The UN Sustainable Development Goals
How YOU can support 16 of the 17 SDGs right now
Did you know that you can help end world poverty and hunger, fight climate change, and give millions of cute baby animals a safe home to live in?
Are you aware that you can contribute to 16 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals – right here, right now?
Yes, yes you can. And yes, as a matter of fact, you deserve a superhero cape for that. Let us explain.
What Are the Sustainable Development Goals?
The sustainable development goals (SDGs) are 17 goals developed by the United Nations (UN)¹. They’re the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for every being on Earth.
The 17 goals are all related and are designed to leave no one behind. Each of the goals addresses a global challenge that we all face.
These include poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, and peace and justice.
They’re an important part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development². And, since we’re already 5 years into that 15-year plan, this current decade is critical.
A Quick SDG History
Yes, we know, you didn’t come here for a boring history lesson, so we’ll keep this short.
The Sustainable Development Goals were set in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly.
In 2017, the UN set specific targets for each goal to make them more actionable. (Yep, it took two years to realize that “goals” without specific targets are rather “ideas” or “suggestions”. Haha.)
Today, each of the 17 SDGs has between 8-12 targets along with 1-4 indicators per target to measure whether we’re on the right track or not.
Most goals are intended to be achieved the latest by the year 2030, and are part of the UN Resolution “Agenda 2030”. (Some goals don’t have a set end date – and it leaves all of us wondering: Why?)
Unfortunately, with most of the goals we’re lacking behind.
But you can help change that today. Read on to find out how.
Why Are There Exactly 17 Sustainable Development Goals? Why not 10? Or 20?
It’s a question we often ask ourselves: Why did they decide exactly on 17 Sustainable Development Goals? Wouldn’t 20 be a rounder number? Or 9 a more compact one?
Truth is, nobody really knows. It just happened. Should you have smarter insights here, let us know!
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals – And How YOU Can Support Them
So now you know what the sustainable development goals in general are.
Below, we have explained each goal in more detail. Plus, we show you how easy it is for you to support 16 of these 17 Sustainable Development Goals. (Hint: It might have something to do with tree-planting.)
And, of course, we’ll also unveil which of the 17 SDGs you won’t support by planting trees with Click A Tree – and why we deliberately decided against it.
So let’s dive right in: Here is what the 17 Sustainable Development Goals are, and what you can do today to make our planet a better place for all of its inhabitants.
1. No Poverty
The very first Sustainable Development Goal is to “end poverty in all its forms, everywhere”. Wildly ambitious – and sensationally important.
Global poverty is a complicated and far-reaching issue. Planting trees won’t solve it overnight – but it will certainly help. Many of our tree-planting sites are in countries with a typically low income and high levels of unemployment.
When we plant trees, we don’t employ volunteers. Instead, we employ local people with a fair wage. It’s a stable and reliable income.
It means that people who used to battle poverty can afford to buy sufficient food, purchase household essentials, and can even send their children to school. More on that below.
SDG 1: Check.
2. Zero Hunger
The second goal by the United Nations is to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”.
Not sure if you have had to go hungry for a day or two. If you have, you know it’s one of the worst feelings ever. So this second SDG tackles this unfortunately still way too common problem.
How you can help? Simple.
Everybody knows that certain trees produce fruit. These trees feed both humans and animals.
While we mostly focus on creating thriving ecosystems as habitat for animals, projects like our syntropic farming approach in Ghana simultaneously produce crops to eat and sell for the local community.
In addition, there’s the salary all our workers receive, which enables them to buy the food they need. What’s more, forests also help to restore water cycles and improve the quality of the soil.
The whole area around our reforestation projects, including nearby farms, benefits from more nutritious soil, restored rain cycles and hence higher-quality crops.
SDG 2: Check.
3. Good Health and Well-being
Thirdly, the United Nations aim to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”.
Good food and clean water are important for good health. Trees help provide both.
But what about clean, high-quality air? What about exercise, the money to afford healthcare, and a booming, healthy community?
What about a positive mindset and positive mental health? A long walk in a quiet forest is very calming, and many of us naturally relax in lush green surroundings.
Oh, and a stable income to prevent you from worrying about what to eat next week definitely calms you down as well.
Planting trees makes all of that possible, as Boto and Mary found out in the Miracle of Mahabana.
SDG 3: Check.
4. Quality Education
The fourth UN Sustainable Development Goal is to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.
We’ve already mentioned that when local people plant trees with Click A Tree, they receive a salary that helps them afford education for themselves and their children.
But could we go one further? What about actually building and supporting a local entrepreneurship school? Can planting trees really support education?
It already does. When you plant trees in Ghana, you support a local entrepreneurship school. Unemployed young people learn here how to create a better future for themselves.
Feel free to plant one tree for entreepreneurs right away, then come back to read about the remaining 13 Sustainable Development Goals.
SDG 4: Check.
5. Gender Equality
As fifth Sustainable Development Goal the United Nations promises to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”.
It’s a shame that this needs to be a goal, but yes, way too often women and girls are still not treated equally to boys and men.
In many countries where we plant trees, ladies have traditionally been expected to do household chores, cook, and remain indoors.
