By: Natalie Lovenburg

There’s a lot of buzz circling around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were officially adopted at the UN General Assembly in New York today.

But what are the SDGs exactly?

A little background first. It started with eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000 and evolved to 17 new global-focused SDGs. The new global goals aim to address the root causes of poverty by 2030.

Significant progress has been made over the last 15 years, but around 800 million people still live in extreme poverty and suffer from hunger.

This is simply unacceptable.

As the SDGs were finalized today, we’re committing to continue to explore new and innovative approaches that have the potential to make an even greater global impact and combat poverty.

The following four integrated SDGs speak to our mission of enhancing health, ending hunger, overcoming hardships and empowering women worldwide:



SDG 3 calls for ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages. From our Ebola emergency response to HIV/AIDS eradication, many of our projects focus on saving women’s lives and keeping families healthy.

One of our health programs called Parivartan, which means “transformation” in Hindi, helps women in Bihar, India, facing extraordinary challenges due to poverty and marginalization, learn how to manage their own health.

Strong women create strong families who help build strong communities. By 2016, Parivartan will contribute to reducing maternal and child deaths, and improve nutrition, health and sanitation among the estimated 103 million people of Bihar.



With the populations of 35 developing countries expected to triple between 2013 and 2100 and the production of food not expected to match that growth, we must ensure vulnerable communities have the tools and resources they need to not only be resilient, but to thrive.

SDG 2 calls for ending hunger, achieving food security, improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture. And we’re tackling world hunger and malnutrition by working with communities to distribute food through our U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded school feeding and agricultural assistance programs. Our programs also teach more effective farming and food storage techniques to increase their crop yields and continue to improve food security.



Disasters don’t discriminate. They can happen at any time, to any community.

That’s why we provide humanitarian assistance to communities, help governments and local organizations better manage risk and respond to disasters when they arise and also integrates efforts to help build self-sufficient, sustainable communities post-disaster.

SDG 11 focuses on making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Communities themselves often understand the priorities for their environment in a broader sense; they want to tackle problems and pursue opportunities in an integrated way to truly address their needs and create a longer lasting impact. This transformative impact can be accomplished even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Our groundbreaking USAID-funded project in Haiti called KATYE, which means “neighborhood” in Haitian Creole, helped communities rebuild their neighborhoods holistically – their water and sanitation infrastructure, shelters, safety and health systems – through community-led urban planning.



Around the world, too many women face extreme challenges due to poverty and marginalization. SDG 5 calls for gender equality and empowering all women and girls.

Women’s empowerment is not just a social issue; it’s also an economic one.

There are more than 425,000 participants in our Women Empowered Initiative. It’s more than just a successful village savings and loan program and business incubator, though, as more than 31,000 groups of 15-25 women receive tools and resources needed to raise healthy children, provide nutritious meals, stay healthy themselves and build stronger communities. And on their own, they have accumulated savings of $3.4 Million.



We’ve seen how real and lasting impact is possible in the poorest corners of the globe when communities own the solutions to the challenges they face. That’s why PCI designs programs with and for communities that continue after we are gone.

To reach all of the 17 goals, we must work hand-in-hand to create and implement truly sustainable solutions.

Natalie Lovenburg is a Global Communications Officer for PCI.