The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: A Way Ahead for Everyone
After the upheavals of the 2008 world economic depression and the realization of increasing environmental, social, and economic stresses, societies agreed that the world needed renewal and hope. So in 2015, 193 countries adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. (United Nations 2015).
The Goals emerged as a result of a long and sometimes difficult process of negotiation. As part of the process, countries created the largest survey consultation ever held by the United Nations, which catalogued some 7.5 million responses. Responses came from some of the world’s most marginalized groups, including people with disabilities, women, elderly, youth and the global poor. The result is a universal, integrated, and indivisible platform that addresses challenges that the planet faces. Each of the 17 goals has associated targets and indicators, with a total of 169 targets and 232 indicators.
A key message of the Goals is that to reach a better world by 2030, ‘business as usual’ will just not work. Transformative change is needed. Societies must be more ambitious, we must all do better. Without a common set of blueprints, groups sometimes end up working against each other, contributing to conflict and tension. In order to move ahead, societies need to ensure that efforts are not wasted by going backwards or working at ‘cross-purposes’.
In the Okanagan, there is an increasing will and effort to act, to avert the worst outcomes of climate change, pollution, deforestation and sprawl. Public and private sectors are awakening to the need for coordination of efforts. The Goals create a shared language of care, an aspirational agenda that enables common cause among divergent voices.
The Goals are not ‘left’ or ‘right’, they are not pro-or-anti-government, they are pro-people and pro-environment. We don’t need to make up a new strategy or re-invent new models for acting – they are already in place. The Goals are ambitious, that is the point – we need action now. So, what is your number?