2022 resolutions: moving towards achieving the 2030 Agenda goals

Aitana Robey

Times are changing. We probably have heard this sentence so many times during the last couple of decades that it may seem as if nothing is actually changing. But, especially since the pandemic, it is clear that our systems of production and ways of living are not working anymore –if they ever did–.

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a health, economic, social and political crisis globally. On the other hand, climate change threatens with destroying our planet, social media have caused a polarization of political ideologies and capitalism increases exponentially inequalities between nations and collectives. There is a lot going on.

In 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an action plan “in favor of people, the planet and prosperity, which also intends to strengthen universal peace and access to justice”. It was approved by the Member States and it contains 17 objectives with 169 goals related to the economic, social and environmental spheres.

It has been seven years since the UN adopted the 2030 Agenda, but its purposes are now more important than ever. Even though January has come to an end, we still have all the year ahead to keep moving forward global goals that will benefit all of us. Here are some resolutions related in some way to 2030 Agenda to work on during 2022.

Eradicating poverty

Over 700 million people –10% of world population– live in extreme poverty nowadays, struggling to meet the most basic needs, such as health, education and access to water, among others. Most of the people living with less than $1.90 a day live in sub-Saharan Africa. Worldwide, poverty rates in rural areas are 17.2%; more than three times the same rates for urban areas.

On the other hand, for those who work, their job does not guarantee them a decent life. In fact, 8% of the world’s workers and their families lived in extreme poverty in 2018 and one in five children live in extreme poverty. Therefore, ensuring social protection for all children and other vulnerable groups is crucial to reducing poverty.

A new research published by the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research warned that the economic fallout from the global pandemic could increase world poverty, affecting 500 million more people –8% of world population–. This would be the first time that poverty has increased worldwide in 30 years, since 1990.

Promoting sustainability: circular economy

Climate change is affecting every country on every continent. It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives. Weather systems are changing, sea levels are rising, and weather events are becoming more extreme.

2019 was the second hottest year of all time and marked the end of the hottest decade (2010-2019) ever recorded. Moreover, levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached record levels. Although greenhouse gases emissions decreased around 6% in 2020 due to movement restrictions and economic downturns stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic, that improvement was only temporary. The conclusion is: climate change is not going to stop and urgent action is needed.

Circular economy may be part of the solution and is gaining importance these days. With circular economy we promote the optimization of resources, the reduction in the consumption of raw materials and the use of waste, recycling them or giving them a new life to turn them into new products, and that is why companies and governments are developing more and more projects based on this new production and consumption model that guarantees sustainable growth over time.

The objective of the circular economy is, therefore, to make the most of the material resources available to us by extending the life cycle of products. The idea arises from imitating nature, where everything has value and everything is used, where waste becomes a new resource.

Ending the digital gap

As a consequence of confinement and movement restrictions, the pandemic has accelerated the digitalization of companies, education and society in general. According to the report ‘CEO Outlook 2020: Covid-19’, 80% of the CEOs in Spain ensures that the transformation of their operating model has accelerated as a result of the pandemic. Moreover, 50% state that they are months ahead of what was expected and another 30% consider that they are currently years ahead of what they expected before the pandemic.

This has resulted in the increase of the inequalities regarding access, use and impact of technologies between different collectives based on economic, geographic, gender, age or cultural criteria. In other words, it has aggravated the digital divide. A sector in which these shortcomings have been especially noticeable and in an obvious way has been education. According to Unicef, 2 out of 3 school-age children in the world –i.e., 1,300 million people between 3 and 17 years old– don’t have an Internet connection.

In a society where the digital component is intrinsic to our ways of living –from education, to work, leisure and bureaucracy– it is crucial to guarantee equality in access to technologies for all peoples and nations.

Being kind to one another

The repercussions of the pandemic, its effects and measures have not yet been fully explored. However, significant challenges and opportunities related to mental health are foreseen and should now be taken into account.

Last year, the UN claimed that there is no health without mental health and there is no good mental health and well-being without adopting a human rights-based approach. There is an urgent need to invest more in mental health. However, money should not be the most valued thing in discussions about global health in general and about mental health in particular. There is an inherent and universal value in supporting dignity and well-being; furthermore, it is a human rights imperative.

For this reason, and especially taking into account the complicated moment society is going through, being kind to one another should never be forgotten nor underestimated and it should be on everybody’s New Year’s resolution list each year.

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