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No poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being. Worthy causes, but unattainable aspirations at first glance. What is the meaning of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) if, as critics attest, their attainment is "virtually impossible?"
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British Columbia is larger than many countries and our provincial government is in charge of key portfolios; education, natural resources, health, justice, agriculture, and municipalities, all of which have a huge impact beyond our provincial borders.
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Today we have a digital, geospatial on-line map of British Columbia that anyone can filter to view who is working on any number of the SDGs from gender equality to climate change to eradicating hunger and poverty both domestically and internationally.
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As much as ads, books, and other forms of media may convey a dire need to you in terms of how and what you should be donating, it is critical to understand the significance of the whole picture. This whole issue of extreme poverty is a cycle -- it begins with consumers, just like you and I, who purchase goods.
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Now is the time to make sure that the right policies and processes are in place to guide sustainable development according to the timeline that the 2030 Agenda requires -- there can be no time for confusion or delay. As UN General Assembly President Peter Thomson observed, implementation of the SDGs is now in the hands of policy-makers.
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The seventh Sustainable Development Goal is to "ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. Access to reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all is a goal that can be achieved if people take the initiative to learn more about the problem, and be willing to make the transition to modern, cleaner energy.
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How would you feel if you weren't able to have a sanitary place to go to the bathroom? If you didn't have access to clean, safe, drinking water? For people who do have access to these things it can be hard to understand how lucky we are.
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When I first began researching this topic, I was shocked to discover that we still don't have equal pay for men and women. It wasn't ignorance behind my incorrect understanding, it was the fact that I thought that in this decade, we had come past that challenge at the very least.
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With 17 SDGs and 169 associated targets, discerning our route and measuring our progress toward these targets and goals is all about finding the right indicators. Unfortunately, we don't yet have a single index to measure sustainability that brings together social, economic and environmental changes.
One of the most important concepts I've ever come across is the concept of an education itself. We live in a world where there are an endless amount of injustices that are going on, most of which can in fact be prevented by education. Education (lack of it) primarily held accountable for being the problem, but is a huge contributor to the solution.
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Few things matter more to a community, to a country, to a global society, than a child's health. Healthy children grow up to become healthy adults -- people who can create and contribute to the public good. Indeed, improving the health of a child is one of the greatest investments any society can make towards bettering its future.
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Agenda 2030's Universality principle requires all developed (and developing) countries to set published targets for the Sustainable Development Goals. But these are days of economic distress, both globally and in Canada. Can we any longer afford to increase our support for the poorest nations or even the catch-up bill for our indigenous population, long left behind?
The third Sustainable Development Goal is Good Health and Well-Being, the aim being to "ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages." It's not a matter of how many new diseases we've found cures for, it's a matter of how we've managed to distribute vaccines, and other services to some of the most inaccessible people in the world.
Sustainable Development Goal number two is focused specifically to insure that hunger is nonexistent in our world by 2030. The mission, is to "End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture."This seems like something that's impossible to achieve, but again, considering the amount of food that is constantly present on the shelves of grocery stores, clearly, this is achievable. Hence, it's not an issue of food available, but instead, one with regards to proper food distribution.