“Planets are spherical and spin at high speeds in elliptical shaped orbits.” Believe it or not, there was a point in history when, despite the empirical scientific evidence, some people denied this fact. Today, scientific evidence is clear that human consumption and pollution patterns are utterly unsustainable and destroying the planet. While some remain in selective denial, particularly those who find sustainable production less than profitable, the vast majority of the world – nearly all 195 United Nations Member States in fact – are taking the scientific data seriously and making a valiant effort to protect people and planet.
The connection between the environment and development really finds its foundation at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in 1992. Some years later, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were established to eradicate poverty through development with an ambitious goal of “by 2015.” While successful in many ways, the MDGs fell short in ensuring sustainability and human rights protections. Therefore, at the UN Rio+20 conference in 2012, Member States committed to coming up with a new plan that would take a more inclusive and holistic approach to poverty eradication, development, and environment, with an extended goal of “by 2030.”
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was fashioned in two stages from 2012-2015 – in a process known as the post-2015 negotiations – and was officially adopted in September 2015. The seventeen goals, accompanied by a strong political declaration and commitments to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and Addis Ababa Action Agenda, sets out, in the most ambitious way thus far, to tackle the tension between development, environment, and sustainability in order to eradicate poverty while safeguarding creation.
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese has been involved in the process from the very beginning, supporting the notion of poverty eradication and creation care through sustainable consumption and production. Most recently, the Archdiocese successfully advocated for the inclusion of the Human Right to Water and Sanitation (HRTWS) in the political declaration of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The inclusion of HRTWS language rather than simply “access to” this common good means water should remain a public good, controlled by the people as opposed to private corporations or businesses. Furthermore, the Archdiocese continues to be involved in the implementation and review phase through the High-Level Panel on Water and the High-Level Political Forum.
I realize this post is content heavy. But if you’re still with me, it’s finally time for a simple, practical way you can do your part to make the world a more sustainable, equitable place. First, focus on your own consumption patterns and understand that “humanity's power over nature must be exercised with moderation, justice and compassion.” In order to properly understand your own consumption pattern, consider how what you consume – electronics, fuel, food, water, clothing, etc. – affects other people, even those living across the globe. Furthermore, I encourage you to exercise your duty to be a responsible citizen. Pressure your local, regional, and national governments to pass legislation in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. When, in order to love our neighbors as ourselves, each of us lives a selfless and moderate life, the outcome will be a sustainable planet free of poverty.
#HLPF2017 #HLPF #GlobalGoals #2030Agenda #SDGs #MDGs #Rio+20 #LoveYourNeighbor #HRTWS #ParisAgreement
 More to come on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation in a future blog post.
 Olivier Clément, Conversations with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I (St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1997), p. 107.