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#3DVU What are the SDGs? Episode 9

#3DVU What are the SDGs? Episode 925 min read

The Sustainable Development Goals are 17 goals set forth by the United Nations and its member states, in this episode, we explore where they come from, what they mean for each one of us, and what we can do to help.

Transcript of Episode 9

LaMondre Pough: Welcometo3DVU, one conversation, three different perspectives. I’m LaMondre Pough.

David Pérez: I am David  Perez.

Richard Streitz: And I am Richard Streitz. Thank you for joining us.

LaMondre Pough: Welcome to this edition of 3DVU, one conversation, three different perspectives. Today, we’re going to talk about the SDGs. What are the SDGs, the sustainable development goals. And the reason we want to talk about this is because in previous episodes we’ve referenced them quite a bit. Um, and discussing it one day, we realized that maybe people are not really sure what they are or how they came about, or even if they do know what they are and how they came about.

How can they get involved with it or what can they do to contribute to achieving these goals? So we wanted to take this time to kind of pull back and, and look at them from a really general perspective, just to kind of give some idea and some discussion and some context to the goals themselves. And so. These are basically what the SDGs are.

They are 17 goals that were set forth by the UN and her member nations back in 2015. And these goals range everywhere from the eradication of poverty, the eradication of hunger to sustaining clean water and sanitation to gender equality, all the way up to the partnerships that are necessary to make these goals a reality.

And I want us to kind of give you some background and some history on that. So David, let’s talk about the history of the SDGs.

David Pérez: Well, the SDGs were not creating in a, created in a vacuum, they were created building up on work that had been, that the UN had been doing for a while by, by 2015. Actually, they were building upon something called the Millennium Development Goals that were supposed to be met, all of them, by 2015.

What were those goals? They were eight goals that were: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV, malaria, and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability and global partnerships for development.

However, these goals, only eight goals were not met. Of course we know that we did not eradicate poverty and they had only 21 targets that we had to meet, they were signed by every single country, but the reason that they were signed by every single country is because they were very general and they were not really measurable.

So when creating the Sustainable Development Goals, the UN looked at at what they had done in the past and they created something that was a lot more measurable. I think there are 169 targets up from what I was telling you just before 21.

All of those targets are now measurable and we have the data and we have countries working towards that, those data points, trying to achieve actual progress.

Because even though we did get progress from the millennium development goals, we did not get sustainable progress across the board. Some countries did better than others.

Of course, developed countries were able to improve maternal health a lot more than countries in developing parts of the world like Africa.

So the change comes, in the sustainable development goals ,in creating a better opportunity for collaboration. And a better opportunity for measurement. And as, as we reach something, we create, we move those partnerships to build something else among the goals and they’re all interconnected and it’s, it’s really cool.

LaMondre Pough: Yeah, absolutely it is. And, and I think that that is one of the really interesting parts about the SDGs is that this is something that is going to take everyone to achieve. Uh, yes, they’re, they’re they’re huge goals. Yes, they are. They almost seem, they almost seem sky, uh, pie in the sky, but the truth is they are attainable.

They are absolutely attainable. It’s going to take all of us pulling together, Richard.

Richard Streitz: Well, you know, I think one thing to remember is that there are 17 of them, but they are broken up into actually three primary categories. Um, and so they are broken up into prosperity, um, then people, dignity and justice and planet.

Um, and the items related to the planet being the third category. So when you sort of stand back and look at how they’re spread out and, and what their, um, what their purposes are in more detail, uh, you know, I think it becomes a little easier to digest and sort of understand how and why, um, you know, the number of them came about and why these are all certainly important categories.

Um, you know, out of the, um, out of the 17, um, you know, the, the first one for example is poverty. Um, and, uh, and, and. You know, that’s, that’s a, almost a carry over from its very early inception, um, as a target, um, to try to achieve, um, we haven’t quite achieved, um, elimination or reduction of poverty and extreme poverty in developing countries.

Um, while even in, even in developed countries, poverty is still a huge, huge issue. I mean, all you have to do is just go to any major city, um, and, and, and see that firsthand. So, um, these are all goals that if everyone gets behind it and it, it doesn’t just take governments. And I think that’s one of the, the big, important, key things about this.

