What if, as world leaders gathered at the UN General Assembly, people in more than 80 locations around the world joined them for a conversation about the biggest global issues? What would the conversation be about?
Over the past two days at the annual Social Good Summit, thousands of people across the globe discussed the world we want to see by 2030, the target date to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals – the world’s plan to end poverty, fight inequalities, and stop the threat of climate change.
The summit also marked the launch of #GlobalGoals Week to raise awareness of and action for the Sustainable Development Goals. At the Social Good Summit, UN leaders, experts, government officials including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, and advocates came together with entrepreneurs and global citizens to talk about how to make progress in the world. Here are eight key themes we heard throughout the dialogue.
Inequality is one of the most important challenges we have to fix: Gender equality, income inequality, and health inequality are just a few of the pressing challenges holding the world back. We have to tackle inequality head on to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.
We must reach the furthest behind first: To address inequality and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we need to focus on the most vulnerable and marginalized populations, including refugees, children, and adolescent girls.
Accountability is key: It’s up to citizens to monitor and hold our leaders accountable for the promises they made through the Sustainable Development Goals to create a world without poverty and with opportunity and dignity for all.
Our issues are connected: Health inequities impact gender equality. Climate change threatens economic development. Displacement affects education levels. Our issues are interconnected, as are the Sustainable Development Goals. To achieve sustainable development, we have to work together and work across issues.
Let’s do more than talk about each other, let’s talk with each other: Instead of talking about refugees, let’s talk with them; instead of talking about girls, let’s hear from them. The Social Good Summit featured a range of voices because it’s the best way to have an authentic conversation about the world we currently live in and the world we want to live in.
We’ve only got one planet: Human activities are affecting the health of the world’s oceans, forests, and natural resources. We need to respect the Earth, and we need to make smart choices that will result in healthier environments and stronger economies.
We can’t win with half the team on the bench: Danish Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen said this when talking about the importance of gender equality and girls’ empowerment. It was important to hear this message come from not just women, but also men at the summit.
I’ll end with my favorite theme from the summit:
There is hope for the future: Vice President Joe Biden and other speakers shared their optimism for the positive changes ahead in the future if we work hard and leverage technology and innovation for good. From ending cancer to ending poverty, a brighter future is ahead if we come together and seize this moment.
[Photo: Stuart Ramson for UN Foundation]