FAQ: Everything You Need to Know About the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all by 2030. This FAQ aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the SDGs, their significance, and how they can be achieved.

When and Why

1. When Were the Sustainable Development Goals Established?

The Sustainable Development Goals were established in September 2015 at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit. They succeeded the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and were designed to be more comprehensive and inclusive, addressing a broader range of global challenges.

2. Why Were the Sustainable Development Goals Created?

The SDGs were created to build on the progress of the MDGs and address new challenges. They aim to eradicate poverty, combat inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030. The goals were developed through a collaborative process involving governments, businesses, civil society, and millions of individuals.


3. Who Created the Sustainable Development Goals?

The SDGs were created by the United Nations with input from 193 member states. The process involved extensive consultations with various stakeholders, including non-governmental organizations, businesses, and the general public, to ensure that the goals reflected global priorities and challenges.

4. Who is Responsible for the Sustainable Development Goals?

While the United Nations oversees the implementation of the SDGs, achieving these goals requires the collaboration of governments, businesses, civil society, and individuals worldwide. Each country is responsible for incorporating the SDGs into their national policies and strategies.


5. What are the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations?

The Sustainable Development Goals are a set of 17 global goals designed to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the interconnected challenges of poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace, and justice.

6. What are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals?

The 17 goals are:

  1. No Poverty
  2. Zero Hunger
  3. Good Health and Well-being
  4. Quality Education
  5. Gender Equality
  6. Clean Water and Sanitation
  7. Affordable and Clean Energy
  8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  10. Reduced Inequality
  11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  12. Responsible Consumption and Production
  13. Climate Action
  14. Life Below Water
  15. Life on Land
  16. Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
  17. Partnerships for the Goals

7. What are the 169 Targets of the Sustainable Development Goals?

Each of the 17 SDGs has specific targets, totaling 169 targets. These targets provide detailed objectives for each goal, offering a clear roadmap for action and progress measurement. For example, Goal 1 (No Poverty) includes targets such as eradicating extreme poverty and implementing social protection systems.

Importance and Need

8. Why Are the Sustainable Development Goals Important?

The SDGs are important because they provide a universal framework for addressing the world's most pressing challenges. They promote a holistic approach to sustainable development, ensuring that economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental protection are addressed together.

9. Why Do We Need the Sustainable Development Goals?

We need the SDGs to create a better world for current and future generations. They help guide policies and actions that reduce poverty, protect the environment, and promote peace and prosperity. Without the SDGs, progress towards these crucial outcomes would be fragmented and less effective.


10. How Were the Sustainable Development Goals Chosen?

The SDGs were chosen through a global consultation process involving governments, businesses, civil society, and individuals. This inclusive approach ensured that the goals addressed the priorities and challenges faced by people worldwide. The goals were designed to be comprehensive, actionable, and universally applicable.

11. How Are the Sustainable Development Goals Interlinked and Integrated?

The SDGs are interlinked and integrated, recognizing that progress in one area often depends on progress in others. For example, achieving good health (Goal 3) requires clean water and sanitation (Goal 6), and reducing inequalities (Goal 10) can contribute to sustainable economic growth (Goal 8). This interconnected approach ensures that efforts to achieve one goal also support the achievement of others.

12. How Can the Sustainable Development Goals Be Achieved?

Achieving the SDGs requires coordinated efforts from all sectors of society. Governments need to implement supportive policies, businesses must adopt sustainable practices, and individuals can contribute through everyday actions. Collaboration and partnerships are essential to mobilize resources, share knowledge, and drive innovation.

Where and Which

13. Where Are the Sustainable Development Goals Being Implemented?

The SDGs are being implemented worldwide, with each country tailoring their strategies to their unique context. Examples of implementation can be seen in national policies, local government initiatives, and grassroots projects. The United Nations provides support and guidance to help countries align their development plans with the SDGs.

14. Which Countries Have Adopted the Sustainable Development Goals?

All 193 member states of the United Nations have adopted the SDGs. These countries are committed to incorporating the goals into their national agendas and working towards their achievement by 2030. The level of progress varies, with some countries making significant strides and others facing challenges.

