Entries with tag sdgs .

MDGs, SDGs, and HLPF: What does it all mean?

“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


[1] More to come on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation in a future blog post.

[2] Olivier Clément, Conversations with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I (St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1997), p. 107.

[3] Mark 12:31

Recapping the Season-Ending Briefing: Our Recent Work at the UN

On June 22, the Department of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations of the Archdiocese participated in the UN’s Department of Public Information season-ending briefing, where members of the NGO Relations Section gathered to discuss the season’s achievements and activities, and suggested areas for improvement. This Section is charged with facilitating dialogue and partnerships with members of civil society, of which the Archdiocese is part of.


There are approximately 1,500 NGOs affiliated with DPI and they are doing crucial work at the UN to achieve the various targets set out in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This past season, UN DPI/NGO held seventeen briefings covering a variety of issues. They were held for specific events like the Commission on the Status of Women, and on commemorative days like the International Day of Families and Focus on Faith: Faith Based-Organizations and Refugee Assistance, among many others. At these briefings, information was disseminated and important issues were discussed in order to achieve effectual change.

In all, there were 1,791 activities reported by NGOs in the most recent season. These included events (25%), conferences (18%), and campaigns (10%), among others and reached approximately 700 million people. These activities covered a wide range of topics, with a majority focusing on SDG 3 (health and well-being), SDG 4 (education), and SDG 16 (peace).


The Archdiocese, for example, through its representation at the UN, has recently organized events covering land and water as a source to eradicate poverty, empowering refugee women and children through education, and HIV/AIDS and women’s property rights. A complete list of the events associated with our office can be found here: http://un.goarch.org/en/events.


The briefing also focused on areas where improvements can be made. SDG 14, which focuses on sustainable uses for the oceans and general conservation of water, only accounted for 6% of all NGO activities last year. While this number is low, there is cause to believe that the number will increase. Earlier this month, the UN organized an Oceans Conference, coinciding with World Oceans Day, that sought to identify problems and solutions in implementing SDG 14. The Ecumenical Office had an active presence at this conference, preparing an intervention to be read on the floor during the Plenary Meeting. A copy of the statement can be found here: Statement to the June 2017 Oceans Conference. Because of this conference, there is heightened awareness to the issue and we can expect the 6% number to rise for next season’s wrap up briefing.


The meeting concluded with an emphasis on the important role NGOs have in the UN system. They are advocates, facilitators, and educators, working to ensure that we are creating a better world. Keep an eye out on this blog, as well as un.goarch.org, to see the issues we focus on and the kind of work we are doing.



Anthony Balouris is a Fellow at the UN for the Department of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (un.goarch.org)

The Archdiocese is an accredited Non-Governmental Organization at the United Nations through the Department of Public Information (UN DPI) and has General Consultative Status under the Economic and Social Council of the UN (ESOSCO). It has been actively working at the UN for 30 years.

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