Since the writ dropped, the last few weeks have been unmistakably filled with tell-tale signs of an upcoming election: candidate signs popping up overnight, inboxes filling with reminders to vote and partisan ads playing on loop on our TVs and radios.
The talk is familiar, candidates debate the economy, housing, and healthcare. Environmental regulation and the economy are high-profile and contentious issues dividing parties and voters alike. While party leaders battle it out competing for votes, the issues themselves focus on the hyper-local and provincial.The candidates do a good job of analyzing how issues like public spending or the Kinder Morgan pipeline can affect British Columbians and their communities, but someone has yet to step back and talk about how what happens in our province impacts a larger national and international picture.
Now this is not to say that British Columbia and its diverse people and communities are not important to consider; it’s quite the opposite. It is about recognizing that the issues being debated in this election are linked with and connected to similar issues outside our borders, and that the decisions we make during this election will have global impact.
British Columbia is larger than many countries and our provincial government is in charge of key portfolios; education, natural resources, health, justice, agriculture, and municipalities, all of which have a huge impact beyond our provincial borders. So when it comes to solving big global issues, British Columbia has a responsibility to contribute to and even lead on the transformative solutions required to move the world forward.
So why wait? In 2015, the world unanimously signed on to 17 Global Goals to transform our world. The result of a global grassroots process, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are a universal agenda aimed at fixing climate change, eradicating poverty, achieving gender equality and creating and sustaining peace. And not just out there in the world, but right here and right now.
Canada has formally endorsed these Goals at the federal level and there is talk underway on how to integrate the Goals into legislation; however, with many of the Goals thematically falling under provincial jurisdiction, they cannot be achieved without leadership from British Columbia. We don’t have to wait for Ottawa.
We are all in agreement that things can (and should) be better. Embracing a wider lens at the provincial level invites a new, fresh, much-needed perspective. The Global Goals call us to combine the use of three perspectives when we discuss and debate how to move forward: (1) Universality – We are all equal stakeholders with responsibility to tackle issues where we are, (2) Integration – No issue can be adequately addressed in isolation, and (3) Transformational Thinking – A business as usual approach to change is not going to solve issues within the timeframe we have to work with.
So what could we do with this in British Columbia?
In the last year, the BC Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC) talked to over 400 civil society leaders at over 50 community roundtable discussions in over 30 BC communities. The results are overwhelming: Not only is there tremendous support for the existence of the 17 Global Goals, but there is a call to raise their profile within our province. Community leaders recognize the value of looking at the Goals as universal, integrated, and transformational and see them as key to connecting progressive BC policies and action to a bigger picture of global sustainability.
With 13 years left until the target year 2030, there is a lot to accomplish, but we aren’t starting from scratch. In the last year, BCCIC has mapped over 2200 groups within our province who are working on achieving one or more of the Global Goals. Earlier this year we launched the BC2030 initiative, which calls on British Columbians to show leadership on creating a better world over the next 15 years at the community, regional, and provincial levels in recognition that as a province we are positioned within a shared globalized world.
Transforming the world is a process that requires collective action everywhere. An election is a scheduled potential pivot point: in a shifting global world, we would do well to consider the bigger picture.The timeline is tight and as British Columbians in an ever shifting world, we can each challenge ourselves and our political representatives to think toward 2030 and beyond.
Kareen Wong is the Communications Officer at the British Columbia Council for International Cooperation | @BCCIC