Planting trees helps change that. By working on our tree-planting farms, female workers can now make a career for themselves and become an important part of their community.
As Sushila and Kanji found out in our Nepal Success Story, a career in our young-tree nursery can be life-changing.
SDG 5: Check.
6. Clean Water and Sanitation
For number six, the UN set to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”.
Clean water and sanitation. For many people across the globe a luxury, but one that in “Western” countries is taken for granted.
One of the reasons why we love trees so much is because they’re a significant part of a fascinating ecosystem.
One of the most important elements of that ecosystem is the water cycle: trees help to restore it.
After a rain they hold Earth’s water supply like a natural sponge. This ensures there’s enough water in the well in the first place.
Trees purify water. They replenish soils with essential vitamins. They support vital watershed areas and help the land to naturally manage its water levels.
Not bad, right? These are just a few of the reasons why trees are so important.
Instead of constructing new water treatment facilities that are ineffective and overworked, trees can clean the water naturally. We just have to plant more of them.
A study by the Thomas Reuters Foundation makes it clear that planting trees can significantly improve sanitation in poorer countries³.
SDG 6: Check.
7. Affordable and Clean Energy
Number 7 on the UN list of Sustainable Development Goals is to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”.
Being realistic, clean water and food security surely beat clean energy any day of the year. Yet having lights in the evening or the option to cook a warm meal is very valuable as well, and definitely a noble goal to aim for.
For this Sustainable Development Goal, we could tell you all about the ways that wood is burnt and about the benefits of biomass energy.
It may be clean, renewable energy, but that’s not really the point of our Click A Tree trees.
We create sustainable, functioning ecosystems that are not meant to be burnt down. So creating affordable and clean energy is the only Sustainable Development Goal we currently don’t contribute to.
SDG 7: Not checked.
8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
Sustainable Development Goal #8 is to “promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”.
And that is exactly why we have decided to exclusively work with full-time tree planters instead of volunteers: To ensure “sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth”, as the UN would put it.
Planting trees is certainly no walk in the park – but the work is more than decent.
For a start, you’re receiving a fair, dependable wage. Our workers also have opportunities and responsibilities at work, and there’s potential for career progression.
But more importantly, decent work benefits the whole community. Our workers earn money and naturally spend their salaries within the community, supporting other local businesses in the process.
As more people get stable work and unemployment drops, the overall economy in the area begins to grow and prosper.
SDG 8: Check.
9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
As ninth Sustainable Development Goal the UN lists “build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation”.
Many of our tree-planting projects begin on a small scale. But once support grows and you help us to plant even more trees, a lot of magic happens within the industry.
Trees already help to create better water and improve sanitation. But that tree-planting boost also funds badly-needed new roads and improves the resources of the community.
Thanks to the entrepreneurship school that we support in Ghana, trees also foster innovation and technology.
SDG 9: Check.
10. Reduced Inequalities
Number 10 on the UN SDG list is to “reduce inequality within and among countries”.
Gender equality is extremely important – but it’s only one of many inequalities that trees help to change. As you help to plant more trees, more people are employed to plant trees too.
That being the case, more people around the world have an income and the opportunity to send their children to school.
Income and education allow families and communities to work towards a better life and reduce inequalities around the globe.
SDG 10: Check.
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
The 11th Goal for Sustainable Development will “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”.
Seriously – is there anything more sustainable than planting trees? Planting trees involves little machinery or fuel, and there’s no waste either. Air quality is improved and the whole ecosystem benefits.
Moreover, planting trees also helps to create a self-sufficiency model.
Our tree-planters learn new skills and naturally pass them on to their children.
As the next generation are taught how to make a salary by planting trees, they also learn about soil, water cycles, food security, and sustainability.
The jobs increase living standards and hence make the community safer and more resilient.
The entire community becomes sustainable in a healthy, long-term way.
SDG 11: Check.
12. Responsible Consumption and Production
The 12th Goal for Sustainable Development is one we should all think about every day: “Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns”.
Because every single day, we have the choice how and what we consume. That is the stuff we pay money for.
And since companies and coporations all across the globe want exactly that – our money – they will do everything in their power (which is a lot) to please us.
If we demand ethical production methods, we will get them.
And if we demand these companies to plant trees with parts of their revenue, they will – otherwise we’ll buy what we need elsewhere.
Take a look at some of these big brands that already plant trees – did you know?
We’re not saying that any of these companies is perfect – nobody is. But these companies dare to take the first step. And that first step is always followed by a second (so long as clients demand it), then a third, and so on, and so forth.
It’s the perfect opposite of a vicious circle. And trees are the catalyst.
SDG 12: Check.
13. Climate Action
Is 13 an unlucky number? We hope not – because if this UN Goal for Sustainable Development fails, we’ll all be in massive trouble.
SDG 13 aims to “take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts”.
It’s urgent. And it’s global. We have less than 10 years left (read The Twentrees for more), and we’re all in this together. One planet, one climate.
The beauty is: Our Mother Earth has spent hundreds of millions of years perfecting the ideal weapon in the battle against climate change for us.
