It is an extremely wise and universal approach to take all the necessary measures before the storm to minimise its impact. Foreseeing the radical changes and the challenges the world is facing, or may face in the future, the United Nations has chalked out holistic and ambitious, yet highly essential and achievable goals for sustainable development.
In September 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030, also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. These SDGs are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for the whole of humankind.
When one thoroughly analyses these 17 goals, one understands that they reflect three dimensions: economic, social and ecological aspects of sustainable development.
Recently, the Malta Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society organised a conference to address these SDGs 2030 titled ‘Għal Kulħadd, Ma’ Kulħadd’. I found it a very timely, essential and informative event. Thus, this initiative is highly admirable and noteworthy.
Although there was representation of diverse stakeholders, I think that this message and drive should be taken to each household and to every individual.
Moreover, ‘each person should be a cog in the wheel of change’, to maximise our efforts in achieving these goals, and to maximise its effects, advantages and benefits. In the opening remarks of President Emeritus and foundation chair Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, highlighted the importance of achieving these goals: “If the set goals were urgent in 2015, the goals are indeed even more urgent now and require our participation, if we are to face today’s complex global challenges meaningfully and hopefully successfully.
Let us leave no stone unturned in our mission to achieve these objectives for the betterment of humankind before it becomes too late
Our natural environment is deteriorating, global hunger has increased. The Sustainable Development Goals call upon us to nurture our relationships with one another and with the earth: as one human family, in the only home that we have.”
What are these goals? They are: no poverty; zero hunger; good health and well-being; quality education; gender equality; clean water and sanitation; affordable and clean energy; decent work and economic growth; industry, innovation and infrastructure; reduced inequalities; sustainable cities and communities; responsible consumption and production; climate action; life below water; life on land; peace, justice and strong institutions; and partnerships for the goals.
The aforementioned goals are all interlinked and can be taken up all together. In so far as the first two goals are concerned, they required urgent attention. There are millions of people starving and it is not a matter of lack of food – rather, it is wastage.
According to the United Nations’ statistics, approximately one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption gets lost or wasted each year. Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food (222 million tonnes) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tonnes).
If this food is preserved before being thrown away, it could feed the entire world population for a whole year.
As far as alleviation of poverty and creation of work is concerned, in the Holy Quran, privileged people are encouraged to give charity and take care of the needy and destitute sections of society. Furthermore, chapter 53, verse 40 of the Holy Quran encourages people to work hard to meet their daily needs. It also directs people not to hoard money in terms of gold and silver (Ch.9: Vs.34-35) but to invest and circulate money in the economy to generate more jobs. The Quran says, ‘and whatever you spend, He will replace it; and He is the Best of the providers.’ (Ch.34: V.40). It even defines the rules to spend money i.e. forbidding hoarding as well as extravagance and wastefulness (Ch.17:Vs.27-30).
These rules are paramount for the alleviation of poverty.
In relation to climate change and creating a better environment, again it is ‘we’ who matter the most. We can help the environment by planting trees, by being mindful while using water, by avoiding plastic usage, by saving energy, and by always being responsible in production and consumption. These will all affect our health and well-being. In addition, we should adopt a healthy lifestyle.
These goals might seem challenging and inconvenient, however, if we are truly and genuinely concerned about our own wellbeing and that of our children and future generations, then they will become easy and doable.
Let us leave no stone unturned in our mission to achieve these objectives for the betterment of humankind before it becomes too late and the situation becomes irreversible. Let us all play our individual and collective roles. Let us all unite in transforming our world into a better, peaceful and prosperous world.
Laiq Ahmed Atif is President of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Malta.
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