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Sustainable Development and Actions| Tsun Wan Yan

[ ‘SHARE’ Mar-Apr 2016 ] FOCUS ~ FIGHTING POVERTY

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Written by: Tsun Wan Yan

We don’t know what our lives will come to in 15 years, not even in 5 days. However, one thing we can be sure of is that every action of ours counts toward our future, even the lives of those in our society and the world.

The United Nations adopted a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, succeeding the former Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). There are 17 SDGs with 169 associated targets, aimed to be achieved within the next 15 years by year 2030.

As practical as the numbers and targets may seem, the SDGs appear irrelevant to most of us in Hong Kong who have no problem obtaining our daily needs, as the goals are mainly targeted at improving lives in developing countries. We cannot effectively propagate the cause in Hong Kong unless we unveil the living souls behind these goals and numbers.

Sustainable goals

Compared to the eight MDGs in 2000, SDGs have more detailed and encompassing goals based on the hope that every member of the society can equally enjoy the benefits of sustainable development.

Take India as an example. The country has seen great success in halving its population in extreme poverty and food shortage over the last 15 years. But it had mainly focused its improvements in urban areas and inadvertently widened the gap between urban and rural areas. Further, constrained by the caste system and social traditions, development is often neglected for the lower caste people, minority religions (e.g. Islam), and those households headed by woman.

The Zimbabwe government has long disregarded the HIV population and the entailing orphan problems. Tracy, a 16 years old adolescent whose mother passed away 7 years ago, could not afford the expensive and overly bureaucratic processes in inheriting her mother’s house, and had a hard time sustaining on her own.  She was further raped by her uncle 2 years ago and is now solely taking care of her 1-year-old child. Trinity Project, the local partner of CEDAR, felt strongly that the solutions in alleviating the countless tragedies lie in better governmental attention and policies, which is also a focal point in the SDGs.

The 17 SDGs could be divided into 7 main categories:

Category Goals
A. Fighting Poverty 1. No Poverty 2. Zero Hunger
B. Health 3. Good Health and Well-being 6. Clean Water and Sanitation
C. Education 4. Quality Education
D. Gender Equality 5. Gender Equality
E. Development and Preservation 7. Affordable and Clean  Energy 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 13. Climate Action
14. Life below Water 15. Life on Land
16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
F. Production and Consumption 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 12. Responsible Consumption and Production
G. International Partnership 10. Reduced Inequalities 17. Partnerships for the Goals

It certainly takes more than a few countries’ contributions to reach these goals. If all 193 member states of the UN are willing to cooperate in achieving the SDGs, our world would surely be a better place to live in with less poverty, hunger, disease, violence and injustice.

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Our part

It is easy to know nowadays what is going on around the globe. Hong Kong, as a better developed region, has the obligation to help the developing countries in achieving the SDGs.

Furthermore, our actions should not be limited to mere monetary contributions, but to also include the compassion towards the actual environments of the targeted areas and the desire to understand the roots of the problems, upon which we will discover that our work is actually far from just offering help, but it is to change our own lifestyles. Due to rapid globalization, our daily choices do have far-reaching consequences to those underprivileged. A simple shirt we bought might come from a factory that mistreats its workers and we might in turn reinforce a system that is unjust.

Remembering the poor is a lifestyle. Through our actions, we change our environment and potentially rally others to joining our cause. We as followers of Christ further recognize our stewardship responsibilities to manage the earth, and to practice our faith in caring for the land and everything living on it, in accordance with God’s laws and order.

What we may do

There are practical actions we could partake in our daily lives:

A. Diet

  • Do not consume endangered animals – SDGs 13 & 14
    Shark fin has long been a common dish in Hong Kong banquets. Sharks are often caught and being stripped of their fins and are threw back into the sea towards a slow death. The number of endangered shark species is rapidly increasing, and it further upsets the ecological balance of the ocean and the climate. We could always find substitutions to protect sharks and sustain the ecology.[1]
  • Do not consume genetically modified foods – SDGs 2, 3, & 15
    There is yet to be any conclusive indications of the consequences brought by the production and consumption of genetically modified (GM) foods, but for example, pesticidal, herbicidal, and disease resistant genes are injected in genetically modified crops which upset the ecology of the growing fields. The GM companies are also in a monopoly via mass production, control food prices and make lives even harder for the poor.[2]

B. Consumption

  • Responsible consumption – SDGs 12 & 13
    We often buy things we don’t need and create wastes. Instead of buying, we  could exchange goods on ‘swap platforms’.[3] Furthermore, we could be mindful of the production process and force the companies to honor their production responsibilities by refusing to buy anything that is produced in unjust/ un-environmental-friendly ways.[4]
  • Support local production – SDGs 8, 12 & 13
    Supporting local producers and manufacturers will facilitate the economic growth of Hong Kong as well as reducing carbon emission from bringing the goods in by planes / rails.

C. Personal Interactions

  • Reach the marginalized groups – SDGs 5 & 10
    We can actively reach out to local marginalized groups such as ethnic minorities, the elderly, new immigrant mothers and children, to understand their needs and support them, and at the same time promoting awareness among our peers to achieve peaceful coexistence and reduce discrimination.

This issue

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