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Education of SDG Goals in the School System

Let’s face it, the dissemination of knowledge regarding SDGs is not yet in educational programs nationally (here in Vietnam) or internationally. Right now, we are far from ensuring “that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature.”

Even though the UN has created the framework to include this ambitious goal, aptly named “Education for Sustainable Development Goals: Learning Objectives,” into its agenda(1), we are still not seeing SDGs promoted to those in need. Additionally, Microsoft has developed a tool, which provides courses & materials for online users about SDGs(2). This course can be translated by Bing into many languages and ought to help in enriching international understanding. However, it has not yet been streamlined to the national level.

By sharing the above two useful materials, we can bring the world closer to achieving its SDG goals. Together, we can be one step closer to successfully meeting the aims of the 2030 Agenda.

Drafted by Colina Tran

(1) http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002474/247444e.pdf

(2) https://education.microsoft.com/courses-and-resources/courses/SDG

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Winning at All Costs. Is it Worth It?

Humankind often tries to suppress its ego, but sometimes falls to innate desires. One of these is the “desire to win.” For the sake of winning, we can imagine and act in various ways—leaving all ethical values and thoughts of health by the wayside.

And, of course, humanity found an even easier way to achieve victories! Even Ancient Greece’s Olympic athletes were taking “magic mushrooms” and other kinds of plants meant to make them stronger and faster(1). After centuries, we’ve decided on the term “doping.”

Sport or exercise is done to live a healthier life. For all age groups, there are different kinds of activities. Particularly, as a professional athlete, you have to follow your training program every day. But, as I wrote, the temptation to win sometimes beats common sense and pushes you to cheat.

Thanks to doping, maybe you’ll get a medal, become popular, be richer for a short time etc. But this comes at the cost of your ethics and also your health! Doping increases the danger of heart attacks, strokes, kidney problems, and more. Plus, there is also the risk of losing your reputation. Giving your medal back in front of dozens of cameras probably doesn’t feel great either.

Just think back to how many athletes have run around the pitch with a smile on their faces and their country’s flags on their backs…

Too many sports heroes have blacked out their careers by doping(2).

Just to win “today,” acting thoughtlessly about tomorrow is a mistake. If your health leaves you, it never comes back completely intact, your integrity either.

Drafted by Oguz Yilmazlar

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doping_in_sport

(2) https://www.livescience.com/55779-biggest-doping-scandals-in-olympics-history.html

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Ending Open Defecation

Is it possible to put a stop to open defecation when nature calls worldwide by 2030? In a recent article, the New York Times reported: “nearly half the [Indian] population still relieve themselves in the open, spreading disease and causing other health problems(1).” The shortage of clean toilets has led the country to pledge the installation of up to 100 million new toilets. The issue has spurred the local community to develop a mobile application used to help detect nearby toilets, which is an interesting way to support the project as well.

It turns out this is not just a health and sanitation issue; the problem is also linked to many issues of women’s rights—where open defecation means exposure to violence, even sexual assault. On the international scale, the world still has 1.1 billion people who must relieve themselves in public(2). The next time you travel to India or anywhere with such an issue, you ought to consider reporting any shortages via technological means.

Now, it’s my pleasure to introduce you all to a new Bollywood movie relating to the toilet issue in India. Enjoy!

Drafted by Colina Tran

(1) https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/03/world/asia/india-toilet-movie.html

(2) http://unicef.in/Whatwedo/11/Eliminate-Open-Defecation

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sx1oUF2nDCE

Child Marriage Around the World – Girls Not Brides

When we reach adulthood, getting married and having a family is often the pathway we take. When we commit or are committed to doing so, in some cases, depends on the culture. Nevertheless, there is one custom that no one ought to accept, child marriage.

In some places around the world where it happens, children live, what would appear to many, an entirely unconventional lifestyle. They do not play with toys. They don’t go to school. They don’t sing nursery rhymes. Tragically, they barely know how to have fun or experience the joys of life. Due to impoverished circumstances, tradition, or religious rituals, they get married and start a family, even having children as young as 15 years old. It’s sad, but there are instances of forced marriage happening to children as young as 13, 11 or even nine years old.

