Amidst Chaos, Seeds Of Hope: United Nations, the Sustainable Development Goals, And World Goodwill
Huffington Post UK
by Alex Ratcliffe
In recent times, the word “united”, what it stands for and the institutions it represents, have endured a serious body blow. Organizations and ideals I used to learn about and pledge allegiance to as a kid, support as a young adult and teach about as an educator, including the “United” States of America and a “United” Europe (EU), are today appearing anything but. Abraham Lincoln addressed this situation in 1858 warning that, “A house divided against itself cannot stand”. In view of current events, that house would seem to stand very much in tatters.
All the more reason, perhaps, to believe or hope that the only way, from here, must surely be up. But how? How to change that trajectory?
I don’t want to sound like a whining child (although Rodney King is worth quoting, “Can we all get along?” and he was no child) whilst history clearly illustrates all the reasons why we can’t (get along). And yet, and yet.
Just days before the election, on 28 October 2016, I attended a seminar amidst the salubrious surroundings of the Palais des Nations, Geneva, “the capital of peace and freedom”. I say ‘salubrious’ (health-giving, pleasant, beneficial, luxurious) because that is what this whole area of Geneva is, though a city of contrasts. Home to the International Red Cross, more than 200 international organizations, and the United Nations, the giant “Broken Chair” stands opposite the entrance of the UN, reminding us that ‘getting along’ is no easy task. And yet the whole area hums with the intent to work together and to heal, even amidst the chaos, competition, selfish political agendas, and all the concomitant drawbacks inherent within each organization.
The topic of the seminar, which attracted 150 people from a wide range of backgrounds, professions and nationalities, was: “World Good Will, Ethical Responsibility and the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations”. This UN initiative, the SDG’s, and its 17 aspirational goals which came into effect early this year, are “a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity”. They provide targets for all countries to adopt in order to tackle our mounting global problems including poverty, climate change, inequality, international conflict, and the guidelines to address them now. These goals for the future are officially known as “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.
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Alex Ratcliffe is a Freelance writer, educator, and member of UNA-UK