Resilience in SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)

By Ian Teñido

The United Nations

The confluence of efforts to manage the world’s social and environmental state has never been serious before as it has been for the past three decades and especially in the recent decade. The culmination of the Brundtland report gave birth to a new angle from which environmental affairs as well as the world’s social welfare can be viewed. The metamorphosis of strategies and approaches used in dealing with the social and environmental issues cannot be overemphasized. We have moved from simply looking at the environment as the giver of our life to an active responsibility of ensuring that it survives beyond today. One of the sustainability principles that reckon in my ears every time is the ‘intergenerational and intra-generational equity’ that we should use the environmental resources to allocate benefits equally among the present generations and while doing so, we should remember that the future generations will depend on the same resources and therefore, our use today should not jeopardize their (future generations) ability to draw benefits from these resources.

In this spirit, the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were developed ranging from halving those suffering from poverty and hunger to providing access to clean water and sanitation as well as developing global partnerships in ensuring that these goals are attained. By 2015, most of these goals apart from a few had not been achieved and their achievement was now conceived to be a long term goal rather than short term. Several of the 8 goals were discovered to be achievable in an interdisciplinary and a multi-party approach and not through a mono-approach upon which the vision for their attainment had been set. As a result, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were developed to carry on with this vision. The 17 SDGs carry the vision of developing resilience among the people and in systems to ensure that life below the water, on land and in the air is sustainable and the welfare of the humans is better going into the future.

Water and Sanitation Program WSP
Water & Sanitation Program WSP

Resilience is defined as the capacity of a system to adapt, survive and grow in the face of catastrophic incidents. Resilience is now a common feature in almost all complex systems ranging from enterprise to social systems. The ability of the primary subjects to adapt to these complex situations, be able to grow as well survive these hard times is fundamental in the recent times because we are already living and experiencing the impacts and effects of the past misdeeds to the environment. For instance, the impact of climate change is already here with us with excessive heat being experienced in vulnerable parts of the world, increased ill-health as a result of high level of respiratory gasses in the atmosphere to increased flooding events are all being experienced today.

Therefore, humanity could not be moved/re-located to other parts of the world and this would be a very costly operation. Therefore, in addition to sustainability of the systems, resilience ought to have been developed among the people and systems to ensure that amid the vagaries of nature, life will still go on and the world is not plunged into a humanitarian scenario. The SDGs aim to address poverty and hunger as the primary and the biggest problems facing the world’s poor who add up as the most vulnerable. Of course, resilience among the people is developed only when the baselines set up through the SDGs are in place. For instance, there must exist clean water, affordable energy, decent working conditions, increased equality, improved environmental state and sustainable industries for resilience to be achieved. While achieving the SDGs is in itself a step towards better life for all, it is in the same achievement that resilience among communities and systems is strengthened.

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