The SDGs and being put on the Naughty Step
I have 2750 LinkedIn connections, 3700 Facebook ‘Friends’, 7000 Twitter ‘Followers’ and 2 children. All these connections represent people from almost very country. My children represent the UK. Despite diversity in my contacts, I can make one strong blanket statement… you are all very disappointing. I shake my head at you. And some of you I am putting on the naughty step. Before you stop reading in a huff give me a chance to explain.
The United Nations have worked really hard to frame the biggest and most complex issues we face. They have clearly laid out the consequences of failure, and with the help of brilliant organisations like Project Everyone, they have created 17 very pretty little icons that you can remember and rally to. The Sustainable Development Goals are clear and this is the most important campaign since World War 2, a controversial statement, but certainly the first comprehensive and global campaign that we can all unify behind.
So why am I disappointed? Well it is likely that you fall into one of three categories of shame.
Firstly, you either don’t know about or have not paid much attention to the Sustainable Development Goals. Get your head out of the sand.
Secondly, if you know about the SDG’s (you may well be calling them the Global Goals) and have recognised their importance, but are not integrating some activity to achieve them into daily life, well I’m still looking at you with disdain. You should already be collaborating to reach targets for your family, company, or community. There is no excuse. You can’t wait for your line manager, leader, or mum, to get things moving on this one.
Thirdly, if you are in my network (and everyone reading should be), I’m disappointed if you are not members or supporters of World Merit. You should probably be ashamed of yourself.
Joking aside, in a meeting with Dr. David Nabarro a couple of weeks ago we talked about how the Sustainable Development Goals need a million activists to align and coordinate work within a couple of years. Yes, the most influential and well known have a responsibility to motivate and mobilize people, but you do too. This is about you and your future, and you absolutely need to become a net contributor to solutions. How does that old phrase go? You either have to be part of the solution, or you're going to be part of the problem.
If you haven’t already, start by picking one of the 17 goals that you are most passionate for and pledge to make a difference - not one of those new years’ resolution pledges either, a real one. Try and live up to your humanity and responsibility by making a difference in all 17. I know I can do a lot more. I think we all could.
Both my sons, aged 6 and 5, where on the naughty step this morning. Neither had eaten their breakfast after an hour of cajoling. I really wanted to say the thing most Western parents say at some point, ‘there are hungry people all over the world and you won’t eat your Coco Pops’ but refrained from that cliché as I didn’t want to trivialise the problem that SDG2 is trying to address. The easiest way to get the very young engaged in making a difference is for everyone around them to role model making a difference. This is you. In our house, Mum is a Vet, which is cool. The boys have no idea what Daddy does, but if you are reading this boys, Daddy spends increasing amounts of his day trying to contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals – its equally important, honestly boys.
So, if you don’t get your own arse in gear in the coming days, my disappointment will turn to anger and you really don’t want to be on the naughty step. Oh, and neither do you really want the World to suffer in the same significant and avoidable ways in 2030.
*Note to those already working hard on the Sustainable Development Goals, even those that didn’t know that that is what they are doing daily. Ok so I’m not disappointed in you, but what do you want from me, a prize? You are doing what you are meant to. Just doing what you should. We can all do more.
Written By Chris Arnold