The world’s goals for saving humanity are still the best option

Eight years ago, the world signed up to an unprecedented project. At a United Nations summit in September 2015, 193 countries agreed to work towards 17 goals with the aim of improving the lives of all people and the planet we inhabit. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) would include efforts to eliminate poverty and hunger, reduce inequalities, rescue the climate and sustain life on Earth — and they would all be achieved by the ambitious deadline of 2030. Never before had nations united on such a bold commitment to improve conditions for humanity and its home. With the world now halfway to that deadline, the sheer scale of the task is clearer. Over the past three months, Nature has been examining the progress made towards the goals so far, and how researchers are making a difference. Next week, the UN is hosting a summit in New York City to inject new energy and urgency into efforts to meet the goals. So, what needs to be done, and what further part can the global research community play? Our reporters have spoken to around 100 researchers and policy specialists across a range of disciplines to find out.