Taking the right turn

Yesterday, I stood in front of a classroom full of young people and talked to them about a festival that my organisation Dif will organise in Rotterdam in 2020. I asked the around 50 students in attendance: “Who has heard of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030?” One of them raised a shy finger, a bit scared in case I would question him about it.

The SDG’s 2030 (I call them Global Goals) are the goals that the UN has drawn up for a more sustainable world. The manifesto was signed by 195 world leaders in 2015 as the successor of the Millennium Goals. 17 main goals and 168 sub-goals that describe the world as it should be in 2030: A world without hunger and with peace. Without discrimination of race or faith and for equality. A world with a roof over everyone’s head, three meals a day and accessible and affordable health care. A world with a circular economy in which we no longer burn everything, but re-use it all. In which nobody falls below the poverty line anymore.

You cannot blame those kids in class for not knowing about the SDG’s, because not a dime was spent on advertising campaigns to the public after the ink of the signatures dried up. The ministry of Foreign Affairs put a few people to work on promoting the Goals, but they might soon have to pack up their boxes due to budget cuts.

So, is knowing how to save the world really that unimportant?

Certainly not. The T-junction we are hurtling towards comes ever closer. We can choose to go the right or the wrong way, but straight ahead is no longer an option. The resources that are running out, the climate that is changing and the billions of people who also want a piece of the prosperity make sure of that.

I firmly believe in turning the right way. And the Global Goals are a perfect roadmap for that. Mankind is resilient, smart and essentially benign, even when we are trapped in a corner, as we soon will be. Of the triangle formed by the government, citizens and businesses, the latter category is working the hardest. A PWC survey among 470 companies shows that 62% is working on incorporating one or more of these global goals in their company policy. 37% of these even see this as a priority. So much is happening in the business world when it comes to the Goals.

Too bad that in such an important mission, the government is lagging behind.


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