The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) are the seventeen goals set for the world by the United Nations during 2015 (learn more about them here!). They represent guidelines for the steps that humanity must take collectively, by the target year 2030, to live sustainably.
To live sustainably is to live in a manner that allows humanity to stay on Earth indefinitely, without overconsumption or exploitation. It means guaranteeing basic human rights while protecting the environment and addressing climate change. To me, the SDGs represent a future of peace, sustainability. The goals are ones that we all should strive toward: a world with less violence, less exploitation, more equality and more wilderness. They represent a world where each of us has enough to eat and drink, without destroying ecosystems or the biodiversity our natural environment relies upon.
Each goal is vitally important in its own right. For example SDG 2, zero hunger, is just as pertinent as SDG 5, gender equality. There is also intersection among the goals. Ending poverty (SDG 1) is intertwined with equitable access to education for all (SDG 4) and all of the goals rely on those that protect our natural environment. Achieving one is making progress, but achieving all is crucial for sustainability.
Though these goals are mainly intended for big businesses and governments, small steps can make a huge difference. Take the Ashley Schiff Preserve, for example. Though the preserve is just under 27 acres, it harbors most of the biodiversity on Stony Brook University’s campus and is protecting our wilderness, a cornerstone of sustainability.
Steps in our everyday life can make a big difference, too. Recycling, donating money and resources, limiting consumption and volunteering with organizations progressing toward sustainability are all ways to contribute to the global goals. Most importantly though, is being conscious of the goals and understanding the necessary global trajectory toward sustainability. If this mindset of sustainability is applied to anything, that is, to me, the most significant step in the right direction.
Matt Venezia is a biology major with a minor in writing and rhetoric. He is from Nassau County, New York and this is his second year at Stony Brook University. He began volunteering with the Ashley Schiff Preserve this year to share his passion for the natural environment and commitment to global sustainability.