What I Learned About the Sustainable Development Goals at I-Week 2020

By Gurbani

YouAlberta
Jan 18 · 4 min read
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With a busy schedule and a ton of assignments, I never had the time to learn about how the world is working towards sustainable development, even though it is an important subject that every student should be aware of. Each one of us has a part to play towards sustainable development, and so learning about it is also essential. UAI’s International Week (I-Week) helped a lot to boost my knowledge about the sustainable development goals, or SDGs, and was worth taking the time to attend.

The SDGs are a group of 17 goals set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. The goals were set with a vision to achieve a more sustainable future with a concept of leaving no one behind and they are targeted to be achieved by 2030. SDGs 1, 2 and 3 are eliminating poverty, zero hunger, and good health and well-being, respectively. I see these three goals as interconnected in the sense that if we achieve Goal 1 we, in turn, get close to achieving Goal 2. Ending hunger and achieving improved nutrition and food security will play a big role in promoting well-being, which is Goal 3.

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During I-Week 2020, I attended the keynote talk by Natan Obed, the President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), where he spoke about achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Inuit Nunangat. As an international student, I learned numerous facts about Inuit Nunangat and the Intuit community through the talk by Natan. His talk enlightened me to think about certain issues that Canada as a country is facing which are not as prominent as they should be.

Canada as a country has always been perfect for me, a student who has moved here from India. However, no country in this world is perfect and neither is Canada. I only realized this after I heard Natan talk about food insecurity along with the lack of infrastructure and transportation in Inuit Nunangat. Inuit Nunangat has fifty-one communities and the majority are marine communities with a few ports and a lack of ways to export and import goods and services. Only two in fifty-one communities have in-and-out road access, and only one region is supported by marine infrastructure. Natan believes that Intuit Nunangat is a country within a country and he admires and learns from the resilience and kindness of all Indigenous people. Natan believes that life expectancies, as well as the social and economic indicators in Inuit Nunangat, are similar to developing countries such as Ethiopia and Zimbabwe.

So, how is Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami working towards all these challenges in Inuit Nunangat? They’re working towards the SDGs. The life expectancies and the social and economic indicators in Inuit Nunangat are a major reason why SDGs are welcomed by Intuit. The ITK is focused on achieving Sustainable Development Goals 1 (no poverty), 2 (zero hunger ), 3 (good health and well-being), 4 (quality education), 5 (gender equality), 13 (climate action), and 16 (peace, justice, and strong institutions) through their strategic plans. For example, the ITK plans to achieve SDGs 1 and 2 through its final stage of creating the National Inuit Food Security Strategy. Another way to achieve these SDGs is by adapting programs such as the Nutrition North Program and the National School Lunch Program to eradicate food insecurity. Poverty is the driving force for food insecurity and food insecurity is the biggest problem that needs to be addressed not only in the Inuit community but throughout Canada to achieve the SDGs.

But what can we do to help? I believe that awareness is one of the most important factors that enables us to provide any kind of help. Natan’s talk enlightened me to realize that just talking about the problems does not mean we care to solve them. We also need to be self-determined to take actions to solve the problems. I feel that setting a target to achieve the SDGs can, in turn, lead us to work on problems such as poverty and food insecurity, and this is how many problems as a nation can be solved.

International Week (I-Week) is happening online February 1–6, 2021! I-Week is a chance for you to hear various perspectives connected to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There are more than a dozen free virtual events open to all; registration is required.

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