Image of landscape with body of water

UNEP and the Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 to end poverty, reduce inequality and build more peaceful, prosperous societies by 2030. 

The widespread destruction of the natural world is undermining the pursuit of the SDGs and imperilling humanity’s future. A human-induced triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste is pushing nature to the breaking point. 

That is putting at risk the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the materials and resources upon which our societies are built.

The triple crisis is weighing most heavily on the vulnerable, including the poor, women and indigenous peoples. Unless humanity reverses its environmental course, it will be impossible to achieve the SDGs.


Bold commitments are required now to achieve the SDGs, and ensure the well-being and prosperity of both people and the planet, leaving no one behind.

Explore the latest report: Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals special edition.

UNEP’s contribution to the SDGs

UNEP’s core mission is to find solutions to the triple planetary crisis. As the leading global authority on the environment, the institution helps its 193 Member States to foster climate stability, live in harmony with nature and forge a pollution-free future, supporting the achievement of all 17 SDGs.

UNEP has spent more than 50 years supporting sustainable development through its work on the environment.

Today, the institution is the custodian of more than two dozen indicators within the SDGs, advising governments on how to achieve their targets and helping states measure their progress. At the global level, UNEP science, policy work and public advocacy support the achievement of the SDGs, including the complex environment-related targets that are not bound by national borders.


Beach littered with plastic waste

Spotlight on SDG 12

Humanity’s hunger for natural resources is pushing ecosystems around the world to the brink of collapse. Right now, we’re using the equivalent of 1.6 Earths to sustain our way of life.

To support SDG 12, UNEP is working to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, creating more efficient and more circular economies. By helping countries and companies do more with less, UNEP enables people to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.