The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals and their level of awareness

Awareness of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals is almost 50%. Society predominantly combines sustainability and climate protection with the SDGs, but many other important aspects are hidden behind them

17 SDG, goals of the 2030 Agenda
Source & Copyright Federal Government

Author: House of Eden

In 2015 the UN General Assembly passed the 2030 Agenda with the 17 goals for sustainable development: The UN Sustainable Development Goals, also known as SDGs for short. In this way, the international community expresses its conviction that global challenges can only be solved together.

So the global economic progress, for example through the rapid digitization and industrialization, be brought in line with social justice and ecological limits. A milestone in the recent history of the United Nations. Because the 2030 Agenda applies to all countries in the world. Developing countries, emerging economies and industrialized countries: everyone must do their part.

What are the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) take into account all three dimensions of sustainability - social, Environment, Economy - alike. They are indivisible and are mutually dependent. They are preceded by five core messages as the guiding principles for action: Man, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership. Therefore one speaks of the "5 Ps": People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, Partnership.

17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, Agenda 2030 goals

Source: Federal Government

Global Survey measures the level of awareness of the SDGs today

A lot has happened since the adoption - but what of it do people notice? And what moves you when it comes to sustainability? For the first time, these questions were the focus of a global survey, the "Global Survey on Sustainability and the SDGs" (Global Survey). The Global Survey asked 27.000 participants from 174 countries about their opinions and expectations on the topic of sustainability and the SDGs.

The global average level of awareness of the SDGs is almost 50%

According to the Global Survey, the average awareness of the SDGs in the European Union is 56% and in Germany 46%. However, the actual level of knowledge is likely to be significantly lower, as indicated by the level of awareness within the study of only 37%. "The most important measure to increase awareness and knowledge within society is to ensure more communication," says Joachim Schlange, head of the study and managing director at the consultancy Schlange & Co. (S&C), which specializes in sustainability.

“On the one hand through the media and on the other hand also through the government. Since the goals of the SDGs are very abstract, it is important to put them in a language that is understandable for ordinary people. By making the goals comprehensible, it is possible to start directly with the citizen. The fact that the goals are communicated powerfully in understandable language actually creates awareness. "

Society predominantly associates sustainability and climate protection with the SDGs, but many other aspects are also hidden behind them

Whereas the term and the meaning of “sustainability” are now well known, this is unfortunately not the case with regard to the SDGs. Only a small proportion of the respondents are familiar with the SDGs and know what they mean, says Joachim Schlange. According to the study, climate protection (SDG 13) is the most frequently cited SDG of personal interest, followed by health and wellbeing (SDG 3) and quality education (SDG 4).

Young people up to the age of 29 rate climate protection measures as the highest priority. People between 30-49 years of age prioritize health and well-being, quality education, and responsible consumption and production patterns (SDG 12). Joachim Schlange explains that climate protection and sustainability are more tangible aspects than hunger, for example: “This results in an uncontrollable sequence of which topics are associated with the SDGs. One topic that is not at the top of the order, but is enormously important, is life under water, for example. "

In emerging countries such as Africa, on the other hand, education (SDG 4), poverty (SDG 1) and hunger (SDG 2) are mentioned as particularly important social issues, which even rank above climate protection measures (SDG 13).

The six most frequently cited SDGs worldwide are in this order:

  1. Climate protection measures - SDG 13
  2. Health and Wellbeing - SDG 3
  3. Quality Education - SDG4
  4. Life on Land - SDG 15
  5. Clean water and sanitation - SDG 6
  6. Responsible consumption and production patterns - SDG 12

Personal importance of the SDGs by region (in percent)


Source: Global Survey

The goals of the SDGs can and must also be supported by society

Joachim Schlange explains that communication through the media and state institutions would play the leading role in support from society: “Measures such as TV campaigns, flyers, advice or sponsoring by celebrities must be used strategically in order to make sustainability part of everyday life. ”

In general, civil society should be more informed. How can sustainable action be integrated into everyday routines? This includes information on how, for example, plastic-free is traded or how new purchasing decisions that are environmentally friendly can be made. “It is important that this not only happens through a media or state body. The retail sector itself should also provide specific information on the extent to which consumption can be made more sustainable. In addition, sustainability must be integrated more intensively into the curriculum. "

The proven successes of the SDGs are difficult to measure, yet many companies are seeing them

“The successes of companies can be seen in the sustainability reports that more and more companies publish at regular intervals, such as Unilever,” says Joachim Schlange. Another success is the increasing social tendency to actually get involved in sustainability and to take action to fight injustice.

This testifies to a greater awareness of the topics communicated in the SDGs and thus of the will to promote positive change. In view of the fact that private individuals contribute significantly to the problems of sustainability in their everyday life, efforts should be made to raise sufficient awareness of the individual and promote responsible behavior.



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Joachim snake

Interview with Joachim Schlange

Joachim Schlange is co-founder and spokesman for the management of Schlange & Co. GmbH as well as President of S&C North America Inc. Joachim Schlange built up the CR Consulting division in 2002 as managing director of Systain Consulting GmbH, a subsidiary of the Otto Group, which became S&C in 2006 spun off. He is head of the study “Global Survey on Sustainability and the SDGs”.

The "Global Survey on Sustainability and the SDGs" was financed by the government of the Federal Republic of Germany (Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety) as part of the "Environmental Technologies Export Initiative" and designed by the consultancy Schlange & Co. (S&C), which specializes in sustainability and carried out. The Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY) at Yale University was commissioned as an academic partner to provide scientific support.

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