In 2015, the term for the eight Millennium Development Goals expired and 2016 begins with a new 15-year cycle, launching the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Welcome to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted unanimously by 193 Heads of State last September.
There are seventeen goals and 169 targets which aim to eradicate poverty, fight inequality and approach climate change solutions over the next decade and a half. In the words of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, "The seventeen Sustainable Development Goals are our shared vision of humanity and a social contract between the world's leaders and the people".
Three vectors are to be approached in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - the social, economic and environmental dimensions, involving both developed and developing countries and the SDGs go further than the Millennium Development Goals in scope, encompassing peace and justice. In short, the SDGs are a blueprint for the implementation of common universal values, globally.
The Millennium Development Goals, implemented in the year 2000 were: to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development. According to the UNO, "significant progress" was made in a number of areas, although the goals were not met in full.
Over the 15-year period, 6.2 million malaria deaths were averted, the number of people living in extreme poverty was more than halved and primary school enrolment increased from 83 to 91 per cent. Great strides were made towards gender parity in school enrolment in the first three cycles (primary, secondary and tertiary), under-fives mortality decreased by over 50 per cent, maternal mortality decreased by 45 per cent, HIV infections fell by 40 per cent while ODA (Official Development Aid) increased by 66 per cent.
This does not mean that everyone was covered by these success stories - millions of people were excluded and inclusion and equality were not achieved universally in terms of gender, ethnicity, geographic location, age or disability. Here is where the SDGs step onto the stage.
SDG1: No poverty; SDG2: Zero hunger; SDG3: Good health and well-being; SDG4: Quality education; SDG5: Gender equality; SDG6: Clean water and sanitation; SDG7: Affordable and clean energy; SDG8: Decent work and economic growth; SDG9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure; SDG10: Reduced inequalities; SDG11: sustainable cities and communities; SDG12: Responsible consumption and production; SDG13: Climate action; SDG14: Life below water; SDG 15: Life on land; SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions; SDG 17: Partnership for the goals.
Conclusion: If the world could concentrate on global humanitarian and ecological issues, focusing on development of resources over deployment of troops, spending trillions of dollars annually on these projects rather than military expenditure, these goals would already have been reached. However, without goals, there are no objectives or targets and in achieving these, Humankind is collectively under the spotlight.
The individual can make a difference, for inside the political systems currently followed are interwoven mechanisms which allow people to select or deselect a representative (Congressperson, Member of Parliament, Deputy and so on) depending on the way they vote. Bringing issues onto the political agenda and holding representatives accountable is a powerful and meaningful way in which people can make a difference.
*Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey has worked as a correspondent, journalist, deputy editor, editor, chief editor, director, project manager, executive director, partner and owner of printed and online daily, weekly, monthly and yearly publications, TV stations and media groups printed, aired and distributed in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe Isles; the Russian Foreign Ministry publication Dialog and the Cuban Foreign Ministry Official Publications. He has spent the last two decades in humanitarian projects, connecting communities, working to document and catalog disappearing languages, cultures, traditions, working to network with the LGBT communities helping to set up shelters for abused or frightened victims and as Media Partner with UN Women, working to foster the UN Women project to fight against gender violence and to strive for an end to sexism, racism and homophobia. A Vegan, he is also a Media Partner of Humane Society International, fighting for animal rights. He is Director and Chief Editor of the Portuguese version of Pravda.Ru.
Several years ago, a prominent Indonesian businessman who now resides in Canada, insisted on meeting me in a back room of one of Jakarta's posh restaurants. An avid reader of mine, he 'had something urgent to tell me', after finding out that our paths were going to be crossing in this destroyed and hopelessly polluted Indonesian capital.