Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability



We cannot have sound economies, sustainable societies, and healthy people without a healthy planet. Uncontrolled and rampant use of natural resources such as forests, land, water, and fisheries-often by the powerful few-have caused alarming changes in our natural world in recent decades. For example, human activities are causing losses in biodiversity at a rate 50 to 100 times faster than would otherwise be expected.

Energy is one of the areas that shows most clearly the gaps between the global rich and the global poor, and the social and economic inequities that result. One billion of the world’s poorest people do not have access to regular energy supplies, forcing them to clear trees for firewood or burn heavy-polluting fuels like kerosene that harm human health. Meanwhile, high and often wasteful energy consumption by rich countries has caused spiking greenhouse gas emissions.

According to experts, these gases are causing human-induced climate change on an unprecedented scale. Climate change is causing rising sea levels that threaten coastal areas and even entire countries-like island nations in the Pacific. The poorest people in the world are the most vulnerable and often the most exposed to the unstable weather and violent storms likely to be more frequent with continued alteration of the Earth’s climate.


What are the Targets?

Goal 7 of the Millennium Development Goals sets out by the year 2015 to:

  • Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources.
  • Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water.
  • Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020.

Did you know?

In our world today around 2.5 billion people do not have access to improved sanitation and some 1.2 billion people do not have access to an improved source of water.

(Source:Why do the Millennium Development Goals matter? Brochure)

Reports website and other documents related to Goal 7

Environmental Sustainability in 100 Millennium Development Goal Country Reports – The purpose of this UNDP Energy & Environment Group’s report is to highlight country-level progresses and practices in reporting on environmental sustainability. Read the full report here.

Community-Driven Development for Water and Sanitation in Urban Areas – Many of the initiatives that improved and extended provision for water and sanitation were not ‘water and sanitation’ projects but initiatives through which urban poor households developed better quality and more secure housing and housing finance services that helped them do so. This publication describes many such initiatives and discusses their relevance for meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target for water and sanitation. Downlaod the publication from the Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council website

Inheriting the World–The Atlas of Children’s Health and the Environment 2004 – The book, published by the World Bank, highlights the right of children to live in a healthy and supportive environment that encourages growth and development and protects from disease. Click here to order the book.

The Millennium Development Goals and Local Processes: Hitting the Target or Missing the Point? 2003 – The book, edited by International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) analyzes the effect of the MDGs in the world’s poorest areas. It focuses on the local processes that can deliver the MDGs with respect to poverty reduction and sustainable resource use–the deprivations experienced by the poor are experienced locally–food shortages, inadequate provisions for home and sanitation. Click here to read more.


UNDP-Water Governance for Poverty Reduction: Key Issues and the UNDP Response to the MDGs – This report highlights key water-related challenges faced by developing countries. Read the report here.

The UN World Water Development Report-Water for People Water for Life 2003 – Water crisis is the most serious social and natural resource crisis–need for improvement in water management. A report by UNESCO. Read the report here.


Meeting the MDG Drinking Water and Sanitation Target A Mid-Term Assessment of Progress – A report prepared by the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) focused on providing sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Read the report here.