Innovation That Matters

The UN SDGs: a roadmap for innovation

Sustainable Source

Our latest series of articles showcases the innovations that are helping us to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals

The 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a framework for global sustainability. Adopted by all UN member states in 2015, they recognise that the issues of poverty, health, education, inequality, and economic growth, are all interconnected. And underpinning all of them is the need to tackle the existential threat of climate change and preserve the natural environment. Each goal is underpinned by a series of more granular targets.

The SDGs are:

1. No poverty

2. Zero hunger

3. Good health and wellbeing

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, justice, and strong institutions

17. Partnerships for the goals

Since they were adopted, the SDGs have got a lot of people talking and thinking about sustainability – businesses, governments and thought leaders alike. But for all this talking and thinking, it’s often harder to find information on the hard, practical innovations that will help us to achieve them.

Springwise believes innovation is vital for driving positive, sustainable change. And in our position as the place of record for innovation that matters, we are ideally placed to provide inspiration by showcasing innovations that will help to move the dial on the 17 goals.

We have therefore begun a series of articles that will share innovative technology and solutions that will help us to achieve the ambitions embodied in the SDGs.

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Latest articles

SDG 7: affordable and clean energy

Today humanity faces two related energy challenges. We must extend access to affordable and abundant energy to everyone, while simultaneously transitioning our entire energy system away from polluting fossil fuels. Innovators will play a central role in this most urgent of transitions. READ MORE

SDG 10: reduced inequalities

Over the past two decades there has been a split in inequality trends. Inequality within countries has increased whereas inequality between countries has decreased. But now, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, between-country inequality is also on the rise. In response, innovators are playing their part to make societies more equal. READ MORE

SDG 9: industry, innovation, and infrastructure

Industry and infrastructure are prerequisites for global economic development. But following COVID-19, and in the shadow of the climate crisis, it is essential that countries invest in innovation to ensure that manufacturing, transport, and telecommunications are more sustainable and inclusive. READ MORE

SDG 4: quality education

Education is essential, not just for the life prospects of individual students, but for the health of society as a whole. But early signs are indicating that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a detrimental effect on educational outcomes. READ MORE

SDG 14: life below water

The livelihoods of over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity. And the oceans play a crucial role in regulating our climate. Protecting the marine environment and the life that lives within it is therefore crucial for our own survival. READ MORE

SDG 15: life on land

Humanity needs thriving ecosystems to survive. But the world fell short of biodiversity targets set for the year 2020, and now many ecosystems are in a precarious state. Bound up with their fate is the future and wellbeing of everyone on the planet. READ MORE

SDG 2: zero hunger

For decades, humanity made progress on hunger and malnutrition. But the COVID-19 pandemic has reversed this trend. And going forward there is a simple equation: the world will need to produce about 70 per cent more food by 2050 to feed an estimated 9 billion people. READ MORE

SDG 13: climate action

The world is on course for warming of around 2.7 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Scientists warn that this level of warming will cause massive social, economic, and environmental damage. Urgent action is needed now to limit the effects of climate change – effects that are already being seen around the world. READ MORE

SDG 3: good health and wellbeing

Dramatic improvements in life expectancy have been a major success story of the past three centuries. But the current COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the vulnerability of these gains, while exposing persistent health inequalities between different parts of the world. READ MORE

SDG 6: clean water and sanitation

Water is life. Nothing in nature is simpler. The fate not only of humanity, but of all life on earth is bound up with our stewardship of the global water supply. And water courses are also dynamic eco-systems home to innumerable species of plants and animals. But over the past century, human water use has increased at double the rate of population growth. In simple terms, we are using more water than ever. READ MORE

SDG 5: gender equality

Women and girls make up half of the world’s population. Yet, even in the 21st century, they face barriers and challenges that infringe on their rights and limit their opportunities. And because the female population represents half of the world’s human potential, this limits the prosperity of humanity as a whole. Without gender equality we cannot create a truly sustainable, future-proofed society. READ MORE.

SDG 12: responsible consumption and production

Humanity has achieved great advances in economic growth and human well-being over the past century. But, so far, these developments have been intertwined with environmental impacts and resource consumption. In the next century we will need to work to ‘de-couple’ these two phenomena so that human development can continue without destroying the natural world or depleting the resources available to us. READ MORE.

SDG 11: sustainable cities and communities

The year 2007 was a landmark. Not only did it see the start of the biggest global financial crisis since the 1920s – it was also the first year that more people lived in urban areas than rural ones. Today, 4 billion people live in cities around the world. READ MORE

SDG 1: no poverty

It’s tempting to think that progress moves forward in a straight line. But the case of extreme poverty—defined as surviving on less than $1.90 a day—warns against complacency. An additional 119-124 million people were pushed back into extreme poverty during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. How can we get the figures moving in the right direction again? READ MORE

SDG 8: decent work and economic growth

Over the past 25 years, 1.1 billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty, and broad-based economic growth has been a key driver of this remarkable achievement. SDG 8 recognises this, setting a target of 7 per cent annual GDP growth in the least-developed countries. But, despite the progress made to date, COVID-19 is casting a long shadow on both growth and jobs. Written into SDG 8 is an acknowledgement of the importance of innovation for job creation and productivity. READ MORE

Words: Matthew Hempstead