You guessed it: trees! Trees are natural carbon sinks. They store the carbon that is rapidly heating up the planet while providing a home for millions of endangered animals.
They also improve water quality, air quality, and soil quality, while slowing down the impact of climate change. It seems like the world is on fire right now.
Climate change is wreaking havoc in every corner of the globe, and water temperatures continue to rise. Trees help to combat all of this⁴.
Why don’t we listen to Mother Earth and plant more trees?
SDG 13: Check. (No unlucky number.)
14. Life Below Water
SDG 14 reads: “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.”
Over 70% of our planet’s surface is water – yet the UN only dedicates one single Sustainable Development Goal to it.
Let’s make it count. And yes, you can also help our oceans and their inhabitants by planting trees.
Mangrove trees are extremely important in many tropical parts of the world, including Madagascar, Indonesia and the Philippines.
On the one hand, mangrove trees stop soil and land erosion, sequester a huge lot of CO2 and prevent freak waves from causing to much damage.
On the other hand, mangrove trees provide a refuge for marine life with a web of elaborate roots that are partially submerged in the water. Parrotfish, grouper, and shrimp are just a few of the many animals that depend on mangrove trees.
That’s because, in the area surrounding the roots, the water is cooler and enriched with oxygen. The roots also create an ideal nursery station by protecting juvenile fish and harboring bacteria that they can feed on.
Scientists have discovered that the decline in the number of adult fish in the sea is directly linked to the decline in mangrove tree populations⁵.
Quite simply, we need more trees to support life below water. See? We told you that trees can help the world in so many different ways.
Then you can safely check SDG 14 off your to do list for today.
15. Life On Land
The UN Sustainable Development Goal #15 is what our founder Chris might have put into the top 3, if anyone had asked his opinion. (Wait. Didn’t they?)
“Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.”, is what SDG 15 reads.
Quite a mouthful. In short: Let’s protect life on land.
Obviously, trees do that. And not just us – they support every single breathing organism on the planet. Trees provide us with the air we need to breathe.
They provide us with shelter and with so many other valuable resources. That support is even more significant for animals, since trees create a habitat for them to live in.
Fruits and seeds are vital food sources and many animals will spend their entire life reliant on trees. No matter where you’re from, what you earn, or what your background is, every single one of us relies on trees.
No trees = no life on land. It’s that simple.
This is why we need you to help us continue planting more trees and combating destructive deforestation. Even the biggest land-based animals are lost without trees.
You can protect their future by planting more trees and creating more of the habitat they depend on.
SDG 15: Piece of cake.
16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
SDG 16. Almost done.
So let’s “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”.
A career, safety, and improved resources are life-changing for many, many people. Human trafficking, homicide, and sexual violence are still rife in many parts of the world.
Our tree-planting projects bring hope to areas which, previously, had very little.
Planting trees allows our workers to focus on a career, and avoid bad influences and danger. A reliable salary means they can further their education and develop a better life.
SDG 16: Check.
The last, but definitely not the least of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals is to “strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development”.
If done right, planting trees is a truly global cooperation – because it’s a truly global cause.
At Click A Tree, we work with people in over a dozen countries to plant and nurse your trees.
Our Click A Tree team itself is international too – we currently have support from Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa and North America.
You can partner up with us as well. If you’re interested in planting trees with us, then get in touch to find out about the options you have.
We’re all stronger together. And when we plant trees, our planet is, too.
If you haven’t yet, plant a tree now. Then you can send a love letter or Thank You Email to the people who diligently nurse your little tree.
That, too, strengthens intercontinental partnerships.
SDG 17: Check.
What Do The Sustainable Development Goals Mean For You?
We’re so grateful to every single one of you reading this. You’ve done so much for us and for mother Earth already. But can we ask for even more?
We’ve really spelt out how valuable trees are to the sustainable development goals, haven’t we? We’re doing that for a reason!
Trees save the planet – and in so many different ways. Help us to keep on planting trees by remembering us every time somebody mentions sustainability, by using Google Chrome, and of course, by planting trees yourself.
And your company can benefit as well. When you plant trees with Click A Tree, you’ll attract new clients and increase both client and employee loyalty.
Everybody considers the sustainability ethos of a company before they commit to a purchase these days – and that’s no coincidence:
When you plant trees for your customers, you market yourself to a much wider, environmentally-conscious audience. You’ll reach a larger target audience, oh… and you’ll be helping to save the world!
And that whole time, you can tell your customers all about the sustainable development goals, since you’ll be helping to make the world a better place for everyone.
Let’s Keep Planting Trees!
So it’s as simple as that. Plant trees with us, and you’ll be actively contributing to 16 of the 17 sustainable development goals! Let’s keep on planting trees, supporting the sustainable development goals, and saving the world.
Want to make the world a better place right now?
Share our Instagram content with your followers. Get involved with our Facebook conversation about the sustainable development goals. Sign up for our free newsletter GROW.
We’ll plant a tree just to say thanks for joining our community. Then you can double the benefits by planting a little sibling to that tree here.
Stay awesome, and thank you so much for your efforts so far! Let’s see how far this exciting new decade takes us. Welcome to the Twentrees!