In line with the description from various English dictionaries, many people would generally describe the word “sustainable” as being able to exist or continue for a long time without causing damage. Therefore, giving an overall description about sustainable development goals, they will be considered as a set of targets that are aimed at bringing about lasting development in a country when achieved.
According to the United Nations (UN), Sustainable Development Goals, popularly called SDGs, are the blueprint for achieving a better and more sustainable future for all. The goals address global challenges including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, peace and justice.
Usually, the main purpose of setting any goal (personal or shared goal) is to guide and direct focus and energy towards achieving a worthwhile result. There could be personal goals like losing weight, completing a certificate course, learning a new skill, becoming more efficient at work or shared/common goals (amongst two or more people) like family goals, societal goals, company goals or a country’s goal. Whether it is a personal or shared goal, the parties involved are usually expected to be committed to achieve the goal and obtain the desired result(s).
Sustainable development goals are globally shared goals agreed amongst countries of the United Nations to help achieve greater levels of development. As popularly believed, any goal without a timeline and set plan for its attainment is only a wish. SDGs should be met by 2030 amongst UN member countries. Just as actualisation of personal goals are accompanied by improved self-esteem, greater confidence, better performance, attainment of the SDGs by a country will presumably lead to higher levels of economic growth and development in the country. When individuals work to achieve a set goal, some behavioural practices are learned or unlearned to suit the new goal. Similarly, reaching the SDGs in a country will require collective efforts of individuals, communities and the government. It would also involve lifestyle modification, environmental protection and relevant government policies to produce effective results that will stand the test of time. The key step in setting goals is to know exactly what the goal is and the next step is determining how to achieve it.
SDGs also known as global goals are a collection of 17 goals set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 for the year 2030. They replaced the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and are by far broader. For some countries that achieved the MDGs, the SDGs are a movement towards achieving even more while for others, it is another opportunity to seek to attain the highest possible level of health for its populace with the attendant national development. Everyone is expected to play a part, no matter how little, in the realisation of the SDGs even before 2030 for the common good. This is to say that it is not the sole responsibility of anyone (individual, community or government) but requires effective input from the various groups.
The Sustainable Development Goals as described by the United Nations are:
Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere (No poverty)
Poverty as evidenced by lack of income and resources to ensure sustainable livelihood, manifestation of hunger, malnutrition, limited access to education, social discrimination amongst others should be tackled and the standard of living improved alongside provision of job opportunities.
Goal 2: Zero hunger
Quality food should be easily available to all families to curb hunger and its negative effects on the population. This goal can be met if more families are financially capable to meet their nutritional needs. Food wastage should also be discouraged.
Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages
More attention should be put into ensuring a healthy population and promoting healthy practices (like healthy diet, regular exercise) to prolong life and improve quality of life of the people. Government can encourage good health by supporting and setting up health schemes that makes healthcare easily accessible to its citizens. Targets should be made towards reducing the number of mortalities from preventable causes, providing more efficient health systems, improving environmental sanitation and hygiene.
Goal 4: Quality education
This is very vital in improving the quality of lives of people and achieving sustainable development. There should be access to quality education for all with learning institutions equipped with the tools required for innovation.
Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
With the increasing awareness on the need for gender equality, it essential that countries put measures in place that will produce lasting effects on the topic. Gender discrimination should be discouraged at all levels. Also, harmful practices on girls/women like child marriage and female genital cutting, rape, should be dealt with appropriately.
Goal 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all
There should be easy access to safe water and clean environment. As attaining the SDGs calls for the integrated actions of all, bad/harmful sanitary practices like indiscriminate defecation, open refuse dumping and other poor methods of sewage disposal which may contaminate water bodies and can lead to diseases and reduction in the quality of lives of the people living in the affected areas. Government regulations should guide economic activities and ensure that there is no present or future harm to water and the environment of its people.
To be continued….
Health quote of the week:
“Sustainable development is the pathway to the future we want for all” – Ban Ki-Moon