At the Global Tables and in the Global Trenches
the MC Updates and the GI Updates.
(Global Integration Update, December 2015, Personal Reflections).
It is often pointed out by people of faith that the Agenda is highly secularized and does not include God and dependence on God in the picture. While this is true, it can be argued that this “omission” is a necessary reality given humanity’s diversity and the need to find common ground (vs it being humanistic arrogance or anti-religious). We believe it is important to understand, apply, and critique the Agenda (just like other global efforts/affairs) according to one’s own world view and beliefs-values. Our CORE Member Care weblog is currently dealing with these issues, as part of the “Global Integrators” series. Two of the main assertions are the importance of personal transformation for social transformation and the importance of moral development for sustainable development.
The Agenda in our view is a crucial rallying point for the world community to truly make a difference on the horrific conditions in which so many fellow humans live. Two stats in particular come to our minds: one billion urban slum dwellers; 1.5 billion people living in settings exposed to violence and conflict that threaten their physical and mental integrity. There are many more stats like these of course that shine light on conditions of great need, vulnerability, and exploitation in our world, including forced migration, human trafficking, gender-based violence, gender inequality, maternal health and safety, education, corruption, and many other areas addressed by the Agenda.
Is the Agenda part of some conspiracy to weaken national sovereignty, undermine one’s freedom or faith, or usher in an authoritarian world order? Not in our view. Which is not to say however that this Agenda, like similar global efforts, should not be carefully monitored and critiqued, including the extent that it goes after the systemic influences/structures that prop up global injustices and inequities. And which is not to say that the Agenda, like any good thing, could not be somehow high-jacked for ill-intentions. Keep in mind that the Agenda is NOT a legally binding document or treaty, or something being forced on people or governments. It certainly has moral weight and major influence (and so it should) but it is fundamentally a voluntary set of consensually derived aspirational goals in light of the serious issues facing humanity-planet.
Having just come back from a trip that included connecting with urban refuges in the Middle East and the poor in Africa—people in desperate situations—we frankly do not have much patience for armchair criticisms that trivialize or denigrate the work of the humanitarian-development sector. We appreciate and affirm the combined efforts of the UN, governmental, and civil society sectors and its dedicated personnel who take risks and make sacrifices often at great personal cost. We do however appreciate informed critiques (including our own!) and know that there is much room for improvement and at times for confrontation within the humanitarian-development sector. (see the World Humanitarian Summit website for many examples, including the September 2015 synthesis report Restoring Humanity: Global Voices Calling for Action)
“The scale and ambition of the new Agenda requires a revitalized Global Partnership to ensure its implementation. We fully commit to this. This Partnership will work in a spirit of global solidarity, in particular solidarity with the poorest and with people in vulnerable situations. It will facilitate an intensive global engagement in support of implementation of all the Goals and targets, bringing together Governments, the private sector, civil society, the United Nations system and other actors and mobilizing all available resources.” (paragraph 39)
"We the Peoples" are the celebrated opening words of the UN Charter. It is "We the Peoples" who are embarking today on the road to 2030. Our journey will involve Governments as well as Parliaments, the UN system and other international institutions, local authorities, indigenous peoples, civil society, business and the private sector, the scientific and academic community – and all people. Millions have already engaged with, and will own, this Agenda. It is an Agenda of the people, by the people, and for the people – and this, we believe, will ensure its success.” (paragraph 52)
We also want to mention the need to address global injustices and global inequities related to the current global governance systems--a central issue which relates to but is not sufficiently addressed by SDG 10: "Reduce inequality within and between countries." For example with regards to health, consider this perspective: "Power asymmetry and global social norms limit the range of choice and constrain action on health inequity; these limitations are reinforced by systemic global governance dysfunctions and require vigilance across all policy arenas....Global governance for health must be rooted in commitments to global solidarity and shared responsibility; sustainable and healthy development for all requires a global economic and political system that serves a global community of healthy people on a healthy planet. " (The Lancet-University of Oslo Commission on Global Governance for Health, The Lancet, Feb. 2014, p. 5)