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A milestone for the sustainable future, establishing K-SDGs

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 90 civil organizations, 192 private sector experts and 23 government branches have jointly established K-SDGs

▷ To ensure economic, social, environmental sustainability, 17 goals and 214 indices have been set along with 2030 targets for major indices.


The Minister of Environment (Minister Cho Myung-Rae) has announced that the Korean Sustainable Development Goals* (hereinafter referred to as K-SDGs) for ensuring sustainability for all government sectors including the economy, society and the environment have been confirmed after deliberations at the Cabinet Meeting on December 24th.

* A Plan to Change The 3rd General Plans for Sustainable Development (From 2016 to 2035, the plan is as follows)

The United Nations adopted Sustainable Development Goals (hereinafter referred to as SDGs) for all areas including the economy, society and the environment in September 2015 to ensure global sustainability. Nations including Germany and Denmark have already developed their own national SDGs based on the SDGs of the UN.

The SDGs are 17 common goals for humanity that have been adopted by the UN General Assembly. The goals set to be achieved by 2030 include the elimination of poverty and famine, economic development, inequality reduction, and climate change response.

K-SDGs are SDGs for Korea established in response to such international developments. They are a milestone that Korea has set to be achieved by 2030 in all government sectors including the economy, society and the environment.  

K-SDGs have been established through a bottom-up approach rather than the existing top-down government approach, in which various policies and plans are first established by the government offices, then the opinions of experts and citizens are reflected in these.

From the first draft stage, a private TF team of 192 people participated to build an index system (proposed) and to set targets that reflect what’s required to achieve sustainability in Korea.

In turn, the Ministry of Environment has worked with the Korea Major Groups and other Stakeholders (K-MGoS) which is made up from 90 organizations and institutions and has held two large scale public forums to gather public opinion. The outcome of that process was finalized through coordination with other concerned government offices. 

This civil consensus governance system that includes stakeholder groups, etc. will stay in place throughout the implementation period and during the improvement process phase of K-SDGs in the future.

“The 3rd General Plans for Sustainable Development (2016~2035)”previously set in 2016 had a different structure from the UN SDGs and did not specify targets. K-SDGs, as a change plan, have been set to compliment such aspects of the UN SDGs.

The main frameworks such as structure or the setting of targets are in line with the UN SDGs. However, targets have been reshaped to fit the local settings.

Under the vision of “A Sustainable Nation that Embraces All”, 5 strategies along with 17 goals and 122 targets for implementation have been suggested; to realize an inclusive society where everyone can live a dignified life; to preserve a clean environment that can be enjoyed by all generations; to improve the quality of life through economic growth; to protect human rights; to establish peace between the North and the South; to promote global cooperation, etc.

The main focus of the previous plan was on environmental challenges. Major changes were made to compliment economic and social sectors to propose SDGs covering all sectors of the government. 214 indices are added to set 2030 targets.

The targets for the social sector and the economic sector previously accounted for 18% respectively, but now both are increased to 29% each.

The main changes made to the targets in comparison to UN SDGs are as follows:

Major targets that are excluded include reducing the proportion of the population in abject poverty, tackling malnutrition, ending open defecation, and eliminating female genital mutilation. These goals are set for developing nations therefore are not suited to the circumstances in Korea.

Newly added targets include responding to chronic disease, tackling the low birth rate, developing alternative materials to plastic, establishing a permanent peace regime between the North and the South, etc. These are targets that need to be addressed urgently in Korea. 

K-SDGs finalized this time will be utilized as baseline data when the National Sustainability is evaluated under the Sustainable Development Act. According to Article 13 of the Sustainable Development Act, National Sustainability has to be evaluated every two years.  

The key aspects of K-SDGs and their process of establishment will be shared at the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development scheduled to take place in September 2019.

In the meantime, the government is planning to develop calculation methods for statistics on 26 indices including high smartphone dependency level and CO2 emission per added value out of 214 total indices. For 45 indices without set-targets, including the incidences of cybercrime and green protection index for mountains, targets will be set through social dialogue, public opinion gathering from citizens and from concerned government offices.

The Chairman of the Presidential Commission on Sustainable Development, Tae Hoon Moon, said “K-SDGs will serve as a milestone for sustainable development and improved quality of life even after 2030” adding “We will continue to make space for social dialogue to further develop the K-SDGs”.

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Last modified : 2017-12-12 08:38

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