Sustainable Development Goals for 2030: a global plan to tackle poverty, improve lives and protect the environment
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals set forth in that plan redefined how the global community would work together to tackle poverty and improve living standards while also protecting the environment. They set out to accelerate progress in critical areas such as child survival, education and safe water — setting ambitious targets for ending preventable child and maternal deaths, extreme poverty, child marriage and more, and not just for some, but for all, including the poorest and most disadvantaged.
Many of the SDGs pertain to issues that are central to UNICEF's mission for children and families around the world. And UNICEF had played and continues to play a major role in the progress achieved so far.
During negotions, UNICEF pushed SDG architects to make sure they were child-centered and focused on achieving equity. Unequal opportunities had left and continue to leave millions of children living in poverty, dying before they turn five, without schooling, and suffering chronic malnutrition.
As Anthony Lake, UNICEF's Executive Director from 2010 to 2017, put it: “The SDGs present an opportunity to apply the lessons we have learned and reach the children in greatest need – and shame on us if we don’t.”
With UNICEF guidance, UNICEF USA weighed in with U.S. government officials for support on key points. For example:
- we asked the U.S. Government to ensure inclusion of a specific goal to end preventable child deaths
- we pushed for UNICEF’s proposed language in the outcome document to recognize young people as critical agents of change, not just passive beneficiaries of assistance
- along with other non-governmental organizations, we pressed for references to ending child marriage, female genital cutting and other harmful traditional practices
The SDGs reflect these priorities and more.
Progress toward achieving many of the SDGs has stalled — stymied by conflicts, climate change and COVID-19, among other factors. Developing countries still need a lot of help to reach critical targets.
UNICEF USA supporters have an important role to play in supporting continued efforts by UNICEF and partners to ramp up interventions and increase impact — to increase investments in the global programs that help children.