Op-Ed: Puerto Rico far from complying with United Nations’ Sustainable Goals Agenda
In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly held its Sustainable Development Summit. During said event, 17 objectives that make up its 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda were approved and adopted. Some 193 member countries ratified the route to a new paradigm of global development by laying out a path or blueprint for achieving it.
What are the objectives of these Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) and what does this agenda aim for? The goals aim to promote the prosperity of human beings and protect the environment.
They range from eliminating poverty through gender equality to taking urgent measures to combat climate change and emphasize sustainable consumption patterns.
The SDG’s are integrated. They are interdependent and recognize that action in one area will affect outcomes in others and that development must be a social, economic and environmental balance.
The 17 objectives were developed after two years of consultations among countries and different sectors of society. The agenda is not mandatory, but each country has the opportunity to assume its responsibility to work towards it.
A decade shy of reaching 2030 it is worth asking: Where does Puerto Rico stand in each of these 17 SDG’s? The Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics in alliance with the United Nations Foundation (UNA-USA Puerto Rico) are working to collect all the data and statistics and give visibility to those projects that are being carried out in Puerto Rico to achieve these goals.
To do this, last year they established a website where citizens have access to information and statistics about some of them. However, many of these lines are in a data gap such as those related to the environment.
We don’t have official data and recent numbers and statistics on the amount of garbage that reaches our landfills or landfill systems. Neither do we know the current characterization of our solid waste nor do we have an official recycling rate.
We don’t know the availability of water and its sustainable management for our 78 municipalities in times of a drought. There’s a lot of work ahead in the next decade!
Data and numbers will not solve the problem. However, numbers are essential to establish metrics that allow us to inherit a better country for future generations. We live in a vicious cycle where the lack of numbers and statistics affects the creation of public policy.
The lack of public policy and compliance strategies, in turn, affect the production of educational campaigns, which translates into the flow of information to citizens. A less educated society is transgressive and therefore does not reach its full potential.
The development of public policies to achieve these 17 objectives is vital and must be accompanied by a structure that guarantees their compliance. Similarly, educational campaigns play a very important role in meeting the SDG goals.
Puerto Rico is far from it, but reaching them is not impossible. Some companies and institutions in the island have started incorporating them into their corporate practices. We have a decade to do and demonstrate that we can be part of a new global paradigm.
Let’s start by changing our habits, consumption patterns and attitudes. Individual action will result in local and global benefit. Let’s summon those who aspire to an elective position in November to know these 17 SDG’s and commit to promoting the development of public policies and strategic alliances that guarantee the mechanisms for their fulfillment.
Everyone is needed to reach these targets.