It really takes everyone to, to contribute, uh, governments and, and, uh, peoples of, of nations to unify and get behind these ideals.

LaMondre Pough: Yeah. And I will tell you in upcoming episodes, we’re going to get way more specific about the individual goals themselves and what they, um, what they seek to accomplish.

But this right now is kind of a general overview of that. And Richard makes a very good point where he talked about it’s going to take all of us that it’s not just a government effort. I know when I first started really looking into the sustainable development goals, most of the documentation most of the, uh, marketing material that was produced was either very policy oriented or very academically oriented.

And for the most part, your every, your everyday average person, is not going to be looking for an academic document, uh, in order to, you know, deal with anything in life, pretty much, they want something that’s more palpable and that, that you can kind of get through and understand easily. And the truth is while these goals are complex in terms of what it’s going to take to achieve them, it takes some very basic things for the everyday average person to do.

So. It has been part of my mission to make these goals palpable, to make them interesting, to make them, um, something that’s easy to understand in terms of what is the goal actually reaching for? But I will tell you, it is some very complex, um, issues going on behind the scenes that really contributed even to the development of these goals.

Richard Streitz: Well, yeah. Um, you know, certainly just from, um, if we look at the prosperity aspect, for example, um, uh, which is, which is that first category, there’s five, um, there’s five of the SDGs that are, are part of that. Um, and, uh, and they consist, um, they consist of poverty, um, hunger, um, Uh, education, gender equality and economic growth.

Uh, and, and so. When you, you know, when you hear that as being all one larger subset, there is a tremendous amount of complexity that’s involved in each one of those. And, and as LaMondre said, we’re going to be getting into each one of them, um, in, um, in different shows, getting into sort of the meat and potatoes behind each one of those.

But, um, but at a broad level, you can see how incredibly complex these are, um, for governing nations to adopt and to, um, get their, their peoples, their nations, um, behind them, their industries, uh, behind, into, um, into obtaining these goals.

David Pérez: Yeah. And one key thing is that they are not going to be able to do it on their own.

Richard Streitz: Right.

David Pérez: Nations need the help of NGOs, of people, of everyone committing to making the world a better place.

Richard Streitz: Even other nations actually as well.

David Pérez: Yeah. Yeah. Building those partnerships, which is actually part of the goals to create those partnerships for sustainable development. And the key part of this conversation is that it’s about sustainability and I know LaMondre is going to have a lot to say about sustainability.

LaMondre Pough: Of course, absolutely. Well, and, and, and I think that that’s an important piece of the puzzle, um, is that, you know, when you looked at the millennial goals, they, it was really tough to see the sustainability component in it. Okay. So yeah, we eradicated poverty.

Now what? How do you, how do you keep that going? How do you perpetuate that? Particularly when, when you start looking at the environmental piece of it and what it, what the ramifications of that are. I mean, because we’re literally talking about they’re, they’re goals that are specific as creating um, uh, sustainable and clean manufacturing practices, you know, so we we’re really talking about changing the way that things are done on a massive scale. We’ve got goals that focus on preserving life in the sea and then life on land as well. So with all of those things, the reason that I choose the environmental piece of it, because that seems to be an easier path for people to understand what we mean by sustainability, is that it’s not just a quick fix.

It’s not just something that, Hey, we’re doing this today and it fades out tomorrow. But, how can this regenerate, how can this be perpetual? How can we make this a continuum, how do we make this a continuum? And that’s what it’s about. How do we not only do these things, but how do we continue to do these things, continue to innovate to even push that further?

Because the bottom line, the bottom line is, we can have good intentions, but if we’re not committed to keeping those things up, if we’re not committed to maintaining the gains that we have made, we’re going to fall back. And it goes back to that old adage that, you know, if you know that history is bound to repeat itself and that’s, if you don’t really take a look at what really went on and what it really took to get us there. And how do we keep that going and I know, just to kind of break it down a little bit. I know Richard talked about the different areas or the different categories of this, but there’s a, a quick and easy uh, way that I like, uh, to, to do. And this is the five P’s and you, you, you, you’ve heard us mention Five P before, because I have a podcast called 5P with LaMondre. But the five Ps are people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership.

