The SDG or ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ blueprint is a plan for a hopeful, peaceful, and prosperous present and future built upon many years of research by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.


Developed at the 2012 Rio de Janeiro United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, the topics addressed by the 17 individual goals target important aspects of the world’s modern problems, ranging from climate preservation and restoration, socio-economic issues, all forms of equality, and sustainable growth extending far into the future.


The goals were adopted by a total of 193 countries, with all members stating that they were committed to tackling social and socio-with an aim of stabilizing all fundamentals of life by 2030. The UN serves as a regulatory body for the plan it created, helping identify, improve upon, and target solutions presented to tackle the many issues facing our environment, society, and economy.

The goals themselves paint a picture of the ground basics required for successful life to survive upon this planet:

  • 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 and Justice Strong Institutions
  • 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goals

Though the goals themselves might seem simple and clear enough to follow in theory, since their creation many different parties have had alternate ways of viewing the goals, with some of the most prevalent wanting to ensure that we focus upon the right goals in the right order – avoiding destabilization, chaos, and worsening existing issues.


EAT Stockholm Food Forum board member Pavan Sukhdev and former center director Johan Rockström are responsible for proposing perhaps the most widely referenced methods of doing so at the EAT Stockholm Food Forum conference of 2016, with a model referred to as ‘The SDG Wedding cake’.


One might question how a particularly fatty festive food might have anything to do with the environment. But when viewing the SDG Goals with the image of a classic tier cake in mind, the ultimatum to a more generalizing, simultaneous approach to reaching them becomes clear.


On the bottom rung of the cake – or the foremost in order of urgency rather – sit goals 15, 14, 6, and 13, encompassing Life on Land, Life Below Water, Clean Water and Sanitation, and Climate action. With those goals satisfied, the model suggests that one can build the next tier of the cake, or the next set of goals, categorized as ‘Society’. Yet again, once those needs are satisfied one can move on to goals related to economy, which will now be much more straightforward and simpler to achieve thanks to the stability of the other issues positioned below it on the cake.


The only goal separated from the rest of its fellows is number 17, Partnership to achieve the Goals, which is represented by the structure of the model building upwards, conquering the presented issues as a united world.

“Until we improve livelihoods through better access to education, economy growth, food security, etc, nothing changes.”

- Lailah Gifty Akita

This system helps ensure that we keep in mind the fact that the lower tiers where the goals related to earth safety are located are important and some even absolutely necessary to ensure the success of any ventures on the upper tiers of the ‘cake’, or rather the more economic and societal aspects mentioned within the goals.


In the end, however, no matter how criticized the actions being taken to fulfill the goals might be, or how doubtful the feasibility of the 2030 target is seeming in our current year of 2022, one thing remains true. The goals outline a shared dream. One much like that of achieving flight or landing on the moon, but this time, – for the most part at least – we’re working together.


It won’t be easy, and we don’t have all the time in the world to save the world, but with a working team of nearly eight billion, anything is possible.

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