An outline of 17 sustainable resolutions for the new year.
As the new year unfolds, the focus on sustainable development intensifies through the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These encompass a spectrum of global aims, from poverty eradication and environmental conservation to promoting equality and economic growth. The SDGs are about recognising our shared responsibilities and making positive changes, no matter how small, for a better world. We explore how to weave these SDGs into our daily practices and incorporate sustainability into our New Year’s resolutions.
SDG 1: No Poverty
The goal aims to eradicate extreme poverty and ensure social protection for all. One can contribute through donations or volunteering and advocating for policies that address wealth inequality and provide access to primary education at little to no cost to help foster a more equitable society. Furthermore, SDG 1 is the convergence of all other sustainable goals. Thus, a resolution to be proactively sustainable, always keeping in mind the bigger picture, should be the first resolution for 2024.
SDG 2: Zero hunger
The second sustainable development goal aims to eradicate hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. To contribute to SDG 2, a resolution to support local food banks through regular donations, volunteering time to community gardens, fostering food sovereignty, and pledging for equitable access to nutritious food for all, will bring differences in the lives of the disadvantaged. A concrete action anyone can take is to reduce food waste by refraining from overindulgence.
SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being
Good health and well-being encompass actions that contribute to healthy lives for all ages. On an individual level, one can contribute by advocating for accessible healthcare, supporting community clinics, participating in grassroots health education initiatives that will help destigmatise specific health concerns like anxiety, and fostering inclusive and equitable healthcare systems. A simple resolution to minimise household wastes that directly go to landfills or water bodies can drastically improve the living conditions of communities forced to live near those regions.
SDG 4: Quality Education
The goal promotes lifelong learning opportunities to ensure inclusive and equitable education for all. A person can contribute by volunteering as a tutor or mentor, providing accessible educational resources, supporting programs that advocate for free education and educational equality, and fostering an environment where education is a right, not a privilege. Additionally, advocating for policy changes that prioritise funding for public education and reduce educational disparities can address systemic barriers to quality education.
SDG 5: Gender Equality
The goal aims to achieve equal rights and opportunities for all genders. While Bangladesh has made significant advancements in recent years in recognising women’s rights, the change has to be at the grassroots level. Therefore, a resolution to support organisations that empower women economically through mentorship or funding, advocating for policies that ensure equal pay, and dismantling gender-based discrimination can help foster a society where gender does not limit opportunities or treatment. The best way to advocate for change is through open discourse; challenging stereotypes and promoting inclusive language and behaviours in daily interactions can contribute to a culture of gender equality.
SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
Ensuring access to safe water and adequate sanitation for all is the primary target of this SDG. Perhaps the ‘simplest’ resolution to achieve this would be to reduce personal water consumption and incorporate water conservation practices to preserve this vital resource for all. Opt for reusable water containers to reduce reliance on single-use plastic bottles.
SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
The goal aims to ensure access to reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all. This is another SDG with a ‘simple’ resolution; reduce electricity consumption at home by flipping the switch off when not needed, and replace high-consumption appliances with energy-saving alternatives. One can also contribute by investing in renewable energy sources like solar panels for personal use and advocating for community-based renewable energy projects that prioritise affordability and accessibility, fostering energy independence and reducing reliance on fossil fuel.
SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
The goal is to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work. A person can contribute by supporting fair trade initiatives, purchasing ethically sourced products, and volunteering time or skills to mentorship programs or cooperatives to empower marginalised communities economically, fostering a more equitable and just labour environment.
SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
The goal aims to develop resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation. One can contribute by supporting local innovation hubs or tech education initiatives, advocating for sustainable infrastructure projects, prioritising community needs over corporate interests, and fostering equitable access to technology and resources.
SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities
The goal aims to reduce disparities within and among countries, ensuring equality for all. A person can contribute by volunteering time or skills to mentorship programs that empower disadvantaged individuals, actively challenging prejudices, and promoting inclusivity in personal and professional circles.
SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
Creating inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable urban environments is the primary goal of this SDG. Individuals can contribute by participating in local urban planning discussions, advocating for affordable housing and accessible public spaces, promoting alternative transportation methods like cycling or public transit, and reducing personal carbon footprint to create more sustainable and livable cities.
SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
This SDG aims to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns. A resolution to reduce personal waste through mindful purchasing is the best way towards realising this goal. Additionally, Supporting eco-friendly products, participating in community swap meets, and donating goods and items to charity can reduce consumption and promote reuse, contributing to a more sustainable lifestyle.
The SDGs are about recognising our shared responsibilities and making positive changes, no matter how small, for a better world.
SDG 13: Climate Action
The 13th SDG is the most talked about in the sustainability discourse and its goal is to combat climate change and its impacts. SDG 13 encompasses multiple SDGs, particularly SDGs 6 and 7. A resolution to reduce personal carbon footprint through lifestyle changes like using renewable energy sources, supporting climate advocacy groups, planting trees, or supporting reforestation efforts, can actively contribute to carbon sequestration and environmental restoration, aiding in mitigating climate change.
SDG 14: Life Below Water
The goal aims to conserve and sustainably use marine resources. SGD 14 is closely tied to SDG 6, and individuals can contribute by reducing single-use plastic consumption, participating in beach or river clean-ups, and supporting companies that regulate and mitigate pollution, fostering healthier marine ecosystems and biodiversity. Additionally, advocating for sustainable fishing practices and supporting marine conservation initiatives can directly contribute to preserving life below water.
SDG 15: Life on Land
The goal aims to conserve and restore terrestrial ecosystems. One can contribute by participating in reforestation or tree planting initiatives, advocating for policies that protect natural habitats and biodiversity, and practising sustainable land use in personal spaces like gardening or supporting sustainable agriculture methods that contribute to preserving and restoring life on land.
SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
The goal of this SDG is to promote peaceful and inclusive societies. SDG 16 is the foundation on which all persons should act upon. Having a strong resolution to advocate for human rights, demanding transparency and accountability of governing bodies, and engaging in discourse to foster a more just and equitable society can help individuals contribute to this goal. Additionally, promoting cultural understanding and tolerance in personal interactions can contribute to building a more peaceful and cohesive community.
SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals
The final goal aims to strengthen collaboration among stakeholders for sustainable development. One can contribute by joining or supporting community-led initiatives that foster collaboration between local governments and civil society organisations, and participating in or supporting platforms that promote knowledge-sharing and cooperation among diverse groups to amplify efforts toward achieving shared goals.
Acting as a global blueprint, these goals can provide vast opportunities for contributing to global betterment, spanning from advocating for policy changes to personal lifestyle adjustments. Engaging in grassroots initiatives, supporting marginalized communities, advocating for equitable policies, and promoting sustainability collectively shape a more just, inclusive, and sustainable world. No matter how small, each action contributes to a more significant, collective effort toward positive global change.