Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs. 17 objectives, 169 indicators of target. The year 2030 is approaching and human society is retreating rather than advancing. A group of internationally renowned researchers - including the economist Mariana Mazzucato (1) - points out the 6 transformations, indeed revolutions, necessary. We follow the trail of their study, published on Nature, to add some inspirations on the themes that are most dear to us. # Égalité!
'Six Transformations to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals'is the title of the publication. (2) A systemic work, of synthesis and direction - which in the context of the UN initiative The World in 2050 Initiative - offers a key to understanding the Sustainable Development Goals in the 2030 Agenda, # Envision2030. (3) The 17 SDGs are thus aggregated into six macro-categories, and lines of action:
1) education, gender and inequality,
2) health, well-being and demographics,
3) energy decarbonisation and sustainable industry,
4) sustainable food, land, water and oceans,
5) sustainable cities and communities,
6) digital revolution for sustainable development.
6 transformations which - given the growing distance from the objectives set for 2030, compared to when they were adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations, on 25.9.2015 - it seems more appropriate to define 'revolutions'. All the more so when we consider that the non-binding nature of the commitments undertaken leaves the adoption of policies consistent with the achievement of the SDGs to the free will of the governments of the Member States and local administrations. Which, as seen in the recent G7 meeting in Biarritz, they are unable to express converging views on basic priorities, the reduction of inequalities (yes, you can learn it). And therefore, the 6 revolutions that follow.
The educational systems they must be transformed, expanding the catchment areas and updating programs. The authors attribute crucial importance to public investment in research and development, with particular attention to their impact on social security. It is necessary to invest first of all in primary and secondary schools, crucial phases in the formation of the individual as well as in the scholastic path. To this end, adequate resources must be dedicated both to infrastructures and teaching materials, and to training and updating of the teaching staff. (4)
High school education, vocational training, school-work training systems are still lacking in many countries of the planet. And they must be developed extensively, with a view to social and economic development in the long term. Adequate public and private investments in this area represent the pre-condition for approaching the achievement of at least 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals in the UN Agenda 2030:
Health and Wellness they constitute the second area of intervention, closely associated with the previous one, which the authors propose in the vademecum to the SDGs. Once again generous investments are indispensable, accompanied by the precise political will to promote and favor lifestyles based on respect for health and the environment.
The public health system is the keystone to achieve the third of the 17 SDGs, 'Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages'. 'The highest attainable level of health' it has been recognized 'as a fundamental right of every human being'already in the articles of association of the WHO (1946). This entails the duty, for its 193 member states, to assignmaximum resources available'to guarantee this universal right.
The study in Nature reaffirms the need to establish effective and efficient public health systems. As well as accessible to the entire population, without foreclosures related to economic incapacity and inequalities (eg. gender). Health policies must be based on prevention and thus include appropriate measures, aimed at discouraging behavior and consumption that constitute risk factors (eg. sugar tax on junk food). It is then necessary to focus on the control and monitoring of infections, diseases and pathologies. In addition to pediatric and maternity services, palliative care, mental health and basic surgery. Without neglecting, we add, disabilities.
The duty of the WHO member states, to guarantee the universal right to health, on closer inspection, cannot ignore the guarantee of its first determining factors:
Energy for all, from renewable sources. 'Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all ' (SDG 7). In line with the provisions of the Paris Agreement (2015), the global convention for the mitigation of the climate change. As well as with theGoal 13, ‘Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts', updated at the High-Level Political Forum in May 2019.
Over 1,1 billion of inhabitants of the planet still need electricity, through networks and micro-networks. Another 2,8 billion people lack gas for cooking. The ministries responsible for facilitating the access of all communities to energy, in the individual states, are those delegated to public works, energy, environment and transport. Moreover, access to energy cannot ignore its 'decarbonisation'. (5) That is, literally, carbon reduction. And therefore of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. This postulates the overcoming of power plants and means of transport based on the use of fossil carbon sources (coal, oil, methane). By favoring renewable sources such as solar, wind, bio-methane (the latter, in a logic of circular economy, uses vegetable raw materials which in turn sequester carbon dioxide).
Food systems they must be converted to the paradigms of sustainability. The global agri-food chain currently absorbs 90% of water, contributes a quarter of total greenhouse gas emissions, participates significantly in global pollution and warming. Starting from these considerations, Égalité launched the #Buycott campaign! palm oil, GMO soybeans and American meats, with the express purpose of limiting the demand for the commodities that represent prime causes of land robbery e deforestation at a planetary level.
