Global Sustainability Scaffolds U.N. Agenda; Vow of 2015 Millennium Goals Re-assessed
As Cornell University students attend the annual United Nations panel in New York, representatives reveal that the priority of global sustainability now critically intervenes into every initiative of the UN– improvements to be made as the “breath and water of a spurring ‘domino affect’ in every single platform.”
In late February, over one hundred Cornell University students and faculty members traveled to the annual United Nations panel in New York, a program led by the head quarter’s representatives. After touring the renovated campus, discussing the successes and pitfalls of past initiatives, and re-assessing the implications of global history itself, topics like portable education and the disarmament of modern, micro-morphic warfare stunned Cornell University students as just a few of the emerging strategies and issues that tether the world today.
This year’s trip to the U.N. marks the eleventh consecutive year students have traveled to the headquarters, according to Prof. N’Dri Assié-Lumumba, Africana studies, who organizes the annual trip each year.
During the tour, the history of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a vow made in 2002 to halve extreme poverty, halt the spread of HIV and AIDS, and provide universal primary education by 2015, was diplomatically re-assessed by a representative:
“Spear-headed in 2002, our goals started to expand more and more beyond our proposal. In achieving our three primaries, we believed that reducing child mortality, promoting gender equality and empowering women, improving maternal health, ensuring environmental sustainability, and creating a global partnership for development could follow with structured strategy, and of course, the enduring optimism of our leading general, BAN Ki-moon.
In terms of where we stand today, we assure you that more children than ever are attending primary school, poverty continues to decline, access to safe drinking water has expanded, child deaths have dropped, and targeted investments in fighting malaria, AIDS, and tuberculosis have saved millions. Thus, our status today is ongoing: it is an opportunity to strengthen, propose, and harness through the recourses, governments, and technologies of 2015 and after an even stronger platform to continue our goals. In doing so, our agenda has expanded into a concrete ‘post-2015 agenda’— and it is expected to be adopted by UN Member States at the Special Summit on Sustainable Development in September 2015.”
After exiting the Millennium Goals exhibit, a newly installed room dedicated to the ongoing crisis in Gaza provoked not only students, but visitors, faculty, and representatives in conducting a unified, moment of silence.
At the conclusion of the UN campus tour, students entered the panel, where representatives from four departments of the U.N. discussed: (1) current initiatives for women’s rights in developing countries, (2) a proposal for a structured and strategic response to climate change, (3) humanitarian affairs in conflict, risk, and resilience, and (4) sustainable international development.
In assessing these initiatives, representatives divided their topics into a specific, numerical breakdown of sub-categories. However, after each representative made their declaration, the sustainability representative superseded all other agendas with a whopping seventeen goals, overlapping primarily with the climate change agenda. Not surprised, the other representatives only smiled, saluting the fact that their own agendas were (and are) unarguably dependent on the progress of global, environmental change. In a response to clarifying student confusions in the audience, women’s rights representative additionally said, “Believe it or not, and I quote Lennart Olsson on this… ‘altering ecosystems of the planet, as a result of climate change, directly impacts the human race. These effects vary for different segments of the population, specifically for people of different genders. In many cases, women are more vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change because of their lower social status in most countries. Many impoverished women, especially those in the developing world, are farmers and depend on the natural environment for subsistence and income. By further limiting their already constrained access to physical, social, political, and fiscal resources, climate change often burdens women more than men.’”
Finally, the sustainability general took the stage, concluding the panel by defending his seventeen-goal platform:
“I quote, verbatim actually… As UN Officer for Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlström, has tirelessly told me– despite the many successes and greatly improved performance we have made in disaster management, it is sobering to note that 700,000 people have died in disaster events over the last ten years,” he said. “A total of 1.7 billion people have had their lives disrupted in some way, and it is of great concern that economic losses in major reported disaster events come to $1.4 trillion.”
Furthermore, the representative went on to explain (in quoting Wahlström), that, while 70 per cent of deaths are caused by earthquakes, climate-related disasters now account for over 80 per cent of all disaster events and contribute enormously to economic losses and short and long-term population displacement triggered by disaster events.
In a recent panel at the UN Risk Reduction conference on March 6, Wahlström states, “It is very important that the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, which opens on March 14, should provide clear, action-oriented guidance to governments, local governments, the private sector and civil society in general on how best to tackle the underlying drivers of risk such as poverty, climate change, poorly planned urban growth, land use and the decline of protective eco-systems.”