The UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development

The UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development is an action programme for people, the planet and prosperity.

Signed on 25 September 2015 by the governments of the 193 Member Countries of the United Nations, and approved by the UN General Assembly, the Agenda sets out 17 Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, which are part of a broader programme of action consisting of 169 associated targets to be achieved in the environmental, economic, social and institutional domains by 2030.

This programme does not solve all the problems but represents a good common basis to build a different world and offer everyone the chance to live in an environmentally, socially, economically and socially sustainable world.

A global challenge

The objectives set for sustainable development have a global validity, concern and involve all countries and components of society, from private companies to the public sector, from civil society to information and culture operators.

The 17 SDGs refer to a set of important development issues that take account of the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and ecological – in a balanced way and aim to end poverty, fight against inequality, tackle climate change, and build peaceful societies that respect human rights.


Goal 1: No poverty

Goal 2: Zero hunger

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

Goal 4: Quality education

Goal 5: Gender equality

Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation

Goal 7:  Affordable and clean energy

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth

Goal 9:  Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Goal 10: Reduced inequalities

Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities

Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production

Goal 13: Climate action

Goal 14: Life below water

Goal 15: Life on Land

Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals  (1/22/2)

See the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Sustainability is not a purely environmental issue. Four years after the signing of the UN Agenda 2030, awareness has increased in civil society, in the business world, in national government and public opinion as to the need to adopt an integrated approach and concrete measures to address a major socio-economic paradigm shift, and cope with the several complex environmental and institutional challenges.

Implementing the Agenda 2030 requires strong involvement from all components of society, ranging from private enterprises to the public sector, from civil society to information and culture operators.


Sustainable Development Strategy and Agenda 2030 monitoring

All Countries are called upon to define their own sustainable development strategies to achieve the objectives pursued, and report the results achieved within a process coordinated by the UN.

Each Country is evaluated annually at the UN through the work of the High-level Political Forum (HLPF), responsible for assessing progress, results and challenges for all Countries, and by national and international public opinion. Every four years there is also a debate on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the UN General Assembly before Heads of State and/or Government: the first such review was carried out in September 2019.


The Agenda 2030 in Europe

In this context, the European Union is also committed to transposing and defining the principles of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. The SDGs are transposed at EU level so as to guide the Member States in the final definition of their strategic objectives.

During the opening speech of the Plenary Session of the European Parliament chaired by Ursula von der Leyen (July 2019), the European Commission presented a rich action programme to be implemented over the next five years. The programme clearly reveals the Union’s willingness to achieve sustainable development objectives, including in relation to the Paris Agreement on climate change, and sets the ground for a global EU strategy for the years 2019-2024.


The Agenda 2030 in Italy

Every Country on the planet is expected to contribute to addressing these major challenges towards a sustainable path by developing its own National Strategy for Sustainable Development.

In Italy, the “Benessere Italia” (“Well-being Italy”) steering committee was set up at Prime Minister’s Office, to “coordinate, monitor, measure and improve the policies implemented by all Ministries in favour of citizens’ well-being”. A step ahead to empower Italy’s governance of the 2030 Agenda, a tool that will enable the Italian Government to promote fair and sustainable well-being through new policies and new approaches.

The five macro-areas developing its policy lines are: sustainable equitable regeneration of territories, mobility, territorial cohesion, energy transition, quality of life, and circular economy. These macro-areas place the individual at the centre of their action focus and aim at: promoting healthy lifestyles; defining work-private life balance patterns; designing fair living conditions; promoting human development actions; and lifelong learning.

For further information, please refer to the analysis of Italy’s situation provided by the ASVIS Report.

ASVIS Report 2020

ASVIS Report 2019

The National Sustainable Development Strategy (NSDS) and the 5 intervention areas

At a national level, the instrument for coordinating the implementation of the Agenda 2030 is the National Sustainable Development Strategy (NSDS), approved via CIPE Resolution No. 108/2017. This measure provides for a three-yearly update and “defines the national reference framework for planning, programming and evaluation processes at environmental and territorial level to implement the sustainable development goals set by the United Nations Agenda 2030“.

The implementation of the National Sustainable Development Strategy must be linked to current policy documents, primarily the National Reform Programme (NRP) and, more generally, the Economic and Financial Document (Italy’s DEF). The proposed actions and operational instruments must also be reconciled with present binding objectives at EU level.

The National Sustainable Development Strategy 2017-2030 is the main instrument for creating a new circular economic model with low CO2 emissions, resilient to climate change and other global changes triggered by local crises (e.g., biodiversity loss, transformation of fundamental biogeochemical cycles (carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus), and land use changes.

An innovative aspect of the UN Agenda 2030 lies in its focus on inequalities. In the absence of an adequate intervention strategy, several factors can contribute to polarising different situations. It is therefore necessary to identify and share policies to boost growth and make it sustainable in the long term.

The National Sustainable Development Strategy is based on a multidimensional method to overcome economic, environmental and social inequalities and thus pursue sustainable, balanced and inclusive development. This approach implies a wide range of instruments, including budgetary policies and structural reforms.

The plan updates the previous “Environmental Action Strategy for Sustainable Development in Italy 2002-2010″, yet extends its scope, thus integrating the goals laid down in the UN Agenda 2030.

The plan is broken down in five intervention areas, corresponding to the “5Ps” of sustainable development proposed by the UN Agenda 2030, each one laying down Italy’s Strategic Choices and Strategic Objectives related to the Agenda 2030 SDGs and recalling the deep interconnection between economic dynamics, social growth and environmental quality – namely, the three pillars of sustainable development

People: Fighting poverty and social exclusion and promoting health and well-being to ensure human capital development.

Planet: Ensuring sustainable management of natural resources, countering biodiversity loss, and protecting environmental and cultural assets.

Prosperity: Affirming sustainable models of production and consumption, guaranteeing decent employment and training.

Peace: Promoting a non-violent and inclusive society without discrimination. Fighting illegality.

Partnership: Taking integrated actions in the several areas involved.

The 2017 Budget Law is an important step ahead in the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda in Italy.

The 17 Goals of the UN Agenda 2030 are also mentioned in the recently devised 2030 Plan for Southern Italy (Piano Sud 2030) – Development and Cohesion for Italy.

Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development – ASviS

As to civil society participation and awareness-raising on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, it is worth mentioning the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development (ASviS), an organisation established in 2016 upon initiative of the Unipolis Foundation and the “Tor Vergata” University of Rome to disseminate, at a social and institutional level, knowledge and mindfulness of the importance of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.

ASviS publishes an annual report to illustrate an analysis of Italy’s progress as to the UN Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals, and sets forth proposals for developing ad-hoc strategies to ensure the Country’s economic and social development.


UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development – Thematic Dossier

ASviS Column: Europe and Agenda 2030