On Sept. 24, at sundown, thousands of candles, flashlights and lanterns were raised to the sky in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Sustainable Development Goals

These 17 goals, which would be announced by world leaders in New York the following day, range from ending poverty to protecting marine life and providing quality education.

Each country would decide whether or not to commit to the fifteen-year agenda to “end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all.”

The Sustainable Development Goals were designed to build upon their predecessors, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs, implemented from 2000 to 2015, targeted the eradication of poverty, disease and hunger.

Now nations hope that the SDGs will finish the deal by directly addressing issues that promote poverty, such as unsanitary water and social inequality.

“This agreement marks an important milestone in putting our world on an inclusive and sustainable course,” says Helen Clark, the administrator of the United Nations Development Programme.

The biggest challenge now is ensuring that these goals remain on track and leaders exercise vigilance in carrying them out. This is where #LightTheWay steps in.

#LightTheWay For a Better Planet

#LightTheWay was founded by action/2015, one of the largest civil society campaigns. The idea was to “call on leaders to light the way to a better future for people and planet.”

#LightTheWay, described by Our Voices as “a tidal wave of humanity,” ensured that the Sustainable Development Goals will not be quickly forgotten. It tells leaders “we’ll be watching every step of the way to ensure they are met.”

Over 100,000 people in cities across the globe organized vigils in both public and private settings to send a message to world leaders that their citizens support the Sustainable Development Goals.

Organizations such as Our Voice and action/2015 encouraged participants to post pictures and videos of the vigils on social media with the caption “#Lighttheway.”

Some world leaders see the enthusiasm and determination as a promise of a better future and fully support their citizens’ efforts in #LightTheWay.

A Global Effort

After more than 150 people gathered on the Millennium Bridge in Dublin, Ireland’s President, Michael D. Higgins, said, “It is my hope that by 2030, we will look back on the 25 September 2015 as a decisive moment in global history.”

Even prominent figures such as Stephen Hawking and Malala Yousafzai participated in #LightTheWay to show their desire for a safer and more stable world.

Said UN Youth Delegate Eoin O’Liathain, “These new goals are lighting the way forward, everyone must work to make them a reality.”

Sarah Prellwitz

Sources: Action 2015/span>, Our Voices, UNDP, UN , Development Education Programme
Photo: Action 2015