UNFPA & the Sustainable Development Goals
Resource date: 2015
Resource date: 2015
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On 25 September, the 193 member states of the United Nations unanimously adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, a set of 17 goals aiming to transform the world over the next 15 years. These goals are designed to eliminate poverty, discrimination, abuse and preventable deaths, address environmental destruction, and usher in an era of development for all people, everywhere.
The Sustainable Development Goals are ambitious, and they will require enormous efforts across countries, continents, industries and disciplines – but they are achievable.
UNFPA is working with governments, partners and other UN agencies to directly tackle many of these goals – in particular Goal 3 on health, Goal 4 on education and Goal 5 on gender equality – and contributes in a variety of ways to achieving many of the rest.*
Click on the icons above to see how UNFPA's work will help advance this bold vision for a better, healthier, more equitable and more sustainable future.
To see a full list of the Goals, visit
title="United Nations 2015: Time for Global Action.">United Nations
2015: Time for Global Action.
target="_blank">One in five people in developing countries
live on less than $1.25 a day. Millions of others live on only
slightly more, and are at risk of slipping back into extreme
poverty. Poor health and lack of access to education both result
from poverty and help perpetuate it. Conflicts and disasters also
contribute to these dire circumstances, undermining social and
UNFPA works with governments, other UN agencies and partners to
improve access to sexual and reproductive health care in developing
countries, where reproductive health problems are a href="/sexual-reproductive-health">leading
cause of ill health and death for women and girls of
childbearing age. Reproductive health care – which includes
maternal health services and family planning – enables
women to protect their health and choose the number, timing and
spacing of their children. This empowers them to study, work, and
raise their families out of poverty.
UNFPA also works to eliminate harmful practices like
href="/node/362">child marriage, which keep girls from school,
and advocates for young people’s access to health care, skills
development and jobs. Healthy, educated, employed and empowered
young people improve not only their own prospects but the prospects
of their community as well. Nations may realize a ‘ href="/node/8685">demographic dividend’ – a boost
in economic productivity – when there are growing numbers of
people in the workforce relative to the number of dependents.
UNFPA also responds to the reproductive health needs of people
caught in emergencies. Together, these measures help some of the
world's most vulnerable people realize their rights, maintain
their health, seek opportunities and reach their full potential.
See more: Obstetric fistula: The road to
recovery – and respect, In one
girl's stand against child marriage, a path forward for
development, Investing in youth pays
dividends, evidence from Sri Lanka shows
The effects of hunger do not go away after a meal is served.
Chronic poor nutrition has lasting effects, and can even extend into
the next generation. Pregnant women who are nutritionally depleted
may face complications in pregnancy, and can pass the ill-effects of
hunger onto their future children.
UNFPA trains and supports midwives, health workers and health
systems that address the nutritional needs of pregnant women and
girls. At antenatal visits, which are often a woman's first
introduction to the health system, expectant mothers receiving
counselling on proper nutrition. UNFPA-supported waiting homes also
serve nutritious meals to pregnant women while they await delivery.
See more: More Bangladeshi Mothers Get Vital
Care During Childbirth, New Jobs and
Livelihoods Get Fistula Survivors on their Feet, href="/node/11808">The wait is over for safe births in rural
This goal calls for achieving universal access to sexual and
reproductive health care, reducing global maternal death rates, and
ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. Reproductive health problems are a
cause of ill health and death for women and girls of
childbearing age in developing countries.
Impoverished women suffer disproportionately from unintended
pregnancies, unsafe abortion, maternal death and disability,
sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and related problems. Young
people are also extremely vulnerable, facing disproportionately high
HIV rates as well as barriers to
reproductive health information and care.
UNFPA is the lead UN agency in promoting sexual and reproductive
health, including family planning,
comprehensive sexuality education and maternal health services.
UNFPA works with partners to strengthen health systems, including
through the training of midwives, who
– when properly trained – could avert href="/node/9333">two thirds of maternal and neonatal deaths.
UNFPA also supports the integration of HIV-prevention and treatment
programmes into sexual and reproductive health care, so it is as
readily available as possible.
See more: Health camps bring life-saving care
to disaster survivors, Banishing
Ethiopia’s ‘mother stealer’, href="/node/13073">Family planning helps refugees put their
families, futures first
million young people around the world lack basic literacy
skills; more than 60 per cent of them are women. Additionally,
research shows that a majority of young people lack sufficient
knowledge about their sexual and reproductive health, leaving them
vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections, adolescent pregnancy
and a host of other concerns.
UNFPA works with governments to promote
href="/gender-equality">gender equality as
well as investments in education and opportunities for young people.
UNFPA also supports programmes that teach literacy, numeracy, human
rights and life skills to vulnerable adolescent girls, and helps to
develop and implement href="/comprehensive-sexuality-education">comprehensive
sexuality education, which teaches young people about their
bodies, health and disease prevention.
Equipping women and girls with the ability to choose the timing
and number of their children also helps them stay in school.
See more: Sexuality education comes to
Kyrgyzstan, Universal quality education
impossible without upholding girls’ and young people’s
rights, In Niger, empowering girls to
take a stand against child marriage
Women are much more
likely than men to be impoverished, deprived of education and
opportunities, and victimized by sexual and domestic href="/gender-based-violence">violence.
