A roadmap Introducing the Global Goals for Sustainable Development Story by By Dr. Karen Allen, UNICEF Pacific Representative
Every now and then, an idea comes along that can change the course of history. Fifteen years ago, global leaders embraced one such idea, joining forces to tackle some of the biggest problems facing the world’s most disadvantaged countries, including those in the Pacific. The result was the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS), a coordinated global effort to reduce poverty and address barriers to human development. While attempts had been made to bring about change on these issues in the past, the MDGS were one of the first truly global efforts on a diverse set of interlinked goals. Eight goals were identified and a fifteen-year timeframe was set. There’s no doubt the MDGS were am- bitious; a set of goals that has ‘Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger’ as the first item on its ‘ To do’ list couldn’t be described as anything else. Fifteen years later, however, the MDGS will be remembered as the most successful anti-poverty movement in history. The proof is in that ‘ambitious’ first goal. In 1990, nearly half of the developing world (1.9 billion people) lived in extreme poverty. The number of people now living in extreme poverty has declined by more than half, falling to just 836 million in 2015. The experience over the last fifteen years has proven that immense change is possible when we work together to achieve defined goals. We can rightfully celebrate huge achievements linked to the MDGS,
globally and in the Pacific region.
In Oceania, we’ve witnessed a drop of 51 per cent in the number of pregnant women dying before or during childbirth over the past two decades. Primary school enrolment rates have jumped from 69 to 95 per cent. Progress has also been made in protecting marine areas, which helps to prevent loss of biodiversity, maintain food security and water supplies, strengthen climate resilience and provide services for human wellbeing. These are all achievements worthy of celebration. New goals for a new era. We have achieved so much in the last fifteen years, but there’s more to do. Several aspects of the MDGS require further work – and even more ambitious targets
Previous page: Mary with her last born Moses, by their home preparing dinner. UNICEF pacific/2006/pirozzi. This page top: Millennium Development Goals Summary. This page bottom: Global Goals for Sustainable Development summary.
can be set on old and new issues, now that we know what is possible. That’s why, on 25 September 2015, 193 world leaders, including all Pacific leaders, met once again in New York to agree on new goals; the Global Goals for Sustainable Development (‘Global Goals’). The seventeen Global Goals are designed to achieve three extraordinary things in the next fifteen years: end extreme pov-
Top: Manasseh Sogavare, Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s Seventieth Session. UN Photo/amanda Voisard. Middle: Children use a newly-installed water tap. UNICEF Pacific/2014/alcock. Bottom: Members of the Vanuatu Mobile Force rebuild a classroom that had been badly damaged by cyclone Pam. UNICEF Pacific/2015/mcgarry. is possible – and we only need to look forward to understand what lies at stake if we do not act collectively towards a healthier, more prosperous and equal future for all. As for climate change, we only need to look around us to see its impacts. The Pacific has long been at the forefront of climate change action, largely because our homes, health and future are forever linked to the health of our climate and oceans.
What do the Global Goals mean for the Pacific?
Even a cursory glance at the new Global Goals reveals their strong connection to Pacific concerns. Goals one to six link to universal development challenges that every Pacific nation is grappling with. It is no coincidence that they also tip their hats to the unfinished business of the MDGS. While immense progress has been made, these development challenges require sustained and committed efforts through generations. In the Pacific, there are still too many people living in extreme poverty, too many who are malnourished, too many risks associated with childbirth, too many women who are paid unequally or excluded from opportunities to engage in fair work and too many children dying before their fifth birthday. Far too few people in the region have easy access to clean drinking water and, in the case of low-lying atolls like Kiribati, what little water they do have is at risk of becoming contaminated by salt water. If we want to look critically at the status of women in the Pacific, we need to look no further than the fact that just 4.4% of seats in Pacific parliaments are held by women; the lowest percentage in the world. As we look to the next fifteen years in our collective development journey, it is important that we build on, and consolidate, the success we have achieved as a region; Global Goals 1 to 6 support us to keep our eye on the ball.
When we look closely at Goals 7 to 16 we see where the full name of the ‘Global Goals for Sustainable Development’ has come from. These goals are about preparing our world and region for a challenging, changing and complex future. These goals focus on protecting our oceans, our land, our climate and our people. They are also about ensuring that our cities are safer and more sustainable places, as more and more people drift towards them. In the Pacific this trend has been happening for some time, with significant ‘urban drift’ within and between countries. For the first time, one of the Goals (#16) also focuses on access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable institutions at all levels. Corruption, a big hidden barrier to development, is firmly in the crosshairs with the Global Goals. Last, but by no means least, Goal 17 focuses on strengthening a global partnership for sustainable development. The Global Goals are BIG goals – bigger than any individual, organisation, company or government. In order for us to succeed by our 2030 deadline we must work together, sharing our resources, expertise, efforts and lessons learned as we work together towards the world’s first, truly global goals. Dunya Maumoon, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Maldives stressed the need to encourage holistic and stronger partnerships with Small Island states when the Global Goals were launched in September 2015, saying “We are ready to be part of the solution. In Samoa last year, the Small Island Developing States (SIDS)