remain scarce in many developing countries.

Goal 10: Reduced inequalities

Reduce inequality within and among countries.

Key statistic – the poorest 40% of the population earn less than 25% of global income.

Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities

Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Key statistic – 9 out of 10 urban residents breathe polluted air.

Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production

Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Key statistic – by 2050, the equivalent of almost three planets could be required to sustain current lifestyles.

Goal 13: Climate action

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Key statistic – global CO2 emissions have increased by almost 50% since 1990.

Goal 14: Life below water

Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine sources for sustainable development.

Key statistic – over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods.

Goal 15: Life on land

Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and biodiversity loss.

Key statistic – forests are home to more than 80% of all terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects.

Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

Key statistic – in 2018, the number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict exceeded 70 million.

Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals

Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

Key statistic – achieving the SDGs could open up USD 12 trillion of market opportunities and create 380 million new jobs by 2030.

The goals in terms of ESG

Investors demand quality ESG information when choosing where to invest.

Although not legally binding, the SDGs are an interconnected framework for organizations to report their impact and drive capital to contribute to achieving the goals. They can help to shape, communicate and report an organization’s strategies, goals and activities.

From this, organizations can identify and enhance the value of corporate responsibility and stakeholder relations, including regulatory requirements and helping to stabilize society and markets to use a common language and shared purpose.

We are seeing demand for UN SDG Assurance to verify how organizations use the SDGs.

Improving the quality of ESG Information

There are massive benefits to improving your ESG information.

According to the KPMG Survey of Sustainability Reporting 2020, 96% of the G250 – the world’s largest companies – and 80% of the N100 – 5,200 companies comprising the largest 100 firms in 52 countries – report on their sustainability performance.

The benefits include:

  • Increased recognition, trust and credibility
  • Risk resilience and increased chance of long-term success
  • Improved Board and C-level engagement
  • Strengthened reporting and management systems
  • Improved stakeholder communications

How we can help

We have been a leader in sustainability and ESG services for over 30 years.

One facet of our Sustainability Assurance solutions, our ESG services are a unique set of competencies to help you mitigate risks while optimizing success, helping you to achieve your targets.

Our services meet the needs of a variety of clients and organizations, whatever their maturity level, industry focus or demand.

Services for success

Our ESG services broadly fall into six key areas:

  1. ESG Training
  2. ESG Health Check
  3. ESG Gap Analysis
  4. ESG Disclosures & Sustainability Report Assurance (SRA)
  5. ESG KPI Verification & Assurance
  6. ESG Certification

Discover how we can smooth your ESG journey here.

For further information, please contact:

Jason Hulbert
Associate Marketing Manager
t: +44 (0)7912 426878

About SGS

We are SGS – the world’s leading testing, inspection and certification company. We are recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. Our 96,000 employees operate a network of 2,700 offices and laboratories, working together to enable a better, safer and more interconnected world.

Subscribe to Quality Insights

Knowledge Newsletter: Quality Insights

News & Insights

  • SGS North America Inc.

201 Route 17 North,

7th and 8th Floors,

Rutherford, New Jersey, 07070,

United States