Understandably, these young families might not have the capacity to care about their children’s futures, self-development, or their dreams as they were treated likewise and are unaware of any alternatives.

Think about a girl who is still a child but married, and maybe she already has a baby. In these circumstances, how can she know about realities of the world; how can she teach them to her baby? Instead of playing with a doll, like girls elsewhere, she changes the diaper of her baby instead. The truth is painful, but the statistics are real(1).

How did you spend your childhood?

Drafted by Oguz Yilmazlar

(1) http://www.girlsnotbrides.org/where-does-it-happen

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As Global Pacesetters, how can AIESECers help bring about the success of the Sustainable Development Goals?

The Sustainable Development Goals are ambitious and, yes, expensive. The UN working group on financing for sustainable development estimates that the SDGs will cost $17 trillion(1), other sources think that’s an optimistic estimate when the actual need could be up to $45 trillion (or $2-3 trillion annually from now until 2030).

While SDGFund.Org has been established with the private sector and has partnerships in currently 22 countries, there are significant gaps between available funding and the level of investment required to achieve the 169 targets of the 17 global goals. As most of the funding available in the developed world still stays within its borders, “it will take a lot more than rich-government largesse(2)” to end poverty and hunger in developing countries.

Here in Vietnam, Hatch!(3) is encouraging new ventures to start binding their business models with the SDGs. They are helping spread a business model where companies can prosper out of the desire to support their local community—winning contestants of their “SDG Challenge” even receive equity-free seed-funding to implement their projects.

As AIESECers, we need to remain vigilant to do what we can to help maintain the funds and investment necessary for SDG success. Let’s contribute to ensuring that these ambitious goals are not only the moral thing to do but make them appealing to the private sector and all related investors to get behind as well. How do you contribute to the success of the Sustainable Development Goals?

Drafted by Colina Tran

(1) http://www.aidspan.org/gfo_article/financing-global-goals-why-global-fund-replenishment-matters-sdgs

(2) https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/may/13/beyond-aid-how-do-we-fund-the-sustainable-development-goals

(3) http://sdg.hatch.vn

(4) https://youtu.be/VOKZcMTA-s4

How is Social Media Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals?

It’s funny how the world we live in today was once considered science fiction not long ago. Technology has made incredible advancements in the last century, and they often leave us in awe. Social media, a frequent topic nowadays, has its benefits and faults, but let’s see how we can use it to help achieve the 17 SDGs.

Social media represents online conversations, communication and engagement limited only by how far the web can reach. The last I heard, there are more smartphones than toothbrushes on the planet! It was created, as its name would imply, to be social; that is, to allow us to be social without a physical presence. If used correctly, to amplify the SDGs relevance and reach, we may say social media can help by:

• Raising Awareness

• Providing Relevant Education

• Sharing with Viral Speed

• Storytelling

The compelling part is that anyone can contribute or start an initiative. The Paris Agreement has become a hot topic, especially after Leonardo DiCaprio got involved in the dramatic turnaround concerning the US decision to pull out. The number of influencers joining the UN in this struggle to battle climate change is growing. Indeed, social media can be quite handy when looked at from this perspective, so please do share AAI articles you find valuable. Contributing to the success of the SDGs, after all, is the bold vision that we are all inspired to accomplish.

Written by Petra Cvetanovic

A Dark Future Predicted by Oracles, Scientists, and Politicians?

In reality, dark or bright, everything is in our hands. It doesn’t take much to tip the balance between choosing either, influencing the future.

Humankind has endured many kinds of wars until now. Face to face with swords and shields, bullets, gunners, tanks, planes, and atom bombs. And now war and political experts are talking about a new way: CYBER WAR!

We have already faced cyber war(1). Some developed countries choose this way to keep an eye on their adversaries and make them weaker, a prelude to further offensive operations. Due to this approach, one faction can corrupt communication from within the other faction, and also weaken morale. Other steps can be done easily, like cutting telephone lines at war in the past, but this is a new way.

