Before the UN Sustainable Development Goals enables professionals, scholars, and students engaged with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to develop a richer understanding of the legacies and historical complexities of the policy fields behind each goal. Each of the seventeen chapters tells the decades- or centuries-old backstory of one SDG and reveals the global human connections, governance tools and frameworks, and the actors involved in past efforts to address sustainable development challenges. Collectively, the seventeen chapters build a historical latticework that reveals the multiple and often interwoven sources that have shaped the challenges later encompassed in the SDGs. Engaging and insightfully written, the book's chapters are authored by international experts from multiple disciplines. The book is an indispensable resource and a vital foundation for understanding the past's indelible footprint on our contemporary sustainable development challenges.