Expecting governments to resolve the world’s problems is not the solution and each individual has a duty to be a cog in the wheel of change, a top UN environment expert told a conference today.
Prof. Arthur Dahl, International Environment Forum president and retired deputy assistant executive director of UN Environment Programme, urged everyone to take practical action in everyday life.
He was addressing the fourth National Conference on Wellbeing on the UN’s 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, organised by the Malta Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society at the Fortress Builders, Valletta.
“The United Nations seems far removed from our local actions in our communities, yet the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs is a call for justice addressed to everyone,” he told the representatives from unions, NGOs and minority groups present at the conference.
The conference, which tackled social progress, sustainable economic development and climate change, was addressed by MFWS chair and former President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, as well as a representative from the Environment Ministry, and Opposition Spokesperson for the Environment Jason Azzopardi.
“The goals call upon us to enact the very best qualities which we have as human beings – our capacity to come together, to innovate and meet challenges head on, and to nurture our relationships with one another and with the earth: as one human family, in the only home that we have,” Mrs Coleiro Preca said.
The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals are motivated by justice to leave no one behind. There are goals that place humans at the centre, where environmental challenges represent threats to human health and well-being, and where environmental solutions can reinforce human progress.
“The Sustainable Development Goals can only be met if we work together. We must bring together the value and diversity of our unique experiences, to become a positive force for meeting global challenges,” Coleiro Preca added.
The UN Secretary General’s report to the 2015 Summit said: “Young people will be the torch bearers… the first truly globalised, interconnected, and highly mobilised civil society, ready and able to serve as a participant, joint steward, and powerful engine of change and transformation.”
This, Prof. Dahl said, was the energy we all had to tap in an ambitious effort to address the many interrelated problems facing the world, from poverty and gender prejudice to inequality, climate change and peace and security.
“Governments around the world are trying to meet these goals, but they will not succeed without the commitment and cooperation of all of us. The SDGs have specific targets to be met, and indicators to measure progress towards these targets to improve our own communities, and even serve as guides to practical action for each of us in our daily lives,” he added.
Prof. Dahl urged those present to take steps to contribute to local efforts to eliminate poverty in our communities, choose renewable energy sources, reduce our waste, and educate ourselves about sustainable development and lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity.
“Setting positive goals can be very motivating. Such unity of purpose can help to build unity in the whole community.”