Lifestyle,  Sustainability

The Sustainable Development Goals, & how they link to EVERYTHING

Through both my personal interests and my work for an environmental sustainability charity, I come across the UN Goals for Sustainable Development quite a lot, and let’s face it, they’re a pretty good thing to come across. But I live in a little echo-chamber, the same as everyone else, surrounded by the things and people that I’m interested in and that are interested in the things that I’m interested in. I work part time in the environmental sector, I’m interested in Zero Waste, I read articles and buy magazines that have a sustainability remit, I join social media groups that promote and share tips on these subjects, I try and find new ways to make my house more eco-friendly… so of course I’m aware of the SDG’s and their importance.
 
I have two jobs, I do admin support among other things for an environmental sustainability charity, and I’m a youth worker, and I notice on a regular basis the lack of continuity in environmental information and concern between the two.
Moving inside my environmental circle it seems clear that everyone is concerned and taking due action on the SDG’s, waste, plastics, conservation, etc etc. But moving outside of this circle I find myself in a land almost entirely devoid of sustainable environmental and humantarian thought. No wait, that’s a lie, there’s a food waste bin in the office… So there’s a lot of work to be done here. How do we bridge this gap?Unfortunately there’s no quick answer. While it seems horrendous to me that sustainability isn’t anywhere near the forefront of a lot of people’s minds, I can’t just go in to the office shouting about it and telling them they’ve all got it totally wrong – I’d pretty soon be ostracised. No one wants someone around that’s constantly telling them they’ve got it wrong and need to change because the fate of the world rests on their shoulders…
And people are used to hearing about both humanitarian and environmental action now, it’s mainstream news and those that haven’t taken it up as something they should be invested in are closed off from those stories, enclosed in their own echo chambers full of those things that are important to them. You’ve also got the ‘someone else’s problem’ line, and even when asked head on I’ve heard many people excusing themselves from being involved because ‘there’s other people out there working on that, it’s not my problem.’
So we can’t bombard people, and we don’t want to, and probably couldn’t, scare them, and we don’t want to bore or frustrate them.
How do we bridge this gap?

 

An answer, and I say ‘an answer’ rather than ‘the answer’ because there will of course be more than one, came the other day, and from a most unexpected source.

Last week I attended a youth work policy and practise conference. There were some fascinating speakers, and they explored the practise along a ‘where we are now, where we want to be next, and where we want to be in the future’ theme, which made the whole thing run very smoothly. What was interesting (apart from all the other super interesting things!) was that the last speaker, who came on to talk about the future, talked about the SDG’s. And he did it by linking the future of youth work, and the fundamentally caring basis of it as a profession that exists to help and support those younger generations make their way through an often difficult period of their lives, to SDG’s 1,3,11 & 13.

Bam. Suddenly people were talking about the SDG’s.

 
His point was that everything is connected, and we need all of these things in order to build and grow the professions we work in. If one aspect falls down it has a domino affect on all the things around it. We, as youth workers, are committed to doing our best to help younger generations to be healthy, happy and flourishing young people; how can we say we are doing this if we’re not also working to end poverty, and towards good health and well-being for all. Six million children worldwide still die before their 5th birthday due to poverty, ill health, poor communities and lack of resources and support. We care about future generations, our whole profession is built around their healthy growth and development. This fight isn’t someone else’s fight, it’s our fight.

 

How can you work within your community without considering goal no.11; Sustainable Cities and Communities?

Today 828 million people live in slums across the world, and that number keeps rising.

Is it not important that we look after our planet and seek environmentally sustainable solutions to our needs in order to maintain a world that every single one of us depends on in order to live?

“Climate change is affecting every country on every continent. It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives, costing people, communities and countries dearly today and even more tomorrow.”

If we aren’t taking note and changing our behaviour in regards to the issues that face us globally, then what are we doing? In this age of globalisation it should be easy to see that everything is affected by the actions, information, goals and ideals outlined throughout all the SDG’s, and that in order to build a more sustainable future for everyone we need to be actively working towards each one of them.
It’s not about saving the planet because we want to be eco-warriors and dance naked around camp fires while singing about how we’re at one with nature, it’s about finding a sustainable future for ourselves, for our species, and for the planet. It’s about understanding that each and every one of us has a role to play, and it’s about finding solutions and working together.
These goals affect our futures, and the futures of our friends and loved ones, and the futures of our fellow human beings scattered all across the Earth.

What became clear to me last week was that, simply put, the way to reach people usually disconnected from this thinking, is to put it in their own language. In terms they recognise and that mean something to them.
 
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals that the United Nations decided upon on the 25th of September 2015, and which countries all across the world have adopted and begun to work towards, are built on a desire to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all.
 
And we spread this message and this mission not by drumming it into people or by scaring them or by telling them what to do. We engage and inspire people by introducing the links between the things they love, the work they do, the lives they live, and these goals that we, globally, need to be working towards together.
 
These goals are how we make our way into a future where people are happy, nourished, educated, healthy, growing, learning, creating, and not just surviving but thriving together alongside our planet, our home. They incorporate and affect every single sector across the globe. The links are there, they’re the key to inspiring and engaging those harder to reach groups, and they’re easy to see if you take the time to look and offer people the opportunity to understand.

 

I'm a creative writer with a busy mind living in the quirky town of Stroud. I'm a fast thinker and a true daydreamer, ready to be distracted by pretty much anything at all. On a mission to find ways to live more sustainably, and excited about learning, travelling, and experiencing as much as possible. This is my adventure.

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