Adopted by the United Nations in 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 goals with 169 targets that the UN is committed to working towards through the year 2030 with the hope of creating lasting positive change and freedom in the general areas of People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnership. The purpose of these goals is to create a framework for development programs that will focus on eradicating poverty, hunger, violence, fear, and disease and promoting literacy, equality, human rights, sanitation and hygiene, education, and physical, mental, and social well-being. These goals are meant to build on the Millennium Development Goals and work towards the three key areas the UN identifies for sustainability, which are economic, social, and environmental development.
The SDGs and Courses Offered
The SDGs are 17 goals with a total of 169 targets among them, most of which are meant to be achieved by 2030. These goals strive to work towards sustainable economic, social, and environmental development on a global scale. You can read in-depth reports about these goals and the progress being made towards achieving them at https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org. Courses offered cover one or more of the goals through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
Courses about all SDG Goals
- The Sustainable Development Goals – A global, transdisciplinary vision for the future (University of Copenhagen)
- The Age of Sustainable Development (Columbia University)
- Impact Measurement & Management for the SDGs (Duke University)
- Beyond the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Addressing Sustainability and Development (University of Michigan)
- Measuring Sustainable Development (SDG Academy)
- How to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG Academy)
- Sustainable Development Goals: People, Place, and Environment (Waikato University)
No poverty (Goal 1)
Goal 1—No poverty: End poverty in all its forms everywhere. The hope for this goal is to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030 (defined by people living under $1.25/day) and to reduce the number of men, women, and children living in poverty by at least half. It also strives to implement social protections and measures for all people, including increasing and ensuring equal economic and social access for all people and reducing the vulnerability of the poor to situations such as climate-related events and other shocks and disasters.
- Poverty & Population: How Demographics Shape Policy (Columbia University)
- From Poverty to Prosperity: Understanding Economic Development (Oxford University)
- Understanding Poverty and Inequality (SDG Academy)
- Human Rights, Human Wrongs: Challenging Poverty, Vulnerability and Social Exclusion (SDG Academy)
- America’s Poverty and Inequality Course (Stanford Online)
Zero hunger (Goal 2)
Goal 2—Zero hunger: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. This goal strives to end hunger and ensure access to safe and nutritious food for all people all year round by the year 2030. It also strives to end malnutrition, particularly for children under the age of five, adolescent girls, pregnant women, and older persons. It hopes to double the agriculture and incomes for small-scale farmers/producers, ensure sustainable and resilient food production systems, and maintain genetic diversity in seeds, plants, and animals.
- Transformation of the Global Food System (University of Copenhagen)
- Food Security and Sustainability (Wageningen University)
- Nutrition for Health and Sustainability (EIT Food)
- Feeding a Hungry Planet: Agriculture, Nutrition and Sustainability (SDG Academy)
- Introduction To Food & Health (Stanford University)
Good health and well-being (Goal 3)
Goal 3—Good health and well-being: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. Through this goal, the hope is to significantly reduce the maternal mortality rate, end preventable deaths for newborns and children under five years of age, and end the disease epidemics for AIDs, malaria, tuberculosis, tropical diseases, hepatitis, water-borne diseases, and other communicable diseases. It also strives to reduce premature mortality from communicable diseases, strengthen prevention and treatment of substance abuse, and halve the number of deaths and injuries from traffic accidents. This goal also focuses on promoting global access to sexual and reproductive health services, achieving universal health coverage, and reducing the number of deaths from hazardous chemicals in air, water, and soil.
- Global Public Health (SDG Academy)
- The Science of Happiness at Work (Berkeley University)
- Improving Global Health: Focusing on Quality and Safety (Harvard University)
- Global Health Case Studies from a Biosocial Perspective (Harvard University)
- Foundations of Global Health Specialization (Johns Hopkins University)
- Essentials of Global Health (Yale University)
Quality education (Goal 4)
Goal 4—Quality education: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. The first target of this goal is to ensure that all children complete free, equitable, and quality primary and secondary education. This goal also focuses on ensuring that all children have access to quality early childhood education and care, ensuring access affordable vocational training (including university) for all people, and increasing the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills for employment. The goal also strives to eliminate gender disparity in education, as well as a significant portion of illiteracy in youth and adults. It also hopes to ensure that all learners acquire knowledge and skills to promote sustainable development and to build education facilities that are safe and sensitive to all needs, including disabilities.
