There are many days when the world’s problems seem so great especially when you’re just one person trying to make a difference. After all, how does a single individual make a difference for the 60 million refugees who have been displaced by war, create gender equality in countries where girls and women are denied education and forced into marriage at a young age, or protect the six million children from diseases that cause their deaths before they reach the age of five.
The United Nation Foundation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, (aka Global Goals or abbreviated as GG) represent an overwhelming number of huge issues for one individual to tackle alone but together, our voices are stronger. Together we become part of a community championing change while encouraging our world leaders to do the same.
I was reminded about the power of my single voice last weekend when my husband and I stood among 59,998 individuals at the Global Citizen Festival on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.
We were two individuals among thousands enjoying an epic concert featuring Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, Beyonce, and Pearl Jam where surprise appearances by Michelle Obama, Malala, Bono, Laverne Cox, Ariana Grande, Sting, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Richard Branson, Bill and Melinda Gates, world leaders, and so many more kept us on our feet for over six hours.
Entry to this free concert could only be earned by using my voice via my social media channels.
While my blog post, Why We Need to Provide Equal Access to Education for Kids Around the World and Why You Need to Know about the United Nations’ #GlobalGoals, was how I won my pair of tickets, my fellow community of global citizens also took action on the world’s biggest issues to win their tickets.
Following the Global Citizen Festival, the theme of the collective strength of our voices continued during the 2015 Social Good Summit. This two day conference convened panel of speakers who discussed the impact of technology and new media on the Global Goals as we work to create a better world.
Charlize Theron spoke about the progress she’s seen in the past 10 years as an AIDS activist and the possibility that we could be the generation to end AIDS. Adrian Grenier joined Pete Cashmore of Mashable and Dell’s Trisa Thompson to talk about the interconnectedness of the goals and the social responsibility that companies have to make the world a better place.
Ashley Judd urged the world to pay attention to the 220 million women of reproductive age who need access to family planning and vowed to tell their stories while providing education about their choices. Madeleine Albright talked about the future of humanitarian aid.
— Leticia Barr (@techsavvymama) September 28, 2015
Everyone has a cause they champion through their voice. What will yours be?
How to Figure What Global Goals to Support?
Even as a veteran Social Good Summit attendee, 17 goals is a lot to support at one time but there’s no reason why you have to support all the goals at once. Take some time to get to read about each one to know what they’re about.
The six question Global Goals quiz is a fun way to help you navigate the goals based on your own personal interests. Emily McKhann from The Motherhood took the quiz and had the idea for each family member to complete it too. She’s planning to use the quiz results to encourage each family member to think more about how they can support the goal that resonates the most with them. They’re also planning to pick a family cause based on a conversation about what is a good fit for them and their community.
How to Take Action on Your Goals
I wasn’t always so involved as a champion of the Global Goals. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot and ramped up my efforts. I’ve focused on education (GG #4) also dabble in good health through my work on with Shot@Life on the Blogust campaign, gender equality for ONE Girls and Women, and the creation of good jobs and economic growth in Haiti (Global Goals #3, 5, and 8). The more I learn through events like Global Citizen Festival and Social Good Summit, the more I see how all of these goals are like puzzle pieces. They are forever connected because of the impact they have on each other and on human life.
Many times it’s our empathy that calls us to action. A startling statistic, a heartwrenching photo, the very personal story of someone who has faced injustices.
Actions don’t have to be grandiose or take tons of time. Sending a tweet, hashtagging a photo, linking to a great organization through a blog post, or sharing your actions with a curious friend who also wants to be involved is all you have to do to make a difference. Those seemingly small actions combined with hundreds and thousands more demonstrates to world leaders that we’re paying attention, we care, and we want a better life for others around the globe.
And we need to encourage our kids to care too. During a call with Malala last week, the Nobel Peace Prize winner said that kids can do anything, there are no limits at all.
There are people like you who have something in your heart to do something.
What You Need to Know About the Global Goals
Last week world leaders gathered at the United Nations to officially adopt the Global Goals that will be their priority over the next 15 years. By 2030, it is expected that we will have made significant progress in these areas.
