What are the Sustainable Development Goals?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs or Global Goals) are a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all" adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2015. The 17 goals are ambitions meant to be achieved by the year 2030, and are a call to action for governments, businesses, and nongovernmental organizations alike. Each of these goals has a number of targets within it to measure progress.

As a sustainable development organization, so many of Plant With Purpose's own pursuits overlap with the UN's SDGs. Many of the Sustainable Development Goals address issues related to poverty, human well-being, and environmental health, all of which are at the core of Plant With Purpose's mission. Here is a breakdown of the Sustainable Development Goals that Plant With Purpose advances through our international programs.

Pursuing an end to poverty, hunger, and environmental destruction

Of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, 7 are completely shared with Plant With Purpose. This means that Plant With Purpose's program accomplishes a majority of the targets outlined within the goal by the United Nations.

UN SDG 1: No Poverty

Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere

1.1 By 2030, eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, currently measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day

Plant With Purpose works in communities where extreme poverty is commonplace. Plant With Purpose's helps increase income opportunities by increasing farm yields through sustainable agriculture, while expanding opportunities to diversify one's income.

1.2 By 2030, reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions

Our program has demonstrated an ability to reduce poverty by two-thirds in participating communities meeting one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Economic improvements have not only been seen among direct participants but by other members of the communities where Plant With Purpose works, showing that our model is an effective means for widespread poverty reduction.

1.4 By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance

Women, indigenous communities, and marginalized populations are strongly represented in Plant With Purpose's partnering communities. Via community savings groups in rural areas, which often lack access to banking and financial services, these participants are able to gain access to loans, savings opportunities, and emergency social funds.

1.5 By 2030, build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters

We work in low-income communities that are extremely vulnerable to certain natural disasters. A melting icecap on Mount Kilimanjaro or intensifying tropical storms through the Caribbean can threaten to wipe out fertile topsoil from local farms. By building economic and ecological resilience, Plant With Purpose communities have shown long-term resilience.

Goal 2: Zero Hunger

2.1 By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round.

Families who participate in Plant With Purpose programs eat an average of one additional meal per day.

2.3 By 2030, double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, in particular women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers, including through secure and equal access to land, other productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets and opportunities for value addition and non-farm employment.

Plant With Purpose participating farmers see a substantial increase in crop yields. Many female farmers gain opportunities to pursue additional entrepreneurship opportunities as a result.

2.4 By 2030, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality.

Sustainable farming practices are climate adaptive, allowing farmers to grow food in spite of challenging environmental conditions.

2.A Increase investment, including through enhanced international cooperation, in rural infrastructure, agricultural research and extension services, technology development and plant and livestock gene banks in order to enhance agricultural productive capacity in developing countries, in particular least developed countries.

Plant With Purpose farmer field schools allow participants to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals by spreading knowledge in peer-to-peer settings, increasing the adoption of high-yield sustainable farming methods.

Joselyne in Burundi displays a bean harvest
Joselyne in Burundi displays a bean harvest
Eleuterio stands beside a water cistern recently installed in his Oaxacan community.
Eleuterio stands beside a water cistern recently installed in his Oaxacan community.

Goal 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all

6.6 By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes

The locations where Plant With Purpose works are determined by water ecology. Our unique watershed approach to environmental restoration greatly improves the retention of groundwater and water transpiration among trees, roots, and other plant systems. The promotion of sustainable crop intensification moves smallholder farmers away from the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers which toxify rivers, lakes, and groundwater.

6.A By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies

Leaders from our international partnership network share information on watershed ecology multilaterally. This results in cleaner water in lakes, streams, and rivers and improved access to water-particularly among rural women. Hydroponic ponds, water cisterns, water catchments, and ecological latrines are developed at a local level, allowing communities to take ownership of improving their water management systems.

6.B Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management

Plant With Purpose has helped many communities construct and maintain water cisterns, improving access to water for drinking, cooking, and agriculture. We have also helped partnering villages across several countries construct ecological latrines.

