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The Sustainable Development Goals

In this article, Dr Eleanor Jew introduces the Sustainable Development Goals, with an additional a short video.
Image of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals
© University of York

So far we have looked at what development is, and how industrialisation has led to climate change. We have also had a wider look at planetary boundaries, and seen that we need to take action, fast!

What is the international community doing about all these problems? And how will it continue to support development along the way?

One way is through the Sustainable Development Goals, which we first encountered in an earlier step. Now it is time to find out a little more about them.

This video gives an overview of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. These are international targets designed to achieve development and environmental sustainability that governments around the world have committed to achieving by 2030.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

SDG 1 focuses on poverty. There are two key terms that will help you to understand poverty:
The International Poverty Line is $1.90 a day (2011 PPP $)
National poverty lines are values set by each country according to the value that it believes represents poverty according to the price of living within that country. For example in the UK this is households with an income of less than £304 a week, before housing costs are removed. For the UK, this is calculated as a household earning less than 60% of a median household income.

Previously we saw the world map of GDP, available from Our World in Data. They also do an SDG Tracker, which you can find here. Why don’t you have a look at these data, which are mainly displayed in charts?

Topics to explore:

  • Can you find where the greatest gains in poverty reduction have been, by world region?

  • What is happening to poverty in sub-Saharan Africa?

  • If you look at the GDP per capita growth rate, what is China’s growth rate in comparison to the UK? Can you spot the last global recession? (Hint: under SDG 8)

  • Which countries are adding the most value to their GDP from industrialisation? (Hint: under SDG 9)

Throughout the rest of the course we are going to be looking at:

SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy

SDG 13: Climate Action

SDG 14: Life below Water

SDG 15: Life on Land

Try to go back to Our World in Data throughout the course to have a look at how we are doing in response to these SDGs.

Feel free to share any points or queries about this step in the comments.

© University of York
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