Why the Sustainable Development Goals are relevant to all of us

Being part of the international youth-driven organization AIESEC, you want to have impact on people’s lives and become a citizen of the world in every sense. The reason why United Nations is relevant to all of us is that the one thing that connects all AIESEC’ers: we like to engage people. By giving them the opportunity to undertake a voluntary or professional internship, young people embark on a journey in which they gain cultural comprehension and participate in projects that contribute to equality, human rights and democracy, cooperation in trade and education and economic empowerment.

The Millennium Development Goals were an ambitious set of eight incentives, ranging from eradicating world hunger to achieving environmental sustainability, agreed upon by all member states of the United Nations in 2000, as world leaders were convinced that the “time for global action” had come. The MDG Summit “launched important aid initiatives and generated unprecedented agreement by Member States on the importance of human rights in efforts to achieve Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)”, as Mac Darrow states in his article The Millennium Development Goals: Milestones or Millstones? Human Rights Priorities for the Post-2015 Agenda. The aim of the 2000 agenda was to reach the objectives by 2015 to be followed-up by the sustainable development goals.

Remarkable achievements regarding some of the Millennium Development objectives included in the 2000 MDG agenda have changed the lives of many people. The eradication of hunger and extreme poverty, defined in the goals as people living on less than $1,25 per day, has been the most successful achievement as the MDGs as 1 billion people now have better living conditions than 15 years ago. Moreover, today more girls than ever are in school which proves that there has been an unprecedented effort to achieve universal primary education and to promote gender equality.

“Yet for all the remarkable gains, I am keenly aware that inequalities persist and that progress has been uneven”, declared the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon in the Millennium Development Goals Report issued in 2015. In addition, many voices, among which human rights activists, NGOs and public opinion, have pointed out the fact that many objectives remain ideals written on paper and not carried out in the field. For example, the gap between the rich and the poor is expanding worldwide and moreover, much has to be done to combat climate change and to create sustainable cities and urban development as these affect the poorest most.

“Yet for all the remarkable gains, I am keenly aware that inequalities persist and that progress has been uneven” - Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon

In a call for continued endeavour by all the UN member states towards a better world for all, Ban Ki-moon emphasized that “[e]xperiences and evidence from the efforts to achieve the MDGs demonstrate that we know what to do. But further progress will require an unswerving political will, and collective, long-term effort”. Especially in the light of the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals, United Nations proclaims that global actors among which nation states, NGOs and international institutions must show the durable commitment to implement the 17 newly adopted goals set by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

As a the largest NGO worldwide, AIESEC should and will aim to improve people’s live in many ways: by transforming remarkable AIESEC’ers into responsible future leaders, by encouraging youngsters to live diversity and to act sustainably, and above all by continuing to engage in projects that improve the lives of people.

Will you be part of this story?

This article was contributed by Anouk Stallaerts

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