World leaders at the United Nations officially adopted the 17 sustainable development goals at their September 25 meeting, which will seek to address climate change, education, hunger, gender inequality and poverty on a global level. The goals in the document, Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, can be read in more detail here. These goals replace the eight millennium goals adopted back in 2000.
Sister Teresa Kotturan, NGO Representative to the United Nations for the Sisters of the Charity Federation, says this of the historical and societal implications of these new sustainable development goals:
The Sustainable Development Goals officially adopted by the United Nations on September 25 provide a vision for the next 15 years for people, planet and prosperity. It is a vision that calls for the engagement of all people, for it is universal in nature. It is an ambitious vision that wants to transform our world, a world free of extreme poverty, hunger, disease, discrimination and violence against women and girls, human rights to water and sanitation, illiteracy, inequality, exclusion, joblessness, affordable energy, fear, violence, degradation of the planet, where all life can thrive. It is a world in which we seek to realize the human rights of all, especially gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls. It is a vision that wants to make sure “that no one will be left behind” and “all human beings can enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives.”
How does one go about to implement 17 Goals with 169 targets? Do we cherry pick a few and leave out the rest? These goals and targets are the result of two years of consultation and engagement with civil society and other stakeholders around the world – along with the voices of the poorest and most vulnerable people. For the sustainable development of all, we need to regard the goals as a whole. We have to develop an integrated approach for their implementation at the local, national and global level. Leaving out a goal will impact all other goals – they are woven together to address the social, economic and environmental issues of our times.
The adoption of these Goals and Targets address the concerns of People, Planet and Prosperity by member states who do not guarantee an automatic implementation. What is critical to the implementation is the participation of the civil society, ordinary people around the world along with their governments and its institutions. This new agenda must be embraced by all people and involved in every step of the way.
People are the real partners; they need to call for a political will and commitment from their governments to ensure adequate budgetary allocations and collaborative structures within various government structures/systems for a holistic approach to implementation. It should be a transparent process – implementation to follow up and evaluation. The measure of success will depend on the meaningful changes it brings about in the lives of the people living in poverty and on the margins along with the health of our planet.