No poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being. Worthy causes, but unattainable aspirations at first glance. What is the meaning of these United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), if, as critics attest, their attainment is ‘virtually impossible?’
The 193 United Nations Member States that support the 17 goals recognize that they are aspirational, interconnected, and universal. Critics, however, claim that they lack realism, an implementable strategy, and binding targets. Despite reflecting aspirations for a better world, are they merely an optimistic antidote to a future otherwise plagued by global warming, rising inequality, and increasing conflict?
The answer is no. The goals are more than just an antidote. What fatalistic critiques discount is the wealth of local action currently taking place within communities, between municipalities, and across subnational regions to meet these goals. They ignore the power of local action happening within our province, which is localizing the Global Goals. Under this umbrella of achieving the Global Goals close to home, the BC2030 initiative uses the goals as a unifying framework to link dynamic initiatives already underway across British Columbia.
The initiative has already identified and connected an astounding 2200 organizations striving to attain one or more of the Global Goals. In no fewer than 31 roundtable meetings hosted across the province, 180 community leaders discussed how their communities are tackling the SDGs. If these roundtables were echoed around the world with the same proportion of the population, more than 270,000 community leaders would be engaged in sustainable development discussions, recognizing the global framework in their shared vision for local change. This sheer quantity of sustainability leaders represents an undeniable potential for a powerful groundswell of action, especially when provided with change-making tools to localize the global.
Bridging global aspirations for a better world with local strategies and capacities for change, the BC2030 initiative has developed such change-making tools. A series of issue briefs connecting the SDGs to official community plans across the province, along with five complementary scorecards, showcase the progress and challenges our province is facing in respect to the SDGs and champion the work of our sustainability leaders. They highlight the changes taking place in our local communities and provide a holistic analysis of local development, helping communities recognize their role in making BC a leader in moving toward a better world.
The BC2030 tools also challenge local candidates in our current provincial election to situate their plans and promises in our shared global context. Reiterating the global commitments in individual ridings, the conversation is changed. No longer is sustainable development a far-off vision, unattainable in its ambition. Instead, it is recognized as a powerful framework for collective action, adding value to the sum of global change. Seemingly disparate actors are brought together, working together to achieve sustainable development. Their collective impact represents a striking opportunity to better our world.
So, when casting your vote on Tuesday, remember that the power of your vote can ensure that as citizens and policymakers together, we can do at the local level what’s aspired to at the global: focusing on people, planet, peace, partnership and prosperity to achieve sustainable development by 2030.
Written by Fiona Jones and Avneet Darred, BC2030 Policy Research Assistants with the British Columbia Council for International Cooperation | @BCCIC