(Extract from DrJMT response to the Senate Inquiry into Sustainable Development Goals – Implementation in Australia)
Being a very keen advocate for overarching outcome frameworks I find the United Nation’s Sustainability Development Goals (SDG) able to provide the most aspirational outcomes for all. Based upon this assumption I prepared my response to the Senate Inquiry into the SDG (29 March 2018) drawing on my 2017 Consequences collective Blogs.
In the 2018 Senate inquiry into Sustainable Development Goals (and their implementation in Australia) the very first question is around the current level of understanding and awareness of the goals across the Australian Government and in the wider Australian community.
The Sustainable Development Goals – also known as Global Goals reside within the United Nations and are a responsibility for every OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) country. In this agreement there is a shared theme by 2030 to improve the world and leave no one behind. Along with 17 aspirational goals there are 161 indicators to track progress at both an international and domestic level.
It is this difference of the shared responsibility at both an international and domestic level that makes the SDG’s extremely unique and unfortunately, for all the wrong reasons. For example, their predecessors were called the millennium goals with a responsibility primarily focused on developing countries. In the millennium goals there was an agreed shared contribution from the more ‘wealthier countries’ to assist financially through the provision of additional resources to the developing countries or those countries ‘less well off’ (being less well off often based on economic status). A key difference with the SDG’s/Global and the Millennium Goals is for the very first time the negative trajectory of societal need is as relevant at a domestic level as it is at the international level. For the first time there is an international agreement where countries are tasked with ensuring they tackle the issues on their own ‘door steps’. This is a fundamental shift and plays an extremely important influence in decisions that must be made around the Global Goals.
The importance of the Sustainability Development Goals to be filtered into everyday life is slow but progressing. In a recent article by Squirrel Main tiled “Have you got global goals”
The reflection that was made considered how the sectors (particularly philantrophic) are influenced by the Global Goals.
“in the international philantrophic arena, they’ve caught on like a bushfire in a eucalypt forest”
During 2017 I spent much of the year in my Consequences Blog deconstructing each of the seventeen goals to demonstrate how they impact everyday life. In fact it is not only possible to bring the Global Goals into everyday life but necessary. I propose we are all responsible in finding alignment between local capacity with such Global Goals. As my response to the Senate Inquiry into Sustainability Development Goals this first part is presented as an opinion piece. I draw on my recent PhD research and revisit my 2017 Blogs to provide evidence around: a) The understanding and awareness of the SDG across the Australian Government and in the wider Australian community.
In considering the 17 Global Goals I constructed my own countdown within my Consequences Blog and started with number 17 which is all about ‘partnerships’. Most importantly, and as I expanded in my Consequences Blog #29 it is ever so important to make sure all partnerships in any country are encouraged from the ‘top’. Whether that be at a global, societal, organisational or community level. If the decision makers are not encouraging partnerships then the exact opposite will occur. In my research I found that in partnership experiences unless ‘joined-up approaches’ are driven from the ‘top’ more often than not opposing experiences to those desired will occur. In fact entrenched silos begin to form and behaviours becomes dis-supposed to partnering in any way or form. This tension around partnerships is evident in all parts of the world and being focused on purpose along with engagement of the decision makers is key to meeting this goal.
It is quite ironic that Global Goal 16 promotes ‘peace, justice and strong institutions’ which are actions that reinforce a move away from silos thus promoting collaboration and partnerships. Recognising the importance of support from the ‘top’ the key to building such success particularly as we get closer to 2030 will not be based on repeating actions from the past. In Consequences Blog #30 I describe how the Doomsday clock has become the closest to d-day ( midnight) for many years and this on its own paints the picture why repeating the past is not good enough. By simply doing things as we always have done will not bring about peace or justice. Woven throughout all the Consequences Blogs I build on this phrase:
“If you continue to do things as you always have you will always get what you have always got – [the part I have added is] – and possibly worse”
It is no longer acceptable to use systems of logic that are more suitable for the 20th century. The Global Goals represent the systems and scenarios required for the 21st century. Many of the institutional issues of today are influenced by the very fact that they are no longer ‘fit for purpose’. I encourage all to play their part in diffusing this scenario by being a part of this change. Being part of the change means accepting that trying new things and approaches is imperative to seeking the balance that is needed for the 21st century ie be future proof.
Global Goal 15 is one that appears to be more tangible primarily from its visual implications. With the title of Consequences Blog #31 ‘Our great land’ the blog reinforces that resources are not infinite. Much of the 20th century systemic thinking is based on an approach of ‘plenty more where that came from’. I am keen to replace this mindset of ‘taking’ as the following quote demonstrates how short term and useless the scarcity mindset is:
‘Yes the planet got destroyed but for a beautiful moment in time we created a lot of value for shareholders’.
In this Blog advocating for ‘our global great land’ I summarized four challenges and calls to action placing the importance of keeping our ‘dirt’ pure as the first challenge; the second challenge was around the gathering of natural data to assist with reducing any future loss with the third and fourth challenge adding human rights and social issues into the conversation about how we all collectively protect – our great land.
The concern is not just for land and in Global Goal 14 with a title of ‘life below the water’ my focus was on highlighting similar resource limitations as on land but in the water. In Consequences Blog #32 I share the news of the Plastic Ocean with such reminders that, “no water, no life, no blue, no green”. Again the common theme of not continuing the same practice of ‘endlessly taking’ is of most importance. The change required is big and systemic but the reason it is at a domestic level as well as an international level is because the responsibility to change is within each individual and this has been a very strong theme throughout all the Consequences Blogs. I have been keen to encourage how individual action is fundamental to achieving systemic change. This is presented as a learning from my research which I refer to as STRADDLE™ and is a way of navigating times of extreme change ( more about STRADDLE™ can be found at www.socialconnect.com.au).
In Consequences Blog #33 I expanded on Global Goal 13 which refers to exactly what is in the title – climate change. I would not class myself as a, greenie, or ‘ tree hugger’ (there is no offence intended with these colloquiums) but what I do class myself as, thus the essence of the Consequences Blog, is a concerned global citizen. When I shared my concerns around this target 13 I was keen to outline how some of the targets, such as this one, are so evident that to be debating action on this topic is simply ludicrous. The biggest motivator for action and possibly a bigger call to action than any enquiry or the collective Consequences Blogs being put together is a moral obligation. We all share the same moral obligation to ensure a future for for future generations to be able to come!
Target 12 promotes responsible consumption and production. In Consequences Blog #34 I nudged the fact that these responsible patterns are for all and in all that we do. There is a phrase that is embedded in common wisdom and speaks of ‘fiddling while Rome burns’. The simple essence of this phrase is used to explain situations where everyone is looking in differing ways except the one that will make the biggest difference. When considering responsible consumption and production it cannot be done without embracing the ecosystem. This Blog encourages the need to embrace an ecological rather than ‘ego’ economic centric model. An example of the change is shown through the kind of behaviour change that is required around recycling. The results of recycling are more than economical they are an imperative for the environment based on individual and collective action.
Maintaining a mindset of longevity Consequences Blog #35 and target 11 advocated for sustainable cities and consumption. I suggested in the title of this Blog that this was simply the eye of the hurricane as to not take action was another way of consolidating short-termism. This statement is comparative to the findings of my research that explored a short-termism competition paradox. I found that to ensure sustainability it was important for organisations, communities and individuals to adopt more of a generosity mindset and in some way let go of competition. The actions that make up sustainable cities of the future are not the same actions that have historically built the cities as we know them today. Hence the use of the phrase the ‘eye of the hurricane’ as there is still time to make some fundamental long-term sustainable changes – but not for long and not if based in a short term competition paradox.
Consequences Blog #36 highlighted global goal 10 and the need to reduce inequalities – I added the ‘yes please’. Hans Rosling one of the greatest minds to inhabit the 20th and 21st century provided a rational how the divide between the ‘have’s and the ‘have not’s is more of an issue. In his you tube ‘the joy of stats’ he clearly describes why inequality limits all and how different action must be taken
“But in order to save the planet, we need to look at our bad habits, reduce our wastefulness and allow the rest of the world to reach our living standards. In other words, the wealthiest people in the population should make sacrifices to help the poorest and reduce gaps.”
At the same time as his warnings Rosling was always full of much hope as such a task is in our collective gift. The Global Goals provides the pathway for us all to follow.
Global Goal 9 and Consequences Blog #37 captured industry innovation and infrastructure. Again I drew on my research to describe the influence of emergence, particularly with decision making in the 21st century. As detailed in both my research and the seven equations of the Competition Detox (seven mini book series in the making) the concept STRADDLE™ offers three elements (equation three) that assist with the tensions that can arise between the ‘old and the new’. The three elements balance; foundation: navigation work together to nudge a more generous mindset and away from the more traditional mindset based on scarcity. In the Blog two forms of strategy are considered: predicative; emergent. Suggesting the former strategy is better suited for infrastructure of the 20th century and if applied in the 21st century has more of a stifling effect on innovation. Hence the Blog promotes the use of emergent strategies to be at the base of industry, innovation and infrastructure of the 21st century.
