What do the United Nations do?

The United Nations (UN) is a 75-year-old international organization connecting 193 countries in the world. These countries meet to discuss world problems and collaborate to solve them The UN forms special groups that tackle specific issues. These include preventing conflict, looking after the environment, and protecting human rights. The UN influences a wide range of issues across the world, especially in places facing difficult situations. This means finding ways to develop communities and economies so that the improvements made today will last into the future. 

Living sustainably means enjoying a good life now, without giving up a good life for generations of the future. Sustainable development is about helping the children of those alive now, so that they do not have the problems their parents currently face.

What is the UN doing to help?

To address these problems, the UN has produced 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Each goal links to the others and they must be achieved together. Hopefully, with international cooperation, they should be a reality by 2030. The UN would like politicians, investors, academics, and anyone else to think about these goals when making decisions. All kinds of people are important for this, including farmers, builders, investors, and teachers.

The SDGs

  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 (making sure the systems that keep a community running can be maintained and improved)
  10. Reduced Inequalities (letting all people equally access the benefits these goals will bring)
  11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  12. Responsible Consumption and Production
  13. Climate Action
  14. Life Below Water (keeping the oceans clean)
  15. Life on Land (protecting the environment)
  16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (fair monitoring of how people act)
  17. Partnerships (linking up all kinds of people for good)

How everyone is involved

These goals should be helpful guiding principles for everyone to benefit from. Different approaches are needed in each country. 

For example, in Kenya, the UN helped to grow businesses that could hire out machines to farmers. This linked together business to benefit each other. It also helped reduce inequality (SDG 10) as it meant the farmers had more time when they were not labouring, so they could care for their children and access health care. This plan meant the farmers produced more crops (SDG 2), improved their quality of life (SDG 3), and raised their income and the income of the machine business owners (SDGs 8 and 17). 

These different benefits show how positive action can result in multiple SDGs being achieved, because they are all linked.

For the SDGs to work, everyone must act together with the UN. This way, a wide range of people and the environment around them can benefit. Most importantly, this work can also continue to have positive results for years to come.