Changing The World Requires More Than Ambition

01/10/2015 5:33 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
TED ALJIBE via Getty Images
A father holds his children next to their belongings as he watches workers demolished their makeshift house erected along pedestrian lane on a street in Quezon City suburban Manila on September 29, 2015, as city officials intensified its campaign against illegal structures along pedestrian lanes and streets, blocking the flow of traffic. Traffic jams in the Philippine capital of 12 million have worsened in recent months, as the government rushed to build elevated tollways to accommodate the growing number of vehicles acquired amid a booming economy, but roughly one quarter of the nation's 100 million people live in poverty, which is defined as surviving on about one dollar a day. AFP PHOTO / TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

"World leaders, please look up because the future generation is raising their voice." - Malala Yousafzai


It's not every day you see leaders from around 200 nations gathering in New York and the 25th of September was certainly no ordinary day.

While gathered at United Nations Headquarters in New York, world leaders agreed to the UN's sustainable development goals. The series of ambitious but achievable targets work to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change over the next 15 years.

The 'why?' behind it all is simple: people.

Consider this. By 2030, our children could be living in a world that is vastly different (for the better) to what we know today.

"The new sustainable development agenda embodies the aspirations of people everywhere for lives of peace, security and dignity on a healthy planet," said UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon.

Consisting of 17 goals and 169 targets, the new goals expand on the Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015) that have worked towards removing barriers for millions of people to be free from poverty.

Here's a quick snapshot of the world's progress and more insight into the challenges we still face according to the United Nations.

  • Millennium Development Goal #1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger

Extreme poverty rates have been cut by more than half since 1990.

  • Millennium Development Goal #5: Improve Maternal Health

The maternal mortality ratio has fallen by 45 percent since 1990.

  • Millennium Development Goal #7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability

In total, 2.6 billion people have gained access to improved drinking water since 1990.

As you can see, some real improvements have been made and should be celebrated but there's still plenty of work to do. Now that the UN and the world's leaders have officially adopted the Global Goals, it's time for action.

Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop has endorsed the ambitious development agenda.

"Australia is committed to promoting sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region, and working with others to build a true global partnership to deliver the 2030 Agenda," Ms Bishop said after joining leaders at the United Nations Headquarters.

To back this up, Campaign for Australian Aid is calling for the Government to make the 17 Goals a reality by using them to frame the policies and priorities for Australian aid.

The 17 goals are as follows:

1. No poverty

2. Zero hunger

3. Good health and wellbeing

4. Quality education

5. Gender equality

6. Clean water and sanitation

7. Affordable and clean energy

8. Decent work and economic growth

9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure

10. Reduced inequalities

11. Sustainable cities and communities

12. Responsible consumption and production

13. Climate action

14. Life below water

15. Life on land

16. Peace and justice strong institutions

17. Partnerships for the goals

"Australia has the resources, technologies, knowledge and solutions to help create a better world. Endorsing the Global Goals is a great first step, now the Government must do its fair share to make them a reality," said Executive Officer for the Campaign for Australian Aid, Tony Milne.

"A high priority should be lifting our Australian aid contribution from their historic lows following $11.3 billion of cuts."

Here are some interesting stats from the Campaign for Australian Aid booklet for you in relation to how much of the Federal Budget is spent on Australian aid and some of its long-term achievements.

  • On average, Australians think we invest 16 percent of the budget on Australian aid.

  • Again, on average, Australians think we should invest 12 percent of the budget on Australian aid.

  • In reality, we only invest around 1 percent of the budget on Australian aid.

Somewhere along the line, Australians have lost their grasp as to how much of the Federal Budget is actually going to Australian aid. Keep in mind, a more prosperous planet equates to a more prosperous Australia. Here are five reasons we're for Australian aid.

In 2014 alone, Australian aid:

1. Built more than 9,000 new classrooms.

2. Trained over 100,000 teachers.

3. Equipped more than 400,000 farmers with better technology.

4. Increased access to basic sanitation for over 1 million people.

5. Responded to emergencies in 24 countries including Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and flooding in Solomon Islands.

Not bad improvements for less than 1 percent of the Federal Budget right?

"Progress is not inevitable. It will take a collective effort to achieve these Global Goals. We all have a role to play and now, we've got a powerful set of benchmarks we can use to hold world leaders accountable for the next 15 years," said Mr Milne.

So, are you going to look away or are you going to find out what you can do to increase Australian aid?

If you're for Australian aid, Lehmo will tell you what to do from here.


Sarah Cannata is the Communications Officer at Campaign for Australian Aid.

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