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Ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all

20 September 2016

A new framework for global development priorities, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has started to mobilise action locally and internationally.

The United Nations’ SDGs came into effect on 1 January 2016 after 193 governments agreed to the 17 goals and their 169 targets in September 2015. The development of the SDGs was highly participatory with over 70 members actively contributing over 3 years. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years.

The focus has now moved to finding ways to ensure the goals are achieved.

Graphic of the Sustainable Development Goals

As part of its ongoing sustainability research leadership role at the University of Technology Sydney, ISF sponsored a proposal recommending UTS join four other Australian universities in signing the University Commitment to the SDGs. This commits UTS to supporting the Goals through its teaching, research and operational activities. ISF will work with UTS Faculties and Divisions to support them in the tasks included in this commitment.

The University of Technology Sydney signed this commitment in the lead up to the Australian SDGs Summit on 7 September in Sydney. The summit was co-hosted by the Asia Pacific branch of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), an international group of university and research institutions – including ISF - that support the SDGs.

This summit brought together leaders and decision-makers from government, business, civil society, youth groups and academia to explore key questions about what the SDGs mean for Australia at home and abroad. Two Federal Ministers spoke at the summit about the importance of Australian implementation of the SDGs: Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Minister for International Development and the Pacific and The Hon Angus Taylor MP, Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation.

ISF’s Katie Ross who attended the summit said: “It was great to see such a diversity of groups attending the summit. The SDGs give us a shared language for talking about development. It’s inspiring to see how they are already mobilising action.”

The change created by ISF’s work already contributes towards many of the Sustainable Development Goals.

For example the Institute’s recent Enterprise in WASH project investigated the role of small and medium enterprises in Indonesia, Timor-Leste and Vietnam as important emerging players in sustainable WASH service delivery for the poor. This project shows how these enterprises can play a role in achieving SDG 6 to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Goal 6 also has a target to implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate by 2030. The “Pathways to One Water” guidebook written by ISF and ForEva Solutions researchers for the Water Environment Research Foundation, describes the institutional innovations needed by urban water planners and policy makers to overcome the challenges to integrated urban water management approaches that optimize green-grey infrastructure and resource recovery.

Goal 7 is to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”. The Institute’s 100% Renewable Energy for Australia shows how Australia could meet all electricity, heating and fuel needs with renewable energy by 2050 and contribute to this Goal’s target to substantially increase the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030.

The Facilitators guide for supporting community adaptation to water shortages in Kiribati that helps local facilitators train communities to identify climate change adaptation strategies by drawing from various sources of knowledge, including traditional knowledge, relates to Goal 13’s target to strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries.

Mapping to show how ISF’s research fits within the SDG framework is continuing.  Already the SDGs are proving to be a useful framework for describing how our research contributes to sustainable and equitable development.