SDGs and Cooperation
This Monday, the U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for the international community to step up efforts to meet the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Secretary-General stressed that many regions worldwide are lagging behind with their sustainable development efforts. Guterres warned that without a stronger commitment to the SDGs and cooperation, the world will not meet the 2030 SDG deadline.

What are the SDGs?

The U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals are a set of 17 ambitious goals that, among other things, aim to end global poverty and encourage development in struggling regions. These goals were agreed upon in 2015 and implemented the following year, and are meant to be fulfilled by 2030.

Despite the admirable intent of the SDGs, they suffer from the same critical issue that stymies other U.N. projects: they lack enforcement. Because the national governments of each member state are responsible for the organization and implementation of programs, they can easily ignore their commitment to the goals. Even worse, the SDGs are not legally binding and therefore countries around the world have little to no reason to ensure their realization.

The SDGs have only been in action for a little over a year, yet Guterres’ call to action indicates that the relatively new program is already struggling. As of now, the SDGs are well-intentioned but inconsequential.

Perhaps countries around the world hesitate to contribute because they believe the SDGs are too ambitious and ask too much, too soon. However, their hesitation is not justified.

At the very least, ending global poverty (the first goal out of the 17) is indeed possible. Since 1990, the number of people living off of the equivalent of $1.25 a day has been reduced by more than half. While 836 million people still live below the poverty line, it is not at all impossible to end poverty once and for all in the next few decades. Even if it is difficult to determine whether or not this goal can be achieved by 2030, this should not discourage countries around the world from refusing to try.

The Necessity of Commitment

In order for the world to end global poverty and encourage universal development by or around 2030, the international community needs to prioritize SDGs and cooperation. They cannot write off the SDGs as another romantic notion proposed by the idealistic U.N.; instead, they should seriously think about the benefits they can reap from a better world in 2030. That better world can be theirs, but they need to work for it first. The SDGs provide the guidance to get there.

Also, the international community needs to facilitate cooperation in order to more effectively tackle global poverty and inequality. As Peter Thompson, President of the U.N. General Assembly expressed, there must be “effective collaboration and partnerships between governments, private sector, civil society, local authorities, schools, universities and our communities.”

Streamlining cooperation between the public and private sectors is particularly important for the development and execution of on the ground development solutions. In the US, the proposed Economic Growth and Development Act (HR 2747) hopes to allow more opportunities for the private sector to contribute to foreign assistance programs. If the bill receives enough support to become a law, it could bolster U.S. efforts in the fight against global poverty.

Hopefully, the Economic Growth and Development Act will become a part of the U.S.’s toolkit in ending global poverty. Other countries around the world should encourage similar legislation so that the international community can further promote the importance of SDGs and cooperation in creating a better world.

Isidro Rafael Santa Maria
Photo: Flickr

Caterpillar FoundationThe “Together.Stronger.” initiative, started by the Caterpillar Foundation works to alleviate poverty across the globe. “The world’s nations have united around the UN’s Global Goals that will guide international development for the next 15 years, and now it’s time for citizens in all communities to unite as well,” the organization says.

The “Together.Stronger.” approach is not one of competition, but one of collaboration towards a similar goal.

“No one individual, no one corporation, no one organization can do it themselves,” says Michele Sullivan, President of the Caterpillar Foundation. “But together, we are stronger.”

“Caterpillar has learned from its business and years of philanthropic work that the bigger the project, the better the team needs to be,” she says. “Together.Stronger. is our effort to build the best team possible… because ending extreme poverty is something that will take all of us.”

To accomplish this, the platform is based on three areas of focus:

  1. Stockholders: Delivering superior returns through the cycles.
  2. People: Attracting and developing the best talent.
  3. Customers: Taking pride in helping others succeed.

Caterpillar works to bring the world together to fix a problem that affects us all. With this in mind, the foundation works to create global citizens: a people that aren’t just citizens of a town or a country, but of the globe at large.

“The world is better when everyone stands together. Because together, we truly are stronger.”


Katherine Martin

Sources: Caterpillar, Global Citizen, ONE, Scene7

The United Nations is a multi-national cooperation with a variety of lofty goals. Among other objectives, the UN upholds the Millennium Development Goals, promotes global economic prosperity, and serves as one of the world’s most prominent “peacekeepers,” brokering deals between nations in order to promote equality, peace and prosperity across the globe.

Yet to some people, the UN may seem like a distant, disconnected entity without any real-world application. The The Better World Fund seeks to change this perception by enabling nongovernmental organizations, corporations, and individuals to engage with the UN directly.

The Better World Fund is not to be mistaken with A Better World Fund, a nonprofit endowment organization that provides grants to charities working domestically and abroad in the areas of human rights, hunger, health, ecology, economic development and education.

While The Better World Fund oversees several partnership efforts, much of its work is coordinated through The Better World Campaign, a project of The Better World Fund that seeks to strengthen the relationship between the UN and the U.S. through advocacy, outreach and communication.

Founded in 1998, The Better World Campaign focuses its efforts on several main areas. The first of its goals is to ensure that the U.S. regularly pays its UN dues on time and in full. The UN relies primarily on dues from member nations in order to fund its activities.

