Inequalities are Impacting Progress Toward the 2030 Agenda

As a UNA-USA Global Goals Ambassador for Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10, Reduced Inequalities, I realize that it is our collective responsibility to ensure equal access to opportunities and promote social, economic, and political equality. During Global Goals Week, I had the opportunity to attend the “Outrage to Action: Adaptive Leadership and Change Management Masterclass” session by the Humanity Lab Foundation. This session focused on equipping emerging leaders with effective problem-solving techniques to navigate uncertainty and lead systemic change with maximized impact. As someone committed to establishing a global community around the UN’s SDGs, I realized that adaptive leadership allows us to build trust, empathize, and bring people together for a shared goal.

By understanding that we all have differing perspectives (based on our diverse backgrounds, educations, communities, cultures, and experiences), we can stimulate respectful dialogue and mobilize change. From this session, I understood that to maximize the impact of an idea (in this case, achieving the Global Goals), we need to let go of our assumptions, challenge perceptions, and make sure to bring all stakeholders around the same problem, because real change cannot happen in a vacuum. We need effective diagnostics to understand a problem, because sometimes defining the problem to delegating responsibilities can be unclear. To solve a problem, we should identify the symptoms and dig into the underlying issues that lead to the problems. Only by moving toward an evidence-based analysis can we eliminate systemic issues. For handling systemic issues, like racism and discrimination, we need to change the entire ecosystem first to activate change. By asking questions—What has been happening over time? How are the parts interrelated to influence the patterns? What beliefs, traditions, values, and assumptions are shaping people’s perceptions? Do we have a shared point of reference? — can we ensure that everyone is on the same page toward establishing a global community around the SDGs.

From coronavirus to the cases of police violence and racial injustice, we face many challenges. As a high school student, I can see first-hand how these challenges affect our communities. At this moment, I know that to address these global issues, we need to develop grit and explore new leadership models to sustain the political and social demands for change. As leaders, we need to work together and ensure that all stakeholders have a shared understanding before proceeding with a plan of action. Ultimately, to progress, we should create an environment that welcomes change and build a culture that embraces diversity.

Shruthisri (Sri) Ravisankar serves as a 2020-2021 UNA-USA Global Goals Ambassador for SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities.