The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of goals that UN Member states are expected to use in their agendas and policies until 2030. The NFGL Local Network in Uppsala aims to raise awareness of the goals and explore related topics from different perspectives to progress towards a sustainable future.
With this aim in mind, my NFGL network attended the workshop ‘Transforming our world: the Global Goals’ organised by the Life & Peace Institute, which seemed like a suitable introduction for all the upcoming activities of our network.
The workshop started with a traditional fika, of course, and an online quiz about SDGs. When receiving the results of the quiz, I was surprised: it turns out that the majority of UN members accepted the SDGs, but no unified action plan was developed. After our first discussion, we all agreed that while it may seem incoherent, all countries are currently at different stages and implementing universal solutions is unrealistic. We concluded that the implementation of solutions should be dealt with by each country individually.
Photo: members of the NFGL Local Network in Uppsala
Next on the schedule, an introductory lecture was held about what SDGs are, why they are essential and how Sweden is doing in this regard.
While I felt proud of living in a country like Sweden which keeps its leading position in several SDGs, what impressed me even more was the brutal honesty with which Swedes described the current situation. For instance, they explained that despite being a renowned mediator and leader for Goal 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) Sweden still sells guns to other countries, revealing a conflict of interests.
Similarly, a National Action Plan has been developed. However, it doesn’t contain any specific actions and can be disregarded if and when the government changes. I am convinced that it is the pragmatism of Swedish citizens that allows the entire country to notice what can be improved. I felt inspired by this conversation and motivated to spread this productive attitude in the future.
What I particularly appreciated was the organisers’ efforts to help us relate to global goals, link them to our everyday choices and transform them into personal responsibilities. The presentation slide ‘A day in Sara’s life’ (pictured below) made a particular impact on me: it made me reflect on what I did today to make tomorrow better. The slide illustrates the routines we repeat day after day which define whether we contribute to or sabotage progression towards SDGs.
Photo: 'A day in Sara's life'
The second part of the workshop we spent in smaller groups exploring different aspects of one of the goals. I was a part of the group with Goal 17 named ‘Partnerships for the goals’. Together we brainstormed what kind of partnerships are important, what is crucial for the implementation of those partnerships, how our goal is connected to other SDGs and what each of us can do to create or strengthen a partnership.
We realised that our understanding of the goal differs from the UN’s vision, which doesn’t make us wrong, but offers a new perspective and broadens opportunities. Global actors might think in significant numbers, but our strength is in knowing the situation on a smaller scale. Feeling that we are not enough or not able to do enough shouldn’t prevent us from trying. What we can do is to test different approaches and find out which of them can be implemented by just spreading the word around, raising awareness on social media and in local communities.
Here are my most significant insights:
Small steps are more powerful in leading local action than extreme measures. Local actions accumulating might result in global changes.
We should lead the way for a sustainable future using our choices, actions and purchases as a tool for change. We, as a crowd, are responsible for creating a demand for sustainability.
Next time you go shopping, consider partnering up with your friend or neighbour to buy in bulk and avoid extra plastic packaging. It might sound simple and small but if everyone did that would it still be a small action?
Let’s all share our simple changes and everyday actions. So, what are your sustainable life hacks?