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Pope ticks Sustainable Development Goals

NEW YORK (SE): Pope Francis gave a tick to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which were introduced by the United Nations during his visit to New York in the United States of America on September 25, to replace the Millennium Development Goals, which expire this year.

The Sustainable Development Goals are an inter-governmentally-agreed set of targets aimed at achieving a “world free of poverty, hunger, disease and want, where all life can thrive… free of fear and violence, of universal respect for human rights and human dignity” by 2030.

In his speech before the United Nations, Pope Francis said, “(They are) the pillars of integral human development and have a common foundation, which is the right to life and, more generally, what we could call the right to existence of human nature itself.”

The Conference of European Justice and Peace Commissions says in a statement, “We consider the presence and the speech of Pope Francis in New York to be a Catholic pledge to contribute to the aim.”

The 17 goals spell out 169 specific targets to replace the 2000 Millennium Goals, which have already seen almost one billion people lifted out of extreme poverty, as well as to broaden their scope to look at progress in other areas.

The Sustainable Development Goals are universal and apply to all countries equally, whether rich or poor, with the ultimate aim of assisting poorer countries that are in need of specialised support.

The Justice and Peace Commissions say that they need to be looked at from three dimensions; economic, social and environmental.

Agreement on the new set of goals was a long and tedious process, with agreement on the final draft of the document being reached in August this year.

Titled, Transforming Our World: the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, the eight globally-agreed upon goals cover the areas of poverty alleviation, education, gender equality and empowerment of women, child and maternal health, environmental sustainability, reducing HIV/AIDS and communicable diseases, as well as building a global partnership for development.

Goal one commits to ending poverty in all its forms everywhere; goal two, ending hunger; and others cover areas such as reducing inequality within and among countries and adopting sound policies for the empowerment of women.

Others seek to end exploitation and trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children, promote the dignity of the human person and substantially reducing corruption and bribery in all forms, as well as developing accountability and transparency of institutions.

Human rights and human dignity are repeated several times as being fundamental in the articulation of the 17 goals.

While the goals have been widely applauded, there has been some criticism that they do not always sufficiently distinguish between end and means, or sufficiently reflect the transformation of the worldwide digital economy.

The Justice and Peace Commissions say, “Some goals do not appear feasible, which underlines the aspirational character of the global Sustainable Development Goals, whose actual translation into action is left to member states.”

However, the commissions say success depends a lot on how well the goals can be communicated, as currently there is a giant rift between opinions of aware diplomats, non-government organisations and academia on the one hand, and the less informed average citizen on the other.

To be fulfilled in the next 15 years, the goals also demand a paradigm shift in thinking on financial aid among donor countries from the billions of dollars to the trillions.


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