The SDGs

What are the SDGs?

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are ambitious and integrated goals, agreed to by all member states of the United Nations in September 2015. There are 17 goals with 169 targets. Understandably, many of the SDGs are focused on improving the standard of living for people in the developing world. More developed nations, who have been at the forefront of developing and using sustainable energy, environmental legislation and equality have obligated themselves to support the sustainable development of poorer nations. However, many of the problems which the SDGs aim to solve have been caused by the rampant consumption of western nations.

How do the SDGs concern me?

Most people in Iceland live life at one of the highest standards of living in the world. It is therefore easy to dismiss the UN Sustainable Development Goals as something that does not pertain to Iceland, as we have plenty of renewable energy, an affluent society and are renowned for equality among the sexes and equal rights for all.

Do we take resources for granted?

Scientists have warned us in the West that we cannot keep exploiting the world‘s resources at the rate at which we have been, and that the earth cannot support a similar standard of living in developing countries. The earth has a limited amount of resources. The effects of our unbridled consumption can already be observed in changing climates and a shrinking cryosphere.

Safeguarding assets

We have also exploited our human resources. Even though Icelandic society is considered to be a global leader in gender equality, LGTBQ+ rights, and general equality we can always do better. Gender-based violence is a problem and LGBTQ+ rights groups have noticed a backlash towards LGTBQ+ acceptance.

Who needs to adopt changes?

Actions connected to the SDGs have been the purview of companies and governmental institutions. It is in many cases expected that the government would take action, the average citizen is not capable of improving how the sewage treatment facilities, for example. Nevertheless, a large portion of society has been left out: the homes and families. We all have a home, whether we rent or own, live alone or with a partner, family or with friends. Our daily choices, lifestyles and actions affect ourselves, our community and the entire planet.

As consumers we have many opportunities to do good. If we keep sustainability in mind when we shop, buy entertainment, travel and interact with others, we are taking steps towards a more sustainable and resilient future.

What kind of world do we want to inhabit?

The UN SDGs aim to replenish the resources that allow us to have such a high quality of life as well as keep them sustainable. They also aim to make the standard of life we enjoy as wide-spread as possible. Today, our habits and consumption is not sustainable, and if we maintain the status-quo, a decent standard of life will only be available to the super-rich. Sustainability is the first step towards a more peaceful and resilient world.