UN Global Goals
Leaving No One Behind
Our generation is facing unprecedented challenges like pollution, loss of biodiversity and climate disruption. To this end, the United Nations has implemented an international program on Sustainable Development that will run until 2030. A worldwide cooperation is essential to tackle these issues.
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals - SDG
The global goals aim to reach those furthest behind first. This means ending extreme poverty in all its forms and reducing inequalities among individuals and groups and recognising that the dignity for individuals is fundamental. The specific needs of vulnerable countries are to be addressed, so that each of them can enjoy 'sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth and social progress.'
Ultimately, leaving no one behind means that we need to transform deeply rooted systems such as social behaviour, political aspects and economic structures as well as business models at all levels – from a local level to a global level.
Millennium Development Goals
In September 2000, after a decade of planning, a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty came to life, setting out a series of time-bound targets with 2015 as the deadline. This became known as The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). There were 8 goals in total.
The results of the 15 year campaign was good, however it was recognised that the goals were not inclusive enough as they focused mainly on Third World countries. It was decided that the 2015 goals were to include all countries so that all could be held accountable and be responsible to deliver the new goals. War unfortunately also had a big impact on the results of the MDGs.
The Global Goals
On 25th September 2015, 193 countries met at the UN General Assembly and adopted the 2030 Development Agenda entitled 'Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.' These new goals replaced and expanded the Millennium Development Goals.
These goals are meant to apply to all parts of the world, not only the developing countries. It is a 15-year program ending 2030 with some goals having a shorter deadline.
There are 17 goals and a total of 169 targets. Each of the goals include a short title followed by a phrase explaining the context of the goal in one sentence, then followed by sub targets related to the various goals.
Below is the list of the 17 goals, to find out more, visit the UN website
- No Poverty
- Zero Hunger
- Good Health and Well-being
- Quality Education
- Gender Equality
- Clean Water and Sanitation
- Affordable and Clean Energy
- Decent Work and Economic Growth
- Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
- Reducing Inequality
- Sustainable Cities and Communities
- Responsible Consumption and Production
- Climate Action
- Life Below Water
- Life On Land
- Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
- Partnerships for the Goals.
Qualities of the SDGs
All the goals interconnect and rely on each other to achieve the balance of economic, social and environmental sustainability intended by the UN.
The goals are universal and all member states that have signed up to the 17 goals can and must make efforts to contribute.
The purpose of the goals is to make sure that they can easily be integrated into any aspect of the personal life, as well as in business, politics and economics.
The goals have the power to transform the way people think and operate.
Who Are They For?
The SDG's targets are to be met by all nations, its people and all segments of society. These goals can and must be implemented at every level:
What Obstacles Do We Need To Overcome?
Barriers to change and obstacles that may prevent the implement these goals.
Force of Habit
It is hard to make people change their way of life, to modify and modernise the way their families have lived for generations. In the western world we have got used to certain luxuries that are harmful but we cannot seem to live without, we are educated in what to do but our actions speak louder than words. In the poorer parts of the world is it not uncommon that beliefs and behaviour contribute to the unwillingness to change.
Tragedy of the Commons
It is the human nature to put yourself and your closest ones first. Unfortunately, a lot of the time this is not without cost. A company will do whatever it takes to make a profit, this could mean choosing cheaper products to sell, it may be more harmful for the environment but for them more profitable. It might mean as an individual choosing to drive a fancier car that pollute more but doing so for personal comfort and status.
No Appreciation For Natural Assets
We take freedom of choice for granted when it comes to food, clothing, technology and much more. But we often forget that we have an abundance of natural recourses. We have been spoilt with options to such an extent that we no longer appreciate the things we have at no cost.
The issues the world is facing today are unprecedented and if they are not dealt with by the implementation of a long-term plan we might not survive to witness the results. Governmental power represents a fitting example. A party is elected to run a country for 4-5 years and there is no guarantee that the following party will agree to honour the plans that were promised by previous powers. Therefore it is important that the UN has a long-term plan that is not affected by the temporary rulers of countries, but a moral plan that is followed by all.
War and Humanitarian Crises
War misplaces people and damages important resources, this creates humanitarian crises. In war torn and poor countries, people fight for survival and it becomes difficult to ensure the safety of the people. It also becomes difficult to ensure that children get the education and health care they need for a more sustainable future. Women and the vulnerable tend to be left behind.
Governments are unwilling to change their agendas and work towards a long-term global plan. It is hard to engage a country’s government to ensure they do right not only by their country but the whole world.
Lack of Adequate Legislation
New legislation is coming into place but it is taking too long to implement: When scientists have strong evidence that something is harmful it should be dealt with quickly. For example cutting out single-use plastics; we should aim to be removing it, not just aiming to reduce it.
There is a slow reaction period and a good example for this is baby wipes. Baby wipes can contain up to 75% plastic but this does not legally have to be mentioned on the packaging. The good news is that the law is changing, and it will become mandatory to declare the plastic content of the product, but not until 2021. Unfortunately, big companies are not pressured to declare harmful or unsustainable substances on packaging if they do not have to. This is because they know consumers will probably choose to avoid such products.
Large corporations such as food and oil companies have got a lot of influence on businesses and government leaders. They often challenge people in high positions to create legislation or conduct an activity that will benefit their organisation. As these companies often substantial contribute to national economies, they are listened to.
Obstacles We Are Overcoming
Lack of Awareness and Education
People are becoming more aware of the issues we and our planet are facing and are proactively doing things to make a difference. Not only is there a lot more information available on the topic than in the past, individuals are increasingly able to access this information and are better educated. Individuals are more informed on how to lead a more sustainable life, both on a personal and collective level.
Irresponsible Trading and Unsustainable Business Models
More and more businesses are choosing to trade as Social Enterprises, these type of businesses reinvest their profits back into their business or their local community. In this way, they tackle social problems, support their communities and help the environment.
Consumers are putting more pressure on businesses to act more responsibly and companies are doing extra to produce and trade more sustainably. NGOs and other groups such as Extinction Rebellion (XR) are also pushing the government to act now.
Solutions To Deal With These Issues
Some of these items below are sometimes incorrectly mentioned as barriers.
We have the solution to most of the issues, we now need to implement them. The world is an amazing place and there is no end to the solutions to the problems we are facing. Every day we see new innovative ways helping us to make a difference.
Technology is constantly evolving and it is proven that most of the issues we are facing can be resolved by some type of technology.
Money cannot be an obstacle because doing nothing will be of greater cost and the results will be disastrous.
Complexity of the issues is not an obstacle because we have a plan.
The SDG plan is fundamental for our planet and ensuring the coming generations have a safe and healthy future. This plan includes raising awareness and educating communities and business to act more responsibly while understanding the importance of doing so.
MAINTENANT Sustaining Now uses the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for all our work, contributing to spread these Global Goals across the whole community, strengthen their understanding and highlight their importance.
MAINTENANT Sustaining Now do endorse Goal 4 with an accent on target 4.7.
Goal 4 – QUALITY EDUCATION
Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.