ONLINE DISCUSSION

DISCUSSION ON 17 SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS OF THE UNITED NATIONS

(FEBRUARY 9 TO MARCH 3, 2019)

A Google Group has been set-up for this online discussion at SUSTAINALBE AGENDA DISCUSSION.

There you can enable your participation by requesting membership (or alternatively contacting the the online discussion organizers Bob Kolodney at bobkolive@gmail.com and Anders Zeijlon at anderszeijlondc@gmail.com).

The Google Group platform has been chosen because it is efficient and simple to use. If you can use e-mail, you can use a Google Group.

This Discussion Group is an educational exercise, and we anticipate having both active participants in the conversations and group members who are only monitoring the conversations and/or asking questions.

Please do not hesitate to contact the organizers with questions or suggestions.

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DISCUSSION THEMES:

Our introductory discussion theme is the first of the 17 goals, THE ELIMINATION OF POVERTY "EVERYWHERE AND IN ALL ITS FORMS". Poverty Elimination is relevant to most of the other goals and its elimination would enable a number of human rights. It leads into the discussion of the other goals.

We will discuss the 17 goals under five themes. The themes and discussion leaders are :

1) Preliminary Poverty Discussion - Bob Kolodney (OLLI Human Rights Conference organizer)

2) Economic - Anders Zeijlon (former World Bank economist)

3) Social - Nancy Donaldson (recently retired from United Nations career as ILO Ambassador)

4) Environmental - Ron Ridker (leading authority on air quality and global warming)

5) Institutional/Collaboration - Ed Elmendorf (Co-chair SDG Task Force, UN Association)

See More About discussion topics at THEMES FOR DISCUSSION ONLINE ___________________________________________________________

KICK-OFF:

On February 11, 2019 there was a live, in-person, face-to-face Kick-Off session to launch the discussion.

This event featured an overview presentation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by Ed Elmendorf, introduction of discussion themes by our discussion leaders and lively discussion.

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SUGGESTION TO PREPARE YOURSELF FOR PARTICIPATION IN DISCUSSION:

KEY RESOURCE LINK TO CONSULT: A great deal of information about the Sustainable Development Agenda and the No Poverty goal in particular can be accessed through links that are set out below.

In order to inform yourself to participate in the "no poverty" discussion, you may wish to consult RESOURCE LINK C (the UN SDG Information Website). At that site you can click on the box labeled "No Poverty" in order to bring up a page with:

- statistics;

- targets;

- a basic white paper;

- information on progress to date; and

- further websites to consult.

At this website it is possible to obtain similar information for each of the 17 goals in the same manner (by clicking on the goal's box).

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BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

A SURPRISING STORY:

A NEAR MIRACLE: The existence of the Sustainable Development Agenda results, improbably, from the seeds planted by the people involved in the founding of the United Nations, and the creation and adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Eleanor Roosevelt would have been proud and very pleased to see that despite the Cold War, international rivalries and disputes, the ideas of the UDHR have provided a lodestone to draw us toward our best aspirations.

Perhaps, most importantly, despite all the problems and challenges of the world that lead to discouragement and pessimism in the real and fake media and in general public opinion, the Sustainable Development Agenda has an aura of realistic optimism. It seems that this perspective is justified because recently published books reveal that things are not as abysmal they appear on the surface (See: "Factfulness" by Hans Rosling and "Enlightenment Now" by Steven Pinker). In this light our challenge becomes guiding humanity's progress toward useful aims, rather than trying to dig ourselves out of a deep pit- and who would have thought that the "Can do" spirit could be found at the United Nations?

The UN has established a program that coherently addresses the challenges to humanity, and a way toward the reduction of suffering, the optimal conservation and utilization of natural (and human) resources, and the application of new technologies and possibilities for the benefit of all. This opens up the vision of a possible world with conditions good enough that it would not be unthinkable to apply ongoing brain function discoveries and the newly established psychology of happiness to enable fruitful and fulfilling lives for all of of the earth''s inhabitants.

TIMING AND COMPOSITION: The 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations were established in 2015 for achievement by 2030 as an extension of the Millennium Development Goals. The 17 goals were determined after an extensive consultative and negotiating process. There is minimum reference to human rights, but human rights are implicit in them; the attainment of the Sustainable Development Agenda would enable or facilitate all the rights set out in the Universal Declaration of Human rights.

The goals have 169 component targets and each target has one or more indicators - which gives a total of 232 indicators to measure compliance/achievement. Progress toward them is reported every year.

The online discussion on the Sustainable Agenda, starting with the "No Poverty" goal will take place between Saturday, February 9 and Sunday, March 3, 2019 at SUSTAINABLE AGENDA DISCUSSION.

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BELOW ARE THE FOLLOWING LINKS TO RESOURCES TO ENRICH OUR DISCUSSION:

A. Summary Article in Guardian

B. Wikipedia Summary

C. UN Informative Website

D. Sustainable Knowledge Platform

E. 2018 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals

A. SUMMARY BACKGROUND ARTICLE IN GUARDIAN - WRITTEN WHEN GOALS WERE FIRST DETERMINED IN 2015 AT


B. WIKIPEDIA SUMMARY OF THE 17 SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS AT

C. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS (UN 2015) INFORMATIVE WEBSITE AT https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/


OF NOTE WITH RESPECT TO THE NEGOTIATION AND DETERMINATION OF THE 17 GOALS: Kamau, Macharia; Chasek, Pamela; O'Connor, David, "Transforming Multilateral Diplomacy: The Inside Story of the Sustainable Development Goals" (2018)

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SOME INITIAL COMMENTS:

WHY IS EVERYTHING SO COMPLICATED?

