When assessing main issues facing humanity, it is important to look at the global aspect these issues have on citizens of every country. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals do assess international concerns, however they are too optimistic. The Sustainable Development Goals were preceded by the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, which failed miserably. While it is suitable to have such goals for the international community, the goals should be tackled one at a time as opposed to placing them all on a large list.
Launched in 2000, the United Nations Millennium Development Goals include eight goals: eradicate extreme hunger and poverty, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDs, malaria, and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability, and develop a global partnership for development. The goals were set to expire in 2015, with the hopes of achievement for each one. While it is obvious the goals were not fully achieved, progress had been made. According to the Sustainable Development Goals Fund, “The MDGs were revolutionary in providing a common language to reach global agreement. The 8 goals were realistic and easy to communicate, with a clear measurement/ monitoring mechanism”(SDGFund.org). Though the written goals were not achieved, the goals provided a platform for interaction, and eventually agreement, within the international community.
As the deadline for the 2015 Millennium Development Goals approached, the international community realized they needed new goals with a new deadline. While the initial goals were centered around an idealistic view in favor of development as a right, the Sustainable Development Goals are centered around people, meaning they are supposed to be more comprehensive and more universal. The goals went from eight to seventeen. The goals are a more detailed version of the Millennium development Goals. They include the basics, such as ending poverty in all its forms everywhere, end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture, achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, and ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, and also try to foster new ideas such as ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all, reduce inequality within and among countries, make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss, promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels, and strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development (SDGFund.org). The rather lengthy list of goals set out to focus on the importance of humanity as well as the planet. An articled titled 7 reasons the SDGs will be better than the MDGs published by The Guardian, states “The sustainable development goals are more globally collaborative than the millennium development goals” (Clarke). The same article cites David Hlume, director of the Global Development Institute; he states:
The MDGs were largely determined by OECD countries and international donor agencies. The SDGs have been produced by detailed international negotiations that have involved middle-income and low-income countries. The SDGs are universal – they apply to all countries and actors. The SDGs are holistic – they cover poverty reduction and inequality, sustainability and economic growth with job creation (Hlume).
While it is easy to say that a longer set of goals is more internationally oriented, it does not mean they will be achieved. Both sets of goals are unrealistic and broad. According to the article Africa’s Supposed Failure to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals, a number of African countries would have had to develop at an unattainable rate of seven percent. The article also states that out of the 153 countries who set out to achieve the goal of eradicating poverty, seven were able to succeed with only two African countries on that list.
Though the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals focus on people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership, they are still too idealistic. Rather than setting a large list of goals for a fifteen-year period, goals should try to be achieved one at a time. This way, issues can be better solved due to extensive focus. While some might argue that there have been lessons learned from the MDG’s, the SDG’s will be just as disappointing, if not more.