An Open Letter to the Generation That Will Grow Up With the Sustainable Development Goals

An open letter to a girl born into poverty in September 2015

I am writing to you because this month, the month of your birth, leaders from virtually every country are meeting about the shape of your future.

The 17 global goals they are committing themselves to achieving over the next 15 years -- the Sustainable Development Goals -- span everything from protecting the planet... to promoting a more peaceful world... to helping people everywhere live lives of dignity and security.

You can't yet know this, but every one of these goals is really about you. About the world in which you will grow up -- and the world you will leave someday to your own children.

Though all the goals are connected, the first goal -- ending poverty in all its forms, everywhere -- is especially critical. It is about you, your family, your neighbors.

It is about whether you -- and the more than 500 million other children who are living in extreme poverty -- will have what you need to make the most of your own life and contribute to your community and your society. About whether the gaps between your prospects in life and those who are better off are closing.

You have a right to all these things -- the same right as every child to a fair chance in life.

By committing to the global goals, the world is promising to do whatever it takes to give you that fair chance. But when world leaders come together this month, they will be doing more than agreeing to 17 goals. They will be coming together in common commitment to the hard, and sometimes politically difficult, work necessary to reach the global goals for every child -- rich or poor.

And I hope that someday, when you are old enough to know whether we are succeeding or failing, you will hold your leaders -- and all of us -- accountable. For if we fail you, we will fail ourselves.

An open letter to a boy not born into poverty in September 2015

Just a moment ago, I wrote a letter to another child. Like you, she was born in September 2015. Unlike you, she was born into extreme poverty. And as I write, the leaders of the world are committing to a set of global goals. The first one is to end poverty for her and for everyone, everywhere who is living in extreme need -- more than one billion in the world today.

But the global goals world leaders are agreeing to this month are not only for children living in poverty. The results they are trying to achieve will not only benefit people in need. They are universal goals -- reflecting universal rights, shared values and global challenges that affect every one of us.

Someday when you are old enough to be in school, as you read about the world, I hope you will not believe that our progress on these goals does not affect you. If hundreds of millions of children around the world are not lifted out of extreme poverty, your country's economy won't be as strong as it could be. If those children do not have more of a fair chance in life, society will not be as stable and prosperous, and your life will not be as secure and rewarding as it could be. And neither will the lives of your children.

That is one reason why the leaders of the world are agreeing to these global goals. And all of us -- including you -- must hold them accountable. By writing this, I am also challenging you to hold yourself accountable -- and to refuse to accept a world in which any child does not have a fair chance in life.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post, "What's Working: Sustainable Development Goals," in conjunction with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The proposed set of milestones will be the subject of discussion at the UN General Assembly meeting on Sept. 25-27, 2015 in New York. The goals, which will replace the UN's Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015), cover 17 key areas of development -- including poverty, hunger, health, education, and gender equality, among many others. As part of The Huffington Post's commitment to solutions-oriented journalism, this What's Working SDG blog series will focus on one goal every weekday in September. This post addresses Goal 1.

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