The Sustainable Development Goals at the Social Good Summit

This year’s annual Social Good Summit happened on Sept 18-19 at 92Y in Manhattan. NY.

The dusky, antique lights dimmed down in the auditorium. The crowd fell into a silence as the stage lights lit up and a display screen turned on. The image of a circle with multi colored pieces became the central point of focus. For some, it was a familiar sight. For others, like the younger members of the audience, today would be their introduction to a life changing symbol.

First, let’s clarify what each word in this title means. What is sustainable? A home that stands ground through a hurricane is sustainable. A tree that houses furry, feathery, and shiny residents for decades is sustainable. That which cannot collapse, which can be relied on for a long period of time is sustainable.

Development: A child going to school is developing. Socially. Mentally. Emotionally. Physically. A parliament settling into an equalized gender ratio is developing. Equality wise, progression wise. Something or someone that grows and builds on what is present is developing. For sustainable development, we focus on positive growth.

Lastly, what are goals? Why are goals in existence? A little girl struggling in her math class makes a goal to improve her understanding by the next exam. She sets a deadline to meet that goal, setting up a journey to trek on for the in-between period of time. On the path towards her goal, she will implement different techniques to help her. When she reaches her goal, the world will get a little brighter. She’ll glow with positivity.

The world needs goals in order to progress. They must aim for development of systems that already in place, resulting in a sustainable, efficient international society. These goals work towards eliminating misery, hatred, discrimination, poverty, pollution, violence, and divisions. Our world needs unity, the kind symbolized by the colored fragments that compose the circular symbol of the Sustainable Development Goals.

With a period of 14 years, this journey works towards the year 2030 – where the world will be different. There will be more tummies fed, more children in school, safety in areas that need it the most.

This summit is an annual gathering of global leaders that give seven-eight minute speeches about their work towards fulfilling their role in the movement towards the SDGs. Speakers ranged from former Prime Ministers to current UN Ambassadors, from World Champion Olympians to fiery feminist journalists, and from youth leaders to every day global citizens, all of whom illuminate the world with hope and strength.

Sometimes all we need is a reminder to keep us moving towards our goals. The following are a set of quotes that resonated with me:

“We’re all human. We need to showcase that we’re more similar that different.” – Chelsea Handler, Netflix’s “The Chelsea Handler Show”

“We must remove children from war and then work towards eliminating war completely. We have to give them back their childhood.” – Talk on the Refugee Crisis

“Stop wasting food. Stop the pollution from its roots by changing behaviors around your household. Mother Nature is our global home.” – Talk on Climate Change

“There is a misconception that health is costly. It must be publicly financed. Attention to the lack of female health needs must be given immediately.” – The Elders, Talk on Universal Health Care

“Women in high rung competitive jobs need a support system to persevere. When you [a woman] get to the top, don’t drop the ladder. Allow other women to climb as well.” – Talk on Women in Global Leadership

“When working towards a social impact, be patient but not passive.” – Talk on the LGBTQ Society

“Protest and policy go hand in hand” – #BlackLivesMatter

“Never compare your insides to someone else’s outside” – U.S Ambassador to the UN