#30days30voices is offering a chance for often unheard youth voices to speak out. I think the environment needs to be heard too. For far too long, the environment has taken the backbench in national policies. With the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) this September, 2015 is the year for the environment to take the spotlight and show the important role it plays in contributing to poverty reduction.
To begin with, the foundation of sustainability is formed of three main areas: economic, social and environmental. Issues concerning the environment itself have always been treated in isolation, where we mainly speak of aiming to protect ‘the environment’ through saving fragile habitats or preventing climate change. However, it has so much more to offer. The concept of the environment has changed over time from a narrow generalised idea to one that is more multidimensional. We are now recognising that environmental issues can be involved in all areas of life. It is essentially an effective tool which can be used to achieve the overarching objective of the SDGs: improving lives for the future.
The UK is a strong player in the formation of the SDGs, but still people are not aware of just how much sustainable management of natural resources can contribute to economic and social development too.
Here is what I would like to see from our future government in raising the profile of the environment and the SDG’s:
1) A stronger focus on how UK policies can reflect the close relationship between the eradication of poverty and the sustainable management of the environment. The achievement of environmental sustainability should not be treated as a separate issue; instead national policies should always incorporate them.
2) The environment shouldn’t just be seen as a single goal within the SDGs. The beauty of the environment is that it is multifunctional, multidisciplinary, and dynamic; it should not just be seen as a complex problem that needs to be solved. It should be incorporated into all of the goals, and not limited to a selected few.
3) Clear statements that monitor the progress in achieving the SDGs. An effective monitoring framework needs to be put in place to know whether policies are working towards the international agenda. This should be accessible and easy to understand for all audiences. This will serve as an indicator for how we compare on a global scale, further motivating us to improve over time
4) More emphasis on harmonizing policies between different sectors. Communication between different sectors is essential for successful policy implementation. Conflicting policies will only slow down any progress to be made in concern with achieving the SDGs.
5) The Government pledging to make UK citizens feel more engaged in achieving the environmental aspect of the SDG’s. The SDG’s are applicable to ALL countries, both developed and developing, therefore everyone can be a part of their implementation. We are part of an international community and we can use that to learn from each other’s progress as we take steps to improve our world.
By Michaela Lo, graduate currently living and working in Taiwan and part of the action/2015 Youth Panel network.
For more information on the action/2015 campaign and youth click here. The action/2015 Youth Panel is co-facilitated by British Youth Council, BOND, Islamic Relief, Progressio and Restless Development and Y Care International.