By Léo Azambuja
The United Nations adopted a set of 17 new Sustainable Development Goals at their General Assembly Sept. 25. These goals — complete with 169 targets — are meant to guide development priorities for the world in the next 15 years.
On Kaua‘i, many of the issues raised by U.N. are old news and have been actively worked on — with varied degrees of success — for years by government agencies, nonprofit organizations, local residents and private businesses.
1- End poverty in all its forms everywhere. U.N. wants to eradicate extreme poverty — less than $1.25 a day — by 2030. Hawai‘i’s minimum wage, $7.75 an hour, is many folds above that. But we all know we need at least twice as much for a semi-decent living on Kaua‘i. Next January, minimum wage climbs to $8.50 an hour, and in January 2017 it climbs again to $9.25 an hour. Not perfect but an improvement.
2- End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. We may have lost large plantations on Kaua‘i, but we have dramatically increased the number of small farms.
3- Ensure health lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. The island’s geography and climate have the potential to promote a healthy lifestyle.
4- Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. We are setting high standards with schools like Kawaikini and Kanuikapono.
5- Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Go, YWCA, Zonta and Mokihana!
6- Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. The county Department of Water has been aggressively updating an old system.
7- Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. We may pay a lot for energy, but an O‘ahu contractor who does contract work for KIUC told me we would be paying a lot more if we didn’t have a co-op. And KIUC is aggressively pursuing renewable energy.
8- Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. We have pursued sustainable growth targets for our visitor industry, our main source of income.
9- Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation. Organizations such as Kaua‘i Planning and Action Alliance, Apollo Kaua‘i and Zero Waste Kaua‘i have been working toward a sustainable island.
10- Reduce inequality within and among countries. Celebrating diversity, which we do well on Kaua‘i, is a good start.
11- Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. The current leadership at Kaua‘i Police Department is always fighting for better work tools and more officers.
12- Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns. Go, Kaua‘i Made Kaua‘i Grown programs!
13- Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. We aggressively promote disaster awareness and have passed new shoreline setback laws.
14- Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss. Many agencies and nonprofit organizations are taking the lead on this.
15- Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. There will always be room to criticize the judiciary system, but all levels do a good job.
16- Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development. This is about financial help to poor countries. On Kaua‘i, we set a good example by constantly donating to many causes.
17- Technology. Our kids at KCC have accomplished great many things, including being the only community college in the nation to participate in a recent NASA rocket experiment.
For the world, these new goals “seek to build on the Millenium Development Goals and complete what they did not achieve,” according to U.N.
These millennium goals were set in 2000, and are now being replaced by more ambitious goals. Though it may be discouraging that in the last 15 years, lesser goals haven’t achieved much, world leaders can look at this as a reset button.
Or they can just look at Kaua‘i and learn a thing or two.