In 2000 the UN Member Countries agreed to focus aid and development activities on 7 Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) related to the biggest global problems facing mankind such as poverty, hunger, maternal health etc. Although significant progress was made during the period 2000-2015 in focusing attention and mobilising resources to address the major gaps in human development (eg halving the poverty rate), much remains to be done and in some aspects (eg Climate change) the problem had become worse and more urgent in the intervening years.
World leaders through the UN therefore agreed in Sept 2015 to replace the MDGs with the more comprehensive Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These 17 SDGs are to be implemented during the years 2016-2030 and will build on the work already done under the MDGs. The SDGs are broader in their scope seeking to eradicate poverty and fight inequalities while calling for action by all countries to promote prosperity while protecting the planet.
The SDGs are not legally binding on countries so it is up to individuals to ensure that they do what they can in their own areas of influence while holding political leaders to account to ensure they follow through on promises made.