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23 Critical Sustainability Targets to Achieve by 2030: With a Focus on Agrifood Systems

23 Critical Sustainability Targets to Achieve by 2030: With a Focus on Agrifood Systems

The global push towards sustainability has gained unprecedented momentum, driven by the urgent need to address environmental degradation, social inequities, and economic instability. The United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides a blueprint for a better future, encapsulated in 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Within this framework, there are several specific targets that nations, organizations, and communities must strive to achieve. This article explores twenty-three critical sustainability targets to reach by 2030, with a particular emphasis on five targets linked to agrifood systems.

1. End Poverty in All Its Forms Everywhere

Target: Eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, currently measured as people living on less than $1.90 a day.

Significance: Ending poverty is fundamental to achieving sustainable development. Poverty exacerbates environmental degradation, limits access to education and healthcare, and reduces economic growth.

Actions Needed:

  • Implement social protection systems and measures for all.
  • Ensure equal rights to economic resources, basic services, ownership, and control over land and other forms of property.
  • Mobilize resources from various sources, including international support.

2. End Hunger, Achieve Food Security and Improved Nutrition, and Promote Sustainable Agriculture

Target: By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food all year round.

Significance: Hunger and malnutrition undermine health, productivity, and the ability to learn and thrive. Sustainable agriculture can provide nutritious food and generate income.

Actions Needed:

  • Promote sustainable agricultural practices, including crop diversification and efficient water use.
  • Support small-scale farmers and their access to land, inputs, knowledge, financial services, and markets.
  • Strengthen food supply chains and reduce food losses and waste.

3. Ensure Healthy Lives and Promote Well-being for All at All Ages

Target: By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births.

Significance: Health is a cornerstone of sustainable development. Improved health outcomes contribute to economic growth, social stability, and environmental sustainability.

Actions Needed:

  • Provide universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services.
  • Strengthen health systems and increase the number of health workers.
  • Enhance disease prevention and health promotion strategies.

4. Ensure Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education and Promote Lifelong Learning Opportunities for All

Target: By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable, and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes.

Significance: Education is crucial for personal and societal development. It empowers individuals, promotes gender equality, and drives economic growth.

Actions Needed:

  • Ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for vulnerable groups.
  • Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability, and gender-sensitive.
  • Increase the supply of qualified teachers.

5. Achieve Gender Equality and Empower All Women and Girls

Target: End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.

Significance: Gender equality is a fundamental human right and a prerequisite for sustainable development. Empowered women and girls contribute to the health and productivity of families and communities.

Actions Needed:

  • Eliminate harmful practices, such as child, early, and forced marriage, and female genital mutilation.
  • Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership.
  • Strengthen policies and legislation for gender equality and empowerment.

6. Ensure Availability and Sustainable Management of Water and Sanitation for All

Target: By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all.

Significance: Access to clean water and sanitation is vital for health, education, and economic development. It reduces the burden of waterborne diseases and promotes gender equality by reducing the time women and girls spend collecting water.

Actions Needed:

  • Expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries.
  • Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management.
  • Implement integrated water resources management at all levels.

7. Ensure Access to Affordable, Reliable, Sustainable, and Modern Energy for All

Target: By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy services.

Significance: Energy is essential for economic growth, social development, and environmental protection. Sustainable energy reduces greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels.

Actions Needed:

  • Increase the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
  • Improve energy efficiency and promote energy conservation.
  • Enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technologies.

8. Promote Sustained, Inclusive, and Sustainable Economic Growth, Full and Productive Employment, and Decent Work for All

Target: Sustain per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances, and in particular, at least 7 percent GDP growth per annum in the least developed countries.

Significance: Economic growth creates jobs, reduces poverty, and improves living standards. Sustainable growth ensures that economic progress does not come at the expense of environmental degradation.

Actions Needed:

  • Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, and innovation.
  • Strengthen the capacity of domestic financial institutions to encourage and expand access to banking, insurance, and financial services.
  • Improve global resource efficiency in consumption and production.

9. Build Resilient Infrastructure, Promote Inclusive and Sustainable Industrialization, and Foster Innovation

Target: Develop quality, reliable, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all.

Significance: Infrastructure is the backbone of economic growth and development. Sustainable industrialization drives innovation, productivity, and job creation.

Actions Needed:

  • Promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and, by 2030, significantly raise industry’s share of employment and GDP.
  • Enhance scientific research, upgrade technological capabilities, and encourage innovation.
  • Develop sustainable and resilient infrastructure in developing countries through enhanced financial, technological, and technical support.

10. Reduce Inequality Within and Among Countries

Target: By 2030, progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 percent of the population at a rate higher than the national average.

Significance: Reducing inequality ensures that everyone has the opportunity to succeed, fostering social cohesion and stability. It enhances economic efficiency and supports sustainable development.

Actions Needed:

  • Implement social protection systems and measures for all.
  • Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome.
  • Improve the regulation and monitoring of global financial markets and institutions.

11. Make Cities and Human Settlements Inclusive, Safe, Resilient, and Sustainable

Target: By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe, and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums.

Significance: Urbanization is a global trend. Sustainable cities provide better living conditions, economic opportunities, and environmental benefits.

Actions Needed:

  • Enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated, and sustainable human settlement planning and management.
  • Reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management.
  • Provide access to safe, affordable, accessible, and sustainable transport systems for all.

12. Ensure Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns

Target: By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources.

Significance: Sustainable consumption and production reduce environmental impact, enhance resource efficiency, and promote economic growth.

