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In 2015, the United Nations (UN) established The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a followup to the Millennium Development Goals. To quote its preamble, “this Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet, and prosperity.” It includes seventeen goals (known as the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs) each of which has a number of specific targets. The goals address issues including ending poverty and hunger, achieving gender equality, protecting the environment, and promoting peace.

We hear a lot about the SDGs from international organizations and other countries, but for some reason, they receive little, if any, attention in the U.S. We can change that in 2020.

In addition to the UN and its various agencies, schools and businesses play a crucial role in achieving the goals of the agenda. We can begin the process by educating students and employees about sustainable development and the SDGs.

The beauty of the SDGs is that they can lead to numerous opportunities for collaboration and encourage people to think globally, but act locally. As the corporate world is beginning to put more stock in social responsibility and social impact, the SDGs can help focus their efforts. Additionally, including the SDGs in a school’s curriculum is a way to use students’ passion and youthful energy to point them toward opportunities to help their community.

Global problems require global solutions, and the SDGs provide us with a framework to solve them. Let’s drop the unilateral, “America First” approach, and work together to ensure an inclusive, sustainable world for all.

To learn more about the Agenda and SDGs, visit the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals website at

—As told to Scott Girard

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