Company NewsJune 27, 2022

What are the UN Sustainable Development Goals?

The UN SDGs are designed to tackle climate change, environmental degradation, poverty, famine, inequality, injustice, and more.
Avatar Rebecca Lambert

From deadly wildfires to catastrophic floods and landslides, a day rarely passes by without the impacts of climate change hitting the headlines. And with those living in poverty disproportionately affected by the negative impact of human development, it’s not the only urgent issue we must overcome to build a more sustainable and resilient future. Today, 9% of the global population experiences extreme poverty, living in an endless cycle of lack of access to education, hunger and malnutrition, social discrimination and poor healthcare.

One of the key drivers of change is the United Nations (UN) – a body of 193 global member states – which has drawn up a set of 17 economic, social and environmental objectives to protect humanity and the planet. Called 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or Global Goals, they are designed to tackle climate change, environmental degradation, poverty, famine, inequality, injustice, and more.

In the words of the UN, the Sustainable Development Goals “are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.” There are 17 SDGs in total, consisting of 169 specific targets. Each SDG is interlinked to ensure policy makers take a holistic approach to achieving social, economic and environmental sustainability.

17 SDGs sustainable development goals outlined by the UN in 2015

  • No Poverty: Addressing root causes, improving access to basic services, creating economic opportunities, and implementing social protection programs for those in need.
  • Zero Hunger: Ending hunger, improving nutrition, promoting sustainable agriculture, increasing food production, enhancing food security, and addressing issues such as food waste and distribution.
  • Good Health and Well-being: Improving access to quality healthcare, reducing maternal and child mortality, addressing non-communicable diseases, and promoting mental health and well-being.
  • Quality Education: Ensuring access to quality education for all, improving educational facilities, and promoting lifelong learning opportunities.
  • Gender Equality: Eliminating all forms of discrimination against women and girls, promoting gender empowerment, and ensuring equal access to education and economic opportunities.
  • Clean Water and Sanitation: Improving access to safe and clean water, sanitation, and hygiene services, and managing water resources sustainably.
  • Affordable and Clean Energy: Providing affordable and sustainable energy for all, promoting renewable energy sources, and increasing energy efficiency.
  • Decent Work and Economic Growth: Promoting inclusive economic growth, creating job opportunities, improving working conditions, and ensuring fair labor practices.
  • Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure: Promoting sustainable industrialization, fostering innovation, and developing resilient infrastructure.
  • Reduced Inequality: Reducing inequalities within and among countries, promoting social, economic, and political inclusion, and ensuring equal opportunities for all.
  • Sustainable Cities and Communities: Promoting sustainable urbanization, improving access to basic services, enhancing urban resilience, and preserving cultural and natural heritage.
  • Responsible Consumption and Production: Promoting sustainable consumption and production patterns that minimize waste, reduce resource use, and prevent environmental degradation.
  • Climate Action: Urgently combating climate change and its impacts by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting climate-resilient development.
  • Life Below Water: Conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas, and marine resources to promote their health and well-being.
  • Life on Land: Protecting, restoring, and promoting the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, forests, and biodiversity.
  • Peace and Justice Strong Institutions: Promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, providing access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels.
  • Partnerships to achieve the Goals: Strengthening the means of implementation and revitalizing the global partnership for sustainable development, with the active engagement of governments, civil society, the private sector, and other stakeholders.
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World leaders committed to the SDGs in 2015 as part of a 15-year plan to end poverty and protect the planet. By 2030, the aim is to create a world where everyone can enjoy peace and prosperity.

The SDGs from the 3DS perspective

At Dassault Systèmes, our mission is to provide businesses and people with virtual universes to imagine sustainable innovations capable of harmonizing product, nature and life. Our mission aligns with the SDGs. They also inform our Sustainability Compass and drive us to develop partnerships to help our ecosystem and customers pursue their goals.

Our ‘The Only Progress is Human’ campaign is one way we help address the SDGs. For example, one of our acts is on Water and Consumption, and SDG 6 is clean water and sanitation for all by 2030. Our aim is to find innovative approaches to help billions of people who don’t have clean water to drink or safely managed sanitation.

How does Dassault Systèmes help customers and partners meet the SDGs?

Our virtual twin technology helps companies in any industry act more sustainably, and to meet the SDGs most relevant to their mission. This is because virtual twins are used to invent, model, and test disruptive innovations as well as reduce the need for physical prototypes. They also provide safe testing environments for radically disruptive green and circular innovation.

Through our 3DEXPERIENCE platform, we help our customers operate more sustainably and meet the SDGs that are applicable to their business. One example: Simple Energy, a pioneer in the Indian electric scooter market, is pursuing goal 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy; goal 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth; and goal 9 – Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.

“With the goal of affordable and clean energy, our company plans to have products purely running on clean energy with zero emissions. We’ll also keep hiring and supporting young talent, harnessing their innovative thinking to come up with the right products. And in line with goal 8, we’ve brought to market an affordable, long-range scooter developed using cutting-edge technology such as the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.”

Suhas Rajkumar, founder and CEO of Simple Energy

We also consider the SDGs within programs we support, such as our 3DEXPERIENCE Lab – an open innovation laboratory to accelerate disruptive innovation and positively impact society. Each participant in this program identifies which SDGs they address, and our work with them ensures they focus on those goals. For example, Autonome Energiesysteme – a developer of small-scale recycling plants – is focused on goals 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure) and 13 (Climate Action). Personalized surgical implant manufacturer Lucid Implants is focused on a different set of SDGs: 3 (Good Health and Well-being), 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and 10 (Reduced Inequality).

Is the world on target to meet the SDGs?

The UN paints a stark picture if we fail to take sufficient action right now to build a more sustainable future. Experts say that what happens in the next eight to 10 years will determine the quality of our lives for decades and centuries to come.

The COVID-19 pandemic, worsening climate events and the impacts of global conflicts have done little to help. In its 2022 SDG Progress report, the UN urges us to “turbo-charge” our efforts to tackle the pandemic while moving to low-carbon, resilient and inclusive development pathways if we are to succeed in meeting the SDGs by 2030. For businesses, this comes down to a renewed sense of urgency to move sustainability to the top of their agendas and go beyond setting targets to taking proactive steps to meeting them.

“Businesses need to put sustainability at the heart of their decision-making for the sake of humanity and their own bottom line,” the UN chief António Guterres urged in his message for World Environment Day. “A healthy planet is the backbone of nearly every industry on Earth.”

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