And each of the 17 goals falls under one of those categories. And some of those fall under multiple categories in that, but those five PS people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership. Are really a summation of the 17 goals. And for me, I use, you know, tools like that to help me remember and to help me illustrate some of the points.

And it really does cover those five Ps. And what’s interesting is that there are so many complex issues that fall underneath those five Ps but the truth is, as David said, and as Richard said, but it really takes all of us to make it happen. So does that mean that one person has to do everything or be knowledgeable of all of it?

No, because the truth be told you, you will never be a master at all of those things, but I’m talking about people doing what they can in their corner of the world to make a difference. For example, in eradicating hunger. In the U S we have these things called food deserts. And what food deserts are is if you live a certain distance away from a, um, a source of fresh produce, okay, I’ll put it that way.

Cause I know a lot of times people say grocery stores, but it may not be that it’s just a source of fresh produce. And so if you live in an urban area and you’re more than, I think it’s a mile away, uh, from, from, from a source of fresh produce, you’re effectively in a food desert. If you are in a rural community and I think it’s three miles away, you’re effectively in a food desert. And so what that basically means is that people who live in those areas would have to go like to a, um, convenience store or a gas station or someplace like that to get their food. The issue is most of these types of establishment, they don’t carry fresh produce.

So that means that people are having to eat things that are full of preservatives and additives, and it’s simply not healthy, but that also means that the prices are typically higher for those kinds of things, which exacerbates, um, obesity, which further pushes, um, really unhealthy situations. For example, the area that I live in, in the United States that has one of the highest rates of diabetes and, um, it’s a food desert.

It is an absolute food desert. And so what happens is people that go into these quick shop kind of, uh, kind of establishment. And especially if it’s a lower income area, it’s not like they have a lot of money to spend stuff. So they have a tendency to lean towards the least expensive food because perhaps they have kids and they’ll buy stuff like, um, like those noodle packets that are, you know, you can get a hundred of them for like very little money.

But the issue is they’re filled with sodium. They’re filled with preservatives. So as you’re eating that, you’re seeing people’s blood pressure go up. You’re seeing some very negative health, health effects, but the issue is if you can’t afford it, you still gotta eat. So this is what you’re going to buy.

So I actually spoke to a gentleman who saw this as a problem. And so he started creating an urban farmers market where he would take fresh produce that he either grew himself or acquired from other farmers. And he would set up a farmer’s market in these local areas to where people could walk to them and he would do it at a, you know, at an affordable price.

And so he set up shop right in the middle of that neighborhood. Now here’s the interesting thing about it. It was not something that was world changing. It was not something that, ‘Oh, wow, the rest of the world is now taking the lead in and doing this’. But what it did was it made a difference for that neighborhood.

It made a difference for the folks in that area. And this is what it’s about. It’s not about making monumental moves, but it’s about doing what you can do to change or to affect your area of the world. And that’s what he did. And that’s, I believe one of the ways that we can really help bring the SDGs to fruition.

David Pérez: Yeah. It’s all about small actions and doing what you can, because if every single one of us starts doing what we can. We can meet those goals. If we just think that we don’t matter because we’re too small or we are living in a, in a country that will never listen to what we’re doing, then everyone’s going to think the same thing.

And nothing’s going to change. Change starts by one. And even if it’s something small, like deciding not to throw trash and save the environment that way. It’s doing something, it’s changing mindsets, it’s moving the needle forward. Even if it’s on the smallest scale, it’s still moving the needle forward and we can all be part of this huge thing.

And you can find different things to do in your, in your area. By just looking up the SDGs and figuring out what they are, what to do.

LaMondre Pough: Yeah.

Richard Streitz: One of the interesting things, um, you know, as, as we’re talking through this, um, when I was young in grade school, um, I very much so remember, um, earth day, earth day was, was just really popular.

Um, and the whole recycling, the item, the issues of recycling and being conscious about that and, you know, recycle your cans and all that. Bottles weren’t really an issue at the time, cause that hadn’t really been as popular. Um, and, and, you know, we were all. We were all taught to go out and think that way about, you know, concerning picking up trash, uh, you know, we would go out and have the day at the beach and pick everyone, picking up the trash and, and, uh, and, and saving our aluminum cans and doing all that, you know, we’d have aluminum can drive.

