What is a UNSDG and How Will it Save Our Planet?

By: Stephanie Porfiris, November 12 2021

You may have heard the term UNSDG going around in recent years. Don’t worry if you haven’t, it’s a cryptic acronym at best. So, what on earth does it mean?

UNSDG stands for United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Perfectly clear, right?

Not exactly. Let’s dig a bit deeper.


In September of 2015, the United Nations set out these goals as part of a 15-year plan to (1) end poverty, (2) protect the planet, and (3) ensure prosperity for all. In essence, the SDGs are benchmarks for improving the quality of life for every living being and giving us a healthy planet on which to enjoy it.

193 countries signed onto the plan (including Canada) and solidified their commitment to meeting the following goals by 2030:


It may seem like the goals reach beyond the definition of ‘sustainability’. But, in reality, every UNSDG is an essential piece of the climate change puzzle. Education is intimately tied to gender equality; gender equality is said to be linked to birth rate; birth rate is linked to carbon footprint…the list goes on. The fact is, each of these goals is essential to our success as a planet.

Here’s the problem: we are not on track to meet a single one. In some areas, our global progress is slow, and in others, we are actually regressing, according to a report released in 2019.

In light of this troubling trend, leaders from across the globe called for a Decade of Action at the SDG Summit in 2019. Their demand was backed by a pledge to mobilize financing and strengthen institutions but, in many countries, was met with half-hearted attempts to pick up the slack.

Elevate is on a mission to change that.


As a former partner of the UNSDGs, Elevate has dedicated its team, resources, and focus to empowering social and technological innovators to move us toward these goals. It continues to unite the world’s innovators to solve society’s greatest challenges to this day.

The Decade of Action is structured on three levels: 

  1. Global action
  2. Local action
  3. People action

Elevate has lived, in previous years, in levels two and three, focusing on local and individual action, by implementing the following strategies:

Local Action #1: Support businesses that do good

We believe that Canada’s innovators are some of the brightest minds in the world, but barriers to entry can stop some of our greatest leaders from getting off the ground. Historically, Elevate has offered resources to those businesses whose mission or policies relate directly to one or more of the 17 UNSDGs. By bringing various institutions, organizations, and innovators together to collaborate and breaking down barriers to access for equity-deserving communities through our programming, which includes women+ incubators for entrepreneurs and investors, we aim to preserve a laser-focus on impact.

Local Action #2: Bring great minds together

Previously, Elevate has facilitated a series of digital events, from Live series to intimate roundtables. These products gathered some of our country’s most powerful leaders for solution-focused discussions around (1) local and national policy, (2) strategy, and (3) progress. By facilitating these conversations, we endeavoured to move the needle in measurable and meaningful ways. We continue to bring together the world’s innovators to solve society’s greatest challenges, and we invite our community to join us in Toronto from September 26-28, 2023 for Elevate Festival.

People Action: Educate, inspire, empower

Each UNSDG is complex, and that means they can be confusing. Understanding the importance of each goal is one thing, but fully comprehending how individuals can play a role is a whole other battle.

In the past, Elevate has undertaken the responsibility of educating the public about what these goals are, including sharing why they matter and what people can do to help. We continue to deliver impact-driven content through our social channels, newsletter, events like Elevate Festival, and special series to empower and inspire Canadians to take action for a more sustainable, equitable future. Secondly,

Want to receive more Elevate Festival updates, the latest tech trends, exclusive offers, and more right in your inbox? Sign up to become an Elevate Insider today.

For more on how you can play a part, check out this personal message from Achim Steiner, Head of the United Nations Development Program.

What can I do?

  1. Attend the Sustainability Stage at Elevate Festival 2023 to meet and learn from the leaders tackling the climate crisis head-on.
  2. Sign up for the Elevate Insider newsletter to get the latest information on Elevate’s programs for equity-deserving professionals and annual festival that unites changemaking innovators.
  3. Explore Elevate’s content on sustainability (like this blog post, or this spotlight!)
  4. Follow us on social media @ElevateTechCA on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Tik Tok to get inspired by our drive to build a more equitable and sustainable future and how you can help.
  5. Check out these resources from the UN, which provide tangible actions you can take today to maximize your impact:

Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World

170 Actions to Take Every Day

Log your climate actions on the UN Action Bot

Attend Elevate 2023 to be at the forefront of sustainable progress. Tickets are on sale right now!