A Guide To the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
I asked my Instagram followers to get involved in a social media experiment
A Guide to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
This is the very first social media experiment, in which an individual user (hi thats me) has asked their Instagram followers (hi that’s you beautiful people) this question:
“Do you know what the sustainable development goals are?”
This is an attempt to analyse data relating to knowledge and awareness of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at a grassroots technological level.
Do millennials know what the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are? I kept asking myself “do people in my generation know what the global goals are?”
Social Media has fuelled the rapid growth of globalisation and has so much potential to do and create good, yet my generation tends to be focused on material things without knowing what is important and urgent. I decided to conduct a social experiment on Instagram to see which of my followers already knew what the UN SDGs are and more importantly which ones they cared about.
Then I had a light bulb moment: stop relying on the UN and other NGOs to create awareness alone about the SDGs, empower my followers with information (which by the way is one of the targets of SDG 16: to increase public access to information) so that they can at least be aware about what the Global Goals are.
I mean it’s the Global Goals after all, and without sounding a little dramatic, THE WORLD WE LIVE IN DEPENDS ON ACHIEVING THESE GOALS TO SURVIVE. OUR HOUSE IS BURNING. And we’re kind of just chilling on the sofa watching ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ whilst flames rip apart our home. It’s okay, I am also guilty of this. We all are in some way.
However, Climate Change is real. More than 3 billion people live in Poverty. According to UNICEF 22,000 children die every day due to poverty and hunger. 780 million people do not have access to clean drinking water. And women, well we’re still less paid than men, even if we work in the same industry. Ignorance is one of the greatest tools of fools. The point is that I want to engage, inspire and motivate my followers to create a positive impact in this often-gruesome world we live in.
So, without further a due, please allow me to brief you on what the SDGs/Global Goals are and how we can help save this planet earth we call home. It would be an honour. (skip to the poll results if you want to)
United Nations: a brief background
The United Nations (UN) is an international organisation that was created in 1945 at the end of the second world war. 51 countries joined the United Nations with the purpose of maintaining International Peace and Security with an emphasis on diplomacy and soft power.
Today there are 193 member states of the UN, with 2 countries that are non-member observer states; the Vatican and the State of Palestine. (This means that they have no voting power unlike the 193 member states that can vote)
The UN is like an umbrella to its subsidiary organisations. Organisations that fall under the UN mama, for example, UNICEF, UNHCR… etc.
The executive body of the United Nations is the Security Council. The UNSC (United Nations Security Council) has 5 permanent countries; The United States of America, Russia, United Kingdom, China and France. DID YOU KNOW? These 5 countries are the only countries in the world that can implement international law. These 5 countries have the power of ‘veto’ meaning that they cant outlaw any issue they don't like and control the international legal system.
Sustainable development Goals
The SDGs are part of the UN framework to maintaining international peace and security. An international agenda to saving the world if you like. In September 2015 world leaders met at a historic UN summit to address the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The SDGs officially came into force in January 2016.
The SDGs are defined as:
“The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), otherwise known as the Global Goals, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.” - UNDP
“The Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice”. - un.org
Here are the 17 SDGs:
(for more information on each SDG, please click here.)
Now let’s have a look at the instagram poll results.
INSTAGRAM POLL RESULTS
- Do you know what the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Are?
Out of 603 viewers of this story, 161 people answered the question. Out of the 161 that answered, 91 responded ‘yes’ and 70 responded ‘no’. This is good news because this means more than half of the people that responded have heard of the SDGs. The bad news is that 442 did not respond. Therefore, this isn't an accurate result of whether my followers know what the SDGs are or not. Its okay though, I am grateful to those that took out the time to answer.
- Which goals do you care about?
In this story, 64 people responded. Makes sense that less people responded since I stated “only answer this if you said “yes” in the previous poll. Also this question is more time consuming and requires you to actually think and question what you care about in the world you live in. Pretty deep. Especially if you’ve just been at the gym for an hour or in class for 3 hours and your are simply exhausted. However, to those 64 people that responded, THANK YOU. It was pretty cool to see individualism and which specific SDG you care about. The chart above shows a brief diversity of this. This chart is based on the number of SDGs voted for in total, as some people voted for more than one. I think we can agree that they are all important, but I wanted to see which ones you cared about the most. Out of those that voted, SDG 4: Quality Education was the most popular with 31 votes. Second was SDG 13: Climate Action with 23 votes. And third was SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation with 19 Votes.
- Do you want to be part of a movement that helps achieve the SDGs by 2030?
In this story 117 people voted. Out of the 117 people that responded, 110 said ‘yes’ and 7 said ‘no’. This is the poll result that absolutely blew me away. Even those that did not know what the SDGs are, wanted to be a part of a movement that helps achieve the SDGs by 2030. This shows that the majority of my followers that responded this poll, want to be a part of a generation that creates a positive impact. I just realised that many of you simply don't know how to get involved. I'm going to tell you very soon.
