Qatar part of renewed drive to advance UN Sustainable Development Goals

EVREN TOK * - BAYAN KHALED **
Published 08.10.2019 02:03

As Global Goals Week draws closer, states, leaders and organizations around the world are busy preparing awareness campaigns, events and activities. The week is an annual call to action where stakeholders raise awareness and attempt to accelerate efforts to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, also known as Global Goals. Taking place Sept. 22-29, Global Goals Week is timed to coincide with this year's U.N. General Assembly, when heads of state and government will assess progress made in implementing the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development and 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

While governments, transnational organizations and civil society have long been involved in advancing the 2030 agenda and Sustainable Development Goals, we are now witnessing greater participation by actors from a variety of sectors and industries. The sports industry, for example, has created the first activist football tournament. Known as the Global Goals World Cup, all-women's teams qualify by advocating one Sustainable Development Goal and displaying concrete ideas and examples as to how they will undertake action and achieve impact.

As a major partner of the United Nations Development Program's efforts to address the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, Samsung leads the way in contributions from the technology sector. The company is currently encouraging Galaxy users to take small individual actions that it hopes will translate into meaningful collective change. To help kick start efforts, Samsung is launching special edition accessories and a Global Goals application. The app will offer simple ways to help raise awareness of the Global Goals and allows users to engage with ads and make direct donations to U.N.-affiliated organizations in different parts of the world.

Elsewhere, the Cologne Global Goals Jam was a two-day event where innovators and creators from around the world came together with members of the local community to design actionable interventions toward achieving the Global Goals. For its part, board members of the Vienna-based Ban Ki-moon Center for Global Citizens met in Alpbach, Austria to hear how six eminent scholars would advance the Sustainable Development Goals. These include "Light to Read," an initiative to bring electricity to 6 million homes in Ghana. In response, the center's co-chairs and board offered advice on how best to move these innovative ideas and projects forward to achieve the most impact. The event concluded with the scholars receiving the Ban Ki-moon Global Citizen Scholarship awards.

Through its Together Alberta initiative, the Alberta Council for Global Consideration continues to make an important contribution to Canada's pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals. The council has hosted a series of roundtables designed to stimulate cross-sectoral conversations and raise awareness of the impact Alberta-based organizations are having on national and international initiatives. Together Alberta also encourages individuals and local communities to be a part of the change.

Efforts to advance sustainability are by no means limited to the official Global Goals. Taking inspiration from the Sustainable Development Goals, Space Sustainability Goals call for the responsible use of outer space and the minimization of activities with the potential to cause environmental damage. In doing so, Space Sustainability Goals encourage states with space programs to engage in inclusive and interactive dialog that promotes good governance and highlights the importance of a sustainable space environment.

Back on Earth, there has also been a surge in faith-based organizations and religious leaders showing strong commitment and sensitivity to the 2030 agenda. For example, Religions for Peace recently held its third plenary session titled "Advancing Shared Well-Being by Promoting Just and Harmonious Societies." The event included an "Equipping for Action" session where attendees had the opportunity to participate in interactive workshops and converse with high-level diplomats and thought leaders in the field of sustainability. Conference participants also listened to short talks, personal stories and inspiring ideas from religious representatives and peace activists from around the world.

Qatar has also provided religious groups and faith-based organizations with opportunities to advance and discuss the global change demanded by the 2030 agenda, most recently at July's Islamic Cooperation Youth Forum. More events combining the role of religion and the Global Goals are scheduled for the weeks and months ahead. These include the Maker Majlis, which takes place Sept. 22-25 at the Qatar Foundation's Education City Mosque Building. Also timed to coincide with Global Goals Week, the Maker Majlis connects the dots between the Sustainable Development Goals, Qatar National Vision 2030, Islam and faith.

By making these connections, the event will showcase Qatar's efforts to achieve the Global Goals through Islamic practices while promoting their relevance to Qataris and the wider Muslim world. In partnership with local organizations, international partners and guest speakers, the Maker Majlis will also encourage Qatar's youth to engage with the Sustainable Development Goals, develop their own solutions and call for global change. An innovative space consisting of workshops, high-level panel talks, a comic zone, virtual reality experiences and more will provide ample food for thought.

* Assistant dean of innovation and community advancement, the College of Islamic Studies, HBKU

** Research fellow at the College of Islamic Studies, HBKU

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