United Nations: Sustainable Development Goals

By Avery Goulding, ’19

On September 25th, 2015, the countries involved in the United Sustainable Development initiative adopted a set of goals directed at ending poverty, reducing inequalities, increasing gender equality, and 14 other objectives. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years.

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The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals web site lists the 17 aspirational “Global Goals.”

One goal of interest to students would be goal four, labeled “quality education.” According to its description, “Goal four ensures inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.” Looking at the option ‘Goal 4 Targets,’ it states a priority to build and upgrade educational facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, nonviolent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all.

The United Nations works in partners with UNICEF, UNESCO, UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), and UNFPA (United Nations Fund for Population Activities), sharing specifically the concept of creating a safer environment for children primarily in more ‘conflict affected areas’ in order for these kids to learn safely and correctly.

Ban ki-Moon, a South Korean diplomat and the eighth secretary-general of The United Nations from January 2007 to December 2016, is a participant in the fight for universal quality education. “When you ask parents what they want for their children even in war zones and disaster areas – they seek the same thing: education,” he said in a United Nations report. “Parents want their children in school.”

Though this is a worldwide issue, the problem is not well known to many Edward Little students.

“I haven’t heard of it,” said sophomore Maddy Landry. “I don’t really know anything about it. I knew that a lot of kids in conflicted areas were uneducated, but I didn’t realize how wide the numbers actually are.”

Landry noted that many students take their privileges for granted. “I feel like kids complain about the work load every day when these kids would probably kill to have what we have,” she said. “I feel like when I was younger, school was a dread and now that I’m in high school, I realize how important it actually is in terms of your future. I think for the most part it would just go over their head, and they wouldn’t take the time to learn about it or care.”

Honors World History teacher Erin Towns is trying to make students care, though. She used the goals as part of a lesson in a recent class a couple months ago. Towns was introduced to the project a number of years ago, and was reintroduced just recently.

“The UN expresses the most vital issues,” she said. “Of course these have always been goals of theirs anyway, along with the Peace Corps.”

According to Towns, the United Nations  set a deadline of 2030, turning the already existing goals into ‘deadline’ goals. The point is to make the issue seem more urgent with a deadline, so people might be more alarmed at the thought of what might happen if the goals are not met within a certain period of time.

Towns took EL students on a trip to Ecuador in 2016 in an effort to get students more involved and help them see the impact of poverty in other parts of the world.

“We traveled for a service learning project, which would look for people who would fund for kids to have an education. The students that took the trip really got to get an up close look at poverty. In Ecuador, you can have an education, but only if you have the right materials. In Ecuador, the average GPD per capita is around $6,000 per year. You think its average in such a poor area, but that’s exactly what poverty looks like. Then you compare that to the US GPD being around $53,000 a year.”

Effort and awareness like this is the ultimate goal of a project like the UN’s. Issues like these will continue to rely on current and upcoming generations to get involved and make that change for someone who’s been waiting for it, no matter the issue or goal.



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