Knowledge Centre

What Are The Sustainable Development Goals? (Answered)

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals.  They are a set of 17 interconnected goals that were adopted unanimously by all member nations in the United Nations.

They were adopted in 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These goals were created to address a wide range of global challenges.  They aim to guide international efforts toward a more sustainable, equitable, and prosperous future for all.

The SDGs cover various dimensions of sustainable development.  These include ending poverty and hunger, ensuring quality education and healthcare, promoting gender equality, reducing inequality, fostering economic growth, and protecting the environment. Each goal is accompanied by specific targets and indicators to measure progress over time.

The SDGs recognize that economic, social, and environmental issues are deeply

interconnected and must be addressed together to achieve true sustainability.

They call for collaborative action from governments, businesses, civil society, and individuals.  They envision working toward a world where people can live dignified lives without compromising the well-being of future generations or the planet.

What is the role of Business in the SDGs

Business has an increasingly important role to play in achieving the SDGs. Businesses

everywhere are under increasing pressure to deliver social value and environmental

stewardship at the same time as it creates shareholder value.  This puts business squarely in the heart of the SDGs

This process of creating social and environmental value necessarily furthers the SDG agenda. For all businesses, it will touch on some of the SDGs and for some will touch on most of them.

It is far from a Charity or Philanthropic Agenda for business.  When social, environmental and business value are integrated and optimized it creates more value for business.  And, at the same time it furthers the SDG agenda, creating more social and environmental value for key stakeholders.

For more on this please watch The SDGs Are Not A Charity Agenda and/or this feature

interview on the Private Sector and the SDGs with Professor Wayne Dunn of the CSR Training Institute. The subject is also discussed in this blog: Sustainability is not a Charity Agenda

What Do the 17 Sustainable Development Goals Include?

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) encompass a comprehensive set of objectives aimed at addressing various global challenges and fostering sustainable development for all. Here’s an overview of each goal:

Goal 1) No Poverty

End poverty in all its forms everywhere, ensuring that people have access to basic necessities, resources, and opportunities to lead dignified lives.

Goal 2) Zero Hunger (No Hunger)

Achieve food security, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture to ensure that everyone has access to enough nutritious food.

Goal 3) Good Health and Well-Being

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, focusing on preventing diseases, improving healthcare services, and enhancing mental health.

Goal 4) Quality Education

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all, aiming to provide lifelong learning opportunities that empower individuals and promote sustainable development.

Goal 5) Gender Equality

Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, eliminating gender-based

discrimination and violence, and ensuring equal opportunities in all aspects of life.

Goal 6) Clean Water and Sanitation

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, aiming to provide safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, and hygiene practices.

Goal 7) Affordable and Clean Energy

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all, promoting the use of renewable energy sources and increasing energy efficiency.

Goal 8) Decent Work and Economic Growth

Promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive

employment, and decent work for all, while eradicating forced labor and promoting fair labor practices.

Goal 9) Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation to support sustainable development and technological advancement.

Goal 10) Reduced Inequality

Reduce inequality within and among countries, addressing economic disparities, social

inequalities, and promoting the social, economic, and political inclusion of all.

Goal 11) Sustainable Cities and Communities

Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable, focusing on urban development, efficient land use, and access to basic services.

Goal 12) Responsible Consumption and Production

Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns by promoting efficient resource use, reducing waste, and adopting environmentally friendly practices.

Goal 13) Climate Action

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts, by mitigating its effects,

promoting adaptation, and increasing resilience to climate-related hazards.

Goal 14) Life Below Water

Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources, protecting marine

biodiversity and ecosystems from pollution and overfishing.

Goal 15) Life on Land

Protect, restore, and sustainably manage terrestrial ecosystems, combating desertification, deforestation, and promoting biodiversity conservation.

Goal 16) Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

Promote peaceful and inclusive societies, provide access to justice, and build effective,

accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels.

Goal 17) Partnership for the Goals

Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development, fostering collaboration among governments, organizations, and stakeholders.

Collectively, these goals reflect a global commitment to achieving a more equitable, sustainable, and prosperous future for all.  They are guided by the principles of social, economic, and environmental responsibility.

What Are the 5 Ps of Sustainable Development?

Traditionally the 5 Ps of sustainable development are a framework that highlights five key aspects essential for achieving sustainable development. These aspects provide a comprehensive perspective on the interconnected nature of sustainability. The 5 Ps are:


People: This focuses on ensuring a good quality of life for all individuals. It involves eradicating poverty, providing access to education and healthcare, promoting gender equality, and ensuring social inclusion and well-being.

Planet: This emphasizes the conservation and responsible use of natural resources and ecosystems. It involves addressing environmental issues such as climate change, pollution, biodiversity loss, and promoting sustainable practices to protect the planet.

Prosperity: Prosperity is about achieving economic growth and development that benefits everyone. It involves promoting inclusive and equitable economic opportunities, decent work, and reducing economic inequalities.

Peace: Peace refers to creating stable and secure societies that are free from violence, conflict, and injustice. It involves promoting social cohesion, good governance, rule of law, and ensuring access to justice for all.

