In the past year and several months since the Sustainable Development Goals were first introduced in September 2015, the international community has seen advances in all of the target areas of the goals. Any positive change, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is a step towards achieving the new sustainable agenda put forth by the United Nations. Here at Give Me 5!, we are consistently stressing the fact that it would not actually be impossible or even incredibly expensive to achieve all 17 of these goals; with the equivalent of 5% of global military spending, we can make the planet a better place for all those who inhabit it.
In 2016, we saw some major breakthroughs in sustainable development. There are now multiple countries that run primarily (if not entirely) on renewable energy; Sweden has become so adept at recycling that the country ran out of garbage, the Olympics hosted the first team that allowed refugees from war-torn countries to compete in the sports that they love, and the United States government blocked an oil pipeline that would have been constructed to detriment of natural resource management and the indigenous people living near the proposed route. 2016 was a good year for sustainable development; however, we can collectively make 2017 an even better one.
According to Google data, statistics show that the most popular New Year’s Resolutions for 2017 are as follows:
- Get healthy/lose weight
- Be more organized
- Live life to the fullest
- Learn new hobbies
- Spend less money/save more
- Read more
All of these resolutions are admirable goals that would certainly benefit the individual who is able to adhere to them and accomplish them. However, the issue with each of these goals is the fact that they ARE so individualized; none address a resolution of how to improve life on a global scale. What if everyone who committed themselves to at least three New Year’s Resolution included one that addressed sustainable development? While the SDGs may appear daunting, especially for one person to have any sort of impact on a global scale, that intimidated attitude is one that will lead to complacency and hinder future progress. If everybody makes an effort, communities can produce real results.
So, “what can I do?” As it turns out, you can do a lot. The good thing about the SDGs is that they are not mutually exclusive. One action can have a positive effect in many areas of sustainable development. Cutting down on meat and animal product consumption is a good example of a goal that an individual can accomplish while having a global impact. If we all do it, it will be incredibly beneficial for the environment and set us on a path towards accomplishing Sustainable Development Goals 2, 3, 6, 9, 12, 13, 14, and 15. Another way an individual can have a global impact would be to sponsor a young girl in a developing country to go to school for a year. There are different organizations, such as this one, who offer these types of opportunities. This individual act, if done by many, can contribute immensely towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 16.
Our partner 2020 or Bust has outlined many different ways individuals can better the planet and their communities and ways to stay accountable in their app. You can download the app here. If we work together as global community, we can make 2017 the most sustainable year yet.