The 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals may seem lofty, or perhaps tangentially related to peace work, but I argue that these goals are germane to peace building. It is by walking a path towards environmental sustainability--a sustained, peaceful environment--that we begin to deepen social relationships that can in turn strengthen the peaceful, inclusive institutions (Goal 16) that are fundamental for establishing long-term peace. An environmental peace diplomacy, if you will.
The 2018 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development focused on transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies, where 46 nations contributed voluntary national reviews (VNRs) on progress towards the 2030 Agenda Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 2018 SDG review was on water (Goal 6), energy (Goal 7), cities (Goal 11), responsible consumption (Goal 12), forests (Goal 15), and the means of implementation (Goal 17).
Several ministers emphasized the pressing importance of peacebuilding if there is to be any measurable success of the 2030 Agenda, insisting that peace is absolutely essential for any sustainable development to occur at all. Many states highlighted the need for inclusion and equality of women and girls, showing promise of national-level leadership on human rights and gender justice. New York City contributed the first of its kind voluntary local review (VLR), a tangible representation of striving to meet Goal 11 for resilient cities. Alas, a hopeful US example of progress on the SDGs and 2030 Agenda! An idea for the more ambitious WILPF Branches could involve encouraging their communities to create VLRs with Cities for CEDAW in mind. But what do the SDGs mean for localities?
A closer look at any of these goals reveals a finer-grained, local relevance. For example, SDG 6 is focused on ensuring the sustainable management and availability of water and sanitation for all people. The first target of the goal, target 6.1, is that by 2030, we should strive to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all people. Examples from my own home state of Michigan illustrate the environmental racism experienced by communities of color who are disproportionately impacted by degraded environmental quality, including control over and access to water.
Numerous research studies show that low-income communities and communities of color experience the bulk of environmental burdens. What we have learned in...