The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection of 17 clearly defined goals that were agreed to by the United Nations in 2015. Building on the legacy of the Millennium Development Goals – which covered the 2000-2015 period – the SDGs are meant to be achieved by 2030. That’s only 13 years away! Within this short time frame, the goals all aim to reduce or completely eliminate various social, economic, and environmental issues that the world is currently facing.

The challenges we face are daunting, and many are exacerbated by climate change. Indeed, taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts is sustainable development goal #13. As we know too well, in this year alone, we have experienced a record-breaking series of peculiar and often catastrophic natural events. A terrifying series of major hurricanes pummeled Texas, Florida, the Caribbean and beyond. Monsoon flooding in Southeast Asia killed thousands and displaced millions. And deadly wildfires scorched California, the Pacific Northwest, Portugal, Spain, and several other European countries. Not only did each of these events cost countless human lives, but they also caused damage to property and government budgets.

Record-breaking years like 2017 are becoming the norm – climate scientists have continually been warning us to expect more frequent occurrences of extreme weather because of our greenhouse gas emissions.

Fortunately, nonprofits like EESI are redoubling their efforts. Given our long-standing focus on sustainability and climate action, EESI’s work is perfectly in tune with many of the United Nations' sustainable development goals.

Indeed, if you’ve followed us for a while, it comes as no surprise that we’re a big part of SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy) and SDG 13 (Climate Action) – EESI has been advancing win-win climate policy solutions for more than twenty years!

But did you know that we are contributing to many more Sustainable Development Goals? Two such examples are SDGs 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure) and 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities). Both prioritize improvements in the resiliency, sustainability, and economic equality of the world’s cities. For example, our recent Congressional briefing, which addressed how cities can become more resilient to extreme weather, clearly supported the priorities of SDGs 9 and 11.

We highlighted communities like Flagstaff (AZ) and Pittsburgh (PA) that are taking action to become more resilient. The local experts we invited discussed feasible and effective measures that can be taken to increase resilience, and we emphasized the benefits of these measures to federal policymakers who depend on our high-quality forums.

Beyond our work with the policy community in Washington DC, EESI provides technical assistance to municipal utilities and rural electric cooperatives. Our work aims to help families reduce energy use, cut energy bills, and improve home comfort – all with no upfront costs – by enabling them to spread the cost of energy upgrades over time. In this way, EESI is contributing to an SDG you may not have thought was related to our mission – SDG 1 (End Poverty).

We have helped several such on-bill financing projects get started, including one in the community of Holland, Michigan. The people of Holland now have the option to upgrade their homes using low-cost, long-term on-bill financing thanks to our local partners in Michigan, who continue to benefit from EESI's help! Many more such projects have recently been launched or are in development across the country – contributing to poverty alleviation in rural areas while also creating much needed jobs.

We could say more about additional Sustainable Development Goals EESI is working toward, but we hope you now have a better appreciation for how SDGs are intricately entwined with EESI’s work and mission! Moving forward, EESI will continue to be a part of the many efforts to achieve the global community's Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.


Authors: Carley Carter and Susan Williams