In September, The UN Launches A Major Sustainable Development Agenda For The Entire Planet

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UN-General-Assembly-Public-Domain1-450x300The UN plans to launch a brand new plan for man­ag­ing the entire globe at the Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Sum­mit that it will be host­ing from Sep­tem­ber 25th to Sep­tem­ber 27th.  Some of the biggest names on the plan­et, includ­ing Pope Fran­cis, will be speak­ing at this sum­mit.  This new sus­tain­able agen­da focus­es on cli­mate change of course, but it also specif­i­cal­ly address­es top­ics such as eco­nom­ics, agri­cul­ture, edu­ca­tion and gen­der equal­i­ty.  For those wish­ing to expand the scope of “glob­al gov­er­nance”, sus­tain­able devel­op­ment is the per­fect umbrel­la because just about all human activ­i­ty affects the envi­ron­ment in some way.  The phrase “for the good of the plan­et” can be used as an excuse to micro­man­age vir­tu­al­ly every aspect of our lives.  So for those that are con­cerned about the grow­ing pow­er of the Unit­ed Nations, this sum­mit in Sep­tem­ber is some­thing to keep an eye on.  Nev­er before have I seen such an effort to pro­mote a UN sum­mit on the envi­ron­ment, and this new sus­tain­able devel­op­ment agen­da is lit­er­al­ly a frame­work for man­ag­ing the entire globe.

If you are not famil­iar with this new sus­tain­able devel­op­ment agen­da, the fol­low­ing is what the offi­cial Unit­ed Nations web­site says about it…

The Unit­ed Nations is now in the process of defin­ing Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goals as part a new sus­tain­able devel­op­ment agen­da that must fin­ish the job and leave no one behind. This agen­da, to be launched at the Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Sum­mit in Sep­tem­ber 2015, is cur­rent­ly being dis­cussed at the UN Gen­er­al Assem­bly, where Mem­ber States and civ­il soci­ety are mak­ing con­tri­bu­tions to the agen­da.

The process of arriv­ing at the post 2015 devel­op­ment agen­da is Mem­ber State-led with broad par­tic­i­pa­tion from Major Groups and oth­er civ­il soci­ety stake­hold­ers. There have been numer­ous inputs to the agen­da, notably a set of Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goals pro­posed by an open work­ing group of the Gen­er­al Assem­bly, the report of an inter­gov­ern­men­tal com­mit­tee of experts on sus­tain­able devel­op­ment financ­ing, Gen­er­al Assem­bly dia­logues on tech­nol­o­gy facil­i­ta­tion and many oth­ers.

Post­ed below are the 17 sus­tain­able devel­op­ment goals that are being pro­posed so far.  Some of them seem quite rea­son­able.  After all, who wouldn’t want to “end pover­ty”.  But as you go down this list, you soon come to real­ize that just about every­thing is involved in some way.  In oth­er words, this tru­ly is a tem­plate for rad­i­cal­ly expand­ed “glob­al gov­er­nance”.  Once again, this was tak­en direct­ly from the offi­cial UN web­site…

1. End pover­ty in all its forms every­where

2. End hunger, achieve food secu­ri­ty and improved nutri­tion, and pro­mote sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture

3. Ensure healthy lives and pro­mote well­be­ing for all at all ages

4. Ensure inclu­sive and equi­table qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion and pro­mote life­long learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for all

5. Achieve gen­der equal­i­ty and empow­er all women and girls

6. Ensure avail­abil­i­ty and sus­tain­able man­age­ment of water and san­i­ta­tion for all

7. Ensure access to afford­able, reli­able, sus­tain­able and mod­ern ener­gy for all

8. Pro­mote sus­tained, inclu­sive and sus­tain­able eco­nom­ic growth, full and pro­duc­tive employ­ment, and decent work for all

9. Build resilient infra­struc­ture, pro­mote inclu­sive and sus­tain­able indus­tri­al­i­sa­tion, and fos­ter inno­va­tion

10. Reduce inequal­i­ty with­in and among coun­tries

11. Make cities and human set­tle­ments inclu­sive, safe, resilient and sus­tain­able

12. Ensure sus­tain­able con­sump­tion and pro­duc­tion pat­terns

13. Take urgent action to com­bat cli­mate change and its impacts (tak­ing note of agree­ments made by the UNFCCC forum)

14. Con­serve and sus­tain­ably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sus­tain­able devel­op­ment

15. Pro­tect, restore and pro­mote sus­tain­able use of ter­res­tri­al ecosys­tems, sus­tain­ably man­age forests, com­bat deser­ti­fi­ca­tion and halt and reverse land degra­da­tion, and halt bio­di­ver­si­ty loss

16. Pro­mote peace­ful and inclu­sive soci­eties for sus­tain­able devel­op­ment, pro­vide access to jus­tice for all and build effec­tive, account­able and inclu­sive insti­tu­tions at all lev­els

17. Strength­en the means of imple­men­ta­tion and revi­talise the glob­al part­ner­ship for sus­tain­able devel­op­ment

As you can see, this list goes far beyond “sav­ing the envi­ron­ment” or “fight­ing cli­mate change”.

It tru­ly cov­ers just about every realm of human activ­i­ty.

Anoth­er thing that makes this new sus­tain­able devel­op­ment agen­da dif­fer­ent is the unprece­dent­ed sup­port that it is get­ting from the Vat­i­can and from Pope Fran­cis him­self.

In fact, Pope Fran­cis is actu­al­ly going to trav­el to the UN and give an address to kick off the Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Sum­mit on Sep­tem­ber 25th…

His Holi­ness Pope Fran­cis will vis­it the UN on 25 Sep­tem­ber 2015, and give an address to the UN Gen­er­al Assem­bly imme­di­ate­ly ahead of the offi­cial open­ing of the UN Sum­mit for the adop­tion of the post-2015 devel­op­ment agen­da.

