The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an important part of our lives right now on a global scale. Since the expiration of the Millennial Development Goals in 2015, the SDGs are one of the most important things within the UN. While there has been a lot of change and additions to these goals, setting the bar ever and ever higher, the UN and the vast majority of the world has committed to obtaining them, as they are important to our future and the generations of people to come. This new set of goals is supposed to be obtained by 2030.
There are 17 SDGs we are aiming to achieve – covering a wide array of issues from poverty to clean water to the way that organizations/governments/people cooperate with each other. Because there are 17 goals, each with a specific focus, the roadmap until 2030 is relatively straightforward and defined. By separating the goals to be less overlapping, the UN allows a more clear definition and understanding of each one.
A major player in seeing how well the goals are being achieved, as well as a way to hold countries accountable, is the High Level Political Forum (HLPF). The HLPF was designed as a way to follow-up and review the successes and failures in obtaining the SDGs. The HLPF is made up of the auspices of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The HLPF meets every year for eight days and has a set agenda to discuss. For example, this past year (2017), the HLPF met and discussed SDGs 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, and 14 and the theme was “eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world.”
We have come a long way since 1992, when the UN held the Conference on Environment and Development, the first major step to fighting climate change together. From then until now, there is no doubt that we have done more to begin our steps in the right direction, but we are still far from becoming carbon-neutral and eventually stopping and/or reversing climate change. While the SDGs mention climate change, they are focused on much more than that – they are centered around being sustainable in all meanings of the word. Ending poverty and world hunger, making life better for every person and living thing, and providing clean water and energy to the people of the world are just examples of the high bar that has been set through the SDGs.
I believe we have made great progress, especially in regards to disabled persons. For a long time in history, 15% of our population was excluded on both a national and a global scale. The SDGs specifically mention to be inclusive of everyone and has a great “no person left behind” mentality that we have lacked for so long. While we are not anywhere near the end yet, we have been able to recognize and move forward with the understanding that we must be considerate and include everyone in order to be truly sustainable for the future. Going forward, there will be struggles, especially with need to meet the needs of everyone and for everyone to be able to come to the table and be heard, but that is a challenge we can face head on and conquer. In 13 years, the world will be a much better place than now, but I still suspect it will have a lot of room to grow.