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This week the UN Sustainable Development Summit will convene at UN headquarters in New York. World leaders from 193 nations will be asked to commit to 17 Global Goals in three broad categories—end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change — to be reached in the next fifteen years.

The Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, or simply “Global Goals” distribute easily into the categories that we have defined for our ongoing work on Global Solution Networks, which has analyzed the existence of hundreds of innovative, multi-stakeholder, collaborative networks that are already hard at work on solving the problems that are laid out in the Global Goals.

Health-human-securityHealth & Human Security:

02_0 — End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

03 — Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

05 —Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

06 — Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all’

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

employment-hub Employment & Prosperity:

01 — End Poverty in all its forms everywhere

04 — Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

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

10 — Reduce inequality within and among countries

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

Climate-planet-stewardshipClimate & Planet Stewardship:

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

12 — Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 3.08.47 PM — Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 3.09.00 PM — Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 3.09.27 PM — Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

Cities Cities:

09 — Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

11 — Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

The most commonly referenced description of sustainable development comes from the 1987 report, Our Common Future, by the World Commission on Environment and Development: “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The International Institute for Sustainable Development elaborates:

Sustainable development requires an understanding of the world as a system – a system that connects space;
and a system that connects time… air pollution from North America affects air quality in Asia…pesticides sprayed in Argentina could harm fish stocks off the coast of Australia.

When the globe is viewed as a system over time it’s easy to see that the actions of earlier populations continue to affect us today; and the economic policies we endorse today will have an impact on prosperity In the future.  The SDGs are a critical step in planning today’s actions as the foundation for tomorrow’s outcomes.