1+1=3. This equation hardly makes sense in mathematics, but in social impact it’s everything. Why work separately when we, together, can achieve more with less means? The 17th goal of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) captures the most effective way of change making: Partnership.
”We are all travelers on the same planet headed towards the same future”. These words really spoke to me during presentation by NASA astronauts. It really makes sense to view people as a collective rather than individuals when speaking about the future of the world. If we have this collective mindset, it feels rather stupid not to help each other when working towards the same goals. Generally, society is about individual actors working for profit, sovereign states with different interests, companies working for money and individuals making their living. However, when striving for comprehensive progression in our society, we cannot walk alone. This is why it is so important that we come together and partner to achieve the SDGs.
It’s sometimes difficult to understand how partnership for social good works. Collaboration feels rather abstract when browsing the Internet, and it might be hard to see the full picture of how sponsorship and cooperation really makes a difference in real life. Because of the lack of partnership, previously, when working towards the Millennium Goals, I was happy to see the overwhelming amount of collaborations at the United Nations General Assembly events in New York this September. This time the private sector, grassroots movements and world leaders seemed to really have understood that they’re stronger together. Speakers from the different sectors were joining the same panel discussions, encouraging each other to keep doing what they do. This willingness to recognize each other’s strengths was really inspiring, and exactly what we need to make quick progress.
Now that companies, NGOs and states are working together, what can we do? There is still little focus on the power of individuals. And indeed, we, alone, might not be that powerful, but this is why we, too, should come together. The people’s voices are always the most important conditions to allow change to happen. If we show an interest in these important worldwide matters, it will encourage leaders in all sectors to work harder. After all, we are the customers and voters, and our concerns will always be important to companies and politicians. Therefore, we must never feel that our opinions don’t matter, and encourage others to speak up as well. The people set the foundation to change; politicians are the ones that simply press the buttons.
After this very overwhelming political year, it was relieving to experience the positivity of the UNGA. Even though the events might seem formal and informative, it’s necessary to bring change makers together to realize that no one works alone. We can all be the change by writing, speaking, and doing. Let’s all do what we can to ensure that we work efficiently towards the SDGs.