Another new way to attack is “HAARP(2),” affecting the ionosphere and creating earthquakes using high frequencies. Not only earthquakes but ocean waves can be influenced, polar ice caps can be melted, and the ozone layer can be degraded to name just a few apocalyptic harbingers of doom – get ready for the world ever more altered by humankind.

In the past, prophets believed that our future was in the hands of God. But, for fear of sounding paranoid, I guess we can assume that not only God is managing our world but “big brother,” and his eyes are on us all the time!

Written by Oguz Yilmazlar

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_cyberattacks_on_Estonia / https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyberattacks_during_the_Russo-Georgian_War

(2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foLDKQ00XJc

The Leave No Trace Principle

Festivals are events that have become an important part of human activities. Though they have a heavy impact on the environment, new trends have led to the creation of the “Leave No Trace” principle. It is a set of outdoor ethics promoting conservation in the outdoors, based on seven tenets(1):

• plan ahead and prepare

• travel and camp on durable surfaces

• dispose of waste properly

• leave what you find

• minimise campfire impacts

• respect wildlife

• be considerate to other visitors

An example of a festival inspired by “Leave No Trace” is Burning Man, an annual gathering in Black Rock City(2). The event rigorously encourages participants to keep areas clean by not contaminating the area with litter or by limiting the amount of residual trash at the site. For example, burning events must take place on the designated platform, greywater is not to be dumped on the playa (dry lake), and used shower water must be captured and either evaporated or collected and carried home.

Next time we attend festivals, perhaps we can all consider “leaving no trace.” How do you reduce your impact on the environment?

Written by Colina Tran. Produced by the AAI Content Team (http://alumnet.aiesec-alumni.org/#groups/342/posts).

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leave_No_Trace

(2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burning_Man#.22Leave_No_Trace.22_policy

What is the Sustainable Development Goals Report?

The following quotation is the reason behind the report that I read while going through the 59 pages of documented progress published: “The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2017 is the annual assessment of global and regional progress towards the Goals. The report is based on the latest available data on selected indicators of the global SDG indicator framework, prepared by UN DESA with inputs from a large number of international and regional organisations(1).”

For the past two years, the United Nations has been striving to achieve a set of SDGs globally. We have been writing a lot about each one of them but do we really know whether any real progress has been made? Let’s find out: “Implementation has begun, but the clock is ticking,” stated Mr Guterres. “This report shows that the rate of progress in many areas is far slower than needed to meet the targets by 2030(2).”

“Focused actions are needed to lift the 767 million people who still live on less than 1.90 US dollars a day, and to ensure food security for the 793 million people who routinely confront hunger. We need to double the rate at which we are reducing maternal deaths. We need more determined progress towards sustainable energy and greater investments in sustainable infrastructure(3).”

This excerpt from the report paints a dim scenario, it’s true, but this is because we lack context. When looking at the overall numbers, the report does emphasise that progress is being made(4):

• An estimated 767 million people lived below the extreme poverty line in 2013, down from 1.7 billion people in 1999

• The proportion of undernourished people worldwide declined from 15 per cent in 2000-2002 to about 11 per cent in 2014-2016

• Between 2000 and 2015, the global maternal mortality ratio declined by 37 per cent, and the under-five mortality rate fell by 44 per cent

• In 2014, 2 out of 3 children worldwide participated in pre-primary or primary education in the year prior to the official entrance age for primary school, compared to only 4 in 10 children in the poorest countries 5.2 billion people used a “safely managed” drinking water service in 2015.

The SDG report also discusses the importance of political leadership as well as new partnerships essential for sustaining growth and development. However, it’s crucial that we accept our own roles in enacting solutions so that we can effectively mobilise to bring these agendas to life. This journey has, at its heart, a promise to leave no one behind and as AIESECers I do believe we can have a positive impact on the world. So, what are you waiting for? Get off your chair and start making a difference!

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Written by Petra Cvetanovic

(1) https://www.un.org/development/desa/publications/sdg-report-2017.html

(2) http://armedia.am/eng/news/50088/un-report-nearly-a-billion-people-have-escaped-extreme-poverty.html

(3) http://www.unic.org.in/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/SUMMARY_of_SDGs_REPORT_2017.pdf

(4) https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2017/Overview/