MANY INTERCONNECTED CHALLENGES: A preliminary question: why must the Sustainable Agenda be so complicated? There is a good deal of overlap among the various goals; there are many inter-active relationships, both in terms of reinforcement and potential conflict.

HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED: When we start with the matter of poverty, it quickly becomes apparent that trying to eliminate poverty through brute force economic stimulation to increase the income and assets available to the poor would be a mission impossible. It could easily exhaust natural resources (bringing the world population up to the living standard of the developed countries would require the resources of at least three planets), pollute the land and sea with many times the human waste that already exists, and greatly exacerbate global warming and all its harmful effects.

FROM BOOM TO BUST: Humanity is threatened by its own success. Growth to 7 and one-half billion people, projected to be 9 1/2 billion by 2050, has already put a strain on the earth that it cannot bear.

ALL-OUT EFFORT NEEDED TO SURVIVE AND THRIVE: Our survival is threatened by rapidly increasing challenges that the 17 sustainable development goals are designed to address. It may be possible to eliminate poverty and to achieve other goals if we mobilize our capabilities in a balanced and sensible manner that makes use of all the ingenuity, resourcefulness, determination, developed and to-be-developed technology and wisdom of humanity.

THE COHERENT SUSTAINABLE AGENDA

AN ENORMOUS EFFORT: The often maligned (at least in the US) United Nations has made an enormous effort to determine what must be done to meet myriad challenges with respect to making the world livable for all.

THE UN AS CATALYST: The United Nations and the World Bank are applying their own resources and striving to mobilize governments, NGOs, and the business and financial communities toward the achievement of the Sustainable Agenda. This effort attempts to address the survival of humanity as well as the fruitful existence of each human being.

OPEN QUESTIONS: But, the Sustainable Development Agenda approach is not above reproach. When it was first adopted, the Economist magazine described it as a mess, with many conflicting, mutually exclusive elements - above all, the Economist criticized the agenda as too complicated, with the very comprehensiveness of the approach likely to get in the way of its accomplishment - SEE ECONOMIST REACTION HERE. Practical or not, the Sustainable Development Agenda provides much food for thought. One of the most fascinating exercises in studying the 17 sustainable development goals is to try to determine whether the UN deals adequately with the interactions and potential conflicts between the different goals.

THE UNKNOWN BOUNDS OF HUMAN NATURE

WILL THE BETTER ANGELS OF OUR NATURE PREVAIL?: Even if we manage to address the material and logistic challenges we face, we will still have to deal with the attitudes, vested interests, selfishness, fears, distrust and other emotional baggage of the human race. as well as outright mistreatment, abusiveness, and victimization. Paradoxically, Hunger could be eliminated tomorrow through re-distribution of food, and other hardships of poverty could be lessened considerably just by re-orienting our way of life, but our greatest challenges may be those of Human Nature.

UNITED STATES AND THE REST OF THE WORLD

RELEVANCE TO THE UNITED STATES: Many Americans think that the Sustainable Agenda is irrelevant to us, that the challenges of developing countries are not ours. But, the efforts of the UN to find practical solutions could help us to deal with our own related challenges: e.g. our stubborn poverty and inequality, our under-performing educational system, our dysfunctional health system, our decayed infrastructure, our deteriorating environment, the desperate and stressed lives of many as reflected in frequent acts of mass violence, high rates of substance abuse and suicide. The most consistent expedients that we have attempted to apply are deregulation and aggressive incarceration; this has not worked out very well.

DO WE HAVE THE DESIRE AND THE WILL TO MAKE NECESSARY CHANGES?: Of course, nothing significant will be accomplished if our political power and that of other countries is in the hands of people who are willfully indifferent to the fragility of the environment they despoil, the needs and problems of others and anything but the rivalries, fads, material goods and superficial pleasures of our consumerist society.

The online discussion on the Sustainable Agenda, starting with the "No Poverty" goal will take place between Saturday, February 9 and Sunday, March 3, 2019 at SUSTAINABLE AGENDA DISCUSSION.

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THE GOALS:

- 1. NO POVERTY

- 2. ZERO HUNGER

- 3. GOOD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING

- 4. QUALITY EDUCATION

- 5. GENDER EQUALITY

- 6. CLEAN WATER AND SANITATION

- 7. AFFORDABLE AND CLEAN ENERGY

- 8. DECENT WORK AND ECONOMIC GROWTH

- 9. INDUSTRY INNOVATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE

- 10. REDUCED INEQUALITIES

- 11. SUSTAINABLE CITIES AND COMMUNITIES

- 12. RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION

- 13. CLIMATE ACTION

- 14. LIFE BELOW WATER

-15. LIFE ON LAND

- 16. PEACE, JUSTICE AND INSTITUTIONS

- 17. PARTNERSHIPS FOR THE GOALS