Here’s a rundown of each Global Goal with 3 key facts and a simple way to get involved right now.
Goal 1: No Poverty
What this means: Since 1990, extreme poverty around the world has been cut in half but our job isn’t done. We need to end poverty in all its forms everywhere.
3 Facts to Know:
- The number of people living in extreme poverty around the world has declined by more than half from 1.9 billion in 1990. However, 836 million people still live in extreme poverty.
- About one in five persons in developing regions lives on less than $1.25 per day.
- Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are home to the overwhelming majority of people living in extreme poverty.
Read this: 5 Tips from Ban Ki-Moon About Ending Poverty
Get involved: Understanding that this complex issue can only be solved by addressing some of the other GGs because there is no one goal that works in isolation without affecting the others.
Goal 2: No Hunger
What this means: 1 out of 9 of us isn’t getting enough food. Look around and imagine one person out of your circle of nine friends who is literally starving to death. This goal addresses the need to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture for the 795 people who are going hungry all over the world.
3 Facts to Know:
- Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five. This affects 3.1 million children each year.
- One in 4 of the world’s children suffer stunted growth because of malnutrition. In developing countries the proportion rises to one in 3.
- 66 million primary school-age children in developing countries attend classes hungry, with 23 million in Africa alone. As a former teacher, I know that kids can’t learn when their brains lack proper nutrition because they’re too hungry to focus on classroom learning.
Read this: Global Citizen’s Global Goal 2: Zero Hunger
Get involved: Heifer International operates on the “teach a man to fish” philosophy by providing families and communities with animals that are the source of food and reliable income through products such as milk, eggs and honey can be traded or sold at markets. It is a stellar example of sustainable agriculture programs.
Goal 3: Good Health
What this means: By ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages means improving child and maternal health and reducing HIV/AIDS.
3 Facts to Know:
- Child health— 17,000 fewer children die each day than in 1990, but more than six million children still die before their fifth birthday each year.
- Maternal health— Only half of women in developing regions receive the recommended amount of health care.
- HIV/AIDS— At the end of 2013, there were an estimated 35 million people living with HIV including 240,000 children newly infected children.
Read this: The Shot@Life website is a treasure trove of information for those who want to advocate good health for all through their mission of using vaccines to prevent deaths from childhood illnesses.
Get involved: Flu season is just around the corner and because it’s time to get flu shots, go to your local Walgreens to get yours. The Walgreens Get a Shot. Make your flu shot appointment and the Give a Shot campaign donates a vaccine to a child for each flu shot administered in one of their local stores. When our family goes to Walgreens and gets our 4 flu shots, we’re donating 4 sets of vaccines to children who desperately need them. Staying healthy and giving the gift of good health to others has never been easier!
Goal 4: Quality Education
What this means: The lack of access to quality education, especially among the poorest and among girls, prevents millions of people from escaping the cycle of extreme poverty around the world. See, I told you the Global Goals were interconnected!
3 Facts to Know:
- 124 million children who could be in elementary, middle, or high school aren’t in school
- More than half of children who have not enrolled in school live in sub-Saharan Africa.
- An estimated 50% of out-of-school children of primary school age live in conflict-affected areas. Children in the poorest households are 4 times as likely to be out of school as children in the richest households.
Read & Watch this: I am Malala is an incredible book but this October the He Named Me Malala documentary will be out. I saw an early screening of this powerful film in September and encourage you to see it. While I believe it is a good film for tweens and up, younger ages who can handle mature content will also enjoy the powerful message that Malala sends about the importance of education. Just know that towards the end of the movie, they show still images of the bloody bus that could be disturbing to some children but the photos are the same ones in the I am Malala book.
- Learning about #62MillionGirls, the global girls’ education initiative announced by Michelle Obama and Malala at the Global Citizens Festival. The First Lady shared that 62 million girls who are of school age are not currently in school and asked us to tweet tweet about the benefits going to school using the hashtag #62MillionGirls.