Certain aspects of our work can be connected to other targets, including (6.1) Achieving universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by prioritizing women's integration and their access to water, (6.2) Achieving access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and ending open defecation by expanding the use and development of ecological latrines and (6.4) Increasing water-use efficiency across all sectors, particularly targeting water used in agricultural activities.

Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

8.10 Strengthen the capacity of domestic financial institutions to encourage and expand access to banking, insurance and financial services for all

Plant With Purpose works in rural areas that very frequently lack access to banks and financial institutions and services. In the Global South, the majority of unbanked individuals live in rural areas that fit the profile of the communities Plant With Purpose serves. Additionally, women are significantly overrepresented among the unbanked and there may be as many as one billion women who lack access to these services. (World Bank).

Plant With Purpose helps ensure rural communities have access to opportunities to save money and to take out loans. These activities are the building blocks that provide a pathway out of poverty for many families. We do this by helping communities establish Village Savings and Loans Associations- which are community based savings groups that allow members to save their money in the form of shares, to take out loans, and to acquire financial training that helps them apply those loans to entrepreneurship and income generation.

These groups are self-governed, determining their own bylaws and cycles. Women make up roughly two-thirds of our participants. Through saving in extremely small increments, roughly 50,000 members have accumulated over $6 million USD in equity. (As of February 2021)

Plant With Purpose's rural-tailored microfinance services are designed to meet UN Sustainable Development Goals as a complement to sustainable agriculture and environmental activities. This results in the mutual enhancement of both. A study by World Relief determined that the combination of agricultural interventions and savings activities allowed participants to generate $3.67 more per month, in comparison with those who have only participated in savings group activities.

Additionally, some of Plant With Purpose's outcomes contribute to other targets of Goal 8. Our focus on rural areas helps ensure that we are (8.1) sustaining per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances. When low-income countries see moments of improvement to their economic situation, rural populations often do not reap the benefit. Our focus helps ensure better per capita economic performance. Our inclusive model, which enhances not only economic, but also social support for marginalized community members helps to (8.2) achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities.

A celebration in Tanzania

Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

12.2 By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources

Plant With Purpose's promotion of regenerative agriculture, watershed reforestation, and soil restoration help rural communities better steward their environment and natural resources. By protecting waterways, preventing soil runoff, and nurturing healthy, symbiotic relationships between different living components, Plant With Purpose participants are enhancing the ability of their ecosystems to support an abundance of life and biodiversity.

Our work with smallholder farmers means we target one of the populations most severely at risk of climate change. They also happen to be a major contributor towards deforestation, largely because of desperate economic circumstances. By simultaneously supporting economic advancement and environmental restoration, we are helping these farmers receive the knowledge, motivation, and opportunity to make choices that promote a healthy planet.

12.8 By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature

The Plant With Purpose Seeds of Change environmental restoration curriculum aims to help smallholder farmers become better caretakers of their ecosystems. This is accomplished through training and peer-to-peer learning networks that promote soil conservation agriculture, the use of organic compost soils, reforestation, forest protection and land management, and watershed conservation. Participating communities see a net increase in overall vegetation and improvements in soil health.

As a Christian organization, Plant With Purpose works with communities through partnerships formed with villages churches. Our interdenominational approach is highly effective in contextualizing the importance of sustainability and environmental stewardship. Through these partnerships, participants come to integrate environmental care as a spiritual practice. The role of faith motivates communities to seek a harmonious relationship with nature, by seeing such a lifestyle as a faith value. The result of this is an intensified buy-in and dedication to environmental care.

Goal 13: Combat climate change and its impacts

13.1 Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries

Plant With Purpose works at the nexus of environmental degradation and poverty alleviation to empower rural farmers to reverse deforestation and to sequester carbon, reversing climate change. We fight climate change on two fronts: climate adaptation and climate mitigation.

