Today began like any other day. The alarm clock went off at eight. A shower then coffee with toast while the TV droned on. The presenter, with a mix of happiness and satisfaction, gave the news that 17 of the objectives for sustainable development that the United Nations had demanded in 2015 had been achieved, part of an agenda that would end in 2030. We’re not accustomed to good news, and this wasn’t an item buried among many others; it was the news of the day. Many other presenters just like him, on televisions all over the world, would be announcing the same news to millions of viewers. It occurred to me that today wasn’t going to be just any day.
The above could be the start of a science fiction novel or it could be reality. For the time being it’s just a project, and there are doubts about whether it will bring utopia or not.
On 25 September 2015 the United Nations General Assembly approved a series of measures to achieve a total of 17 global objectives aimed at wiping out poverty, protecting the planet, and assuring prosperity for everyone.
More than 700 million people cannot satisfy basic needs like health, education or access to water. Almost 800 million people go hungry due to a scarcity of food caused by wars, poor harvesting practices and food waste, while more than 800 children die each day from diseases related to water and sanitation. Around 3.5 billion people, roughly half the world’s population, live in the cities that occupy just 3% of the world’s land surface. Of them, more than 800 million live in poorer areas that are the result of inadequate urban planning.
Guaranteeing a healthy life and access to quality education is the way to construct prosperous societies and healthy economies in which to escape from the cycle of poverty and inequality. Besides the fact that our wellbeing depends on everyone, inequality hurts economic growth and increases social and political tensions. And there’s not just economic inequality but also gender inequality, something that still is not addressed in the constitutions of 52 countries.
Everything depends on global access to affordable, safe and sustainable energies through the creation of adequate infrastructures that can propel dynamic economies in the different countries and generate full employment and decent work. In 2015, around 80 million people in the world did not earn enough money to sustain their families. Improving living conditions is good for prosperity, but it increases the demand for natural resources and contributes to the possible destruction of ecosystems, such as the poor management that provokes overfishing in the seas. So we ourselves have to change our habits of production and consumption, for example through supporting local farmers and businesses or engaging in sustainable eating habits, if we don’t want to cause irreparable damage to the environment –bad habits that are leading to the climate change that threatens our way of life and the future of our planet.
According Juan José Almagro, vice-president of the Spanish Committee of Unicef, “it is necessary to establish alliances to achieve the objectives of sustainable development, since we are moving toward a world of co-responsibility, where solidarity leadership has to take preference of solitary leadership. Political will is necessary to activate five fundamental tools: a national strategy in each country, a diagnosis of the real situation, involving and coordinating all sectors, financing and having follow-up mechanisms, and clear accounting.”
In an event organized by the Universidad Europea de Madrid to make the university community more aware of these 17 measures toward sustainable development, Juan José Almagro stressed the importance of multiculturalism as the key to achieving a better world, and invited students to fight inequality, “which has taken over our insides and corrupts democracy. This is a battle of values and people in the framework of an ethical revolution.”
At the beginning of each year it is a tradition in Spain to write a letter to the Three Kings: a list of requests along with another list of resolutions for the new year. This list of 17 aims is our letter to the Three Kings, and involves everyone, in both government and civil society. The aim is to make the dream into reality, so that some day, perhaps in the year 2030, we can tune into the news and learn that, thanks to the effort by everyone, we have made the definitive leap toward establishing a better world.