Measuring Society’s Success: Inclusion and the SDGs

In an ideal world, a society’s success would be measured by its level of inclusion. Social Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities defines inclusion as coming down to “somewhere to live, something to do, someone to love” (Rimmerman 35). The more citizens in a nation that are included in this definition, the higher a nation’s level of success. Instead of measuring a country’s success through its overall economic growth or strength in the international political arena, we should be asking ourselves, do this country’s policies promote equality and inclusion for its people? Do all communities feel they are included in society?

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals were created in 2015 to tackle the issue of climate change, reduce inequality and promote inclusion. With 17 tangible goals centered around sustainable social and economic development, the SDGs are “the blueprint to achieve a more sustainable future for all.” Each SDG has concrete goals, targets and indicators that provide a clear vision for what each element of a sustainably developed society would look like. The SDGs are also medium-term goals, with the target accomplishment date set at 2030. It is so important to have a coherent plan that each country can strive towards and apply to their own situations, so that everyone can do their part to create a more inclusively sustainable global society.

Amartya Sen’s Development as Freedom theorizes that the alleviation of poverty and societal development will lead people to freedom. He writes that poverty limits the choices a person can make, and limited choices cyclically results in a lack of freedom. Sen’s indicators for freedom include: life expectancy, education, infant mortality, and gender equality. For example, if a person does not have the money to make choices that will benefit their health, a lower life expectancy results in a lack of freedom because a person cannot make choices if they are not alive. Empowering people to make choices allows them to have the best possible life. By making an emphasis on inclusion in society, a society can strive to provide all of its citizens with the freedom to make choices for themselves.

The SDGs are an important mechanism for inclusion and freedom, and the UN High-Level Political Forum makes sure that the program continues to stay on track. The HLPF meets annually under the Economic and Social Council for eight days, with a special three day segment every four years with the Heads of State and Government. The forum provides “a dynamic platform for regular dialogue” and “political leadership, guidance and recommendations for sustainable development. The HLPF is indispensable resource towards the successful implementation of the SDGs around the world.

States, NGOs, businesses, and individual actors are all important and necessary contributors to an inclusive and sustainably developed future for all. Everyone must play their part by using the platforms available to them to take action, raise awareness, and promote inclusiveness and equality in their communities. A truly inclusive society has the mindset that everyone deserves to be a part of the community and everyone has something valuable to offer. Societies with inclusive mindsets are the most successful ones, and we must do everything we can to promote inclusivity in every corner of the globe.


Social Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, Ari Rimmerman

Development as Freedom, Amartya Sen