Saturday, October 17, 2015

Time for Global Action

Article published in today's Guardian:

Recently, the United Nations has committed to 17 goals for sustainable development that have the potential to achieve three extraordinary things in the next 15 years. End extreme poverty. Fight inequality and injustice. Fix climate change. It is a widely held belief that these goals can be achieved – in all countries and for all people.

This is a wonderful opportunity for countries and citizens of the world to work together to improve the lives of people everywhere. The decisions and policies of every government will have an effect on our ability to end poverty, promote prosperity and well-being for all, protect the environment and address climate change.

People gather at the United Nations from every corner of the Earth representing governments and other organizations interested in the many issues they face. It is remarkable and encouraging that the human spirit is capable of setting aside personal interests in favour of the common good.

Not everyone who developed these goals or who voted in favour of them was Christian or religious. Yet at their very core are religious and philosophical values that speak to the Golden Rule that is at the heart of so many belief systems – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The three main categories of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development are supported by major themes in the Bible.

End Extreme Poverty
There have been plenty of times when we have taken the words of Jesus out of context. When he acknowledges that there will always be poor, he is not giving us permission to ignore the very real needs of people who find themselves in extreme poverty. Elsewhere in scripture there is overwhelming evidence that the expectation is that we have a responsibility to care for the poor. Besides, this goal has to do with the extreme poverty. The goal is to end poverty everywhere; end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture; it means to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

Fight Inequality and Injustice
It might come as a surprise for many people but the Bible speaks frequently of compassion. It speaks of justice as if it is an achievable reality. It speaks of love as a deliberate decision to love even our enemies. The goals for sustainable development seek to ensure inclusive education and promote lifelong learning. It seeks to achieve gender equality. In addition, the goals seek to ensure the availability of sustainable water and sanitation. As well as, access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy. The goals will promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work; fostering innovation. The goal will reduce inequality within and among countries; make communities inclusive and safe.

Fix Climate Change.
The Bible seems to put humans in charge of the planet. Not as exploiters of the Earth’s resources but as stewards, or caretakers, of this amazingly biologically diverse garden. The UN Global Goals require us to take urgent action to combat climate change. We are to conserve the ocean’s resources. We are to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of land.

These goals fit well within the parameters of any belief system that cares for others and the planet. These goals are achievable and have to be accomplished. My hope is that we elect a federal government that is attentive to the very practical need we have to be united with other nations and see poverty, justice and climate change as very real issues facing every citizen of this blue, green ball we call home.

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