- Inclusive Teaching: Supporting All Students in the College Classroom (Columbia University)
- Diversity and Inclusion in Education (University of Glasgow)
- The Right to Education: Breaking Down the Barriers (University of Glasgow)
- Critical Issues in Urban Education (University of Chicago)
- Children’s Human Rights – An Interdisciplinary Introduction (University of Geneva)
Gender equality (Goal 5)
Goal 5—Gender equality: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. This goal will work to end global discrimination of women and girls, end all forms of violence against women and girls, and eliminate harmful practices against women and girls such as childhood marriage and female genital mutilation. It also strives to provide services for those doing unpaid care and domestic work, ensure full and effective participation of women at all political, economic, and public levels of decision-making, and ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare.
- Understanding Gender Inequality (Exeter University)
- Queering Identities: LGBTQ+ Sexuality and Gender Identity (University of Colorado)
- Gender and Intersectionality (University of Iceland)
- Gender and Sexuality: Applications in Society (University of British Columbia)
- Race, Gender and Workplace Equity (Catalyst)
- Gender Analytics: Gender Equity through Inclusive Design Specialization (University of Toronto)
Clean water and sanitation (Goal 6)
Goal 6—Clean water and sanitation: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. This goal hopes to provide equal access to safe and affordable drinking water for all people, as well as achieving adequate sanitation and hygiene for all. It strives to improve water quality through the reduction of pollution and increase water-use efficiency. Through this goal, they also hope to implement water resource management and increase the protection and restoration of water-related ecosystems.
- Sustainability of Social-Ecological Systems: the Nexus between Water, Energy and Food (University of Barcelona)
- Water: Addressing the Global Crisis (SDG Academy)
- The Challenge of Global Water Security (Cardiff University)
- Governance for Transboundary Freshwater Security (SDG Academy)
- Planning & Design of Sanitation Systems and Technologies (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne)
Affordable and clean energy (Goal 7)
Goal 7—Affordable and clean energy: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. This goal strives to ensure that all people have access to affordable, reliable, modern energy source and increase the share of renewable energy resources. It also hopes to double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency through the enhancement of international cooperation in access to clean energy research and technology and through the expansion of infrastructure and technology.
- Energy Justice: Fostering More Equitable Energy Futures (Dartmouth University)
- Inclusive Energy Systems – Exploring Sustainable Energy for All (TU Deflt)
- Renewable Energy Specialization (University of Colorado Boulder)
- Sustainable Energy (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
- Clean Power (Imperial College London)
- New Energy Technologies: Energy Transition and Sustainable Development (Grenoble Ecole de Management)
Decent work and economic growth (Goal 8)
Goal 8—Decent work and economic growth: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. This goal focuses on sustaining per capita economic growth and growing gross domestic product in the least developed countries. It also strives to help countries achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversity, technological upgrades, and more, as well as promoting development-oriented policies to support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity, and innovation. They also want to improve global resource efficiency in consumption and production, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, and reduce the number of youth not in employment, education, or training. Through this goal, they also hope to eradicate forced labor, modern slavery, and human trafficking, as well as promote safe and secure work environments, protect labor rights, promote sustainable tourism, and strengthen the capacity of domestic financial institutions.
- Economic Growth and Distributive Justice Part I – The Role of the State (Tel Aviv University)
- Economic Growth and Distributive Justice Part II – Maximize Social Wellbeing (Tel Aviv University)
- Work and Employment for a Sustainable Future (SDG Academy)
- Diversity and inclusion in the workplace (ESSEC Business School)
- Ethical Decision-Making: Labor and Production Dilemmas (Georgetown University)
Industry, innovation and infrastructure (Goal 9)
Goal 9—Industry, innovation and infrastructure: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation. This goal strives to increase and improve infrastructure to support economic development and human well-being, as well as promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization. The goal focuses on increasing access to financial services for small-scale industrial enterprises, increasing use of clean technology and industrial processes, and increasing research, upgraded technologies, and innovation.
