I’ve just read Revolution by Peter Ackroyd, which is a very engaging history of the 18th century. Here's something to whet your appetite:
"The Leicester Sisterhood of Female Handspinners was established by 18,500 women in 1788".
In the book, Ackroyd says that William Blake's famous line:
Eternity is in love with the productions of time
... was written as advertising copy for Josiah Wedgwood's pottery empire. This is a long way in every sense from the new Jerusalem.
What follows might seems rather bizarre (and perhaps it's not wise to do this sort of thing), but reading the book brought the sustainable development goals to mind – not the full detail of the 17 Goals (and the zillions of targets and indicators) as we know them now, but this question:
If such Goals had been written in the 1780s, what would they have said?
One thing is for sure, had the international infrastructure been in place, and communication been easy, the political, social and economic times certainly provided sufficient reasons to create a set of Goals. Although there might not have been 17 of them, there would surely have been considerable overlap with what we have today. And there would have been no need for questions as to whether the Goals had any relevance to life in the UK.
Thus it is that the Goals not only exist as a lens through which to see the contemporary world, but also provide a means of looking back 250 years or so.