Who can remember the original 8 Millennium Development Goals? We may be able to name them—but what about the 17 Sustainable Development Goals?
In a recent session on SDGs that I attended, one delegate said that we should just choose the ones we want to work on and know them by heart. It was seconded by another who suggested that we should choose those related to one another. I interjected and said that all of the SDGs are inter-related, and that remembering them can be made easier by coming up with a storyline.
MDG #1 was to eradicate poverty and hunger. This is broken down into two sustainable development goals:
SDG #1 End Poverty; and SDG #2 End Hunger. When one is poor, one is usually hungry and thus, cannot achieve SDG #3 Well-Being. When the stomach is empty, nothing can enter the brain; but if the first three goals are achieved, one can make use of SDG #4 Quality Education and learn to respect others and internalize SDG #5 Gender Equality.
Living in a house, regardless of whether one owns it or not, makes it possible to work toward SDG #6 Water and Sanitation for all, and SDG #7 Affordable and Sustainable Energy.
For water supply and electric connections to flow, one will need SDG #8 Decent Work for All. With a decent job, one can also afford SDG #9 Technology for All, which includes renewable energy, desalination, waste water treatment, and solid waste management, among others.
Most adults and even children have cellphones. Computer literacy is on the rise and this could be a vehicle toward SDG#10 Reduce Inequality. This is not only among individuals but also among nations. The world is moving toward an urbanized society, with majority of the population living in cities. These are engines of growth and must therefore be safe, sustainable, and resilient. This is SDG#11. We find irresponsible consumerism and must work for a more responsible approach – SDG#12. This also feeds into SDG#13, which realizes global warming and the need to stop climate change; SDG#14 Protect the Ocean; and SDG#15 Take Care of the Earth.
When we address poverty, hunger, quality education, gender equality, basic needs of shelter that require water and sanitation, energy, and provide decent jobs to be able to afford basic needs and more such as technology, we can reduce inequality. If our cities are safe, sustainable, and resilient, with responsible consumers as citizens, who have a heart for preserving the environment, ocean, earth, and the air that we breathe, we can stop climate change.
We can then have Peace on Earth, which is SDG#16, and this can be attained only through partnerships and networking as mechanisms (SDG #17) to achieve every sustainable development goal.
There are 169 indicators and these are harder to remember; but slowly, as we work on the SDGs for the next 15 years (until 2030), we can refer to them so that we know if we are following the right path. I hope then that countries can say, “We have achieved our goals.”
The first five are the hardest to accomplish but with good governance—the governors and the governed working together—and following the principles of transparency, accountability, equity, and the participation of all sectors in society, we hope to have a better world to leave to the next generation.
At Citynet we say, “Together, we can do more.” At ISA we say, “We need good Filipinos to champion good governance, Filipinos who can say and show through their actions, Mahal ko ang Pilipinas.”
We do not have to remember numbers; but we must take to heart the basic principle of improving persons. We should work toward having healthy citizens who have overcome poverty and hunger; who are educated and know how to respect all people—young, old, male, female, or LGBT. We should improve basic shelter, and provide clean water, proper sanitation, LED lights, and if possible, wind or solar energy. We should aim to raise hardworking, technologically adept citizens, who also have a special sense of community—taking care of everyone and everything in the environment, and realizing their role as stewards of God’s creation.
If we have love for ourselves, for our neighbors, and for our country, we will radiate that peace and realize that it is not an abstract idea but something that we can personify.
Sustainable Development Goals, here we come!
Mary Jane C. Ortega is a Trustee and Fellow of the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA), a non-profit group that advocates governance reform and envisions a Dream Philippines, where every government institution delivers and every citizen participates and prospers. Learn more about their work on isacenter.org.