End poverty, protect the planet, ensure prosperity for all.
Oh, sure. Wonderful goals — but do they really have a chance in this greedy materialistic upside-down world we all inhabit?
“Yes,” said representatives of 193 nations — almost all the people on earth. They unanimously relayed this to the folks back home from the recent UN Sustainable Development Summit 2015. Thunderous applause from an audience risen to their feet followed the Summit’s formal adoption of a broad universal agreement to pursue a just and sustainable future for all citizens of Planet Earth. Attendees flashed the achievement through social media worldwide before it even made the news.
The conference extended into last week. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened it with these words:
“The new agenda is a promise by leaders to all people everywhere. It is a universal, integrated, and transformative vision for a better world…. It is an agenda for shared prosperity, peace, and partnership [that] conveys the urgency of climate action [and] is rooted in gender equality and respect for the rights of all. Above all, it pledges to leave no one behind.”
The newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 follow on the widely successful Millenium Development Goals achieved by the United Nations over the past 15 years. The MDGs produced the most successful anti-poverty movement in human history, proving that goal-setting could positively affect the lives of millions living in poverty.
You may want to read a document called Transforming Our World: 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which contains the SDGs. It also includes a section on means of implementation and renewed global partnership, and a framework for review and followup.
Five of the 17 goals directly address the subject of climate change. The most important of these is Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. The targets for this goal:
- Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries,
- Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning,
- Improve education, awareness-raising, and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction, and early warning,
- Implement the commitment undertaken by developed-country parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (mobilizing jointly $100 billion annually by 2020 from all sources to address the needs of developing countries with meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation, fully capitalizing the Green Climate Fund as soon as possible), and
- Promote mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management in least developed countries and small island developing states.
Other related objectives concern protecting, restoring, and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems (sustainably managing forests, combatting desertification, halting and reversing land degradation, and halting biodiversity loss (Goal 15); conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development (Goal 14); making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable (Goal 11); and ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all (Goal 6).
The new agenda builds on the successful outcomes of the Conference on Financing for Development that recently concluded in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Although they’ve been called duplicative and loosely worded, the SDGs will definitely affect negotiations on the new post-2020 climate agreement in Paris this December (COP21) in a positive way.
Mr. Ban summarized the need to achieve the 17 goals for 2030:
“The true test of commitment to Agenda 2030 will be implementation. We need action from everyone, everywhere. Seventeen Sustainable Development Goals are our guide. They are a to-do list for people and planet, and a blueprint for success.”
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