WWF and the Sustainable Development Goals

© wwf

Time for more integrated action - with urgency, cohesion and high ambition

In September 2015, the Member States of the UN agreed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to address economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development in a balanced and integrated manner. Included are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with 169 targets, most of which have a deadline of 2030, though 21 expire in 2020 or have no explicit deadline.

There are 12 targets that integrate elements of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.  These 12 targets fall within five goal areas - SDG 2 (Food security), SDG 6 (Water and Sanitation), SDG 12 (Consumption and Production), SDG 14 (Life in Water) and SDG 15 (Life on Land). Alignment with existing UN agreements is an important feature of the SDGs and supports greater policy coherence and integration across UN frameworks.

Given that most of these targets will not be achieved by 2020, a clear process is required to extend efforts to 2030.  New targets must drive delivery on the environment-related SDGs - without success on this front, the delivery of all the other SDGs will be threatened. 

HLPF 2020: The actions WWF recommends governments take

The UN’s High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) meets annually in July to review both the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.

In 2020, the theme for HLPF is "Accelerated action and transformative pathways: realizing the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development". A series of 6 thematic reviews of progress on the SDGs, including cross-cutting issues, will be conducted, under the themes:

  • Advancing human well-being: SDG 1, SDG 4, SDG 6, SDG 16 and SDG 17 

  • Ending hunger and achieving food security for all: SDG 2, SDG 3, and SDG 17 

  • Protecting the planet and building resilience: SDG 12, SDG 13, SDG 14, SDG 15 and SDG 17 

  • Ensuring access to sustainable energy: SDG 7, SDG 12 and SDG 17 

  • Sharing economic benefits: SDG 5, SDG 7, SDG 8, SDG 10 and SDG 17 

  • Bolstering local action to accelerate implementation: SDG 9, SDG 11, and SDG 17 

WWF calls on member states to:
1. Announce and implement ambitious and continuous actions, in particular on the
environment-related SDG targets with a 2020 timeline;
2. Send a strong collective political signal from Heads of States and Governments to the world and take urgent action to address the planetary emergency;
3. Ensure that all COVID-19 crisis policy responses and medium and long-term
economic stimulus packages are aligned with the SDGs;  
4. Commit to supporting the adoption of a bold and ambitious post-2020 global
biodiversity framework;
5. Un-tap the potential of nature-based solutions to enhance Nationally determined
contributions (NDCs) and ratchet up climate ambition in order to stay below 1.5C of warming.  
Full details can be found in WWF's brief for HLPF 2020. 

WWF's brief for HLPF 2020


Embed education for sustainable development in both formal and informal education in order to promote achievement of the SDGs

Education is not only a fundamental right; it also forms a cornerstone of development. In the same way, Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is fundamental to sustainable development. By shaping values and perspectives, and developing skills and knowledge, it plays a crucial role in the transformation towards a sustainable, equitable and peaceful society.

Radical transformation towards a sustainable, fair and inclusive economy

Our economic model is destroying our planet. We need to ensure the true value of nature and its contributions to people are systematically factored into economic decisions and environmental externalities are incorporated into economic systems.

Responsible global consumption, production and supply chains to address inequality, achieve food security and combat climate change

Environmental degradation, loss of nature and labour exploitation in poor countries are often associated with the production of export goods that are consumed in wealthier countries. Transparent and responsible trade, markets, investments and finance must be developed for commodities, especially for those which pose risk to forests and other ecosystems, which many of the world’s poorest people rely on to meet their basic needs.

Seismic shifts in energy, land and sea use and scaled up nature-based solutions in order to reduce CO2 emissions, foster adaptation and resilience and ensure climate justice

Alongside reducing fossil fuel emissions, nature-based solutions offer a significant contribution to mitigation and adaptation to climate change, while providing valuable co-benefits for people and ecosystems.

Guaranteed safe civic space to ensure empowerment, inclusivity and equity for local communities

Partnerships between state and non-state actors for the SDGs must be inclusive of civil society organisations. In addition to this, indigenous peoples and local communities must be empowered to continue their positive contributions to sustainable development. This includes through public recognition of land, resource and self-determination rights; the application of the principle of free, prior and informed consent; and improved collaboration, benefit sharing and co-management arrangements of natural resources with local communities.

Guaranteed safe civic space and an end to environmental corruption and crime to ensure empowerment, inclusivity and equity for local communities

A vibrant and safe civic space, including access to justice, decision-making and transparent information, is an incontestable condtion for the achievement of the SDGs. Corruption is a major driver of resource depletion and environmental crime, and needs to be addressed through improving the integrity and transparency of government and private sector decision-making regarding natural resource management.