So I remember all that back in the day. Um, and that was sort of the, the grassroots, um, way of getting involved. But what happened somehow and, and, you know, I’m, I’m going to speak for my generation. We kind of dropped the ball after, you know, we kind of just sort of let that go. And I think what happened is.

Is as, as we got more engaged in, in corporate positions and in positions of authority and making decisions, the, the, the, ultimately the almighty dollar and, and, and commercialism in commerce sort of overtook the, the importance of, of, um, of recycling and taking care of the earth and being good stewards of, of sustainable, um, initiatives.

And, and it ended up kind of going by the wayside. And if you think about it, this is the big heyday of the oil, of going out and, and, um, um, and sinking oil wells all over the country, uh, in, in, um, governmental lands and parks and so forth. And it wasn’t really until, and that happened all the way up through to the mid nineties, uh, you know, mid nineties toward the end of the nineties, where there was a kind of stepping back from that saying, ‘Oh, wait a minute.

You know what? We should probably pretty, we should start considering preserving our, our national resources and our, and our, preserve, our parks and so forth’. And, and all of this started coming to fruition. And in regard to going back to, ‘Oh, we’ve gone too far. We’ve let, we’ve let this go too long without paying attention to it’.

And, and David as you said sort of in the history of the sustainable goals, how that all started kind of coming back into, Oh, you know what? We really need to seriously take a look at it at, at. Kind of correcting course. Um, and that’s really what this is all about, um. And how I think the newer generations coming up, you know, we’ve sort of handed them, you know, something that is not polished, um, or, or well thought out.

And, and, you know, I think the idea of the sustainable goals and how it is, uh, a very global and universal effort, um, and how that across,  uh, um, um, multiple generations, you know, the older generation now, you know, my generation and the older looking back saying, ‘Oh yeah, you know what, maybe this isn’t such a good thing’, but it’s almost too late for us to be able to do something.

And we really need to create these frameworks so that the younger generations behind us can take it and run and really, really drive the point home and, and being able to turn the ship in the right direction.

David Pérez: Yeah, it is human nature to think that you can just leave it to the future people, because it’s not even gonna matter.

If you don’t see the results now or the effects now, you feel like it’s.

‘Why should you care?’ Right.

I, I remember thinking when I was a kid, like they’re saying that global warming is a thing, but they’re saying that it’s not going to happen in 100 and something years.

LaMondre Pough: Right.

David Pérez: So why should I do something now?

And I thought that as a kid, so that’s why I know it’s human nature because I, no one taught this to me, I just felt like if I’m not going to be here, why should I do something?

LaMondre Pough: Right.

David Pérez: Of course, now we’re talking about seven years that we have to …

Richard Streitz: Yes.

David Pérez: …change things. Right? So ..

Richard Streitz: The escalation is intense.

David Pérez: The escalation and the lack of action is what brought us here.

If we had done something. It probably would still be 200 or something like that. So building those frameworks that you were talking about, Richard is essential to, to create that sustainability, that sustainability of the development goals.

Richard Streitz: If we just paid attention and followed.. I’m sorry. Had we just paid attention to what we had started out in the seventies.

We’d be so much further along if we would’ve just stuck with it.

LaMondre Pough: Yeah. I was going to say, you know, we’re definitely at a place where there’s no more kicking the can. There, there is no more, there is no, there is no more road left to kick the can down. I, you know, and so it really is a situation where the, um, the acceleration of climate change has happened so quickly.

And it’s like, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s going exponentially now. Uh, you know, to where, cause I, I remember, I remember as a kid, just like you, David, I remember thinking ‘what are you talking about’. My, my, my, my great grandkids, grandkids, maybe just starting to really see the effect of it, you know? And, and, and by that time, I mean, Hey, they would have solved it by then, but no, no.

And, and it takes a cultural maturity to realize that, you know what, no, we are stewards of this earth, we are actually stewards of a legacy and as good stewards of those legacies, we have to protect. We have to build, I don’t remember exactly what the quote was, but it talked about, um, how great people will plant trees that they know they will never enjoy the shade of, you know, and, and so I started thinking about that and what that actually means.

That’s a very mature perspective to take, to know that, ‘Hey, even though I might not necessarily benefit from this, but those who come after me will’, but that’s the reason, that’s the reason there’s an oral tradition. That’s the reason that, that’s the reason that we, we create arts and we create museums to put these things in so that when we’re gone.

