What is your contribution towards the Sustainable Development Goals?
Ayman Chowdhury writes for DOT :
Put an end to extreme poverty –Promote healthy well-being – Eradicate inequality and injustice – Combat climate change – and the list goes on! Whoa! Do you even need to care about all of these? Yes, you do, and you need to care more when none of these affect you directly. It means you are one of the privileged ones in the society and no matter how little you think of yourself, the world desperately needs you. So, how can you help? One way is, by making an impactful contribution towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals are also sometimes referred to as, “The Global Goals”.Here’s a little refresher for those who are still (!) not aware of the SDGs (And, it is not okay to not know these goals, you are not doing your part of being a responsible citizen! And, it’s already three years since the goals were announced!). The SDGs are the roadmap to achieve a sustainable future for all. The goals address the major challenges that the world is facing now and that threaten our future well-being. In 2015 the leaders from 193 countriesagreed upon a 17-point to-do list, known as the “Sustainable Development Goals” at a United Nations summit. A list like this, however, is not the first of its kind. We had the “Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)” prior to having these SDGs. MDGs were a set of eight goals and were aimed only at developing countries, where SDGs are for all countries. Although we have seen some remarkable achievements towards the MDGs, it lacked severely on social justice and inequality aspect. The MDGs were highly criticized for its overlook towards the poorest, most vulnerable and disadvantageous groups of society. Another strong criticism for MDGs was finalizing the goals without having sufficient consultation with the people the goals aimed to help.
As a result, while crafting the SDGs, which are to build further on the achievements made under the MDGs, nearly 5 million people across the globe were consulted to get the vision for 2030, which reflects on how the worldand living in it should look like in 15 years from 2015. In addition, nearly 10 million people globally cast their votes to put up their priorities for the future.
So, what are these 17 global goals for 2030?
SDG 1:End Poverty in all its forms everywhere
SDG 2:End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
SDG 3:Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
SDG4:Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
SDG5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
SDG6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
SDG7:Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
SDG 8:Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
SDG9:Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
SDG10:Reduce inequality within and among countries
SDG11:Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
SDG12:Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
SDG13:Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
SDG14:Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
SDG15:Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
SDG16:Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
SDG17:Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
Now there are many angles such as governments, NGOs, businesses, academia, etc., to look at these goals. But today I want to highlight on the most important angle, the individual’s angle, to look at these goals. It is important because the global goals cannot be achieved if we do not turn these into actively shared objectives for everyone. We cannot just afford anymore to sit and watch what governments and businesses are doing to contribute towards the goals and later play a blame game. It is us, who can push them by showcasing our commitment towards the goals and actively speaking about the goals in every engagement with them. So, in a very simple language, how these goals should sound when an individual is reading it? This is what the UN suggests,
SDG 1: Donate what you don’t use
SDG 2: Avoid throwing away food
SDG 3: Vaccinate your family to protect them and improve public health
SDG 4: Help children in your community to read
SDG 5: Call out sexist language and behaviour
SDG 6: Avoid wasting water
SDG 7: Use only energy efficient appliances and promote the use of clean energy
SDG 8: Call out businesses with unethical and irresponsible practices and buy from those who promote sustainable business practices
SDG 9: Think of innovative new ways to repurpose old material and improve efficiency
SDG 10: Raise your voice against discrimination
SDG 11: Bike, walk, or use public transportation to keep city air clean
SDG 12: Recycle paper, plastic, glass,and aluminum
SDG 13: Educate young people on climate change to put them on a sustainable path early on
SDG 14: Don’t throw any kind of waste into water and avoid plastic bags to keep the ocean safe and clean
SDG 15: Plant a tree and help protect the environment
SDG 16: Use your right to elect the leaders in your country and local community
SDG 17: Achieve these goals in groups
These are only a few examples for what you can do in your individual capacity to contribute towards the goals. With your innovative mindset, you can find a thousand more things that you can do to make a contribution. But, do you see how relatable these goals are to your daily life? Can you imagine if each of us makesa regular and sincere contribution to these goals, whatwill be impact be for the country and for the world?And the good news is, many of us are actually contributing towards these goals in silos not even knowing that these are directly linked to different SDGs. That is where we need to change our approach a little bit and use these SDGs as a guide and strategic tool to make a bigger impact in a coordinated manner for a sustainable future.
One of my colleague’s little kid was asked, “what do you think about the SDGs?” The kid made a straight face and replied, “we only need these goals because you screwed up!”. Yes, we did, but although it’s a bit late, there is still time to make things better. I believe we owe it to the future generation. Let’s get our acts together before it’s too late.