Monday, 25 September 2017

Millennials on Sustainable Development: 2 Years into the SDG Regime

On September 25, 2015, the UN General Assembly passed the resolution replacing the 8 Millennium Development Goals #MDGs with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals #SDGs after an exhaustive worldwide consultation process on what development should look like in the highly connected  yet fragmented world we live in.

MDGs to SDGs 
Two years on, we have the the Paris Climate Accord in place but we live with civil wars and refugee crises across the as well as being a tweet away from a nuclear war! At this General Assembly session we had #PresidentTrump making his maiden speech, the #FLOTUS taking about making anti-bullying a priority, and #JustinTrudeau the poster boy of Canada committed to improving the country's performance with regards to indigenous people's rights  and the safety of women especially with regard to domestic violence and tackling the "missing indigenous women" problem. While this happens nations across the globe are recovering from unprecedented natural disasters which have seen a lot more of civilian volunteering. With all this in mind lets see what sustainable development and the SDGs mean to some very socially conscious #Millennials:

  Kirthi Jayakumar, Founder/CEO, Red Elephant Foundation, Chennai, India: 

“Sustainable development is not negotiable. We are at a phase in the world where human action has created several impacts that will continue into the future - being that it is the age of the anthropocene. There is a need to ensure that we are not compromising what we have as resources, while also ensuring that advancement continues to inform our needs and demands. Therefore, in all the choices we have before us, making one that is most amicable from an intergenerational equity standpoint is wisest.”

Sudhir Lodha, the youngest member of the Tamil Nadu State Minorities Commission and Honorary Chairman of the Federation of Consumer Organisation - Tamilnadu &  Pondicherry (FEDCOT):  

"First, India is facing a financial shortfall for any of the SDGs to be implemented properly. We can't say any one can bring most development. To eradicate poverty and hunger we need money for holistic economic growth.  2.5% of our $2trillion GDP is the #Health spending, 3.7% of GDP is #Education spending. We need to project finance required to reach target value based on each goal. The costs of creating awareness, R&D for enabling the SDGs have been estimated separately as percentage of future #GDP but costs are not fully calculated. A focus on just the first two goals would trickle down into achieving all the SDGs. We should concentrate on the first goal to bring about most development…that will happen only if our focus on this goal supersedes all the other goals. Starting with ending multidimensional and extreme poverty, this requires action on all fronts...#water #energy #foodsecurity, reducing vulnerability, ensuring equity and a just government structure. These are the components of the other financial assessment for #EndingPoverty arrives from the 16 subsequent goals. Second, #ZeroHunger, i.e., food security, is dependent on a number of factors from domestic food production to capacity to import food."

Devika Fernando, Author & MD, Idyllic Vista Hotel, Kandy, Sri Lanka:
“Sustainable development for me means various things, above all using instead of abusing nature, and respecting everybody’s interests. In Sri Lanka, a lot has been done in the past few years to alleviate poverty, boost education and offer better healthcare. At the same time, there are issues where the government as well as institutions and individuals have barely even scratched the surface. Especially goals like gender equality, reduced inequalities, affordable and clean energy, as well as clean water and sanitation need to be tackled more intensively and effectively. I see a huge potential in wind energy and biomass that isn’t being tapped at all. There are so many barren or overgrown lands that could be used for cultivation and various development projects, and so many unemployed people who, with basic training, could be roped into reaching the sustainable development goals. At least solar power is being used more wildly, but it too could and should be encouraged, facilitated and subsidized more.”

Yash Budhwar, Contributor, Red Elephant Foundation, Chennai India:

           “I believe the most important SDG is quality education. This is because a quality education manifests itself in the other SDG goals. A quality education is what will propel society towards a more egalitarian way of life (gender equality, responsible consumption and production, peace, justice and strong institutions, and good health and well-being, in terms of other SDG goals), as well as furthering developing economies towards faster and more efficient growth (no poverty, decent work and economic growth, sustainable cities and communities, in terms of other SDG goals).
           In the Indian context, India’s poor education infrastructure in terms of a lack of quality primary school teaching (both public and private, but private schooling is also non-accessible for the masses) and a gaping absence of higher education institutions, both in terms of quality and quantity, is what I believe restricts the majority of India’s poor from mobilising economically upwards in the social ladder as well as leading them to more fruitful lives.
           Rectifying and working towards the SDG of quality education will make India, and the world, better off and will lead to the accomplishment of other SDGs as well.”

Jessica Xalxo, Student & Author, Speaking Our Truth: A Curriculum on Non-Violent Communication, Mumbai, India: 


“SDG 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions is my favourite SDG because it advocates for something that once set, is the strongest foundation to rebuild what needs to be and sustainably without the fear of it all toppling over.”

Nanditha Ravindar, M Phil student, Chennai, India: 
#SDG4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
“To be educated is to become empowered. There is a direct correlation between being educated and being confident/comfortable in your own skin and having the knowledge to take rational, informed life decisions. For a country like ours which grapples with high illiteracy and dropout rates, access to education is crucial. It is also essential to ensure that the quality of education is high as well, since it loses its purpose otherwise. Creating an enabling environment to promote lifelong learning opportunities will help tackle adult literacy issues and even empowerment of rural women to a large extent. Hence in my opinion, SDG 4 is something India needs to take up seriously and work towards. We could start this by ensuring standardization and adhering to high standards when it comes to appointing teachers, be it in schools, colleges or Universities.”


  • A switch to renewable energy by all industries and institution can be boosted to make a dent in carbon emissions.
  •  If everyone does natural farming it would be the biggest thing for the country.
  • Stopping the construction of any buildings in ecosensitive zones is the first step to sustainable development. No exceptions! Due regard for environmental impact assessment #EIA for any project and putting a stop to projects if environment and wildlife are at risk until its #NatureSafe.

A young Chennai-based environmentalist who wishes to remain anonymous had these above crucial insights to add.



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