Sustainability and Peace: The Linkages between the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and Achieving Peace
By admin September 21, 2016

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A youth flashes the V-sign for victory d

In a 2015 documentary, “Unity” director Shaun Monson composes over one hundred actors, musicians, entertainers, businessmen, athletes and military personnel to explore the transformation of humanity in five segments. The message conveys the idea that human beings today have achieved the highest level of consciousness of any living creature in history, and it is that very fact that proves that the level of consumption by human beings is wholly unsustainable. Furthermore, it posits the idea that because human beings are not living in harmony with its surroundings, is that other living beings such as animal and plant species, we are collectively living without peace. Oneself should explore the takeaway, however we can see these theories in our reality today. September 21st marks the official day for international peace per the United Nations. Given this, it is imperative to take a moment to explore how the United Nations is working to achieve a level of peace worldwide.

During the 2015 United Nation’s General Assembly, the largest outcome of that session was the emergence of the 2030 Development Agenda, or more aptly known in international development circles as the “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs). A roll of seventeen in total, the sixteenth marks the need to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions to all”. What is special about the goals is that they are all inextricably intertwined and the success of many leads to the success of the rest. Consequently, the inability to achieve advancements for some, also seriously compromises the fulfillment of others, such as holistic ones like the sixteenth here.

Achieving international peace seems like a normative statement, one that could be viewed as impossible given the many challenges faced on a global level. From food insecurity to terrorism to climate change, we appear to be moving in a direction of destruction rather than harmony. However, experts like Fareed Zakaria regularly reminds his audience that despite the many ailments we are certainly experiencing today, we are living in one of the most peaceful periods in recorded history. The Democracy Index, compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, measures that a state of democracy is present in 167 countries, 165 of which are UN member states. While political scientists could take contention with the fact that countries are classified as democracies while the on the ground reality would indicate otherwise, there advancements that have been made that have helped to achieve peace in particular corners of the globe.

As we think about the “International Day of Peace” today, it is important to keep in mind that all the challenges we are facing prompts the realization that there is a disproportionate way in which we are consuming resources and behaving within our communities. The SDGs hope to eradicate some of these ills and also alleviate other circumstances.

For more information:

Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform

Unity: Exploring a World without Opposites, through mind, body, heart, soul, and the cosmos

International Day of Peace

Global Health Goals Hits and Misses

Why the Sustainable Development Goals Matter

Harper’s Bazaar Arabia December 2015 | Editor’s Letter

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