Ahead of COP 28 in the UAE in 2023, we look at the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), and how the UAE is aligning itself to that vision of sustainability in 2030.
At the heart of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are 17 SDGs, which it says are an “urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership”.
The SDGs form the “shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future”.
They recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations go hand in hand with improving health and education, reducing inequality and spurring economic growth, while tackling climate change and preserving our oceans and forests.
In this post:
- What are the United Nations’ 17 SDGs?
- Who co-ordinates the UAE’s SDG efforts?
- How does the UAE map its work to the UN SDGs?
- How does Aurora50 map its work to the UN SDGs?
- A timeline of the UAE’s SDG efforts
‘Translating passion into action’
The UAE, which had an important role in the creation of the SDGs, has aligned its national strategy to the SDGs, first in Vision 2021 for the UAE’s Golden Jubilee, and then in its Vision 2071 for the UAE centennial.
HE Reem bint Ebrahim Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and chairwoman of the UAE National Committee on SDGs, says the goals are “part of our national development outcomes”.
“Actions drive impact, and impact drives results. With conscientious efforts and unwavering ambitions, the UAE is translating its passion into action to ensure that humanity and the planet thrive for generations to come,” she says.
|SDG #||SDG name||SDG description|
|SDG 1||No poverty||End poverty in all its forms, everywhere|
|SDG 2||Zero hunger||End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture|
|SDG 3||Good health and wellbeing||Ensure healthy, healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages|
|SDG 4||Quality education||Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all|
|SDG 5||Gender equality||Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls|
|SDG 6||Clean water and sanitation||Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all|
|SDG 7||Affordable and clean energy||Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all|
|SDG 8||Decent work and economic growth||Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all|
|SDG 9||Industry, innovation and infrastructure||Build resilient infrastructure promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation|
|SDG 10||Reduced inequalities||Reduce inequality within and among countries|
|SDG 11||Sustainable cities and communities||Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable|
|SDG 12||Responsible consumption and production||Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns|
|SDG 13||Climate action||Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts|
|SDG 14||Life below water||Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development|
|SDG 15||Life on land||Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests to combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss goals|
|SDG 16||Peace, justice and strong institutions||Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels|
|SDG 17||Partnerships for the goals||Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development|
In 2017 the UAE federal government established the National Committee on SDGs.
HE Reem bint Ebrahim al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, chairs the National Committee. HE Abdulla Nasser Lootah, Director General of the UAE Prime Minister’s Office, is the committee’s vice-chair.
The committee has set up private sector and youth advisory councils, and launched the Global Councils on SDGs in 2018.
Member ministries include:
- Ministry of Cabinet Affairs
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation
- Ministry of Education
- Ministry of Economy
- Ministry of Interior
- Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation
- Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure
- Ministry of Community Development
- Ministry of Climate Change & Environment
- Federal Competitiveness & Statistics Centre
- Ministry of Health and Prevention
- Ministry of Finance
- Central Bank of the UAE
- Federal Youth Authority
- UAE Gender Balance Council
Portfolio agencies, such as the Ministries of Education, Health and Energy, co-ordinate the implementation of SDGs that most closely correspond to their core business.
However, they also support agencies for other SDGs.
For instance, the Ministry of Health & Prevention, the lead agency for SDG 3 (good health and wellbeing), collaborates with the Gender Balance Council and the Ministry of Climate Change & Environment to advance targets in SDG 5 (gender equality) and SDG 2 (zero hunger).
The Gender Balance Council leads efforts to progress SDG 5, and also works to address gender-specific issues across the SDG framework.
SDG targets are also mapped to federal agencies that are not part of the National Committee. For instance the Ministry of Justice advances targets in SDG 16 (Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions), working closely with the Ministry of Interior.
“Successful nations are not gauged by their size, but the speed by which they accomplish achievements and bring forward innovative solutions to challenges in transitioning to the future, as well as active participation in making a difference in the lives of people.”
HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
Pillars of UAE National Agenda (Vision 2021)
|SDG #||Name of SDG||World-class healthcare||Competitive knowledge economy||Sustainable environment and infrastructure||First-rate education system||Safe, public and fair judiciary||Cohesive society and preserved identity|
|SDG 1||No poverty||x||x||x|
|SDG 2||Zero hunger||x||x|
|SDG 3||Good health and wellbeing||x||x||x||x|
|SDG 4||Quality education||x||x|
|SDG 5||Gender equality||x||x||x|
|SDG 6||Clean water and sanitation||x||x||x|
|SDG 7||Affordable and clean energy||x||x|
|SDG 8||Decent work and economic growth||x|
|SDG 9||Industry, innovation and infrastructure||x||x|
|SDG 10||Reduced inequalities||x|
|SDG 11||Sustainable cities and communities||x||x||x|
|SDG 12||Responsible consumption and production||x||x|
|SDG 13||Climate action||x||x||x|
|SDG 14||Life below water||x|
|SDG 15||Life on land||x||x|
|SDG 16||Peace, justice and strong institutions||x||x||x|
|SDG 17||Partnerships for the goals||x||x|
Source: UAE National Committee on SDGs
Aurora50’s work is directly aligned to SDG-5, gender equality.