Partnerships: Partnerships involve collaborating and working together to achieve common goals. This includes cooperation between governments, businesses, civil society, and international organizations to address global challenges and foster sustainable development.

The 5 Ps framework underscores the multidimensional nature of sustainability. It highlights that achieving sustainable development requires addressing not only environmental concerns but also social, economic, and governance aspects. By integrating the 5 Ps, policymakers and stakeholders can create holistic strategies that lead to a more balanced and resilient future for all.

Should Profit be One of the “Ps” for Achieving Sustainable Development

There is general consensus that the SDGs have a severe funding gap. The financial and other resources available to invest in them is orders of magnitude from what is needed to achieve them.

As discussed earlier, when approached strategically by business there is a synergy between SDG impact and business value.  Furthering the SDG agenda can enhance business profitability and competitive advantage.

It is not a zero-sum game but rather a case of 1+1=3. More profit for business can be created simultaneously with more impact on the SDGs.  This creates a powerful motivation for more private sector investment in the SDGs

Unfortunately many in development and in business still see SDG engagement s as a Charity or Philanthropic agenda.  They do not fully grasp the importance of profit in enabling more private sector investment in activities that further the SDGs.

When properly aligned and optimized within business strategy, SDG investment can produce 360 degrees of value.  Increasing Social Impact, Environmental Stewardship and Business profitability and competitive advantage.

There are numerous writings and videos on this in the CSR Training Institute’s Knowledge Centre. This one, titled, Sustainability is Business: Manage it for Value is particularly relevant

What Are the Four C’s of Sustainable Development?

The Four C’s of sustainable development are a simplified framework that encapsulates four essential principles crucial for achieving sustainability. These principles provide a concise way to understand the key aspects of sustainable development. The Four C’s are:


Conservation: Conservation emphasizes the responsible use and protection of natural resources and ecosystems. It involves practices that prevent overexploitation, reduce waste, and promote the preservation of biodiversity and the environment.

Consumption: Consumption refers to the ways in which resources are used and consumed. Sustainable development encourages responsible consumption patterns, minimizing waste, adopting efficient technologies, and making informed choices that reduce the environmental impact.

Cooperation: Cooperation highlights the importance of collaboration and partnership among various stakeholders. Achieving sustainability requires governments, businesses, communities, and individuals to work together, share knowledge, and collectively address challenges.

Community: Community centers on the well-being of people and societies. Sustainable

development prioritizes the improvement of living conditions, social equity, and inclusivity. It involves engaging communities, empowering individuals, and ensuring that development benefits everyone.

The Four C’s framework offers a straightforward way to approach sustainable development.  It reminds us of the interconnectedness of conservation, consumption, cooperation, and community in creating a more sustainable and balanced future.

Conclusion: How Sustainable Development Goals Make A Difference

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) stand as a powerful testament to humanity’s shared commitment to shaping a better world. These 17 interconnected goals represent a collective call to action, addressing pressing global challenges with a vision of inclusivity, sustainability, and prosperity for all. Through their comprehensive framework, the SDGs have demonstrated their potential to bring about meaningful change on a global scale.

By focusing on eradicating poverty and hunger, ensuring health and education access,

promoting gender equality, and tackling environmental concerns, the SDGs address a wide spectrum of issues. Their integrated approach recognizes that sustainable development is multidimensional, encompassing economic growth, social well-being, and environmental protection.

The SDGs serve as a roadmap for governments, businesses, communities, and individuals to work together in pursuit of common goals. They provide a shared language for discussions, actions, and initiatives that transcend borders, cultures, and backgrounds. Moreover, the SDGs have sparked innovation and creativity, inspiring solutions that foster positive change while aligning with the broader vision of sustainability.

The path toward achieving the SDGs is not without challenges.  But the progress made thus far is a testament to the potential of collective efforts.  The growing engagement of business suggests that we can achieve even more.

Progress is being made.  Advancements in renewable energy and poverty reduction, improved healthcare access and increased awareness of social inequalities, and more.  The SDGs have ignited positive transformations in many corners of the world.

The significance of the SDGs lies not only in their ambition but also in their ability to inspire hope and mobilize action. They remind us that sustainable development is not a distant dream but an achievable reality.

As we continue to work toward their realization, the SDGs serve as a beacon of hope, guiding us toward a future where people, planet, and prosperity thrive in

harmonious coexistence.

Check out some of our Vignette Lectures on the SDGs

Check out other videos and join our Channel

ESG, Sustainability & CSR should be as much a business value driver as it is a social and environmental value driver. If it gets out of balance it creates risk and makes the sustainability and indeed, even the business itself, potentially less sustainable.

Business is about creating value. CSR, ESG and Sustainability are also about creating value; value for society, for environment and for shareholders.

Thanks for reading

Prof. Wayne Dunn
President & Founder
CSR Training Institute

Prof. Wayne Dunn

Wayne Dunn is an award-winning global sustainability expert with extensive teaching, writing, lecturing and advisory service experience. He is supported by an extensive faculty and advisory team.