- Why do you think the SDGs are important?
In this question, 32 people answered. I choose a few of my favourite answers to this question and asked those people for permission to share their answers in this article. Thanks to ALL you beautiful people for participating in this experiment. Now for the good news…
How can I get involved?
- The first answer is very simple. Sustainability starts with you and the small choices that we all have the capacity to make. Reduce reuse recycle.
- recycle plastic.
- use minimum water when brushing your teeth or taking a shower.
Case Study: Mitigating Climate Change (SDG 13: Climate Action)
Use reduced levels of electricity. Most electricity is generated through non-renewable energy. Such as coal, gas and oil (fossil fuels). Apart from the obvious problem of fossil fuels such as air pollution, due to an increase in the rise of CO2 which causes health problems such as lung cancer and disease. These resources are becoming scarce and less available. Why? Once these resources are extracted from the ground they can not be re-used. Due to a rising global demand for electricity and yet a decreasing/depleting availability of oil, gas and coal; fossil fuels are not sustainable for future production and use of electricity. Therefore switching to renewable options is much safer. The use of solar power only depends on the sun, (which luckily isn't going anywhere) wind power relies on wind, and Hydro-electric power relies on the speed and velocity of water to create electricity. Switching to renewable energy is a lot harder if you don't know how to do it individually. I strongly encourage you to research local business that sell solar panel grids (for example) which you can buy and provide enough power for your house. Its a one off-buy and you don't have to worry about paying electricity bills after. (Unless you buy if for a monthly fee) More extreme options include lobbying your government to adopt renewable energy technologies. You have to be really passionate about this. There is also huge market opportunities to start renewable energy companies. Many governments around the world have adopted a subsidy structure to encourage IPPs (Independent Power Providers) to manufacture and produce renewable energy technologies. If you're interesting in learning more, google ‘IRENA.’ (International Renewable Energy Agency) IRENA has a lot of information that can give you an in-depth understanding.
- Platforms that you can join. I have compiled a list of platforms that you can seek to join if you are serious about helping achieve the UN SDGs.
- World Merit: An NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation) and official partner of the United Nations that gives Youth a Platform to contribute towards achieving the SDGs. It's pretty simple, click here to go onto their website, and apply. If you get accepted, you will be invited to travel (flights and accommodation are sometimes covered for free, if not World Merit can help teach you how to get sponsorship) to different countries where you will meet with other passionate changemakers to create mini action plans and projects that work on the SDGs.
- Follow instagram pages such as @globalgoals that will keep you informed.
- Apply for jobs/volunteer with NGOs that focus on specific SDGs. I found an amazing list of NGO’s that clearly state which Goal they are involved in. Click here to view the list, and then go on the website of each organisation you like, click on the career/job opportunities and see what is available and what skills you have/need to apply.
- Share this article/blog on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any social media platform you have. This is probably the easiest but it is also effective. Creating awareness and knowledge is JUST as important if not THE most important factor to start the conversation going.
Can I make money while helping achieve the SDGs?
Apart from the ways I have mentioned above in point 2 by getting jobs with organisations that PAY you to do good, humanitarian work; you can also become an entrepreneur and start your own business that is dedicated to achieving the UN SDGs.
Case Study: The Lonely Tiger
For example, I am dedicated about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education. My ultimate vision is to empower children in Zimbabwe and most of Sub-Saharan Africa the right to receive an education. How did I decide to do this? I created a brand oriented around The Lonely Tiger which includes 3 main elements: Education, Fashion and Charity.
- Education: Apart from The Lonely Tiger Book I wrote, I am also selling colouring books, a puppet book and educational books that teach children how to count numbers and do maths through interactive games.
- Fashion: I created a range of products such as children's clothing, toys and accessories inspired by The Lonely Tiger characters in the book. We also aspire to use sustainable and organic material.
- Charity: The purpose is that with every sale made from Educational and Fashion elements, a percentage of proceeds will be donated to sponsor children to go to school as well as provide educational resources at local schools (eg: pens, papers, textbooks).
This way I am starting a business that I can profit from and simultaneously do it sustainably while helping achieve the UN SDG 4: Quality Education.
Do you want to start your own SDG business? If the answer is yes, and you are serious about it but simply do not know how, I can write another article giving you as much advise on the process of starting up. I have just been through it all and I can help teach you what you can do with minimal money required to start up. If there is a high demand of people asking me to write an article on this I will. Please send a dm on instagram @tatianasharpe or the @lonelytigertribe asking me to do this. Or alternatively email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this article and that it has been informative for you. Thank you for reading through to the end if you got all the way to here. Sending you peace and happiness.
Please never forget: TOGETHER WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL.