Deborah Tan: A Better World

How do we move from a world where there is so much injustice, to a world where things are right? (Paraphrased, Achim Steiner earlier today at the 16th Global Major Groups Stakeholder Forum)

When you look at the Global Goals, you might feel overwhelmed by the numbers: 17 goals, 169 targets, 2030 targets.  But at the heart of these goals, we want to create a world where things are right.  A world that is peaceful, sustainable, equitable: where every person, and future generations, can safely exercise their right to education, human rights, to a safe and healthy planet.

I can safely say that I’ve faced my fair share of statistics and new information from scientists at the Science Policy Forum.  Numbers that show how problematic our world is.  But I’ve also seen the sheer passion, determination and vision of people who are shifting their families, communities and the world to shape a better future for us all.  I believe the kernel of truth was captured by Ashok today: Ultimately, big international companies and governments don’t hold the answers. We do.

Here at the Major Groups forum, I’ve heard from NGOs, women’s groups, the one farmer, and been able to see how vital it is to involve society in our discussions and action plans.  The forum has brought together people across our nations and united us.  And in our unity, we’ve realised that global, public pressure for action is what we need.  We’ve already tried for solutions for decades.  We’ve been advocates.  We’ve called for our governments to act and support innovation, creativity, solutions in youth.  For corporations to place humanity’s values, the value of the environment, at the center of their approach.  But if years of activism have taught me anything, it is that these institutions have a long way to go.  Though the tide is turning now, changing the root of our behaviour, on our own scale, is the key to change.  New Zealand’s government has such a long way to go in supporting young innovators, and even representation at this conference (apart from Sir Peter Gluckman) has been sparse so far.

New Zealand is a country that literally won an award for being crap to the environment at the global climate change policy negotiations (COP 21) last year.  We’re the same people who rely on the environment through agriculture and tourism, for our income.  We’re the same country that is led by a government that has zero commitment to the Sustainable Development Agenda, has done nothing about the Global Goals, and won’t until you and I start taking action.

Achim weaved the concept of the Anthropocene through the past few days: the idea speaks to our people, people who are shifting life on earth at an historically unprecedented scale.  Our challenges seem bigger than ever.  From the draft document mentioned in UNEA, we don’t even cover enough of them.  Of the ones that are, few are covered adequately.  For all our congratulations to ourselves, the road to progress is long.  But our capacity as people to make a positive impact is bigger than ever.

Steiner observes that increasing pressures of the world, but remains strong in saying that there is an exponentially growing curve, reflecting how we will succeed in doing things differently.  I remain optimistic that we are moving towards a better world, and as young leaders we’re helping drive this change. 

We’ve got goodwill, a vision, the skills and attitude to make this planet a place we’re proud of – let’s do it.

(UNANZ is hosting a national conference on the Sustainable Development Goals. Just do it!)


All posts by Institute delegates reflect their own thoughts, opinions and experiences, and do not reflect those of the Institute.

Posted on May 22, 2016 and filed under UNEA 2016.