In September 2000, at the dawn of a new millennium, I was pretty busy focusing on the big problems of the day. Would I pass my maths exam? Where would Dad's job take us next after stints in Malawi, the Caribbean and now Belgium? And were the Belgians right to have mayonnaise on their chips?
Meanwhile, over in New York, 189 world leaders agreed to eight global goals that aimed to benefit the poorest people of the world, including some of the people I'd been lucky enough to get to know in Malawi. These goals were of course the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/.
Fast forward 13 years and I find myself living in Brasilia, married to a Brazilian - yes, one of the several positive outcomes of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development ! - and working with my team at BioRegional on what will replace the Millennium Development Goals post-2015.
It's a daunting task. We - charities, business, governments, citizens across the world - have unprecedented opportunity to change the face of our planet forever. It is not going to be easy, but in the run up to 2015 we all have the chance to influence a global framework which has the potential to do many things. Eradicate extreme poverty. Protect our environment from further destruction and devastation. And achieve sustainable economic growth that will benefit future generations.
The exciting thing is that the last 15 years have seen huge advancements towards the achievement of all of these goals, including the eradication of extreme poverty, reducing child mortality and promoting gender equality. However, there have been many areas in which the goals have fallen far short. World hunger is on the rise since the adoption of the UN goals, with nearly a billion people suffering. And the number of women who die in childbirth every year is still in the hundreds of thousands, falling far short of the UN goal to cut maternal deaths by three quarters.
In 2015, governments of the world will come together again to agree to another global development framework that will shape the lives of billions of people. They will build on the huge advancements and progress made under the MDGs as well as addressing the many shortcomings.
For me, and a large group of civil society organisations working with the coalition group, Beyond 2015, this is an opportunity to address people's lifestyles and the way we choose to consume. We want to make sure it is possible for people everywhere to enjoy a high quality of life within their fair share of the earth's resources. We will take the hard won lessons from 15 years of practical projects to help show governments that we can and should do things differently.
I want to make sure that the goals address global consumption and production patterns. We are gobbling up the earth's resources at an unsustainable rate and if everyone in the world lived many of us in developing countries do now we would currently need three planets to support us. Unless we find a way to consume and produce goods more sustainably as the population grows and the development of countries increases, we will hit a crises point where there is not enough land or sea left on the planet to support our existence. The consequences really are quite terrifying to think about!
Convinced? Want to know can you engage in this discussion and shape the futures of billions of people?
For the first time, the UN has launched an outreach programme that spans the globe, enabling people everywhere to have a say in what goals they see as important to delivering a sustainable future for all. Here are just three ways you can get stuck in:
My World is a global survey that wants to hear from you and what priorities you think need to be addressed for a better world, which will be fed back to world leaders: http://www.myworld2015.org
The Sustainable Development Goals e-Inventory is crowdsourcing proposals for post-2015 to feed into the intergovernmental process on establishing a set of global goals. On this site you can also view the proposals that others have put forward so far: http://http://www.sdgseinventory.org/
The UN Millennium Campaign is tracking which issues facing the post-2015 agenda are being most tweeted, and what issues are most pressing in particular regions. So if you are an avid tweeter, start getting involved in the discussion: http://post2015.unglobalpulse.net/#
I for one want a world where everyone lives happy, healthy lives within a fair share of the world's resources. I'm sure about that. Just don't ask me about the Belgians and mayonnaise. Now that is a conundrum.
Freya Seath is BioRegional's Policy and Advocacy Manager.
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