Actions Needed:

  • Implement the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns.
  • Encourage companies to adopt sustainable practices and integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle.
  • Support developing countries to strengthen their scientific and technological capacity.

13. Take Urgent Action to Combat Climate Change and Its Impacts

Target: Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries.

Significance: Climate change poses a significant threat to all aspects of life on Earth. Urgent action is required to mitigate its impacts and build resilience.

Actions Needed:

  • Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning.
  • Improve education, awareness, and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction, and early warning.
  • Mobilize and operationalize financial resources to support climate actions in developing countries.

14. Conserve and Sustainably Use the Oceans, Seas, and Marine Resources for Sustainable Development

Target: By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, particularly from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution.

Significance: Oceans are critical for global ecosystems, climate regulation, and the economy. Sustainable use of marine resources is essential for environmental health and human well-being.

Actions Needed:

  • Sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts.
  • Regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and destructive fishing practices.
  • Conserve at least 10 percent of coastal and marine areas.

15. Protect, Restore, and Promote Sustainable Use of Terrestrial Ecosystems, Sustainably Manage Forests, Combat Desertification, and Halt and Reverse Land Degradation and Halt Biodiversity Loss

Target: By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests, and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally.

Significance: Terrestrial ecosystems are vital for biodiversity, climate regulation, and human livelihoods. Sustainable management of these ecosystems is essential for overall environmental health.

Actions Needed:

  • Combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought, and floods.
  • Ensure the conservation of mountain ecosystems, including their biodiversity.
  • Integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, and poverty reduction strategies.

16. Promote Peaceful and Inclusive Societies for Sustainable Development, Provide Access to Justice for All, and Build Effective, Accountable, and Inclusive Institutions at All Levels

Target: Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere.

Significance: Peace, justice, and strong institutions are necessary for sustainable development. They ensure that everyone can live free from fear and violence.

Actions Needed:

  • End abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and all forms of violence against and torture of children.
  • Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all.
  • Develop effective, accountable, and transparent institutions at all levels.

17. Strengthen the Means of Implementation and Revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development

Target: Enhance global macroeconomic stability, including through policy coordination and policy coherence.

Significance: Global partnerships are crucial for achieving sustainable development goals. They facilitate resource mobilization, knowledge sharing, and coordinated action.

Actions Needed:

  • Enhance international support for implementing effective and targeted capacity-building in developing countries.
  • Promote a universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory, and equitable multilateral trading system.
  • Encourage and promote effective public, public-private, and civil society partnerships.

Five Targets Linked to Agrifood Systems

Agrifood systems are central to sustainability due to their impact on food security, livelihoods, and environmental health. Here are five critical sustainability targets linked to agrifood systems:

18. Promote Sustainable Agriculture

Target: By 2030, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding, and other disasters, and that progressively improve land and soil quality.

Significance: Sustainable agriculture enhances food security, supports rural livelihoods, and protects the environment.

Actions Needed:

  • Implement sustainable farming practices, such as crop rotation, organic farming, and integrated pest management.
  • Support research and development in sustainable agriculture technologies and practices.
  • Provide training and resources for farmers to adopt sustainable practices.

19. Enhance Food Security and Nutrition

Target: By 2030, end hunger, ensure access to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food all year round, and end all forms of malnutrition.

Significance: Food security and nutrition are essential for health, productivity, and development.

Actions Needed:

  • Strengthen food supply chains and reduce food losses and waste.
  • Promote the consumption of diverse and nutritious foods.
  • Support food assistance programs for vulnerable populations.

20. Support Small-Scale Farmers

Target: By 2030, double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, particularly women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists, and fishers.

Significance: Small-scale farmers are crucial for food security, rural development, and biodiversity conservation.

Actions Needed:

  • Improve access to land, technology, markets, and financial services for small-scale farmers.
  • Enhance capacity-building and extension services for small-scale farmers.
  • Promote inclusive policies that support small-scale farmers.

21. Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture

Target: By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics.

Significance: Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture are essential for food security, livelihoods, and marine biodiversity.

Actions Needed:

  • Implement sustainable fishing practices and enforce regulations to prevent overfishing.
  • Support sustainable aquaculture practices that minimize environmental impact.
  • Enhance monitoring and research on fish stocks and ecosystems.

22. Reduce Food Loss and Waste

Target: By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.

Significance: Reducing food loss and waste enhances food security, conserves resources, and reduces environmental impact.

Actions Needed:

  • Implement strategies to reduce food waste at the consumer and retail levels.
  • Improve infrastructure and practices to reduce post-harvest losses.
  • Promote awareness and behavior change to reduce food waste.

23. Promote Climate-Smart Agriculture

Target: By 2030, increase the adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices that sustainably increase productivity, enhance resilience (adaptation), reduce/remove greenhouse gases (mitigation), and enhance achievement of national food security and development goals.

Significance: Climate-smart agriculture supports food security, climate resilience, and environmental sustainability.

Actions Needed:

  • Develop and promote climate-smart agricultural technologies and practices.
  • Provide training and resources for farmers to adopt climate-smart agriculture.
  • Integrate climate-smart agriculture into national agricultural policies and strategies.


Achieving these twenty-three sustainability targets by 2030 is crucial for ensuring a healthy, equitable, and sustainable future. The five targets linked to agrifood systems highlight the central role of agriculture in sustainable development. By working towards these targets, we can enhance food security, protect the environment, and support sustainable livelihoods.

The collective efforts of governments, organizations, communities, and individuals are essential for reaching these targets. By prioritizing sustainability and implementing effective actions, we can create a better world for current and future generations.


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