The food it is as indispensable as energy, you just can't do without it. But in both cases the sustainability of production must be demanded, to guarantee the sustenance of human civilization in a long and very long term perspective. It is therefore necessary to stop the phenomenon of deforestation for the use of intensive monocultures and convert agricultural systems to eco-agriculture, also in order to mitigate the desertification of the soils. Strictly apply measures to reduce illegal, untracked and unregulated fishing (Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, IUU) and promote thesustainable aquaculture. Last but not least, adopt a systemic approach in reducing waste
The food supply chains they should therefore consider the following objectives:
The SDGs reference, in addition to the fundamental 'zero hunger' above:
Civil coexistence it must then be rethought in its primary centers of aggregation, the cities. 'Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable'(SDG 12). Urbanization is proceeding at a faster rate than population growth, to the point that by 2030 the urban population will have reached 5 billion inhabitants. In order that this phenomenon does not lead to the collapse of the metropolis and the collapse of the quality of existence, it is necessary to intervene decisively on infrastructures and services.
Equality - cited in Goal 10, ‘Reduces inequality within and among countries'- should be recalled once again. As a condition at the basis of civilization, as well as the security it aspires to achieve. Resilient infrastructures, sustainable industries and innovation ('Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation' SDG 9) are also crucial, with particular regard to public transport and urban planning.
Intermodality it must govern transport, as the only solution to reduce emissions of particles into the atmosphere whose serious impact on public health continues to grow. We need zero-emission public transport, cycle paths and electric micro-mobility. (6) Eliminate architectural barriers, with good memory of one of the most barbarously disregarded UN treaties, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
More green spaces are needed, to contaminate the concrete jungle with oxygen and maybe even good food, thanks also topeasant agriculture. The virtuous management of materials, in homage to Lansink scale, then constitutes the premise for the drastic reduction and proper waste disposal. On which so much still needs to be done, to reduce themicroplastic pollution in particular.
The digital revolution it is indicated by the authors of the study as the sixth necessary transformation. The dilemma hinges on the possibility of making technological innovation a tool with totally positive externalities. Even more than in other cases, here hope tends towards utopia. Faced with a dystopian scenario where the concentration of power in the hands of a small handful of private giants continues to escape the attention of all. Coexistence, cowardice or starvation? (7)
Technological innovation - like agriculture, to mention another example of aggregate concentration on a global scale that uses populations as guinea pigs laboratory - can have its 'side effects'. The authors indicate the risk of job loss and suggest a reasoned use of the technological tools available as a means to achieve adequate living standards for all. Will the invisible hand of the market be so wise?
The speranza it is always the last, illusions and false promises the first to fall.
Dario Dongo and Giulia Caddeo
(2) Sachs, JD, Schmidt-Traub, G., Mazzucato, M., Messner, D., Nakicenovic, N., Rockström, J. (2019). Six transformations to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Nature Sustainability volume 2, pages 805–814 (2019). doi.org/10.1038s41893-019-0352-9,
(4) A commendable example of contributing to shared social values (CSV, Contributing to Social Values) is offered by the substantial donations provided by the Esselunga group - € 67 million, in the first 4 editions of the 'Amici di scuola' program - to over 10.000 Italian school complexes. See the article https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/progresso/dalle-scuole-alle-spiagge-brillanti-iniziative-della-gdo-in-italia
(5) On the concept of decarbonisation, see https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/economics-econometrics-and-finance/decarbonization. See also http://deepdecarbonization.org
(6) Intermodality in passenger transport is based on the combined use of several means to cover the routes. Preferring public transport for medium-long distances, light mobility (eg. Even electric bikes) for shorter ones.
Intermodal transport is characterized by the functionality of the appropriate interchange structures, so-called intermodal nodes, where it is possible to change means of transport. The functionality of an intermodal node is linked to the number of transport infrastructures available (e.g. train, metro, bus, cycle paths and bike sharing), at the location along the main route routes, at the maximum volume of sustainable traffic
(7) The Western Front is concerned about China's overtaking in 5G technology. But no one pays attention to the global dominance of Big Data by about ten Corporation USA (The example of Amazon, on https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/idee/amazon-l-internet-of-things-all-assalto-del-retail-fisico-cosa-come-che-fare). Neither, ca va sans dire, takes care of the private monopoly of artificial intelligence research. V. Cade Metz, When the AI Professor Leaves, Students Suffer, Study Says. New York Times, 6.9.19/2019/09, https://www.nytimes.com/06/XNUMX/XNUMX/technology/when-the-ai-professor-leaves-students-suffer-study-says.html
Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.