Read this blog to learn about the 17 UN SDG 2030 Goals (Sustainable Development Goals), and how they evolved from the 8 MDG 2015 Goals (Millennium Development Goals).

“Ours can be the first generation to end poverty – and the last generation to address climate change before it is too late.” – UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon


Millennium Development Goals, est. 2000

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were created by the United Nations in September 2000 and included a list of goals that the member nations attempted to achieve by the year 2015. The United Nations Millennium Declaration was adopted to ensure that all members were committed to working towards the outlined solutions. Many of the goals advocated for the improvement of public health and advancement of basic opportunities.

Fundamental values prescribed to ensure a global partnership:

  • Freedom
  • Equality
  • Solidarity
  • Tolerance
  • Respect for Nature
  • Shared Responsibility


MDG Progress

In 2005, a world summit took place at the United Nations headquarters in New York that included over 170 Heads of State and Government. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the MDGs outlined five years prior. This event was a major opportunity in terms of participation and action due to that fact that there was such a high global presence that contributed to the conversation. Then, a high-level event took place in 2008 that allowed for some members of the U.N. to make a higher commitment to accomplishing goals related specifically to poverty, hunger, and disease. Lastly, a follow-up event took place in 2013 to check in on the progress that each member had made in their goals since the establishment of the MDGs. A final report on the developments found that the MDG projects are the most successful advancements towards zero poverty in modern history.


Sustainable Development Goals, est. 2015

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 2030), are the revised goals that the members of the UN pledge to accomplish by the year 2030. After reconvening in 2015 to discuss the progress that each of the members had made based on the MDGs set before, the group adjusted the goals to accommodate for the changes in priority. The SDGs are related to both the successes and issues that arose from the efforts to support the MDGs. There are some general goals that stayed consistent throughout the revision process; however, there was a major shift in what the committee chose to prioritize.


17 UN SDG 2030 Goals

Infographic of United Nations SDG Goals 2030, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations (UN) . They 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 inequalities 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, and 17 partnerships for the goals; sdg goals 2030; un sdg 2030 goals; united nations sustainable development goals image



The main goals that stayed consistent throughout the revision process are:

  • Eradicating poverty and hunger
  • Providing quality education
  • Supporting gender equality
  • Advocating for sustainability
  • Forming partnerships to accomplish the goals

The committee deemed that these were the most important issues that should continue to be addressed on a global scale today. In addition, they lowered the emphasis on preventing specific diseases like MDG #6 Combat Malaria, and elevated broader areas that will lead to a greater public health overall. One example is SDG #6 Clean Water and Sanitation.

“Reflecting on the [Millennium Development Goals] and looking ahead to the next 15 years”, stated UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon, “there is no question that we can deliver on our shared responsibility to put an end to poverty, leave no one behind, and create a world of dignity for all.”


mdg vs sdg 2030 image comparing millennium development goals to sustainable development goals 2030; united nations sdg 2030 goals


SDG and RCE (Regional Center of Expertise)

The RCE, or Regional Centres of Expertise (on Education for Sustainable Development), incorporates a contemporary sustainability network based on regional location. There are currently six regional centres in the United States, one being located in Atlanta, and over 150 RCEs around the globe. These RCEs are comprised of multidisciplinary stakeholders (institutions, businesses, community associations, etc.) that are committed to promoting and advancing the approach of sustainable development through the SDGs.


SDGs In Atlanta

The global office for the Green Building Education Services (GBES) is located in Atlanta, Georgia, so many of the issues that we focus on solving are aligned with the seven specific SDGs that Atlanta has prioritized. These include no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, quality education, industry, innovation, and infrastructure, sustainable cities and communities, and climate action. While all of the SDGs are important goals to move towards accomplishing, it is helpful for one city or region to focus on a short list so they can realize positive outcomes by the 2030 goal.

Ciannat Howett, director of Sustainability Initiative at Emory University, states,

“RCE Greater Atlanta is a realization that the time is right to bring together the region’s knowledge and expertise on a broader scale for a comprehensive approach to education for sustainable development. We envision a robust and engaged network of partners working to accelerate solutions to sustainability issues”.


What SDGs are specific to your area and where do you see yourself contributing most to the accomplishment of these goals? 


Why Should I Care?

The United Nations development goals were created with the intention of working towards a healthier, happier, and more sustainable future on a global scale. The UN based the goals on existing documents like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which outlines the basic opportunities that should be presented to every individual. All of the goals describe issues that impact the entire population of the world, and are universally important to maintaining a sustainable planet.


Ready to Get Started on an SDG project in your Community?

One of the main SDGs that we focus on at GBES is #11 Sustainable Cities and Communities. We’ve produced a CE course about smart cities that showcases two potential aspirations to meet this goal. To learn more about smart cities and what is required to form a sustainable city and community, check out our course titled “Smart Cities!


Want to Keep Reading?

Keep learning about SDG Goals by reading our SDG 9 blog.


How can you help?

Add one of the most recognized sustainability credentials in the world to your name ->a LEED or WELL Credential. GBES can help. We’ve helped over 150,000 people with our exam prep study tools. Is it time to invest in yourself and help build a better world at the same time? Click here to learn more about GBES UNLIMITED.