15. Which Sustainable Development Goal Is the Most Important?

All the SDGs are important as they address different aspects of sustainable development. However, some may argue that certain goals, such as No Poverty (Goal 1) or Climate Action (Goal 13), are foundational because they have a broad impact on other goals. The importance of each goal can vary depending on the context and priorities of different regions and communities.

Progress and Impact

16. What Progress Has Been Made Towards Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals?

Progress towards the SDGs has been mixed. While significant strides have been made in areas like reducing extreme poverty and increasing access to clean water, challenges remain, particularly in addressing inequalities and climate change. The COVID-19 pandemic has also impacted progress, highlighting the need for resilient systems and renewed efforts.

17. How Do the Sustainable Development Goals Impact Global Policy?

The SDGs influence global policy by providing a common framework for addressing development challenges. They guide international cooperation, inform national development plans, and shape the agendas of organizations and businesses. The goals also encourage the integration of sustainable development principles into policymaking and governance.

Roles and Contributions

18. What Role Do Businesses Play in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals?

Businesses play a crucial role in achieving the SDGs by adopting sustainable practices, investing in green technologies, and supporting social and environmental initiatives.

Companies can align their strategies with the SDGs, contributing to economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental protection. Corporate responsibility and sustainability reporting are also essential for tracking progress.

19. How Can Individuals Contribute to Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals?

Individuals can contribute to the SDGs through everyday actions such as reducing waste, conserving energy, supporting local businesses, and advocating for social justice. Volunteering, participating in community projects, and making sustainable choices in consumption and lifestyle are also impactful ways to support the goals.

Challenges and Funding

20. What Challenges Are There in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals?

Achieving the SDGs faces several challenges, including lack of funding, political instability, and limited capacity in some regions. Climate change, economic inequalities, and global health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic also pose significant obstacles. Overcoming these challenges requires collective action, innovation, and strong leadership.

21. How Are the Sustainable Development Goals Funded?

The SDGs are funded through a combination of public and private sources, including government budgets, international aid, private investments, and philanthropic contributions. Innovative financing mechanisms, such as green bonds and impact investing, are also being used to mobilize resources for sustainable development.

Specific Focus Areas

22. How Do the Sustainable Development Goals Address Climate Change?

Climate Action (Goal 13) is a specific goal dedicated to combating climate change and its impacts. The SDGs also address climate change through related goals such as Affordable and Clean Energy (Goal 7) and Sustainable Cities and Communities (Goal 11). These goals promote renewable energy, sustainable urban development, and climate resilience.

23. What Are Some Success Stories Related to the Sustainable Development Goals?

There are numerous success stories related to the SDGs. For example, Costa Rica has made significant progress in renewable energy, achieving nearly 100% electricity from renewable sources. Another example is Rwanda's efforts in environmental conservation and gender equality, which have set a benchmark for other countries.

Monitoring and Integration

24. How Are the Sustainable Development Goals Monitored and Reported?

The SDGs are monitored and reported through a framework of indicators developed by the United Nations. Countries submit voluntary national reviews (VNRs) to report on their progress. International organizations, civil society, and academic institutions also contribute to monitoring and evaluation efforts, ensuring transparency and accountability.

25. How Do the Sustainable Development Goals Relate to Other International Agreements and Frameworks?

The SDGs are aligned with other international agreements and frameworks, such as the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development. This alignment ensures coherence and synergy in global efforts to achieve sustainable development. The goals also support the broader objectives of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


The Sustainable Development Goals provide a comprehensive framework for achieving a better and more sustainable future. By working together, we can address the most pressing global challenges and create a positive impact on the world.

BestCities Global Alliance is committed to supporting the SDGs through collaborative efforts and sustainable practices. We encourage everyone to learn more about the SDGs and get involved in creating a brighter future for all.

Resources and Further Reading

For more information on the Sustainable Development Goals and how you can contribute, visit the following resources:

By aligning with the SDGs, we can create a more sustainable and prosperous world, leaving a meaningful and lasting legacy for generations to come.