Last week I was among a group of locals who attended an information session sponsored by the BC Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC). This was the second visit by facilitators Mike and Luke who were looking for some suggestions as to how the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs ) could be implemented in our community.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development lead by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 SDGs, which are an urgent call for action by all countries — developed and developing — in a global partnership. They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth — all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.
The SDGs build on decades of work by countries and the UN, including the first international meeting in 1992, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where more than 178 countries adopted the first agenda. This was followed by the Millennium Declaration at the 2000 UN Headquarters in New York and subsequent conferences held in Johannesburg in 2002 and again in Rio in 2012.
I would be the first to admit that the goals are rather daunting, but after witnessing actions by individuals and organizations following calamities like the 2017 wildfires, I am encouraged by what we are all capable of.
We probably know people who work for organizations like the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, or the Salvation Army to name a few. How about the work done by the people and organizations who rebuilt homes lost in the last two years to flooding or wildfires?
I know some locals who have gone on their own to developing countries to help with women’s health issues along with using local materials to establish clean water and sanitation facilities. What price can you put on the life changing work done by Operation Smile for children with cleft palates or health professionals who volunteer to work with temporary medical facilities set up throughout the world? Others have chosen to stay home and develop solar cookers or efficient wood burning stoves to improve the health of families and reduce deforestation issues.
When I was asked recently to participate in a local race, I challenged the 400 plus young runners to set goals and reminded them about how young teens like Craig Kielburger, along with his friends and family, made a difference to thousands of children who were caught up in the sweat shops around the world.
While I agree that climate change is important, it is only one of 17 issues described in the 2030 UN report and I think our young people need encouragement in their career choices to see the potential for some very interesting and challenging work that is both fulfilling, and critical for all of us living on this planet.
Jim Hilton is a professional agrologist and forester who has lived and worked in the Cariboo-Chilcotin for the past 40 years. Now retired, Hilton still volunteers his skills with local community forests organizations.