Sixteen years ago in 2030 the Sustainable Development Goals were completed. However much like the Millennium Development Goals in 2015 the targets were not all reached -although improvements were made.

Sustainable Development Goals, completed in 2030

One key reason that all 17 goals were not achieved was that there was conflict between the goals (Janus et al., 2014). For example, when trying to achieve Goal 1:no poverty, Goal 13: climate action, was jeopardised. There has also been a clash of priorities as some focus on economic development whilst others focus on political issues or social development. Some individual goals were achieved but sufficient effort was not made to ensure these were complementary and as a result it was impossible to achieve all the goals.

We now need to focus on a ‘beyond aid’ approach to development as developing countries rely less on aid compared to other development finances (Janus et al., 2014). The aid being given needs to focus not just on income poverty but also issues like insecurity and climate change.

Over the last 30 years the increase in small NGOs with innovative ideas has created the most positive development change. Development assistance to these NGOs has increased compared to larger charities and corporations. This needs to be continued in order to increase development in specific local areas rather than adopting large initiatives which do not suit the majority of the developing world. Small, localised projects  are also now being adopted by larger NGOs meaning less corruption as locals are more involved in decisions compared to 30 years ago when governments and large corporations  decided what they thought was needed and how best to distribute aid.

The goals have been extended and so to continue to develop we need to increase global cooperation as both developed and developing countries take responsibility for achieving some those goals not reached by 2030. For example, gender inequality remains a global issue which we need to work together to improve. Goals such as climate change are also being made worse by developed countries who continue to pollute the atmosphere and further effort needs to be made to improve this. Developed counties are also increasing rather than reducing inequalities through globalisation which has rapidly increased in the past 30 years causing the income gap to surge. Although the 2015 level of absolute poverty at $1.25 a day is now being earned by everyone, the current level is $2 a day and relative poverty has increased, especially within developed countries where the rich continue to get richer.


To conclude, over the past 30 years the changed approach to development has helped to achieve some of the Sustainable Development Goals and make improvements in all of them. However, more needs to be done to work on joint goals, avoiding clashes, as well as working with developed and developing countries together to improve the world as a whole. We have taken a step in the right direction and so long as a ‘beyond aid’ approach continues then the future of development is positive.


Janus, H., Klingebiel, S. and Paulo, S., 2014. ‘Beyond Aid’ and the Future of Development Cooperation. German Development Institute Briefing Paper, (6). [Online 01/12/16]

Hofstra, 2013. Diversity through my lens. Photo. [Online photo – 15/12/16]

United Nations, 2015. Sustainable Development Goals kick off with start of new year [Online photo – 15/12/16]

Nesta, 2014. The future of development innovation. [Online photo – 15/12/16]