Others can learn from it. Others can experience it. Others can, and honestly, that is the, the, the same example that we need to have for this, this big blue ball that we live on, you know, and also the legacies that are left. And that’s, I think what I really love about the SDGs, because to me, it really is about how can we make the world a better place. What can we do as a, as a people? What can we do as a species to make certain that we do what we can to protect not only the planet, but our other inhabitants. I mean, because as I said, the SDGs range also have things in it, like decent work and economic growth. It has things like responsible consumption and production.

So these things are not necessarily just about the, the, the planet, but it’s also about the lives. It has things in there about reducing inequities. So all of these things, all of these things speak to one simple thing. How do we make this world a better place?

Richard Streitz: Yeah. You know, um, why don’t we just go through and list the 17 of them in order.

So at least people can hear it. And then as we do future episodes, we can, you know, we’ll be able to drill down. Um, and, uh, you know, I’ll just read through them quickly here. Um, number one, poverty, um, number two, zero hunger, number three, good health and wellbeing. Number four, education, number five, gender equality, number six, clean water and sanitation.

Number seven, affordable and clean energy. Number eight, decent work and economic growth. Number nine, industry innovation and infrastructure. Number 10 reduced inequalities, 11, sustainable cities and communities. Number 12, responsible consumption and production. Number 13, climate action. Number 14, life below water.

Number 15 life on land and 16 peace, justice, and strong institutions. Number 17 being partnership for the goals and that sort of the all encompassing, um, um, global, uh, overview of all of them.

David Pérez: Yeah. And I want to make a point now that you just read each one of them, is that each one of them is exactly like global warming or climate change.

If we don’t do something now, things are not going to get better. They’re just going to get worse. And this brings up the, the quote from Dr. Seuss of the Lorax. ‘Unless someone like you doesn’t care a whole awful lot to do something, things are not going to get better. They’re not’. And we just need to care enough to take action.

And if we take action, all of those beautiful things that Richard just listed can be a reality, maybe not in our lifetime, but it doesn’t matter because we will be making the world a better place now. Even if it’s just a small part of it.

LaMondre Pough: Right. No, I agree wholeheartedly. And I also believe that. Even if we may not necessarily see the full benefit of all of those things, as long as we pass those things along.

And I believe that if we’ve done a good enough job of presenting it, preserving it and showing why it’s important. Then those who come behind us, will also do a good enough job of preserving it, of presenting it and moving forward with it. And this is how we get to sustainability. This is how we get to something that will be perpetual.

And I can’t think of a better way to end this than on a quote from Dr. Seuss.

Richard Streitz: I wholeheartedly agree.

LaMondre Pough: I think that’s wonderful. And I tell you, if you are interested in what you can do to make the world a better place, even if it’s in your small part of the world. Look up the SDGs, look up the SDGs and they have a website.

That website is That’s .org. And honestly, you can learn all about the 17 sustainable goals there, but you can also take a look at what things have been done and what governments, what NGOs are doing, what corporations are doing and what individuals are doing, uh, to help make a difference.

And I challenge you. I challenge you as you listen to this, as you go through this, think about what you can do. Think about what you can contribute to, think about what you’re already doing. And you may not even know it. You may be already doing something in that, but I’d actually like to hear about it too.

I want to know what you’re doing to change the world. So go to our website, contact us, let us know, or even leave a comment on YouTube or wherever you’re listening to this or watching this at, we want to hear from you, we want to hear about what you’re doing to change the world. And I want to hear some of your suggestions on what all of us can do.

To help make this world a better place and fulfill the SDGs. So thank you for spending your time with us today, cause you could have been anywhere else, but you’re checking out 3DVU, one conversation, three different perspectives. Have a great one.

David Pérez: Thanks for joining us this week on 3VDU. Make sure to visit our website. that’s where you can subscribe to the show wherever you listen to podcasts or join our YouTube channel so you will never miss a show. While you’re  at it, if you find value in the show we appreciate it if you will leave a like or comment, or simply tell a friend about the show that would really help us a lot too.

If you would like to join our conversations, you can join our facebook community 3DVU, three perspectives, one conversation.