As we have spread our wings to cover all diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace, we also see our work falling under:
- SDG-3 (good health and wellbeing).
- SDG-4 (quality education and lifelong learning)
- SDG-8 (decent work and economic growth)
- SDG-10 (reduced inequalities)
SDG-13, climate action, also sits well with environment, social and corporate governance (ESG), a big driver of DEI.
Aurora50 services: tracking the SDGs
- Pathway20: A year-long accelerator for women board directors aiming for their first independent board role
- NOORA: The UAE’s first network for corporate women
- The Inclusion Summit:MENA region’s largest cross-industry DEI event: an assembly of hundreds of chairs, board members and C-suite executives
- Gateway: Virtual workshops to open the boardroom door to senior and mid-level women executives
- Table Talks: Customisable, curated in-house discussions to build inclusive leaders and teams
- Manarat: A club for the GCC’s women directors on listed boards
Abu Dhabi Ports Group’s work with Aurora50 on its in-house GLOW management accelerator was lauded in a Bain report on gender equity in the Middle East workforce, while the Tony Blair Institute name-checked Aurora50’s work with the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC) in its report on the modernisation of the Middle East.
Aurora50 also tracks the companies that have signed the Gender Balance Council’s SDG 5 pledge to put women in 30 percent of leadership roles by 2030.
Table 3: Aurora50’s work mapped to the UN SDGs
|SDG #||Name of SDG||Aurora50 focus|
|SDG 1||No poverty|
|SDG 2||Zero hunger|
|SDG 3||Good health and wellbeing||x|
|SDG 4||Quality education||x|
|SDG 5||Gender equality||x|
|SDG 6||Clean water and sanitation|
|SDG 7||Affordable and clean energy|
|SDG 8||Decent work and economic growth||x|
|SDG 9||Industry, innovation and infrastructure|
|SDG 10||Reduced inequalities||x|
|SDG 11||Sustainable cities and communities|
|SDG 12||Responsible consumption and production|
|SDG 13||Climate action||x|
|SDG 14||Life below water|
|SDG 15||Life on land|
|SDG 16||Peace, justice and strong institutions|
|SDG 17||Partnerships for the goals|
- 2010: The UAE put a commitment to sustainable development at the heart of the country’s vision for its future, with the UAE national development plan, Vision 2021.
- 2012: The UAE played an important role in the dialogue around SDGs, to make them the core outcome of the Rio+20 Summit (the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development).
- 2015: The global community formally adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015 at the UN Sustainable Development Summit. The UAE highlighted six that resonated strongly with the country: access to clean energy; sufficient and affordable food; quality education and healthcare; sustainable economic growth; healthy ecosystems; and increased resource efficiencies. The UAE also pledged to “leave no one behind” and “shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path”.
- 2017: The UAE Federal Government established the National Committee on SDGs in early 2017, to align and integrate the SDGs with the UAE’s development agenda.
- 2017: The UAE announces the UAE Centennial Plan 2071, which aims to make the UAE the best country in the world.
- 2018: The National Committee launched the Global Councils on SDGs during the World Government Summit, as a platform for international experts to come together and discuss innovative solutions to global challenges. It also launched two advisory councils: a private sector advisory council (PSAC) and a youth advisory council.
- 2019: The UAE continued to support the 17 SDGs by distributing a total of $8 billion in foreign assistance. More than half of it directly supported three SDGs: SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth (46.5 percent); SDG 17: Partnership for the Goals (22.3 percent), and SDG 2: No Poverty (7.7 percent).
- 2020: The UAE announced ‘The Next 50’: the year of preparation for the next 50 years, to create the largest national strategy of its kind.
- 2021: During its golden jubilee year, the UAE announced the UAE Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative, a national drive to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, making the Emirates the first MENA nation to do so.
- 2021-22: The delayed Expo 2020 opened in the UAE with theme of Connecting Minds, Creating the Future; the Terra sustainability pavilion, which showcased innovative solar ‘trees’ and smart uses of water, was one of the event’s highlights. The women’s pavilion also showcased efforts towards SDG 5, gender equality; 53 percent of Expo’s staff were women.
- 2023: UAE to host COP 28, the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties, held by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC).
- 2030: This is the date imposed by the United Nations by which the SGGs should “bring peace and prosperity to all people”.
- 2071: The UAE Centennial 2071 comes to fruition.
Further resources & reading
- Leaving no one behind: The UAE National Committee on SDGs – u.ae
- UAE SDG data hub
- 2022 report (PDF): Voluntary national review 2022 – National Committee on Sustainable Development Goals,
- 2020 report (PDF): UAE and the 2030 agenda for sustainable development – National Committee on Sustainable Development Goals
- 2017 report (PDF): UAE and the 2030 agenda for sustainable development excellence in implementation – National Committee on Sustainable Development Goals