UN sustainable development goals — revised!

4 Aug

In the UN they just finalized The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to “transform our world”.

Politicians are obviously caught up in self-defeating dynamics, in the outdated approaches to solving the problems humanity is facing.

No wonder 17 goals and 169 targets of the UN did not inspire me. They reinforced the impression that the world leaders don’t dare to pick on the wasp’s nest: the filthy rich who benefit from the status quo and the ardent guardians of the prevailing neo-liberal capitalistic model on which our global society is based. Finding the lowest denominator and staying within the framework of prevailing “sustainable development” discourse was the UN’s safest, diplomatic solution. But that’s also a royal road to disaster.

My proposed revisions are an attempt to show what could be improved and rephrased to better represent the real needs of the humanity and the planet that is our one and only home.

Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere

Proposed revision: End overabundance in all its forms everywhere

Purport: Behind poverty lies unrestricted concentration of riches in the hands of few. The ethics of modern society permit and even encourage the accumulation of material goods in blunt disregard for the poor. Poverty can’t be resolved without the majority of the wealth being redirected from the luxury of a few to the real needs of the many. The concept of abundance should be replaced with the concept of enoughness, which is biologically inherent in all living beings.

Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

Proposed revision: End gluttony and greed, free the land for natural housing integrated with organic agriculture

Purport: Gandhi said it well: ” ‘Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.’ World hunger stems from colonialism and evangelization, which lead to the neo-liberal capitalism. In the current system all the goods and services are locked into trade structures involving financial exchange. Giving the surplus away for free is seen as harmful to the economy. There is no free land anymore where one could set up a home and live in balance with nature and other people, self-reliant and free to exchange good with others. Having a home is a liability, not a human right. A modest home with integrated self-sustainable gardens should be a human right, exempt of all taxes. If these first two goals would be met, that would in and of itself support all the remaining goals.

Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

This is a well formulated goal that can do without revisions. My proposal is related to the targets: make them positive! Focus on well-being instead on diseases. Use reductionist approach and get to the essence of well-being: stability of home, sustenance, relationships, leisure, meaningful work and sleep. Combating dozens of diseases doesn’t ensure health and well-being. Diseases improve genetic resilience of the human race and naturally regulate the population. Eradicating diseases is not serving the human race nor nature as a whole.

Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

Proposed revision: Ensure pluralism of education and promote life-long integration of learning and work for all

Purport: All cultures of the world educate the children and adults. Their schools have cultural specifics, which connect the children with their environment and society. The biggest global mono-culture today is the western schooling system, based on accumulation of information from the fields of natural and social sciences. It is controversial if children and youth work while learning. Education is supposed to be separated from real life, restricted to classrooms. Children, when they grow up. forget well over 90% of all the information they were exposed to in schools. Education needs pluralism, it should be voluntary and at the same time so attractive, the children would pick it up on their own. It shouldn’t be obligatory.

Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Proposed revision: Foster equality and empowerment for all

Purport: I am not denying, women and girls in many places around the world are underprivileged compared to men and boys. However, the present formulation of this goal is a negation of itself — it reinforces the notion that women and girls are unequal and disempowered. It also excludes the many situations where men are underprivileged and discriminated.

Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Proposed revision: Ensure free water and natural sanitation for all

Purport: Water was always there to human disposal, until recently when it got privatized and employed for profit. The problem of water contamination and bad sanitation is rooted (again) in colonialism and capitalism. That is the ideological root of the problems — it disempowers people and turns basic natural resources into liabilities. In order for water to be made free for human usage, it would have to be very strictly regulated for the use of industry and livestock breeding.

Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

Proposed revision: Ensure equitable distribution of renewable energy to all

Purport: The need for energy is over-exaggerated. Nowadays vast majority of energy is used for non-essential things: moving people and goods around over vast distances (to fuel the needs of the free market), for construction, heating and cooling. The problem of energy, however, is not at the bottom of the pyramid — with the people in general, the problem is with the top of it and how much the richest use for their luxury. The ideology of constant growth is affecting the energy consumption globally.

Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

Proposed revision: Promote balanced economic activity and dignifying work for all

Purport: It is about time to end the doctrine of endless growth! Economy needs to find its balance and serve human well-being as fuel; it should stop being what it is today — a throbbing machine swallowing huge amounts of fuel in the form of human (economic) activity. A long term goal of any society should be complete unemployment, therefore dignifying work should be advocated instead of productive employment and decent work, which imply exploitation.

Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

Proposed revision: Foster innovation to modify infrastructure and revolutionize industry to serve the balanced economic activity

Purport: Cancer is very resilient, but that doesn’t make it good. Preserving what we now call “industry” for many more decades, no matter how “sustainable” we make it within the prevailing frame of thinking (meaning: less harmful than what we used to have some years ago) won’t lead to better quality of life. It will merely postpone the demise of our civilization. We have more than enough infrastructure and industry already, we need it to be available to the service of humankind, instead of it feeding the cancerous economy.

Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries

Proposed revision: Promote equality within and among countries

Purport: Let’s use positive formulations in support of the values that serve us instead of defining ourselves through negation of what we don’t want.

Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Proposed revision: Make all human settlements integral and life-supporting

Purport: Now it seems as if cities are not human settlements. So, what are they then? The same adjectives are repeated again! Are the authors of the text running out of imagination? Is their vocabulary so scarce? Do they underestimate the mental capacities of the people they supposedly represent? Integral settlements include humans, other beings, nature, good social dynamics etc. Making them life-supporting is crucial since modern human settlements very seldom respect natural life, what to speak of supporting life.

Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Proposed revision: Ensure closed cycles of safe organic and synthetic matter

Purport: The whole document is about “sustainability”, so using that same word in more than half of the goals is overkill. Sustainable consumption is yet another oxymoron; “consumption” is by definition using up a resource. That can never be sustainable. I honestly hope humanity will outgrow the concept of “consumption” by 2030, and get closer to stewardship. In order for stewardship in relation to all beings, goods and things to become reality, establishing and maintaining personal property with contracts will have to stop.

Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Proposed revision: Take urgent action to spread the culture of enoughness to all

Purport: When people speak about combating climate change it seems as if it were the cause of the problem. It is nothing but a symptom. We should identify the real causes and shed light on them to disintegrate them. Again: the underlining problem is the doctrine of growth (more is better). If everybody got in touch with their sense of enoughness and learned to find joy in that, the human activity on earth would slow down immensely — soon reaching a pace in which humanity could live on Earth indefinitely.

Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

Comment: Combating the symptoms of a disease is not ensuring the well-being. These goals are in contradiction with goals 8 and 9, since unlimited growth and using up resources cannot be ensured without drawing ever new resources from the environment. Using “sustainability” four times in two goals is a sign of insecurity that this is actually doable on the global scale. The inertia of the capitalistic system is gargantuan; without it stopping, the above two goals are complete impossibilities. We should be co-creating a new system which will make the old one obsolete, instead of combating the old and thus giving it even more power.

Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

Comment: Vibrant communities are never established, they emerge from their inner needs. Institutionalization steels the life from of human interactions, if it is not self-regulated, limited and used to the service of communities. Political decisions serve the people only if people hold the power, which does happen occasionally, but it never lasts. Partnership to build life-supporting integral communities, culture of enoughness and balanced economy are emerging in grassroots movements around the world. Such partnerships seem inconspicuous but they are everywhere — small, adaptable, resilient, sustainable.

Integral societies started emerging before official institutions recognized they are needed. Institutions have a place in the scheme of complex social organisation of our civilization, the main danger lies in them becoming detached from human communities and the fragile ecosystems that support them.

Communities, when left alone and nurtured, can take care of peaceful co-habitation, access to justice and accountability on their own. To foster their emergence, we need to consider all the other (revised) goals and hope that healthy communities around the globe have enough time to shape, gain momentum and revive the Earth’s ancient glory.

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