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Saving the world is 'daunting' but the UN has a blueprint, says Megan Smith

Student Life

By Megan Smith

Our planet is in trouble.

Everywhere you look, warning signs abound.

From wildfires and flash floods to political unrest and the violation of basic rights, it seems as if society itself is ripping apart at the seams.

Voices ring out from all corners to champion such causes as climate action, fair compensation and the right to gender expression, but the question remains: Will it ever be enough?

Our world is on the brink of collapse, and its fate is in our hands.

Globally inclusive plan

Each and every one of us can, should and must play a part in saving our world and preserving it so future generations can thrive.

Unfortunately, “saving the world” can seem to be an incredibly daunting and vast task.

After all, with all the interconnecting strings that make up human existence, how can we possibly know where to start?

How do we decide what’s most important, and where should we focus our efforts?

Those are the questions that the United Nations has set out to answer.

And, over the course of 23 years, many international meetings, and with the wants, needs and goals of 193 member states taken into account, an ambitious, far-reaching plan was made to bring about change in a globally inclusive way.

In 2015 the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was created.

Adopted by all member states, this initiative seeks to provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now into the future,” according to the United Nations’ website for the Sustainable Development Goals.

On the topic of the Sustainable Development Goals, they are the core of the agenda.

“A progress report . . . is released yearly, providing an insight into how far we’ve come — and how far we still have left to go.”

Sustainability is the act of using resources and techniques to minimize the impacts of human activity on the environment.

The Sustainable Development Goals (often simply abbreviated to SDGs) are a series of 17 wide-reaching initiatives, spanning from environmental issues to wellness to infrastructure.

They are meant to point out pressing issues and serve as a guide on how best to tackle them.

Each goal is further divided into a series of specific targets.

For example, the crucially important Climate Action, SDG No. 13, includes such targets as integrating climate action into political policies and improving communities’ responses to natural disasters.

A progress report on the Sustainable Development Goals is released yearly, providing an insight into how far we’ve come — and how far we still have left to go.

Serious lag in action

In addition to the yearly progress reports, a new edition of the Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) is published every four years, with the latest edition released on Sept. 12, 2023.

And unfortunately, the news release provided alongside the report has a rather grim outlook.

Over halfway through the goals’ lifespan between 2015 and 2030, we’re nowhere near meeting the projected targets.

“Anyone and everyone can make a difference in their personal lives and communities.”

According to the United Nations: “. . . strategic, whole-of-society transformations are needed. And this must be achieved globally – leaving no country, society or person behind.”

The message is clear: our shared responsibility as human beings is to learn about the goals, spread the word about their importance and take action for sustainability in our own lives.

From the food we eat to the clothes we wear, there’re plenty of easy, accessible and even fun areas for improvement in our everyday lives.

Growing your own food, shopping and eating local, donating your money or time to a local charity, even something as simple as switching off a light is a great step to helping the planet and each other.

Anyone and everyone can make a difference in their personal lives and communities, and every little bit will add up to momentous change.

It’s time we all take a stand for our world.

After all, there is no Planet B!

If you’d like to learn more about the 2023 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sustainable Development Goals, or sustainability in general, please visit here.

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