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Looking beyond the document- The SDGs

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The Sustainable Development Goals are indeed a bright, new agenda serving as a prelude to an illustrious vision of transforming our world by 2030. It is an ambitious project that has immense potential to eradicate any obstacle in the path of national, international and human resource development. On the eve of 25th September 2015, 193 countries signed this international agenda, attempting to take forward an endeavour for international sustainability and progress. However, a perceptible result is yet to be seen and may take a report covering many years’ time.

Even though the SDGs do the job of penning down global issues wonderfully, it instructs little about “how to progress”. The document has been result of the largest consultation in the history of the United Nations – a three year process involving 83 National surveys that covered 7 million people. But is a voice heard only through documentation? Or does it become a piece of literature, a textual reference for scholars? While for many, the SDGs are a ray of hope, they seem to be quite a “utopic vision” for others. With the aim of defining the future funding agenda for the international community with respect to the goals, the UN as yet needs to divert attention to the fact that multifarious resources may still be non-existent in nations or institutions, if not money.

It is important to note that the SDGs are, what I believe, an aggrandised version of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the rightful predecessors of the SDGs. Covering eight simplistic goals, the MDGs of September 2000 were successful in achieving a 50% cut-down in extreme poverty, 44% higher survival rate of mother and child during/ after child birth, 91% of the global population having access to clean drinking water and countries upping their contributions – as reported by National Public Radio, the USA. While the reported success of the MDGs could be attributed to creditable international participation and great fervour for climate action, what is also marked is that the efforts require were well-listed, patrolling was severe and of course, the simplicity of the MDG goals provided nations a sense of ability and willingness to work.

By the time the SDGs came into being, a perceived “threat” to national and international sustainability was the “large number” of SDG targets. Respondents of an interview taken among certain American students also expressed a desire for the SDGs to focus more on good governance as a tool for addressing social inequalities. Moreover, there is still scope for the SDGs to consider “Health” as a theme beyond a strictly biomedical perspective, and “clean energy” as a measure to mitigate climate action (both of which are two separate goals).

The beauty of the Sustainable Development Goals lies in their “universality”. Therefore, the most crucial concern is how to make people, institutions and governments care more about the Goals. An early checkpoint was the Global Partnership for Education replenishment in early February of 2018, co-hosted by Senegal and France, followed by Global health funding replenishments (including for the Global Financing Facility) in the second half of 2018 and into 2019, as well as at the Spring World Bank/IMF Meetings in April 2018. Now, the world awaits stronger community/ government-based actions to mitigate the noble cause of the SDGs.

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