Delegates from 193 member states at the UN headquarters in New York signed off on a 30-page agreement titled ‘Transforming our world: The 2030 agenda for sustainable development’.

The draft document features 17 targets, including pledges to protect the world’s oceans, improve water management and the energy system, and take urgent action on climate change. Its overarching goal is to ‘end poverty’.

Analysts have predicted that meeting the goals could cost around $3.3-$4.5trn a year in state-spending, investment and aid.

The draft is scheduled to be formally adopted at a meeting of world leaders in New York on 25-27 September.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon described the agreement as “a universal, transformative and integrated agenda that heralds an historic turning point for our world”. Ban added that the summit in New York would “contribute to achieving a meaningful agreement in the COP21 in Paris in December”.

Essential move

Environmental charity WWF said the plan was a “significant improvement” from the UN Millennium Development goals because it recognised the interlinkages between the sustainability of the environment, economic development and poverty eradication.

“This is an essential move toward realizing our dream of shaping a world where people, planet and prosperity come together,” said Deon Nel, WWF’s acting executive director for conservation.

“Nature and the services it provides, such as fertile soil and clean water, are vitally important for our continued existence. The vision of this plan is based on the reality that social and economic development can only happen if we protect critical natural resources,” said Nel.

The UN says its eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expired this year, helped more than 700 million people to escape poverty.

Sustainability Leaders Forum

The new Sustainable Development Goals are being discussed at edie’s 2015 Sustainability Leaders Forum, which offers a unique opportunity for businesses to consider the long-term challenges that lie ahead and consider how new business models, innovations and collaborations can help to future-proof operations.

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Brad Allen

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