“We are the first generation that can end poverty and the last one that can take steps to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

– United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon


In September 2015, world leaders gathered at the United Nations to commit to 17 Global Goals to achieve three extraordinary things in the next 15 years: End extreme poverty; Fight inequality and injustice; Fix climate change.

Sustainable Development Goals

Background: Global Goals Built on a Successful Framework

These new Global Goals are built on the successful framework of their predecessor, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  In 2000, countries came together to put in place the MDGs, eight goals that the world would use as a roadmap to work toward halving extreme poverty by 2015. Those goals focused on eradicating extreme hunger, and poverty; achieving universal primary education; promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment; reducing the under-five child mortality rate; reducing the maternal mortality rate; combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases; ensuring environmental sustainability; and developing a global partnership for development. These goals mirrored much of the development assistance and foreign policy of the last three U.S. Administrations and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

The outcomes were measurable:

  • Globally, the number of people living in extreme poverty was reduced by more than half since 1990.
  • Between 2000 and 2015, 6.2 million deaths were averted from malaria.
  • Since 1990, 2.6 billon people have gained access to drinking water.
  • By 2012 all developing regions were close to or have achieved gender parity in primary education.
  • In 2015, 41 countries boast having more than 30% female members of parliament in at least one chamber.

The new Global Goals set out to learn from the MDGs and represent a better understanding of the connections between poverty, governance, health, gender, climate, and education.

The Global Goals: A Product of U.S. Engagement and Bipartisan Leadership

The new set of Global Goals were developed with strong U.S. leadership through the most consultative process the world has ever seen.  The U.S. held consultations in 50 cities across the nation that included elected officials, and business, faith based, and civil society leaders.  Online, over 73,000 Americans engaged with the UN on the world they would want to see in 2030.

As a result of strong American engagement, the goals reflect longstanding bipartisan foreign policy and development priorities that Republican and Democratic Administrations and Congress have championed, including gender equality, hunger and poverty alleviation, transparency and governance, access to safe drinking water, and improved education.

The goals include key economic drivers of poverty alleviation, and go beyond foreign aid to focus on trade and investment from the private sector to better account for their important contributions in development, health, and economic and social opportunity.

U.S. Leadership; Not U.S. Law

The goals remain a roadmap for achieving success, but they are not part of a legally binding treaty. Americans do not need to support each and every goal to appreciate the vital contribution they can make. Sustained U.S. leadership in supporting the goals will ensure that we can maximize American generosity by leveraging our resources and expertise with the private sector, governments, faith-based organizations and non-profits to build a better and safer world for generations to come.

With these global goals–­UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said–we can be the first generation to end extreme poverty, the most determined generation in history to end injustice and inequality, and the last generation to be threatened by climate change.