Learning about the SDGs

SDGs at the UN websites

The first step for learning about the SDGs could be to search the internet for Sustainable Development Goals. Among the many sites that deal with the topic, a very good Italian one is that of the “Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development” (ASviS). At the same time it is also important to go to the official source, the United Nations.
To do this, you need to be aware that the UN currently dedicates several portals to the SDGs; in particular, there are two with similar information, one on the general site and another on that of the “Department of Economic and Social Affairs”, respectively https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/ and https://sdgs.un.org/
The organization of those homepages, despite being very changeable and very dynamic, leaves the icons of the 17 SDGs in great prominence, by clicking on which piece of information (often in graphic form) pops up that can confuse the reader. The reason is that, rather than offering explanations on the goal, they make the navigator “land” on some “facts” (also referred to as “overview”). To understand what these “facts” are, it is neeed to know that every year a report is published, in which progress towards the SDGs is evaluated. The “facts” are some synthetic data taken from the current year’s report.
Of course, it is certainly not from these “topical” aspects that one can begin to get to know the SDGs. The most appropriate, and ultimately the simplest thing is to start from the “Agenda 2030” action plan. Launched with UN resolution no. 70 of 25/09/2015 is available on https://sdgs.un.org/2030agenda 

After general reflections that has to be read carefully, the Agenda 2030 codifies the action plan codified by indicating 17 general objectives (goals) for sustainable development and 169 specific objectives (targets) are identified and described. Note that targets are differentiated into “outcome” ones (circumstances to be attained) and “means of implementation” ones (the enumeration of the latter contains lower case letters).The next step is to see that indicators are associated with each target to monitor progress towards the SDGs. To find out, you can browse the specific section of the portal of the statistical division of the “Department of Economic and Social Affairs”, https://unstats.un.org/sdgs.

For a quick use, however, the indicators for each goal can be identified on the site https://sdgs.un.org/goals,
paying attention not to be “captured by the” overview “on which you initially land. It is also important to know that there are numerous portals that allow you to view the progress of the indicators, even outside the UN sites, one of which is particularly useful: https://sdg-tracker.org/

The final step is to read the annual reports are available on the page of the statistical division mentioned above. Reading them is quick and easy, provided one understands that they are composed of two parts, of which the first is a synthesis (almost useless) of the second. The annual reports tell about the conditions of a particular time and contain the evaluation of the progress achieved in some of the indicators.
They are also useful to see that different “political” interpretations are given to the same Goal in the different reports.