The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in BC

The Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations are a framework of 17 global Goals and 169 Targets that are to be achieved by 2030.

These Goals are universal, and address our world’s environmental, social, economic, and security challenges.

All the world’s issues are connected to each other (eg. climate change and famine or gender inequality). So it’s better to address them all at same time.

The Goals were created from a grassroots process that was delightfully messy and chaotic, Diane Connors, Communications Officer at the BC Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC) told me recently.

The BCCIC, based in Vancouver, is working full tilt on achieving the Goals in Canada and abroad. They find these Goals, affirmed in 2015, more exciting than the previous ones as they focus on the entire world, global development and are interconnected with nature.

The BCCIC first researched how the existing civil society organizations (CSOs) in BC were already implementing and advancing the Goals. The Council visited 7 BC regions, and met with 29 communities in 31 roundtables meetings. The researchers enquired as to how the Goals relate to the CSOs’ work and whether they could be useful for strengthening their impact.

They found that many groups were already working on a part of the Goals, such as protecting a watershed which fits into the environmental Goals.

Further, CSOs could see themselves as being an active part of making the Goals happen through BC organizations.

The research also found that for the Sustainable Development Goals to be useful for BC groups, there would need to be:

  • Action including political engagement,Hands holding Planet Earth
  • Greater networking and communication amongst csos,
  • Public education and awareness,
  • Tailored funding,
  • A recognition of change dimensions,
  • Intergenerational collaboration, and
  • Engagement with key stakeholder groups (first nations, faith-based groups, and the private sector).

A lot of what the BCCIC is doing now involves encouraging Canadians to understand and use the Goals as a tool for domestic policy and action. Canadians are amongst the least informed about the Sustainable Development Goals, Diane mentioned.

Canada was a bit later to the gate than 2015, but is picking up speed now. Alliance 150 has been working towards “the power of together”. Now Alliance 2030, scheduled to start in April 2018, will work on addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals through sharing projects, events, funding opportunities and impact stories from coast to coast to coast.

The BCCIC is also doing a BC 2030 campaign that seeks to make the sustainable Goals an election issue in BC, to guide elected leaders about what’s important and what we need to work on.

The Council will also hold round tables around BC to hear from people and teach them how to implement the Goals on a local level. The Goals do apply to every community.

There is no pre-set recipe as to how communities should implement these Goals and thus the BCCIC will elicit responses from people about how they want to help achieve these Goals.

The UN lists activities that you can do while sitting on your couch, at home, at work and in your community. For the Goals to be reached, everyone needs to do their part: governments, the private sector, civil society and people like you.

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Alison Wheatley

Alison Wheatley

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