- Shaping a Sustainable Future with Green Infrastructure (Grenoble Ecole de Management)
- Sustainable Digital Innovation (EIT Digital)
- Industrial Policy in the 21st Century: The Challenge for Africa (SDG Academy)
- Sustainable Supply Chains and Circularity (International Supply Chain Education Alliance)
- Transport Systems: Global Issues and Future Innovations (Leeds University)
Reduced Inequalities (Goal 10)
Goal 10—Reduced inequalities: Reduce inequality in and among countries. This goal focuses on increasing and sustaining income growth of the bottom 40 percent of the population, as well as promoting global inclusion, ensuring equal opportunities and reducing inequalities in legislation and policies, and adopting policies that will promote equality and social protection. The goal also wants to improve regulation of and strengthen global financial markets, increase representation of developing countries in global decision-making processes, and facilitate migration and mobility of people that is safe, orderly, and responsible.
- Inequality and Democracy (Utrecht University)
- Social Services for Families, Seniors and Those with Disabilities (Columbia University)
- COVID-19 and Global Inequalities (Berkeley University)
- Revolutionary Ideas: Utility, Justice, Equality, Freedom (Rutgers University)
- Anti-Racism Specialization (University of Boulder Colorado)
Sustainable Cities and Communities (Goal 11)
Goal 11—Sustainable cities and communities: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. The target areas of this goal strive to provide access to safe and affordable housing for all, access to safe and affordable transportation for all, and inclusive and sustainable urbanization, planning, and management. It also hopes to achieve strengthened efforts in protecting cultural and natural heritage, reduction in the number of deaths and economic losses related to disaster, and reduction in the adverse environmental impact on cities from air quality and waste management. It also hopes to provide global access to safe and inclusive green spaces.
- Sustainable Cities and Communities Specialization (Lund University)
- Greening the Economy: Sustainable Cities (Lund University)
- Sustainable Cities (SDG Academy)
- Sustainable Cities: Governing Urban Adaptation Under Climate Change (University of Groningen)
- Building Inclusive Cities: Tackling Urban Inequality and Segregation (TU Delft)
Responsible consumption and production (Goal 12)
Goal 12—Responsible consumption and production: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns. This goal includes the implementation of a 10-year framework for sustainable consumption and production and hopes to achieve sustainable management of natural resources. It also strives to reduce global food waste by half, achieve environmentally sound management of chemicals and wastes, reduce waste overall, and encourage companies to adopt sustainable practices. This goal will also promote sustainable procurement practices and work to increase information and awareness on sustainable development and lifestyles.
- Corporate Sustainability. Understanding and Seizing the Strategic Opportunity (Bocconi University)
- Driving business towards the Sustainable Development Goals (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
- Sustainable Fashion (Copenhagen Business School)
- Circular Economy – Sustainable Materials Management (Lund University et al.)
- Food Sustainability, Mindful Eating, and Healthy Cooking Specialization (Stanford University)
Climate change (Goal 13)
Goal 13—Climate change: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. This goal strives to strengthen the capacity to deal with climate-related hazards and natural disasters, in addition to integrating climate change measures into national policies and improving education and awareness surrounding climate change and its impact.
- Climate Change Mitigation in Developing Countries (University of Cape Town)
- From Climate Science to Action (World Bank Group)
- Fashion and the Climate Crisis: An Introduction to Sustainability (The Sustainable Angle)
- Global Warming I: The Science and Modeling of Climate Change (University of Chicago)
- Climate Change: The Science and Global Impact (SDG Academy)
- Climate Change and Sustainable Investing Specialization (EDHEC Business School)
Life below water (Goal 14)
Goal 14—Life below water: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. The targets of this goal focus on preventing and reducing marine pollution, managing and protecting marine and coastal ecosystems, and minimizing the effects of ocean acidification. It also strives to regulate harvesting and end overfishing, as well as conserve at least 10 percent of marine and coastal areas by 2020 and prohibit certain types of fisheries from overfishing and overcapacity. Finally, it hopes to increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and other developing countries through sustainable use of marine resources.
