United Nations Environment Programme
Photo by

Global Opportunities for Sustainable Development Goals (GO for SDGs)


UNEP and the Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) launched Global Opportunities for Sustainable Development Goals (GO4SDGs) at the SDGs Summit in New York, September 2019.

The new initiative aims to boost the necessary efforts and solutions for the Sustainable Development Goals. It will look to target three change-agent groups: policy makers, small to medium size enterprises and youth. The broad demographic-range aims to raise ambition for building inclusive and sustainable economies at all levels.

The initiative will also highlight:

  • Exemplary approaches from countries and strengthen capacity for replication across regions.
  • Serve as a platform to facilitate dialogue and knowledge sharing for inclusive green economies.
  • Interweave with existing UNEP initiatives and One Planet Network programmes.
  • Foster exchange on innovative and successful practices through newly designed regional sustainability hubs.

The launch was well attended and hosted at the Permanent Mission of Germany to the UN in New York, with guest speakers discussing how best to tackle the issue at hand. Svenja Schulze, Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety of Germany, reminded participants that only ten years remain to implement the SDGs, noting that despite progress in some areas, more action is needed, especially on climate, water and inequality. Highlighting that many effective tools, methods and approaches already exist, she explained that the GO for SDGs initiative will focus on scaling up their use and enabling their adaptation to specific national circumstances.  She announced Germany’s contribution of € 7.5 million to the initiative, expressing hope that other partners will join. She called for greater efforts to promote green innovation and sustainable business models and, outlining several successful examples, expressed confidence that GO for SDGs will be fruitful.

Krista Mikkonen, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Finland, said her country wants to lead by example, by making Finland climate-neutral by 2035 and moving towards a circular economy. She highlighted that these ambitious targets need to be achieved in a socially-inclusive way. Instead of instituting a comprehensive sustainable development policy, she noted, Finland has a toolbox of policies tackling different issues, from plastics to waste. Mikkonen added that, under the One Planet Network, Finland has taken on responsibility for the programme for sustainable building and construction.

Photo, L-R: Naysán Sahba, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Moderator; Lucía Ruíz, Minister of Environment, Peru; Krista Mikkonen, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Finland; Svenja Schulze, Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany; and Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UNEP

Lucía Ruíz, Minister of Environment, Peru, highlighted the need for a grassroots, multi-stakeholder approach to SDG implementation, and for “multi-alignment” of government policies and actions. She said Peru is working to transition to a green, circular economy and has recently instituted a ban on single-use plastics. She further mentioned Peru’s recently adopted National Green Growth and Competitiveness Plan, which highlights the value of the environment and natural resources for economic growth.

GO for SDGs will seek to build on UNEP’s leading knowledge and disseminate it through existing partnerships and programmes such as the One Planet Network, the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE), the Green Growth Knowledge Partnership (GGKP), ITUC’s Just Transition Center, and the UNEP Finance Initiative ensuring a tailor-made and regional approach in addressing the differing needs in each global region. The initiative will also develop partnerships with organisations that work directly with businesses and the private sector to accelerate action, including the World Economic Forum.