Continuity of environmental targets through 2030, strengthened policy coherence, and investments that are aligned with nature for the benefit of all people

12 environment targets under the SDGs have a 2020 end date because they were based on targets originally agreed under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), as part of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, which conclude in 2020. The HLPF has a responsibility to ensure that there is a clear way forward to update these targets, maintaining policy alignment between the 2030 Agenda and the CBD. It will ensure the integrity of the 2030 Agenda with a strong and integrated environmental dimension. States should also review and repeal policies that support or promote environmentally harmful activities, and put in place policies that support investments in nature, including through new financial products.

Case studies: What WWF is doing

Sustainable and Resilient Coastal Communities in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands

For the past 6 years, communities in the Solomon Islands Western Province and Papua New Guinea's Madang Province have been working with government representatives and WWF-Pacific to create a sustainable future for coastal fisheries and their livelihoods. 

Restoring Agricultural Livelihoods of Rural Communities in the Atlantic Forest, Paraguay

Working with the Rural Women's Association and WWF-Paraguay, farmers participate in training on sustainable farming practices and have been able to improve their family diets by increasing the variety of crops they plant in their gardens. 

Introducing Renewable Energy Solutions for Better Health and Energy Security in Karachi, Pakistan 

In 2016, three coastal communities partnered with Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, WWF-Pakistan and the electricity supply company, K-Electric, to transition their communities to clean and renewable energy. 

In just over two years, 2,054 households installed solar energy systems and fuel-efficient stoves. In addition, 42 households now have access to clean energy through 12 new communal biogas systems. 


Generation Earth

The Generation Earth programme prepares young leaders with the necessary skills, opportunities, and peer mentoring to implement youth-led actions and campaigns on environmental and social issues. As part of the Action Leader Training, participants co-create workshops with WWF-Austria experts on numerous topics including leadership, climate change and responsible consumption and production. Over the nine-month programme, the young leaders design and implement projects to motivate their peers to become politically active on environmental issues. 

Promoting Women's Leadership in Community-Based Natural Resource Management in Nepal

In partnership with local communities across 20 districts, the Hariyo Ban programme supported the launch of Community Learning and Action Centres. The centres provide fora where women and minority groups can organise and mobilise around local issues relating to natural resources management and climate change adaptation. They participate in tailored training to strengthen their leadership skills and knowledge of forest conservation so they can take on more active roles in the User Groups. In addition, the centres are a meeting place to engage men and decision-makers on how to promote leadership and inclusion of women and minority groups.

Living European Rivers Initiative

The Living European Rivers initiative aims to transform water management across Europe with the goal of protecting the last free-flowing rivers in Europe and restoring degraded rivers at scale. The initiative galvanises local partnerships to build a public movement for healthy river systems, strengthen implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive, and shift financial investments towards solutions that incorporate the sustainable management of rivers.

Massai Lion Lights: Keeping the Peace

Since 2014, Maasai communities have harnessed the power of solar energy to reduce human-wildlife conflict in the Kajiado and Narok counties. Working with The Wildlife Foundation, Kenya Wildlife Service, the county government and WWF-Kenya. Maasai communities have installed solar-powered Predator Deterrent Lights in livestock enclosures. Popularly known as Lion Lights, the flashing LED lights deter predators by mimicking the movement of people and obstructing the predator's night vision. 

Moving Beyond GDP to a Sustainable Economy 

WWF is championing approaches to measure economic progress that go 'Beyond GDP'. New Zealand's Living Standards Framework is a good example because it looks at the social environmental and economic dimensions of well-being to track country progress and inform the national budget (2019 Well-being Budget). WWF-Wales has been championing a similar approach in Wales as part of the country's implementation of the innovative Future Generations Act. 

Transforming Infrastructure Development through the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles

The financial sector plays a substantial role in shaping the types of investments and infrastructure development. This is why, in partnership with the European Commission, European Investment Bank and World Resources Institue, WWF have launched a set of Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles to provide a pioneering guiding framework for all finance sectors. 

Ensuring the Political Inclusion of Indigenous Peoples in the Colombian Amazon 

OPIAC, a leading indigenous organisation in the Amazon, has partnered with WWF-Colombia to strengthen the formal inclusion and participation of indigenous people in the decision-making and management of the Amazon rainforest. 


Nature is essential to achieving all the Sustainable Development Goals. By working with nature, we can develop effective solutions for peaceful, prosperous and equitable societies.

'Nature in all the Goals' shows how nature-based solutions can contribute to achieving all the Sustainable Development Goals and deliver sustainable development for everyone.

WWF at HLPF 2018