What if the world had no poverty, zero hunger, clean water and sanitation, improved access to good health care, good quality education for every child and we’d solved the climate problem? What if our world achieved gender equality, reduced inequalities, decent work and economic growth, affordable and clean energy, responsible production and consumption and all the people of the world were at peace with each other? Imagine a world after the achievement of all the SDGS, what will it be like? How do we get there? These are among the questions that bug me when I think about the SDGS and their role in ensuring that we have a good future ahead.
As stated here, I have serious interest in understanding our world now and our world to come and telling stories of and from the future. I came across the SDGS in my quest to understand what we are currently doing as a people to ensure that we have a habitable and comfortable planet to thrive in in the coming years. So here’s what I understand about SDGs;
I understand that the Sustainable Development Goals are 17 ambitious commitments set by world leaders in a UN meeting in 2015. These targets, which are to be accomplished by 2030, are meant to be implemented by all countries, in a collaborative approach to ending all the world problems that cause suffering to the current and future generations and ensure that the human race prospers. These goals came after almost similar ones were set in 2000, called the Millennium Development Goals(MDGS). MDGS were 8 in number and in my view, not as elaborate and well thought out as the SDGS, though they realized great results.
I further understand that these goals are called sustainable and not millennium because their purpose is not to achieve a one time agenda, but a continuous agenda that will serve even the future generations.
According to reports and statistics, by 2015, MDGS had achieved tremendous successes. For instance, between 1990 and 2015, the number of people living in extreme poverty dropped from 1.9 billion people to approximately 836 million people. In another instance, the number of people facing hunger and starvation dropped almost by half in the same period. There has been great strides in education as the number of children out of school has dropped almost by half since 2002, and the number of girls attending class has increase. Moreover, more women are now working in professional jobs than they did in 1990. Other achievements are in health and child mortality, where there has been over 50% decline in preventable child deaths globally. In the period 2000 to 2013, new HIV/AIDS infections fell by 30%, and over 6.2 million lives were saved from malaria. There are many more incredible accomplishments by the MDGS that I cannot fully exhaust here. If I am asked, I would say that the MDGS served their purpose well – they made the world a better place.
However, we do not always accomplish everything that we plan. Even with the great leaps made by the MDGS, more than 800 million people globally are still living on less than 1 dollar a day, lacking easy access to adequate food, clean drinking water and proper sanitation. Environmental degradation is still a major challenge, and with it comes its cousins kina extreme weather conditions, loss of biodiversity, drought etc, which have all contributed to rendering about 795 million people seriously undernourished as of 2014, and over 90 million children under the age of 5 are dangerously underweight. Another report goes further to show that in Africa, 1 person in every 4 people involuntarily goes hungry! Imagine!! Na bado! More than 6 million children still die before they celebrate their 5th birthday annually. 16,000 kids die daily from preventable diseases such as measles and tuberculosis. Moreover, everyday, hundreds of women die during pregnancy or from child-birth related complications. As of 2015, HIV/AIDS was devastatingly the leading cause of death among teenagers in sub-saharan Africa. These are just but a few of the areas that still need great intervention to completely remove the negatives – and this is where the SDGS come in.
So after massive consultations with each other, world leaders developed global goals, the SDGS, to build on the achievements of the MDGS and finish the job that had been started. When you really think about it, these world leaders actually shaped the world that we shall be living in if the SDGS are accomplished. If you have read the previous paragraph, you can certainly tell that the job is mammoth. With the corrupt leaders of the world and all the wars and political instabilities in many countries, environmental degradation and extreme weather conditions, it is almost convincing that the SDGS may not be realized any time soon.
But I choose to be optimistic.
Many people have come up with numerous theories to explain how SDGS can be achieved. I have my own theories too. For the world to achieve the global goals set in that summit in 2015, 2 things will play a big role;
- If we are to achieve the SDGS, we should all agree to put our self interests aside and pursue a common interest that is inclusive of everyone. Think of it as being brothers and sisters who are always looking out for the well being of each other rather than taking advantage of one another. We should compete to see not who is better than who, but rather assist each other and walk together, so that we are all at a better place tomorrow than we are today.
- Prioritize education and information sharing. If we invest in educating our people, they will be better placed to know understand their human rights. They will be sound enough to comprehend humanity. They will be better placed to understand the problems that they face and hence figure out solutions. The process of figuring out these solutions will in turn affect them socially, economically and politically.
In my future posts, I will help you internalize what I mean by the above theories. I will also attempt to show you how the two embody the 17 SDGS and how fundamental they are in shaping the future of the world.