In the eight countries where we work, we see daily the impact of climate change on farming families. Smallholder farmers suffer the effects of both local degradation and global climate change as seen in food insecurity, inconsistent rainfall, vulnerability to natural disasters, and the persistence of drought. Plant With Purpose also equips families to better cope with the intensified natural disasters brought about by climate change.

Our partnering communities not only cope with the effects of climate change, they also contribute to lessening its impact on the planet. They do this primarily through strengthening the planet’s vital sources of carbon absorption: trees and soil. Our tree-planting efforts primarily revolve around agroforestry, encouraging farmers to plant species of trees in such a manner that optimizes their relationship with crops that grow in their shade and with the soil beneath. This enhances the role of both forests and soil as essential carbon sinks.

We are also committed to (13.3) improving education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning. As a leading voice on environmental concerns among Christian audiences, we seek to steward our influence to help promote a stronger understanding on the science, human impact, and proven solutions of climate change. Our role within carbon markets helps to incentivize the offsetting of industry-generated carbon emissions, while also working to uphold the rights, dignity, and decision-making capacities of the local populations where trees are planted.

Creation Care leaders working in Tanzania.

Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss

15.1 By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements

Plant With Purpose partners are actively protecting and sustainably managing vital ecosystems- in particular highland forests and hillside farms. We are actively safeguarding some of the last remaining pine forest in Haiti, and the forests of Northern Thailand that are home to many indigenous communities.

15.2 By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally

Plant With Purpose communities see an increase in vegetation due to reforestation. We plant trees to support a number of efforts, including Farmer Managed Natural Reforestation (FMNR), agroecology, and community forest management.

15.3 By 2030, combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world

Plant With Purpose farmers are protecting and expanding the forests on hillsides that have gone bare due to extractive processes. These efforts have repaired the soil of degraded lands.

15.4 By 2030, ensure the conservation of mountain ecosystems, including their biodiversity, in order to enhance their capacity to provide benefits that are essential for sustainable development

Steep hillside farms are the most common ecological setting where Plant With Purpose works, including around the forests at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. Our work in soil conservation agriculture and reforestation helps prevent soil runoff and depletion.

15.5 Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species

Among the species that live in habitats Plant With Purpose supports are Haiti's black-capped petrels, DR Congo and Burundi's gorillas, and Tanzania's white colobus monkey.

Goals 4, 5, and 16

Plant With Purpose's work also contributes greatly towards three other Sustainable Development Goals.

Goal 4: Quality Education

The fourth Sustainable Development Goal aims to make ensure free, equitable, and quality education for all children. This requires eliminating gender disparities in education and vocational training for the vulnerable. Girls are disproportionately more likely to be taken out of school when families conditions of poverty worsen. All learners should acquire the knowledge and skills needed through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles. One of the most common outcomes of loans from savings groups or of increased incomes is that families can pay for school fees. Girls in Plant With Purpose participant families are five times more likely to be enrolled in school.

Additionally, this goal seeks to increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills. Increased regenerative farming abilities are a highly relevant and critically needed set of skills.

Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Gender integration is an important element of Plant With Purpose's work. Women make up around two-thirds of Plant With Participants around the world. This is reflective of how integral women are to the world of smallholder farming. One estimate by Oxfam notes that at a global scale women do around 80% of agricultural work, despite owning only 13% of farmland.

Plant With Purpose ensures that women are in leadership positions at various levels throughout the organization, its partners, and within community savings groups. While our programs are intentional in how they pursue gender equality, women and men participate alongside each other. This has been shown to build healthier relationships between spouses, creating healthier family and community dynamics.

Goal 16: Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies

Peacebuilding and conflict-resolution may not appear like a core component of Plant With Purpose's mission, but it is impossible to talk about what makes our program important without highlighting the ways our work contributes towards lasting peace. Plant With Purpose works in many communities that have been recently devastated by recent conflicts that are now on the path towards healing and preventing future outbreaks. As communities have seen the environmental restoration and community development they are capable of by working together, members are much more resilient against being conscripted into armed groups.

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