Which Sustainable Development Goals stir your heart?
These social entrepreneurs are making an impact.
Do you remember the year 2000? Anything seemed possible as we started a new millennium. The dot-com bubble was still rising. Prince won Artist of the Decade at the Soul Train Music Awards. Tiger Woods became the first golfer since Ben Hogan to win three majors in a calendar year.
In that heady climate, the largest gathering of world leaders in history took place. At this meeting, they agreed to a set of Millennium Development Goals, committing their nations to reduce extreme poverty. They set a deadline of 2015. It was a grand experiment.
Of course we know that the economy did not continue to grow exponentially, Prince met an untimely end, and Tiger lost a bit of his shine. But, when it came to the Millennium Development Goals, the world made significant progress.
- The number of people living in extreme poverty declined by more than half.
- The percent of undernourished people fell by almost half.
- The number of out-of-school children of primary school age fell by almost half.
- More girls were educated.
- The global under-five mortality rate declined by more than half.
- The maternal mortality ratio declined by 45%.
- New HIV infections fell by approximately 40%.
In other words, by focusing on a few global goals, the world was able to make significant progress. And yet, billions of people continue to suffer.
So, in 2015, nations came together once again. They inventoried the lessons learned from the Millennium Development Goals. They recognized the need to include new priorities and to add more metrics. And so, on September 25, 2015, world leaders adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These 17 goals are a framework for how we will transform our world by the year 2030.
Each week on the podcast Social Entrepreneur I interview change makers who are making a real impact on the Sustainable Development Goals. What amazes me is, how many ways social entrepreneurs are finding to make a difference. One thing is clear. When it comes to making an impact, it doesn’t have to look a certain way.
I recently categorized the stories according to the SDGs. This was an interesting exercise. I found that every SDG is connected to the other.
For example, if you educate a girl, you take a major step towards ending poverty (SDG1), eliminating hunger (SDG2), improving health (SG3), providing a quality education (SDG4), and more. So, the story told by Safeena Husain of Educate Girls, how should it be categorized? I finally settled on SDG5, Gender Equality.
If you follow this link, you’ll find the stories from each of the Sustainable Development Goals. For example:
- Isabel Medem of X-Runner Venture, SDG6
- Allison Archambault of EarthSpark International, SDG7
- Teresa Goines of Old Skool Cafe, SDG8
- Jim Fruchterman of Benetech, SDG9
- J.B. Schramm of New Profit, SDG10
- Clara Brenner of Urban Innovation Fund and Tumml, SDG11
- Stacy Flynn of Evrnu, SDG12
- Yoav Lurie of Simple Energy, SDG13
- Nakul Saran of Rare, SDG14
- Martin von Hildebrand of Gaia Amazonas, SDG15
- Alana Greer of the Community Justice Project, SDG16
- Carrie Rich of the Global Good Fund, SDG17
…and over 130 more.
I Probably got this Wrong…
Like any good social entrepreneur, I’m only approximately right with these categories. I tried to keep each story in one category, though I cheated a little. Some stories, after all, defy categorization. And that’s what makes these social entrepreneurs special. Here is the list of sustainable development goals with links to the stories that were told on Social Entrepreneur:
What categories would you change? Who inspires you? What stories do you want to be told?
Coming Up: More Focus on the SDGs in 2017
In 2017, we’re going to pay more attention to the Sustainable Development Goals. Here are our areas of focus for the first six months.
- In January, we’ll address SDG1, No Poverty.
- In February, SDG2, Zero Hunger.
- March will concentrate on SDG3, Good Health & Well-Being.
- In April, we’ll take aim at SDG5, Gender Equality.
- May’s focus will be SDG9, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.
- June, we’ll look at SDG14, Life Below Water.
- And July brings us back to SDG17, Partnerships for the Goals.
We have lots of exciting guests planned. We’ll return to our once-per-week schedule, releasing new podcast episodes every Monday.
What Story will You Write?
If we’re going to make progress on the Sustainable Development Goals, it’s going take all of us. I sat down last August and recorded a quick video on this topic. You can find it here. The point of the video is this: we need you. If you look at the stories that are on the podcast Social Entrepreneur, it can be hard to find a pattern. There are an equal number of men and women. They are from every geographic region. Some are young and some are older. Some are just starting on their journey, while others are several decades into their venture. Some got it right the first time. Others…not so much.
What is common among the stories is that they took action. The most frequent piece of advice that these social entrepreneurs give is this: start. If you don’t know where to start, send me a message. I’d love to see you write your own story of how you made an impact on the Sustainable Development Goals.