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Millennium Development Goals
It's possible to extract resources with attention to environmental consequences, but unless it's done in ways that ensure the planet remains healthy enough to support human life, where all people enjoy peace, health and food security, can it really be called sustainable?
We Millennials have grown up. We've gone from passionate teens to professionals, flexing our leadership muscles in the workplace. We still carry the idealism of our younger years, but, with our new roles as movers and shakers, the stakes for our involvement are much higher. This is our world now -- and we need to be ready to help take charge. This week in New York City, the United Nations will adopt the new Sustainable Development Goals, a set of goals and targets designed to end extreme poverty over the next 15 years. They're universal, and so are expected to guide the policies and practices of all countries, not just the developing ones. As a Millennial, I'm keeping a watch on what our governments and organizations do, and looking for ways to help.
Pregnancy is still one of the leading causes of death of girls in developing countries between 15 and 18. Worldwide, 16,000 children under five die every day. Girls and boys are left behind because of who they are or where they live. Women and girls from ethnic minorities have fared worst, and discriminated against because of their sex and race. Girls living in towns or cities are much more likely to have access to a skilled birth attendant than young women living in remote parts.
Life happens, and it's easy to get distracted. This is especially true when you have long term-goals. As silly as it sounds, sometimes a plan FOR the plan is needed in order to stay focused.
In September, I take up my new responsibilities in Geneva, Switzerland as Canada's Ambassador to the United Nations and the Conference on Disarmament. The UN reflects the dreams and aspirations of not just Canadians but of the world. My new role will allow me to address global challenges from a different perspective than I've had at Plan Canada, but as I prepare to leave I reflect on a few proud accomplishments that bolster my confidence and hope for the future.
This year, Medicine Hat became the first city in Canada to effectively end homelessness. Almost 900 people in this small town of 61,000 have been placed in rent-free apartments or houses. And the benefits are clear: police calls and hospital emergency room visits are down. "You're going to end homelessness? Yeah ok, good one," he recalls thinking. But the society argued that the $20,000 per year cost of housing someone was as much as four times less than the expense of policing and health care when that person lived on the streets.
Rather than free us from the drudgery of work, technology has made us slaves to our phones and laptops. It has taken the entry of the most technologically savvy generation in history to realize that fact and, hopefully, to change it.
2015 promises to be a transformative year on the international development front and is therefore an appropriate time to reflect on a noteworthy milestone. The United Nations enters its 70th year -- and like some 70-year-olds, the beleaguered UN has found new vigour and relevance in people's lives, with Canada playing a role in some noteworthy accomplishments.
On balance, however, this was not a good year for world peace. Russian aggression in Crimea and the Ukraine, and the West's response, pushed the world closer to a new Cold War. Revelations about the CIA's use of torture were enough to shake anyone's faith in the goodness of humanity. Meanwhile, the Middle East spiralled downward with greater violence in Gaza, Syria and Iraq. At home we are still not on track to meet our emissions targets. And the strongest praise environmentalists could muster for the climate change deal reached in Lima, Peru, last week was to wince and say it is "better than nothing."