UN Sustainable Development Goals: Review of Progress and Research Innovation

UN Sustainable Development GoalsOn September 25th, 2015, the United Nations (UN) agreed that all its 193 member countries adopt 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs). The key agenda was to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. Each goal was assigned targets and key performance indicators, to be achieved over the next 15 years. Here we review our recent series of articles, which explored how we measure progress against these goals and talked directly to those whose research work is contributing to their success.


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out by the UN, with a complement of 169 specific targets were designed to be ambitious, to help galvanize change. Information on all 17 individual goals is available here. Their aim is to eradicate poverty, address climate change and build peaceful, inclusive societies for all, by 2030. Building on their predecessors — the 8 Millennium Development Goals, this is the largest call for action of its kind, covering 193 member states across all sectors, from governments to citizens.

So how can we reliably track progress against these goals? What achievements have been made to date against the UNSDGs? What is the view of the UN? How are researchers worldwide innovating to help to contribute towards them? Outlined below are our recent series of articles tackling these questions and more. We refer to expert reports and the UN’s own measures of success, an account from a senior advisor to the UNDP and interviews with innovative researchers contributing to the SDGs.

Key Content on the UNSDGs

UN Sustainable Development Goals: Saving lives through solar innovation - Interview with Dr. Laura Stachel M.D, M.P.H

For our first article, we caught up with We Care Solar’s inspirational co-founder, Dr. Laura Stachel. She describes her unique career path from obstetrician to public heath researcher, a move that contributed to the development of a remarkable innovation — an economical and portable solar power device for off-grid medical clinics worldwide. Here how the company’s work is contributing to UNSDGs 3, 5 and 7, for global health, gender equality and affordable clean energy, respectively.

UN Sustainable Development Goals: Pioneering solar-powered electric ferry transport

Our second article explores how innovative researchers at SINTEF, Norway, are leading a collaborative project on solar fueled electric ferries in Africa and the Middle East, to help reach targets for SDG7. Their proposal went on to win the prodigious UN funding prize for ‘Powering the Future We Want’. We caught up with project leader Dr. Moez Jomâa, to discuss the research involved and its contribution to the SDGs.

UN Sustainable Development Goals: View from a Senior Advisor at the UNDP — Interview with Narue Shiki

In this interview, we speak to Narue Shiki, Senior Advisor to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). She recounts her training and career path, spanning two decades with the UN, including the key role played by the UNDP in helping developing nations integrate and attain the SDGs.

UN Sustainable Development Goals: How do we track progress?

The UN set out 17 ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a complement of 169 specific targets in 2015. Their aim was to eradicate poverty, address climate change and build peaceful, inclusive societies for all, by 2030. How can we reliably track progress against these goals? What achievements have been made to date? We explore the research underway and key organizations directly involved in gauging success.


Achieving the UNSDGs relies on global collaboration and input across sectors, including governments, commerce, academia, the media and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The UN relies on global collaboration and needs to collate its data from diverse and innovative research sources to help measure progress against the 17 SDGs. Researchers are contributing in innovative ways to help contribute directly to goal progress, and developing data tools to gauge advances.

The UN’s most recent report shows that a sharp acceleration of progress is needed to meet a 2030 deadline, especially with regard to SDGs 12-15, relating to climate change and the environment. A growing inequality in wealth and income globally is also an underlying challenge in achieving the goals. Ultimately, there should be global responsibility to achieve global initiatives meant to better life for all.

UN Sustainable Development Goals

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