A Call to Action

By Naziehah Nazli

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Picture Credits: United Nations

Al-Sharq Youth Conference 2019

For the first time ever, Malaysia was chosen to be the host of the 2019 Al-Sharq Youth Conference. With the theme “Own Your Future”, the conference aimed to connect youth from all over the world, building a new generation that is well-connected, professionally skilled and inspired by universal values and a global understanding. As an intern at a local political think tank, I was privileged enough to participate and share my ideas and thoughts pertaining to the issues of concern. One of the sessions was the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030, with Lilianne Fan as the speaker. 

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030 

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for the people and planet, now and into the future. It is a reaffirmation of the pledge made by the global community to be inclusive, while at the same time ensuring the sustainability of the planet. Acknowledging the need for cooperation from all countries, developed and developing in a global partnership, 17 goals were established. The members recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality and stimulate economic growth, all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests. 

With the principle of “No one gets left behind”, the Goals are interconnected, providing a more holistic framework compared to its predecessor, the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). 

A Call-to-Action

Despite the rapid growth of economy and technological advancement, more than 700 million people, that is 11% of the world population still live in extreme poverty and is struggling to fulfil the most basic needs like access to water and sanitation, food, health and education which leads to social exclusion, unemployment and high vulnerability of certain population to disasters, diseases other phenomena which cause unproductivity. It is predicted that as many as 167 million children will live in extreme poverty by 2030, if the world does not take action to improve health and education. 

According to the Development Progress Report, an evaluation of scorecard pertaining to the progress of the SDGs showed none of the goals got the score of A. While poverty, growth and biodiversity received a score of B, basic needs such as health and education scored a C, apart from peace and partnership. Water & sanitation, energy and hunger scored a D, gender and industrialization scored an E, economic inequality, cities, waste, climate change and ocean scored an alarming F.

This evaluation is supported by the CEO of the Social Progress, Michael Green, who concluded that at the current pace, the world will only hit the SDGs by 2094, and not 2030 as targeted. 

UN SDGs
Picture Credits: World Meteorological Organisation

While it is acknowledged that multiple initiatives have been taken to ensure the success of the Goals, we still have a long way to go. The practice of rapid economic growth of giant powers at the expense of others needs to end, in which could only be done through a major policy shift. 

In fact, peace and stability seem impossible when there are parties using their veto power to defend their national interests. For instance, the US for the past decade has issued vetoes multiple times to defend Israel from censure. This shows nothing but an urgent need for change. A change that requires every segment of the society to be on board. A change that comes from powerful bodies like regional and global organizations. A change that is influential enough to leave impacts. Perhaps, a New World Order might just be what we need.

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