Consequences Blog #38 speaks of Global Goal 8 and the drive for ‘work and economic growth’. Continuing to recognize that different practices are needed for the 21st century this goal encourages yet again for the discussion to be around the ecosystem rather than the ‘ ego’ system. Already some great phrases and even measures exist to assist with this. There is a Social Progress Index (SPI) that measures the social impact from the ecosystem. There have also been suggestions to expand these findings into a General Wellbeing Product (GWP) rather than the standard GDP (Gross Domestic Product) which simply measures the economic influence. In looking at the working environments of the future the following quote is an example of the new ‘ industry 4.0’ and questions any decision being based on 20th century thinking:
“Does the next industrial revolution spell the end of the manufacturing jobs”
Whether we live in the 20th or 21st century affordable clean energy, which is the topic of Goal 7, is a very difficult target and notion to debate. In Consequences Blog#39 I noted how Australia at the point in time of writing was sitting at 15th in the world for its measures of affordable clean energy. This is really nothing, to be proud of. Providing a simple action I referred to earth hour – where the lights are turn off for an hour. This action easily provides a demonstration that requires simple actions, anyone can do it and is a way to conserve energy.
All of the Global Goals are important and the key rational behind the writing of my 2017 Blog commitment around the 17 Global Goals was beyond the number alignment. Being proactive to show how they impacted and fitted into our everyday lives – no matter where we lived- was important. Once again all the Global Goals are important but Global Goal 6 ‘clean water’ is the most important of all which is exactly what Consequences Blog #40 presented! Humankind cannot survive without water and countries can do no developing without water. Goals around this precious commodity must not be ignored.
Gender equality is the construct for Global Goal 5. In Consequences Blog #41 I presented an argument that gender equality was something to be caught not taught. Encouraging a social license for gender equality formed the basis of three examples such as non-gendered uniforms; ban sexist advertisement/media; fight workplace gender gap and/or all of the above! There are many examples that must become part of everyday life and decisions until there is no need to make such actions so topical.
Global Goal 4 highlights the importance of quality education. In this Consequences Blog #42 I was keen to add to the debate around education. Even though education is deemed as important it is still measured in global rankings that don’t reveal the whole picture or help provide the relevant support needed. Education is important especially the kind that is 21st century ready and ‘fit for purpose’. The fact that the kinds of jobs in the 21st century are yet to be defined on its own is enough to mean education must become more flexible to 21st century needs rather than bound to outdated 20th century measures.
Consequences Blog #43 and Global Goal 3 have a target set around good health and well-being. I added a title of ‘pigs can fly’ because there are so many available health options especially due to technology and in fact pigs having wings is not that un thinkable. In the blog I also added and supported quite a provocative idea based around the possibly of raising taxes on unhealthy foods. This would surely reduce sugar from diets thus make an amazing impact on societal epidemics such as obesity.
Global Goal number 2 was an almost direct contrast with the former argument in Consequences Blog #44 as the heading of Food Fighters simply says it all – fight for zero hunger. I argued in this Blog that surely in the 21st century, along with all the technology and excess of food (particularly in some places) there must be ways of ensuring people do not go hungry. I proposed a call to action where we will commit to being a ‘food fighter’. This is surely a basic human right.
The final Global Goal to be written about is the very first Global Goal number 1 – no poverty. In Consequences Blog #45 I repeat a phrase used throughout much of the exploration I have made around the awareness of the Global Goals – being 21st century and ‘ fit for purpose’. This means so many things but taking poverty as an example it means not following behaviours or support that represent historical practices that simply are not working. The poverty reductions and methods now need to tackle the issues of today and the future not the past. When communities record that poverty and climate change are bigger concerns to them than terrorism it is time to take note the we must not ‘fiddle while Rome burns’.
This summary has been prepared for the Inquiry into the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. I understand that much of the content represents my own personal views which are drawn from my research and experiences. The summary of my Consequences Blogs provides some of the gaps and opportunities that are relative to the understanding and awareness of the SDG’s across the Australian Government and in the wider Australian Community.
I can report that over the 12 months I undertook the writing Blog task I have seen some increase in awareness of the SDG’s but not so much evidence regarding the best application and alignment to the Global Goals. The overarching theme is the statement ‘if you continue to do things you have always done you will always get what you have always got’. To increase awareness across Australia my recommendation is to not follow known and existing practices without alignment to the Global Goals. My key finding is awareness of the Global Goals must be raised particularly where things are not working. The second part of this submission will further address the remaining submission questions which are more relevant to best practice for application and implementation.