On September 25, 2015, world leaders at the United Nations agreed on 17 Sustainable Developmental Goals. Here are those 17 Goals.
Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere.
Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well being for all at all ages.
Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.
Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries.
Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.
Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development.
From those 17 goals, today’s blog will focus on Goal 1, ending poverty, and on Goal 13, taking urgent action to combat climate change. It will also include moral issues from Yale Climate Connection. If you want to read the entire article on Sustainable Development 17 Goals, when you get there, click on Goals.
The forward of the document begins with a statement that is no secret, that it is the poor countries and people who tend to be particularly vulnerable to the difficult effects of climate change and there “…are already evident, natural disasters are more frequent and more devastating and developing countries are more vulnerable…they are more vulnerable because of their high dependence on natural resources and their limited capacity to cope with climate variability and extremes.”
Can We End Poverty?
According to the Sustainable Development goals, more than “…700 million people live in extreme poverty and are struggling to fulfill the most basic needs like health, education, and access to water and sanitation.” That’s a lot of people, and sadly Children Suffer the Most… Even in developed countries there are 30 million children growing up poor in some of the world’s richest countries. Any discussion based on the thesis of “ending poverty” couldn’t evade the question: Can it be done? If you don’t ever listen to another TED Talk give yourself a big treat and listen to a 16 minute Alex Thier’s TED Talk on The End of Extreme Poverty . Thier explains how it can happen and how you can help solve humanity’s greatest challenge. He leads policy development, strategic planning, learning and evaluation at the United States Agency for International Development—the lead development agency for the US government and the world’s largest bi-lateral donor. Enough of his background, except to say this Talk is dynamite.
“The absence of certainty is not an excuse to do nothing.” This is a caution that Christine Todd Whitman, President George W. Bush’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), made. Whether we’re talking about poverty or climate change, we can apply her wisdom to almost any situation. However, recently there’s been a shift in the conversation from scientific and technical issues to mortality and ethics. According to the Vatican Radio, April 28, 2015, a meeting of world leaders issued a final statement declaring “…human-induced climate change is a scientific reality…and its decisive mitigation is a moral and religious imperative for humanity.” Basically, the statement says that humans have the technological and financial means, and the know-how, to combat human-induced climate change, while at the same time eliminating global poverty.
Fighting Poverty and Climage Change Must be Done Together is a twelve-minute interview with Isabella Lovin, the Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate, who explains why goals must not be dealt with separately.
Science and Values
Douglas Allchin opens his essay Values in Science: An Introduction, by writing, “A fundamental feature of science, as conceived by most scientists, is that it deals with facts, not values. Further, science is objective, while values are not.” Later he acknowledges that this value-free notion has been challenged by sociologists of science about the authority of science, and its methods are “overstated and misleading”. Many of us might say that science can only provide data to inform our decisions but cannot tell us what we should do, that we should leave our values up to religion. If you read Sam Harris’ latest book The Moral Landscape, you might not agree.
But for the present time lets us see what some of our religious values are that will help us end poverty and combat climate change. Since this blog is mainly for the Southwest Conference of the United Church of Christ, it seems appropriate to start there. Here is an article from the Yale Climate Connection website by Christine Woodside on April 4, 2012, The United Church of Christ on Climate Change .
I like the first phase of the article; Humans carry responsibility—and should take action. I also was impressed by the Rev. Jim Antal, the head of the Massachusetts United Church of Christ conference, spending three days in jail last August for refusing to leave the park across from the White House. It’s also very motivating to see how the synods have moved forward from 2005 despite “…all the resistance we met…”. And how about the “Not Waiting for Someone Else to Do It” activity. And how Pastor Susanna Griefen gave a sermon about the climate titled “Slouching Towards Crisis” a play on William Butler Yeats poem, “Slouching Towards Bethlehem”. And don’t miss Politics Aside… ‘Everyone Wants to Take Care of the Earth’ I believe we can all learn these.
Below are a list of other religious groups and what they are doing for the poor and climate change. All of these are worthwhile. I want to end this blog with paragraph from the ‘Preach-In’:
“All people of faith share a moral obligation to care for the poor and vulnerable. These are the people who are least able to adapt and who are most affected by the climate crisis. We must not turn our backs on the future generations.”
I’ll focus on other goals in future blogs!
Also see, as part of this continuing series on faith-based groups:
Nationwide Climate ‘Preach-In’ To Target Broad Faith-Group Congregations
The Catholic Church and Climate Change
Judaism and Climate Change
Episcopalians Confronting Climate Change
Baptists and Climate Change
‘Green Muslims,’ Eco-Islam and Evolving Climate Change Consciousness
Presbyterians and Climate Change
Preachable Moments: Evangelical Christians and Climate Change
Mormon Silence on Climate Change: Why, and What Might It Mean?