“The future of humanity and of our planet lies in our hands. It lies also in the hands of today’s younger generation who will pass the torch to future generations.”
2030 Agenda, paragraph 53
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were developed by the United Nations in 2015 in a bid to end poverty, preserve our planet and ensure the safety and wellbeing of every individual throughout the world. Of the 17 goals that have been developed and adopted by countries around the globe, each seeks to accomplish a specific mission by 2030 and delve into three dimensions of sustainable development, namely the social, economic and environmental issues that are detrimental to society and need to be addressed.
Each SDG is interconnected, meaning a domino effect of positive change can occur as we progress through each goal. In achieving the first goal of eliminating poverty for example, we can end hunger and malnutrition which is the second goal. Furthermore, as poverty also causes health problems (goal 3) which may impact a child’s ability to complete and receive quality education (goal 4) we can see that each goal is linked to one another. We must visualise all the SDGs as an integrated system, by where achieving one goal can lead to success in another, allowing us to progressively improve our world.
The UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) is committed to implementing the SDG’s on a local, national and international scale. They stress the importance and beneficial impact these goals and actions can have on humanity and our planet, as they can achieve progress in areas of critical importance. These pressing aspects of our modern world targeted by SGD’s include healthy people, a sustainable planet for the present and future, prosperous individuals and progress, peace from fear and violence and finally, strengthened and powerful solidarity throughout the world through the formation of partnerships and participation of all nations, stakeholders and people. For each of these goals to be achieved however, we all need to take part and utilise our roles in government, the private sector, society and as individuals entirely invested in a sustainable and prosperous future for all.
Australia currently ranks 26th in the SDG Index and Dashboards Report which compares the performance of different nations in achieving the SDGs. Whilst Australia has achieved two important SDGs of good health and wellbeing and clean water and sanitation, our nation still rates poorly on the clean energy and climate action goals. In addition, Australia is noticeably lacking in responsible consumption and production practices, a gap that must be closed if we are to achieve the SDGs by 2030. Achieving these goals will mean Australian business can shift and transform for the better, fighting against poverty, ensuring social and gender equality and focusing on collaboration to combat the social, economic and environmental problems that our affecting our nation and world. If we are to lead this shift, we can push the creation of a far more sustainable nation and flourishing future for the next generation.
Integral to this change is you – young change-makers who are consistently developing and promoting innovative ways to achieve these SDG’s without even knowing it. Over a third of the 169 SDG targets relate to young people as they already experience many of the issues and problems the SDG’s seek to address. This includes the need to increase the number of informed and skilled youth in preparation for employment through education or training and promote climate-change planning and management mechanisms that focus on women, youth and small marginalised communities in particular. As young people are the creators and innovators within society, youth must be provided with the skills, opportunities and confidence to extend their reach and realise their potential in contributing to and developing a future of greater peace, security and prospects for all. As 60% of people aged between 15 and 24 reside in Asia and the Pacific today, there is huge potential for world leaders to support, encourage and mobilise young people to reach these SDG targets. Getting involved offers young people with valuable opportunities to engage, lead and develop an entire generation of empowered youth to create innovative solutions for the SDG’s. An entire community together can therefore influence and create a more inclusive, renewable and thriving planet, transforming the world for ourselves and future generations.
Image from Future Business Council and United Nations
Written by Alana Denham-Preston
Edited by Jordan Cotton