Traditionally, the U.S. has shouldered the bulk of these dues, contributing 22 percent of the regular UN budget and 27 percent of the peacekeeping budget, according to The Better World Campaign’s website. Nevertheless, the UN is critical to advancing many of the U.S.’ national causes, and The Better World Campaign believes it continues to be in the U.S.’ best interest to support the UN financially.

The Better World Campaign also focuses its efforts on ongoing U.S. engagement with the Human Rights Counsel, greater support for UN peacekeeping operations in places like Sudan and Syria, increased public awareness of the work of UN specialized agencies, and increased funding for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The Better World Campaign also seeks continued reforms to UN structures and programs in order for the UN to better address the new global challenges of the 21st century.

Katrina Beedy

Sources: Better World Fund, Better World Campaign, A Better World Fund

One of the main concerns about foreign aids is how to allocate the resources to get the best result.  Both private sector and public sector have to work together to end global poverty to achieve maximum effectiveness. To understand the importance of the joint effort between these two entities, one first needs to understand what effect these two sectors have on the economy.

In the book “A Life Half Lived: Surviving the World Emergency’s Zone”, the author, Andrew McLeod, discussed the differences between these two sectors and proposed the solution for their cooperation.

The private sector has many constraints to enter the developing countries. The first constraint is the high risk of investment.  The second constraint is the policies in developing countries in welcoming potential investment from international firm.

The developed countries do not want to invest in developing countries because they do not see that their helps are making improvement in the developing countries; therefore, the diplomacy between developed countries and developing countries need to be improved to create better opportunities for the private sectors to enter the poverty countries.

To achieve this objective, public sector should work together with the private sector to discover private sector’s needs and understand its structure. When international firms see the potential positive return on the investment, they will want to create branches in the developing countries. When these firms enter the countries’ market, they bring along jobs, expertise and capital. With these available resources, developing countries can spur their economic growth and the foreign aids from developed countries will reach the maximum potential.

For example, if an international company wants to enter China, the United States can direct its fund toward getting favorable policies from Chinese government. At the same time, the foreign aids can be guided toward improving education level for Chinese citizens so that they will become skilled labor to fit the needs of the industrial revolution.

In “A Life Half Lived: Surviving the World Emergency’s Zone,” the author expressed his opinions after the half of the life time in his foreign aid campaign and went into detail about the importance of the cooperation between public and private sector in the war against global poverty.

– Phong Pham

Sources: Goodreads, Booktopia, CSIS

Global Universal Threats
Bujar Nishani, the Albanian President, asserts that crime, poverty, and terrorism are interconnected and that together, they create new global universal threats. The president also said that development, security, and human rights are interconnected. Thus, there is a push for international organizations to shift their focuses to meet the change in global challenges.

In 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was established to protect Western countries against the threats of the Soviet Union. However, after the Cold War, these threats shifted as the political environment of Europe changed. The President asserts that the “central role of NATO throughout this process has been strengthened in guaranteeing the security of the Euro-Atlantic zone.” The shift in NATO’s priorities has occurred in recent years due to the new global threats which arose after the Cold War. Some of these priorities included: the Partnership for Peace, separate relations with Russia and Ukraine, dialogue with Mediterranean countries, and more.

In recent years NATO has been involved militarily to fight against terrorism and other new global threats. In order to improve NATO’s abilities to address these threats, the Prague Summit of 2002 established 3 key goals which included establishing a NATO Reaction Force. The U.N. Organization expressed the need for major reform of NATO’s capacity so that new global threats are efficiently addressed. The President also stated that “very powerful countries feel unimmunized and even vulnerable when faced with the asymmetric dangers of global effects,” and thus, countries have been increasingly more cooperative with each other to fulfill their responsibilities of improving security, maintaining peace, and tackling these global threats.

Leen Abdallah

Source: Hurriyet Daily News

US AID Fighting Terrorism With WoolQuinoa seems to be on everyone’s mind lately, but for the district of Mastung – a district located on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan– sheep and shepherding account for more than 40% of the economy. Unfortunately, many farmers in Mastung use outdated techniques which limit their production even though demand for wool is high.

To help with this dilemma, USAID has funded an agricultural project in which Australian shepherds, who are among the world’s finest, instruct a best-practices workshop which teaches Mastung farmers current techniques and educate the farmers on how to use current technologies. These new techniques have been combined with direct marketing practices and, with the two disciplines combined, the result is an 80% growth of income for farmers in the communities where these practices have been implemented.

While this type of growth does help border communities in Pakistan, the strengthening of these communities has an unforeseen effect on U.S. national security and global security as a whole. It is no secret that extremist groups target poor communities by offering financial assistance and other forms of aid. In a region that has been plagued with extremist groups such as the Taliban, contributing to the economic growth of communities and helping them remain stable prevents the spread of terrorism and extremist ideology. For the Mastung, fighting terrorism with wool production is a win-win situation.

Not only do these contributions help create a better life for those in the border communities of Afghanistan and Pakistan, but they also help these communities as a means to furthering global security as a whole.

– Pete Grapentien

Photo: Pakistan Today