This Pope has been very open about his belief that cli­mate change is one of the great­est dan­gers cur­rent­ly fac­ing our world.  Just a cou­ple of weeks ago, he actu­al­ly brought UN Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Ban Ki-moon to the Vat­i­can to speak about cli­mate change and sus­tain­able devel­op­ment.  Here is a sum­ma­ry of what hap­pened…

On 28 April, the Sec­re­tary-Gen­er­al met with His Holi­ness Pope Fran­cis at the Vat­i­can and lat­er addressed senior reli­gious lead­ers, along with the Pres­i­dents of Italy and Ecuador, Nobel lau­re­ates and lead­ing sci­en­tists on cli­mate change and sus­tain­able devel­op­ment.

Amidst an unusu­al­ly heavy rain­storm in Rome, par­tic­i­pants at the his­toric meet­ing gath­ered with­in the ancient Vat­i­can com­pound to dis­cuss what the Sec­re­tary-Gen­er­al has called the “defin­ing chal­lenge of our time.”

The mere fact that a meet­ing took place between the reli­gious and sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ties on cli­mate change was itself news­wor­thy. That it took place at the Vat­i­can, was host­ed by the Pon­tif­i­cal Acad­e­my of Sci­ences, and fea­tured the Sec­re­tary-Gen­er­al as the keynote speak­er was all the more strik­ing.

In addi­tion, Pope Fran­cis is sched­uled to release a major encycli­cal this sum­mer which will be pri­mar­i­ly focused on the envi­ron­ment and cli­mate change.  The fol­low­ing comes from the New York Times…

The much-antic­i­pat­ed envi­ron­men­tal encycli­cal that Pope Fran­cis plans to issue this sum­mer is already being trans­lat­ed into the world’s major lan­guages from the Latin final draft, so there’s no more tweak­ing to be done, sev­er­al peo­ple close to the process have told me in recent weeks.

I think that we can get a good idea of the kind of lan­guage that we will see in this encycli­cal from anoth­er Vat­i­can doc­u­ment which was recent­ly released.  It is enti­tled “Cli­mate Change and The Com­mon Good”, and it was pro­duced by the Pon­tif­i­cal Acad­e­my of Sci­ences and the Pon­tif­i­cal Acad­e­my of Social Sci­ences.  The fol­low­ing is a brief excerpt…

Unsus­tain­able con­sump­tion cou­pled with a record human pop­u­la­tion and the uses of inap­pro­pri­ate tech­nolo­gies are causal­ly linked with the destruc­tion of the world’s sus­tain­abil­i­ty and resilience. Widen­ing inequal­i­ties of wealth and income, the world-wide dis­rup­tion of the phys­i­cal cli­mate sys­tem and the loss of mil­lions of species that sus­tain life are the gross­est man­i­fes­ta­tions of unsus­tain­abil­i­ty. The con­tin­ued extrac­tion of coal, oil and gas fol­low­ing the “busi­ness-as-usu­al mode” will soon cre­ate grave exis­ten­tial risks for the poor­est three bil­lion, and for gen­er­a­tions yet unborn. Cli­mate change result­ing large­ly from unsus­tain­able con­sump­tion by about 15% of the world’s pop­u­la­tion has become a dom­i­nant moral and eth­i­cal issue for soci­ety. There is still time to mit­i­gate unman­age­able cli­mate changes and repair ecosys­tem dam­ages, pro­vid­ed we reori­ent our atti­tude toward nature and, there­by, toward our­selves. Cli­mate change is a glob­al prob­lem whose solu­tion will depend on our step­ping beyond nation­al affil­i­a­tions and com­ing togeth­er for the com­mon good. Such trans­for­ma­tion­al changes in atti­tudes would help fos­ter the nec­es­sary insti­tu­tion­al reforms and tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tions for pro­vid­ing the ener­gy sources that have neg­li­gi­ble effect on glob­al cli­mate, atmos­pher­ic pol­lu­tion and eco-sys­tems, thus pro­tect­ing gen­er­a­tions yet to be born. Reli­gious insti­tu­tions can and should take the lead in bring­ing about that change in atti­tude towards Cre­ation.

The Catholic Church, work­ing with the lead­er­ship of oth­er reli­gions, can now take a deci­sive role by mobi­liz­ing pub­lic opin­ion and pub­lic funds to meet the ener­gy needs of the poor­est 3 bil­lion peo­ple, thus allow­ing them to pre­pare for the chal­lenges of unavoid­able cli­mate and eco-sys­tem changes. Such a bold and human­i­tar­i­an action by the world’s reli­gions act­ing in uni­son is cer­tain to cat­alyze a pub­lic debate over how we can inte­grate soci­etal choic­es, as pri­or­i­tized under UN’s sus­tain­able devel­op­ment goals, into sus­tain­able eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment path­ways for the 21st cen­tu­ry, with pro­ject­ed pop­u­la­tion of 10 bil­lion or more.

Under this Pope, the Vat­i­can has become much more polit­i­cal than it was before, and sus­tain­able devel­op­ment has become the Vatican’s num­ber one polit­i­cal issue.

And did you notice the lan­guage about “the world’s reli­gions act­ing in uni­son”?  Clear­ly, the Vat­i­can believes that it has the pow­er to mobi­lize reli­gious lead­ers all over the plan­et and have them work togeth­er to achieve the “UN’s sus­tain­able devel­op­ment goals”.

I can nev­er remem­ber a time when the Unit­ed Nations and the largest reli­gious insti­tu­tion on the plan­et, the Catholic Church, have worked togeth­er so close­ly.

So what will the end result of all this be?

Should we be con­cerned about this new sus­tain­able devel­op­ment agen­da?