During the last week, the United Nations Caribbean office in Barbados has offered to the public an insight into the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This interactive display, hosted at the Barbados Museum titled ‘Mission 2030’, is free and a welcomed opportunity for young and old to understand the United Nations’ goals in achieving sustainable development for all people in the world.
As described, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. They are part of Resolution 70/1: Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, (shortened to 2030 Agenda). The goals are broad and interdependent, yet each has a separate list of targets. Achieving all 169 targets would signal accomplishing all 17 goals.
The SDGs cover social and economic development issues including poverty, hunger, health, education, global warming, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, urbanization, environment and social justice.
Officially launched last Monday at the Barbados Museum, the Gallery aims to explain the importance of these goals in the lives of all people and how we can all play our part in making the goals achievable.
Often we ignore such initiatives thinking agencies like the United Nations offers ‘pie in the sky’ concepts without connection to the masses of the people. As I now realize, these Sustainable Development Goals are laudable initiatives aimed at improving the standard of living for every human being and making the world a better place for all to live in.
As highlighted on its official website: “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership. They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.”
The 17 SDGs are:
Goal 1: No poverty: “End poverty in all its forms everywhere.”
Goal 2: Zero hunger: “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.”
Goal 3: Good health and well-being for people: “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.”
Goal 4: Quality education: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”
Goal 5: Gender equality: “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.”
Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation: “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”
Goal 7: Affordable and clean energy: “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.”
Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth: “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.”
Goal 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure: “Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation.”
Goal 10: Reducing inequalities: “Reduce income inequality within and among countries.”
Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities: “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.”
Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production: “Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.”
Goal 13: Climate action: “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts by regulating emissions and promoting developments in renewable energy.”
Goal 14: Life below water: “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.”
Goal 15: Life on land: “Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.”
Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions: “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”
Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals
At the Gallery, visitors can interact with and understand fully each of these goals. Each individual can appreciate the part he/she has to play in ensuring the achievement of the goals and in making the world a better place for all. It also exposes younger persons who visit to the goals in a language and manner they can appreciate. As someone pointed out, these goals should become a mantra in our daily living so we can become engaged. It should also be replicated in our schools and other learning institutions so there is a constant reminder as to our role in making this earth a better place not only for us but for future generations.
Several of the exhibits highlight the very negative impact certain actions, activities and lifestyle choices are having on our lives, our environment and our planet. This is important in helping us to fully grasp the nature of the challenge and the way forward.
A Guide to Implementing the SDGs in Our Daily Life was given out at the gallery and provides some very important tips and practical suggestions in making the attainment of goals achievable. Some of those guides include: Donating what you don’t use, avoid throwing away food, helping children in the community to read, calling out sexist language and behaviour, avoid wasting water, raising your voice against discrimination, planting trees and helping to protect the environment, recycling and avoiding plastic bags among others.
As inhabitants of small island developing countries we all can attest to the vulnerability we face from natural, man-made and other catastrophes, economic and otherwise. I took note of an important point highlighted at the Gallery: “Despite the big prosperity gains in recent years, many people in Latin America and the Caribbean are just one disaster away from falling back into poverty.”
This point alone should wake us all up to the very fragile situation in which we live. We cannot take for granted that because we have been spared all these years, something won’t happen. We face today greater threats to our livelihood and so whatever little we can do to lessen the impact will be helpful.
Lessons in recent years to the severe impact of disasters, weather related or otherwise abound all around us. We can least afford to be unprepared.
As we celebrate our 52nd year of Independence, let us reflect on the role every one of us must play in the development of our country and how best we can implement these goals in our lives to improve ourselves and the lives of those around us.
Congratulations to the UN team in Barbados for putting on the Gallery and educating us on the SDGs and our role.
Happy Independence, Barbados. May the Almighty continue to bless and guide us.
(Suleiman Bulbulia is a Justice of the Peace. Secretary of the Barbados Muslim Association and Muslim Chaplain at the Cave Hill Campus, UWI. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)