Will we make it?

Context

We have some darn wicked problems in the world. Many people and especially many millennials out there are trying to make a dent in them. Every time I see someone of my generation make giant leaps and undertake truly life-saving initiatives, I feel a bit left out wondering what is it that I could be doing right now to make the world a better place. Reading through the Forbes 30 Under 30 2016 report, a data point caught my eye: 64% of the people in the list chose to be Entrepreneurs with the sole purpose of changing the world and a mere 1% of them did it to get rich. Clearly, millennials want to change the world. We are coming, world! Hang in there.

However, I personally am not yet sure of what I am supposed to do as part of being We, The Millennials; beyond being a generally good world citizen. So, I decided that I should at least begin by examining the situation a bit more closely. And, given the ultra wicked problems in the world, I felt the right question to ask at the outset is “will we make it?”. Hence this post; a mere preparation for a boundless quest.

A Rough Plan of action

1) Peel the metaphorical onion, that is the world problems. 2) Look at it through my lens of an engineer and businessman 3) Hypothesize some triggers and low hanging fruits. 4) Find some friends pondering similar issues. Your thoughts are welcome.

Understanding and framing world problems is a daunting task. Luckily we have UN that does a fine job at it. So, I immediately went for the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 that UN announced recently. Here is a quick summary I put together (click the preceding link for official page):

UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)for 2030

Just look at the scale of each of them. These are so staggering and so far reaching that if this millennial generation truly (next 15 years are run by millennials) does pull these off, all the future generations basically must form a new religion and pray to our generation as gods.

Then again, will we make it?

When you are faced with a seemingly insurmountable challenge, the natural human instinct is to seek out experience. Lucky for us again, UN has existed for a while and they have tried something similar 15 years ago and called them Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). There were 8 of them with 21 specific targets and 60 indicators. To cut to the chase, MDGs were highly impactful with few successes, some partial successes and some no successes. Overall, you could say they were partially successful. To me, almost winning is not winning, especially when it comes to people and planet. And now there are 17 SDGs with some 160 targets and 100 indicators. It’s like someone failing to summit a local mountain and then suddenly “needing to” climb Mt. Everest. We really need to make sure that the SDGs are successful. But, based on history, the success of SDGs seems like a proverbial pipe dream.

Or is it?

History is linear. Future is exponential. Remember the one thing that lights a fire in the millennial? - “the prospect of changing the world”. And there is a whole generation of millennials, potentially the largest generation ever, on their way. We are bringing Gandalf and the army to Helm’s deep. Look to the east! (couldn’t resist a LOTR reference)

From LOTR: The Two Towers

On that note, the quest begins. Game on.


Disclaimer: This is a personal blog. All my blog posts express my personal views and are in no way a representation of my employer. Any posts reflect my opinion and not an endorsement.