- If you’re planning an international trip, leave a little extra room in your suitcase to pack much needed supplies for Pack for a Purposes’s education initiatives that provides 520 schools, after school programs, and libraries with the necessities they need to provide a proper education.
Goal 5: Gender Equality
What this means: In many countries, girls are denied the chance to go to school. They are forced into marriage at a young age. Goal 5 calls for gender equality and empowerment all women and girls so they are as equals by their male counterparts.
3 Facts to Know:
- If all women could access the care, commodities and services recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), maternal deaths would drop by 67%, and newborn deaths would fall by 77%.
- Almost 800 women die every day from complications in pregnancy or childbirth.
- In sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania and Western Asia, girls still face barriers to entering both primary and secondary school.
Read & watch this: Read about ONE.org’s #PovertyisSexist campaign that aims to bring us together to show the world that we stand with strong girls.
Get involved: Signing up to use your voice to advocate for ONE.org’s causes then take a photo of yourself flexing your muscle. Include the hashtags #PovertyisSexist and #WithStrongGirls so world leaders can see that we’re serious about making the world a better place for the women and girls of the world.
Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
What this means: We don’t think about our access to clean drinking water at all because despite drought in certain states, it’s pretty plentiful in the United States. However for many, the lack of access to clean water and toilets present a health risk. Goal 6 helps ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for everyone around the world.
3 Facts to Know:
- 2.5 billion people lack access to basic sanitation services, such as toilets or latrines.
- Each day, an average of 5,000 children die due to preventable water and sanitation-related diseases.
- Hydropower is the most important and widely used renewable source of energy but is only 16% of total electricity production worldwide.
Read this: Happiness, Help and Hope in Rural Chad is a photo-based piece highlighting the work of World Concern to provide clean water to individuals pictured in the story who used to spend six hours a day collecting water.
- For 20 years Water.org has been working to provide safe water and toilets for all. While Matt Damon may be the celebrity co-founder of this nonprofit, he works tirelessly to educate us on the importance of toilets as a basic sanitation measure in communities around the world.
- Learning about Enactus, a community of student, academic and business leaders committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better more sustainable world. Each year the Enactus World Cup brings together 3500 entrepreneurial students who seek to address the water crisis during three days of collaboration, competition, and collaboration.
Goal 7: Renewable Energy
What this means: Imagine living your life in a constant power outage. No lights for homework. No electricity to cook. Providing affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy preserves resources and ensures safety.
3 Facts to Know:
- 1.3 billion people – one in five individuals around the world – still lack access to modern electricity.
- 3 billion people rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating.
- Energy from renewable resources – wind, water, solar, biomass and geothermal energy – is inexhaustible and clean. Renewable energy currently constitutes 15% of the global energy mix.
Read this: 6 ways energy poverty threatens health care for the poorest and then follow my good friend Nicole Melancon’s blog series that details her climb up Mount Kilimanjaro, a lifelong dream she completed as part of a fundraiser for Solar Sisters.
Get involved by: Learning about Solar Sisters and how their work provides hope and opportunity through a sustainable business model that brings clean energy through an investment in women entrepreneurs.
Goal 8: Good Jobs and Economic Growth
What this means: Rather than giving handouts through charity-based methods, the creation of sustainable jobs and job training promotes long term economic growth. Decent work comes from individuals being giving full and productive employment opportunities.
3 Facts to Know:
- Global unemployment increased from 170 million in 2007 to nearly 202 million in 2012 which means 75 million are young women and men are unemployed
- Nearly 2.2 billion people live below the US$2 poverty line and poverty eradication is only possible through stable and well-paid jobs.
- 470 million jobs are needed globally for new entrants to the labor market between 2016 and 2030.
Read this: Having visited Haiti so many times, I’ve seen the direct impact of sustainable jobs on individuals, their families, and the surrounding communities. Macy’s has been on the ground in Rwanda employing female basket weavers from two different tribes for the past ten years. The success of Rwanda Path to Peace led them to want replicate a trade not aid program in Haiti immediately after the earthquake struck. To learn more about Macy’s Heart of Haiti, read any of my posts from my travels to Haiti and get to know the artists whose lives have been transformed.