Goal 5 calls for the elimination of all forms of violence against
women and girls, the end of all forms of gender-based
discrimination, and the elimination of harmful practices such as
child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM). It also calls
for ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health and
UNFPA supports policies and programmes that promote gender equality
at all levels – from villages and schools to whole countries.
UNFPA also collaborates with partners around the world to eliminate
child marriage and
practices that violate girls’ rights and perpetuate
inequalities. And UNFPA works closely with partners –
including men and
boys themselves – to fight the global epidemic of href="/node/364">gender-based violence.
UNFPA leads the UN’s efforts in promoting access to
reproductive health and reproductive rights, including through
strengthening health systems, training href="/midwifery">midwives, improving
education about sexual and reproductive health, and supporting
health services in many of the most deprived places on earth.
See more: Stemming the tide of violence: From
abuser to reformer, Gender equality
guaranteed in Tunisia's new constitution, href="/node/10547">Gender equality key to ending dangerous and
discriminatory practices, Madagascar sees
a new generation of women leaders
target="_blank">millions of people die – and many more
are sickened – from diseases associated with poor water,
sanitation and hygiene. These needs can be especially acute in
emergencies, where the specific hygiene needs of women and girls are
UNFPA distributes 'dignity kits' in disaster- and
conflict-affected communities. These kits contain menstrual pads,
soap, underwear, and other essential supplies to help women and
girls maintain their health, hygiene and sense of dignity, even
under grave circumstances.
See more: Dignity kits meet hygiene needs of
displaced women and girls in Iraq, UNFPA
Turkey Provides Hygiene Kits to Syrian Refugees, href="/node/10519">Flooding in the Balkans leaves stagnant water,
Around the world, young people are struggling under a lack of decent
work opportunities and insufficient investments. Yet the potential
of this generation of youth is unprecedented: There are more young
people in the world than ever before. Coupled with declining
fertility rates in many parts of the world, many developing
countries have a rare opportunity to recognize a ‘ href="/node/8685">demographic dividend’ – a boost
in economic productivity that occurs when there are growing numbers
of people in the workforce relative to the number of dependents..
But to make the most of this opportunity, countries must encourage
decent employment, invest in education, and ensure access to
adequate nutrition and health services, including sexual and
reproductive health care. UNFPA is working with partners, including
civil society, communities and governments, to encourage policies
that can help countries realize a demographic dividend.
Economic growth will not be sufﬁcient to reduce poverty if it is not inclusive. Yet by some measures, inequality is growing, and there remain large disparities in people’s access to health and education services.
UNFPA works to reach marginalized people and communities, especially
those who have been left behind by economic growth and development.
This includes vulnerable women and girls, those living with
disabilities and indigenous communities. UNFPA’s efforts
include extending health services to those out of reach, supporting
programmes that promote gender equality, advocating for an end to
gender-based discrimination and violence, and addressing the needs
of vulnerable migrants.
See more: New birthing facility provides
culturally sensitive maternal care for indigenous women in the
Philippines, Indigenous Girls in Guatemala
Break the Cycle of Poverty, After months
adrift at sea, migrants receive critical care in Indonesia, href="/node/13141">“I have value”: Brave polio survivor
overcomes every obstacle
More than half the global population lives in cities, and the
numbers of urban residents are only growing. Cities offer the
promise of education, jobs, and health and social services, yet too
many people are unable to access these benefits. Many urban
residents live in slums and contend with extreme poverty and
UNFPA works with partners to promote inclusive
including by improving access to health care and opportunities in
urban slums. UNFPA also advocates for the welfare and sustainability
of urbanizing communities, and helps gather data about their needs.
See more: Holding out a hand: Youth-to-youth
initiative making a difference in Mongolia, href="/node/7012">Family Planning in Kenya: Not For Women Only,
In the Slums of Cairo, Home is a Roof Over Your
Climate change affects every country in the
world – from extreme weather events and changing weather
patterns to the rising sea level and disrupted national economies.
These effects will only grow worse with time. Urgent action is
needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to mitigate and adapt
to climate change's impacts.
UNFPA is working with governments to better understand how
population dynamics affect the changing climate and how people can
become resilience in the face of these changes. With partners, UNFPA
has developed Demographic Exploration for Climate Adaptation (DECA),
which helps policymakers see where vulnerable populations are and
what hazards they might face. This information can form the basis of
policies for planning more sustainable infrastructure and reducing
UNFPA also helps address the humanitarian consequences of climate
Justice and the rule of law are essential for development. Yet for
too many people, justice is out of reach. This is especially true in
emergency situations, where people’s vulnerability to violence
– including sexual violence – increases.
UNFPA helps to strengthen policies and services for survivors of
violence. For instance, UNFPA works with police and judges in many
countries to strengthen services for survivors of gender-based
violence and to improve women’s and girls’ access to
See more: Finding justice for survivors of
gender-based violence in Somalia, The
women of Amak: Justice for rural survivors of gender-based violence,
Working with Police in South Sudan to Assist
Survivors of Gender-Based Violence
Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals will require
partnerships between governments, the private sector and civil
society. These partnerships must be built on a shared vision and
understanding of the world. Goal 17 calls for increasing “the
availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data.”
UNFPA plays a key role in supporting
href="/census">censuses, demographic and
health surveys, and other large-scale data-gathering exercises, and
provides technical support for the analysis and dissemination of the