A plan to change the world – by 2030
"The problem of water is critical," says Fatoumata Diarra, a member of a women’s cooperative in western Mali. “Gardening, which was always our favourite activity, is almost impossible.”
Over the years, climate change has led to more drought and shorter rainy seasons in Mali. The cash crops traditionally grown by men are suffering, and women are stepping in to support their families with alternative income.
With support from UNDP, the women’s cooperative cleared a plot for a vegetable garden and installed a fence and a solar-powered well.
“We can sell some of the vegetables we harvest to finance the cooperative’s fund and use some to feed the family, which helps fight malnutrition,” Fatoumata explains.
UNDP also promotes sustainable farming practices and funds start-up businesses in the village, with benefits rippling throughout the local economy.
“We can sell some of the vegetables we harvest to finance the cooperative’s fund and use some to feed the family, which helps fight malnutrition.” - Fatoumata Diarra, farmer
It’s this kind of transformational change that’s called for in Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This bold plan to tackle the world’s most challenging problems was devised with input from millions of ordinary people from 194 countries.
Now nearly every nation in the world has agreed to work toward achieving the 17 Goals. They’ve vowed to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality and act decisively on climate change, all by 2030.
This means no one goes hungry, all children go to school and women have equal standing in society – within a single generation. As the UN’s development agency, UNDP is on the ground in about 170 countries working to make this vision into a reality.
The change is already taking shape in places like Jalalabad, Afghanistan. This is where Abida Nowroz is training to become a nurse – a revolutionary act in a country where most women haven’t finished primary school.
Abida was motivated to go to nursing school after a woman in her village died from complications following childbirth. “I don’t waste a single day without learning,” she says. “I don’t want to see a mother die on the way to a clinic, or see her child become an orphan.”
Once they graduate, she and her 200 classmates will go to work in some of the poorest villages in their home provinces. Their work will bring results not only for Goal 3 on good health but also Goal 4 on education and Goal 5 on gender equality.
This interconnectedness is part of what makes the SDGs such a powerful approach to human development. Each achievement builds on and reinforces all the others.
Nearly every nation in the world has agreed to work toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. They’ve vowed to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality and act decisively on climate change – all by 2030.
In places where there are not enough nurses and teachers, technology can help to bridge the gap. Mouddala Keonheun works as a school teacher in the south of Laos.
Every day after class, Mouddala loads her treasure trove of text books onto an old motorbike and heads to the community radio station to broadcast her basic education programme. Her programme reaches more than 45,000 people, many with no formal education.
Supported by UNDP, the station also broadcasts critical health and safety programming. Through the air waves, communities are taking the reins of rural development and creating real change that responds to the unique challenges of their members.
“I’m here to learn something, so I can serve my village and my country. I’m really proud to do this. I try to study as hard as I can.”
- Abida Nowroz, nursing student
Finding solutions that fit the local context was also the goal for an innovative eco-tourism project in the magical Kamarata Valley in Venezuela. In the place where the Pemón people live, great table-top mountains tower above the rich green valley. In Pemón folklore, these mountains are home to the gods.
The landscape here is imbued with sacred meaning. It also contains tremendous material value—mines of gold, diamond, coltan and other precious minerals.
But rather than pull these minerals from the earth and scar the land, the indigenous Pemón people looked to another source of wealth. They opened eco-friendly camp sites and invited visitors to enjoy their treasured land and culture in a way that wouldn’t destroy them.
The results: the local economy is stronger, natural resources are consumed more responsibly, and the Pemón culture is valued and preserved for future generations.
These kinds of changes are taking place in communities throughout the world, transforming the lives of millions of people. Over the next decade, similar initiatives will be put in place many times over and reach many more people to create the world we want by 2030.