Get involved: Purchasing with a purpose. Support trade not aid and fair trade programs by purchasing artisan made goods not only from Macy’s but also other companies like Tribe Alive, Global Goods Partners, Fashionable, and To the Market who employ artists around the world to create their lines of ethical fashion and accessories.
Goal 9: Innovation and Infrastructure
What this means: With millions and even billions lacking electricity, phones, and sanitation there is a need to build resilient infrastructure to put these things in place.
3 Facts to Know:
- About 2.6 billion people in the developing world are facing difficulties in accessing electricity full time.
- 2.5 billion people worldwide lack access to basic sanitation and almost 800 million people lack access to water, many hundreds of millions of them in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
- 1 to 1.5 million people do not have access to reliable phone service.
Read this: To Unite the Earth, Connect It, an op-ed piece co-written by Mark Zuckerberg and Bono for the New York Times about the need to provide internet connectivity for all by 2020.
Get involved: Pledging your voice to #ConnectTheWorld as part of the fight for internet for all by simply signing up with your email address. Easy, right?
Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities
What this means: This goal supports standing up for equal human rights for people of all races, genders, and socioeconomic status and not discriminating between classes of people.
3 Facts to Know:
- Children in the poorest 20% of the population are still up to three times more likely to die before their fifth birthday than children in the richest quintiles.
- People with with disabilities are almost 5x more likely than average to incur catastrophic health expenditures.
- Women in rural areas are still up to 3x more likely to die while giving birth than women living in urban centers.
Read this: Fighting Fistula in Kenya: Two women’s endeavor to end discrimination details this severe medical condition that affects women in Africa often caused by prolonged or failed childbirth in areas without proper medical help or care before, during, and after the labor process. While a simple surgical procedure can fix fistula, women who are untreated are shamed and socially isolated. This piece details how two women in Western Kenya are dedicating themselves to help women with fistula.
Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
What this means: What if where you lived wasn’t safe? Chances are you wouldn’t live there but many people don’t have a choice where they live. From the favelas in Brazil to the colorful hillside homes that I see when I go to Port au Prince, slums exist in many of the world’s cities as more people seek to make these areas their homes. Goal 11 aims to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
3 Facts to Know:
- Half of humanity – 3.5 billion people – lives in cities today. By 2030, almost 60% of the world’s population will live in urban areas.
- 828 million people live in slums today and the number keeps rising.
- The world’s cities occupy just 2% of the Earth’s land, but account for 60 – 80% of energy consumption and 75% of carbon emissions.
Read this: ONE.org reports “Open sewers, dangerous buildings, disease, and crime are just some of the problems residents face” when living in the world’s slums. Kibera is the largest slum in Kenya but in Slum Rising: Meet a family proud to call Kibera home, we meet one family shares the joys and challenges of living where they do.
Get involved: Encouraging urban planners and businesses to get involved in contributing to the Global Goals. Corporate Citizenship has free webinars on the implications of goals for businesses that you can sign up for here.
Goal 12: Consumption
What this means: Have you ever thought of the possibility of running out of the things we need most? We are a society that consumes a lot and our natural resources are limited. Goal 12 encourages sustainable consumption and production patterns to reduce waste.
3 Facts to Know:
- 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted every year.
- If people worldwide switched to energy-efficient light bulbs, the world would save US$120 billion annually.
- More than 1 billion people still do not have access to fresh water.
Get involved: Changing our practices of buying new and discarding. Our donations to community organizations may get us a little bit of a tax deduction but the article above details what really happens and why this practice is harmful for many countries whose businesses can’t compete against our discarded goods. Since the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, donated clothes lined the streets of Port au Prince and have put tailors, cobblers, and other merchants out of business because it’s cheaper to buy used clothes off the street.
Goal 13: Climate Action
What this means: As the world’s temperature increases, glaciers are melting and causing ocean levels to rise. Land that is above water will be beneath the surface. Global Goal 13 urges us to take action to combat climate change and its impacts
3 Facts to Know:
- The greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are driving climate change and continue to rise.
- Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850.
- From 1880 to 2012, average global temperature increased by 0.85°C or 33°F.
Read this: How the changing climate will affect African farmers details the impact of climate change and its affects on African agriculture to grow and provide food
Get involved: The United States Environmental Protection Agency urges us to take four steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that have a direct result on climate change that include changing light bulbs to LED bulbs, powering down electronics when they’re not in use in order to conserve energy, using less water, and recycling.
Goal 14: Life Below Water
What this means: We tend to forget that 71% of our planet is covered in water but if you’ve ever enjoyed the view of the ocean or a pristine beach while dining alfresco on the catch of the day, you understand the need to protect the water and what lives in it. Fishing provides a livelihood for so many yet certain species are overfished or can’t be eaten due to pollution. Development of sustainable practices will protect the ocean and what lives in it.
3 Facts to Know:
- Oceans cover three-quarters of the Earth’s surface, contain 97% of the Earth’s water, and represent 99% of the living space on the planet by volume.
- Oceans absorb about 30% of carbon dioxide produced by humans, buffering the impacts of global warming.
- Oceans serve as the world’s largest source of protein, with more than 3 billion people depending on the oceans as their primary source.
Read this: Amazing Africa: Sea, sun and stars
Get involved: Learning about the efforts of organizations like Ocean Conservancy and purchase a membership to your local aquarium to support their conservation efforts while engaging in hands on learning.
Goal 15: Life on Land
What this means: Just like it’s important to protect our oceans and aquatic life, we need to do the same for living things on land. Goal 15 vows to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.
3 Facts to Know:
- Thirteen million hectares of forests are being lost every year and 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihood.
- Forests are home to more than 80% of all terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects.
- Of the 8,300 animal breeds known, 8% are extinct and 22% are at risk of extinction.
Read this: Amazing Africa: Photos of land, sea, and sky and will make you resolve to protect all living things on land.
Get involved: Learning about the efforts of organizations like The Nature Conservancy and purchase a membership to your local zoo to support their conservation efforts while engaging in hands on learning about animals.
Goal 16: Peace and Justice
What this means: There are over 60 million refugees in the world who have been displaced from their homes in conflict regions. Goal 16 aims to build peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development and provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
3 Facts to Know:
- The number of refugees of concern to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stood at 13 million in mid-2014, up from a year earlier.
- Corruption, bribery, theft and tax evasion cost some US $1.26 trillion for developing countries per year.
- The rate of children leaving primary school in conflict-affected countries reached 50% in 2011, which amounts to 28.5 million children.
Read this & get involved by: My good friend Amy wrote Syrian Refugees: What families can and should do now and it’s full of background information and many different ways your family can help.
Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals
What this means: We’re stronger together. Working together to form global partnerships will help implement and revitalize sustainable development programs that are essential to achieving the goals.
3 Facts to Know:
- The number of internet users in Africa almost doubled in the past four years.
- As of 2015, 95% of the world’s population is covered by a mobile-cellular signal.
- But more than four billion people do not use the Internet, and 90% of them are from the developing world.
Read this: Let there be light and…public- private partnerships about the ways so many are working together to bring electricity to Africa
Get involved by: Staying open minded and be a connector. Amazing collaborations are possible when we introduce amazing people to other amazing people.
We’re all individuals but together we’re stronger. Join me in advocating for a Global Goal you care about because together we can truly make a difference.
I won tickets and a night’s stay in Manhattan for the Global Citizen Festival from Women Online and attended Social Good Summit through my work with Shot@Life. No compensation was received for this post. All opinions are my own. Facts are from the Social Good Summit, One #PovertyIsSexist campaign, and Julia Gillard. Images courtesy of ONE. Photos were taken with the Samsung S6 Active and the S6 Edge Plus. Amazon Affiliate links are included in this post.