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  • Kaylin Lemajeur

UN Sustainable Development Goals: No Poverty

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were developed in 2015 to advocate for global sustainability by 2030. The SDGs include 17 goals that focus on various sustainability issues on social, economic, and environmental platforms. SDG 1 focuses on “No poverty.” The SDG aims to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere” (UNSD 2021). This paper will focus on the discussion of Water, highlight Water’s essential role in achieving the SDG goal and analyze the progress and work yet to be done to achieve SDG 1.

The United Nations acknowledges the connection between eradicating poverty and supporting the environment. Target 1.5 for SDG goal 1 focuses on building resilience in environmental, economic, and social disasters. This target aims to, “build the resilience of the poor and vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters” (UNSD 2021).

When evaluating UN SDG 1’s goal of ending poverty with target 1.5’s focus on disaster, it is necessary to consider the role Water-related vulnerabilities and disasters can play on human life and livelihoods. Flooding in particular can lead to costly and fatal outcomes, which can be particularly devastating to impoverished areas. Floods accounted for 59 fatalities in the US in 2020 (NWS 2021). Children and pregnant women are among some of the most vulnerable subpopulations to be affected by disastrous events. Case studies of longitudinal mental health impacts on communities affected by flooding have shown that children in particular demonstrate moderate-to-severe stress responses in the form of long-term post-traumatic stress disorder and depression (Hajat et al. 2003). Pregnant women are keenly sensitive to the externalities of extreme weather events. Incidences of adverse reproductive outcomes can increase as a result of exposure to environmental toxins, limited access to safe drinking water and food, psychological stress, and disrupted access to health care, which one review suggests was the case with Hurricane Katrina (Callaghan et al. 2007). Socioeconomic status also strongly impacts individual outcomes. Access to adequate shelter and resources for finding alternative shelter during a disruption are key factors in the impact a disaster has on an individual.

When assessing the UN's efforts to eradicate poverty, considering Water-related disasters are vital given how low socioeconomic individuals are some of the most affected by disasters, and climate change is expected to continue to worsen their struggles (Balbus & Malina 2009). It is necessary to acknowledge the role water plays in environmental hazards when analyzing UN SDG 1’s focus on ending poverty and especially its aim to build resilience in social, economic, and environmental systems. Building resilience in the fight to eradicate poverty must involve considering Water’s role in these communities and must be paired with considerations of equity in order to develop policy solutions that support all people.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals aim toward global sustainability of social, economic, and environmental development. Water is an essential component in these three sectors. It is essential to consider Water as a key component in the fight against poverty for the health and safety of all people.Water& is committed to protecting Water and researching the UN Sustainable Development Goals to analyze how each one relates to Water. Past Water& SDG analyses include SDG 5 on Gender Equality, SDG 4 on Quality Education, and more. Water is vital for society, the achievement of other SDG goals, and a more sustainable and poverty-free future.


Balbus, J. Malina, C. (2009). Identifying Vulnerable Subpopulations for Climate Change Health Effects in the United States. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: January 2009 - Volume 51 - Issue 1 - p 33-37 doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e318193e12e

Callaghan WM, Rasmussen SA, Jamieson DJ, et al. (2007). Health Concerns of Women and Infants in Times of Natural Disasters: Lessons Learned from Hurricane Katrina. Matern Child Health J.

Hajat S, Ebi KL, Kovats RS, et al. (2003).The Health Consequences for Flooding in Europe and the Implications for Public Health: A Review of the Evidence. Appl Environ Sci Public Health.

National Weather Service (NWS) (2021). NWS Preliminary US Flood Fatality Statistics.

United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) (2021). 2021 SDG Progress Report Goal 1.


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