Grand Challenges

The grand challenges of today are vast and many, as can be seen by looking at the Millennium Development Goals, the Millennium Development Goals Outcomes, and the Sustainable Development Goals. By following the changes between the Millennium Development Goals and its successor, the Sustainable Development Goals, we can see that there is an expanding understanding of what Grand Challenges we face as a society today. With the continuance of expanding technology and innovation, we are able to find more challenges surmountable even if we are unsure of just how to solve them.

One example is Millennium Development Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability. This was broken down into six different goals in the Sustainable Development Goals. These include Affordable and Clean Energy (7), Sustainable Cities and Communities (11), Responsible Consumption and Production (12), Climate Action (13), Life Below Water (14), and Life on Land (15). The expansion of this single goal under the MDGs into six separate goals with their own measurements and specified indicators under the SDGs at least shows our greater understanding of the issues our world faces today. At worst, we learned what needs to be fixed further and things that did not work under the MDGs. At best, we have a more clearly defined notion for the future of these works and are able to build off of and add to what was accomplished under the MDGs.

While this is an international idea about Grand Challenges that should be addressed, it was interesting to find the domestic take by looking at the White House website for Grand Challenges. It was down for maintenance and has been for at least a month and a half. While things like this are common under a new administration and the government tends to run slowly, Trump’s campaign was built off a series of his perceived Grand Challenges that have yet to appear on this site. Compared with the USAID take on Grand Challenges, which is very in depth and has specific examples they are working to fix, there is a disconnect. While Grand Challenges are inherently difficult, they are focused on because they are able to be solved in some way, even if that way is difficult and tiresome. But this distinction shows that one reason we have not worked as far towards accomplishing these things is because of a division of resources and focus. Before we are able to fix these things, agreements must be made about how to do so.