- Life Below Water: Conservation, Current Issues, Possible Solutions (University of the Sunshine Coast)
- One Planet, One Ocean (SDG Academy)
- Water Resources Management and Policy (University of Geneva)
- Our Global Ocean – An Introduction Course (The Smithsonian Institution)
- Ocean Science in Action: Addressing Marine Ecosystems and Food Security (National Oceanography Center)
Life on land (Goal 15)
Goal 15—Life on land: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss. This goal focuses on ensuring conservation and restoration of terrestrial ecosystems, including promoting the implementation of sustainable management of forests, combating desertification, and ensuring the conservation of mountain ecosystems. It will also work to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, promote fair sharing of genetic resources, end poaching and trafficking of protected species, and prevent the introduction and negative impact of alien species on various ecosystems. It also hopes to promote the integration of ecosystem and biodiversity values into planning and development processes.
- Planet Earth: Understanding and Protecting our Environment (Leeds University)
- Tropical Forest Landscapes 101: Conservation & Restoration (Yale University)
- Ecology: Ecosystem Dynamics and Conservation (American Museum of Natural History)
- From the Ground Up: Managing and Preserving Our Terrestrial Ecosystems (SDG Academy)
- Business Model Innovation for Sustainable Landscape Restoration (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
Peace, justice, and strong institutions (Goal 16)
Goal 16—Peace, justice, and strong institutions: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. This goals purpose is to reduce all forms of violence and violent deaths, end abuse, trafficking, and exploitation of children, and promote rule of law at all levels to ensure access to justice. Included in this goal is the reduction of illegal financial and arms flow, the reduction of corruption and bribery, and the development of accountable and transparent institutions. Additionally, this goal strives to ensure responsive, inclusive, and participatory decision-making at all levels, broaden the participation of countries in global governance, provide legal identity and birth registration for all people, and ensure public access to information and the protection of fundamental freedoms.
- Political Economy of Institutions and Development (Leiden University)
- Feminism and Social Justice (University of California, Santa Cruz)
- Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Comparing Theory and Practice (Leiden University)
- Justice (Harvard University)
- International Law (Université catholique de Louvain)
Partnership for the goals (Goal 17)
Goal 17—Partnership for the goals: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development. This goal targets the specific areas of finance, technology, capacity-building, trade, and systemic issues. In the area of finance, this goal plans to work towards strengthening domestic resource mobilization, fully implementing development assistance commitments in developing countries, and increasing financial assistance and access for developing countries. For technology, the goal strives to enhance regional and international cooperation and access to science, technology, and innovation, as well as promote environmentally sound technologies, and fully implement mechanisms to improve technology and capacity-building in the areas of science, technology, and innovation. The capacity-building target focuses on enhancing international support for capacity-building in developing countries. Around trade, this goal works to promote a universal, inclusive trade system through the World Trade Organization, increase exports of developing countries, and implement duty-free/quota-free market access for developing countries. The targets for systemic issues, also known as policy and institutional coherence, focus on enhancing global macroeconomic stability, enhancing policy coherence, respecting individual countries’ leadership and policies, enhancing global partnership in sustainable development, promoting effective partnerships between public, private-public, and civil society, enhancing support for capacity-building in developing countries, and build on initiatives to development measurements of sustainable development.
- Principles of Sustainable Finance (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
- Macroeconomics for a Sustainable Planet (SDG Academy)
- Community Engagement: Collaborating for Change (University of Michigan)
- Building Alliances in Global Health: From Global Institutions to Local Communities (Johns Hopkins University)
- Unlocking Investment and Finance in Emerging Markets and Developing Economies (World Bank Group)