What the SDGs Mean.

AuthorSmale, Alison
PositionSustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) define the world we want. They apply to all nations and mean, quite simply, to ensure that no one is left behind.

Once, realizing such dreams was almost always up to national Governments.

But in a world where billions of people can communicate as they wish, many more groups and individuals demand, and have, a say in creating the future: business big and small, civil society, academics and scientists, to name just some.

In the resulting mix of voices, the United Nations has the power to convene the myriad new debates that arise. Above all, by adopting the map of the world we want to see in 2030, the United Nations has given everyone, everywhere a voice in determining the future and the right to ask governments, at any level and anywhere in the world, what they are doing to realize it.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals ARE the 2030 Agenda, the map of the world we seek.

Everyone, but particularly the youth of today who will dominate tomorrow, has the chance to shape what that world will look like. And to communicate to those who still doubt or do not know that they have this incredible chance to mould their existence.

That means being where the young now are--in virtual reality, digitally connected, experimenting every few seconds with images and accustomed to change at the press of a button. Their universe is visual. Long and complex messages must be introduced gradually.

And, in the spirit of leaving no one behind, it is up to the United Nations and all its partners and supporters to ensure that everyone has access to the SDGs and their inclusive message. That means that the UN, unlike purely commercial ventures, must preserve, as long as they are relevant, the old' means of communication. Radio, for instance, is still the only way to reach 64 per cent of Pakistan's population, living mostly in mountain valleys where the Internet has not yet penetrated.

Equally clearly, the youth of the world will keep leaning out for love--and connectivity. And the SDGs, or the Global Goals, are the primary means for the United Nations to satisfy that demand, which is both emotional and existential.

The UN already has numerous ways to do this. For UN staff, there is the Be the Change initiative, involving people in goals as simple as urban gardening or rejecting use of all plastic. The SDG in Action app, the Lazy Person's Guide to Saving the World, the SDG Book Club and Lesson Plan are aimed at young people in...

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