While the major problems of wealthy first world citizens often circle around questions such as „When will the next iPhone version be released?, „Which is the hippest restaurant or club in town?“ or „Where should we spend our next summer holiday?“ the vast majority of citizens in other areas of the world struggles with rather fundamental issues such as poverty, hunger, or health.
According to the World Food Programme (http://www.wfp.org) approx. 5.9 million children under-5 died in 2015 – in average 16,000 per day (!!!) mostly in Africa and Southern Asia or Latin America. Almost half of these desperate children died due to hunger and thirst. This is even more outrageous under consideration of the fact that the average cost for an adequate school meal with important vitamines and nutrients are only 20 Cent per day and child, i.e. approx. 220 million USD per year would be sufficient to save 3 million kids from starving. With regard to the trillions of USD, which have been wasted to „rescue“ „systemically relevant“ banks and financial institutions in course of the financial crisis since 2008 this is really embarrassing.
Oxfam, an international confederation of 19 non-governmental organizations, issued a report in January 2017 (just before the World Economic Forum in Davos) stating that the riches 8 men in the world (by name: Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos, Amancio Ortega, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison, Carlos Slim and Michael Bloomberg) own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people, who make up the poorest half of humanity – which is simply weird. Public anger with inequality is already creating political shockwaves across the globe. Inequality has been cited as a significant factor in the election of Donald Trump in the US, the election of President Duterte in the Philippines, and the Brexit referendum decision in the UK. Even though it is certainly not adequate or reasonable to stoke social envy, the comparison provided by Oxfam illustrates, that something goes wrong.
On September 25th 2015, countries under the umbrella of the United Nations (UN) adopted a set of 17 goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each of the 17 goals has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years (hyperlinks in brackets lead to more detailed information on facts and figures and goal targets):
- Goal: End poverty in all its forms everywhere (http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/poverty/)
- Goal: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture (http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/hunger/)
- Goal: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages (http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/health/)
- Goal: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning (http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/education/)
- Goal: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls (http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/gender-equality/)
- Goal: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all (http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/water-and-sanitation/)
- Goal: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all (http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/energy/)
- Goal: Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all (http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/economic-growth/)
- Goal: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation (http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/infrastructure-industrialization/)
- Goal: Reduce inequality within and among countries (http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/inequality/)
- Goal: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable (http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/cities/)
- Goal: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns (http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-consumption-production/)
- Goal: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts (http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/climate-change-2/)
- Goal: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources (http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/oceans/)
- Goal: Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss (http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/biodiversity/)
- Goal: Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies (http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/peace-justice/)
- Goal: Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development (http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/globalpartnerships/)
The complete list of goals and goal targets including facts and figures can be found at the UN homepage (http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/).
For the goals to be reached, everyone needs to do their part: governments, the private sector, civil society and people like you. For those, who want to get involved, the UN assembled a „lazy person’s guide to saving the world“ comprising concrete and practical examples for value adding actions (http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/takeaction/). Be aware: Change starts with you!