UN Sustainable Development Goals are the world's 'to do' list
An associate with the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary for 33 years, Sally Duffy shares the sisters' long-standing commitment to the environment and the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Holy Names sisters are among 21 religious women's organizations in UNANIMA, a UN non-governmental organization representing women in 80 countries.
As a global thinker following threads of history, Sally sees this as a time of fast changes. For example, the internet, which connects people, has also become a weapon and security threat.
"What is happening today is happening on our home ground, happening to all of us," she said.
"Environmentally we must be ready for more heat, fires and weather events from climate change. We need to work together among ourselves locally and with others globally," said Sally.
She pointed to the city council recently passing a resolution for Spokane to turn to renewable energy resources as an example of acting globally. She sees this as in the tradition of Spokane coming together to lead the world on the environment with Expo '74 not quite 50 years ago.
As to acting locally, she draws inspiration from her childhood. Growing up on Sharp in the Gonzaga neighborhood, one of six children, she said family and neighbors were not affluent, but no one "wanted" because neighbors helped each other.
"I think that's what's ahead for us," she said, observing that the goals are about the "vital balance" her mother talked about.
Sally, who was educated by Holy Names sisters at St. Aloysius School, earned bachelor's and master's degrees and was certified to be a college instructor. She reconnected with the sisters when she was teaching English in 1985 at Gonzaga University, but left teaching and spent many years working in banking and community relations. She is now a chaplain with Hospice of Spokane, where she has volunteered for nearly 18 years.
"It takes servant leaders working quietly to point the world to the future and prepare for it," she said, noting that Catholic social teaching fits the SDGs. Both require continued effort.
The UN's Millennium Development Goals, established in 2000, brought many changes in 15 years: the number of people living in extreme poverty and those without access to clean water was cut in half, and diseases such as malaria and AIDS, have been drastically reduced, she said.
"When people get together to do something, the money appears," she said, referring to funding by Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and others who care.
"The global SDGs are the best news on the planet," Sally said. "They draw funds around innovative projects. We have the ingenuity to make things happen.
"The global goals are comprehensive, but simple. They are about all people on the planet living in prosperity," she said. "They are about economic development not charity. They are about right relationship between people, species, water, air and land."
With people aware everything is interconnected, Sally said, "it's a magnificent time to be alive."
Goals are being implemented in such places as New York, San Jose, Tampa and Baltimore by city and county governments working with citizens, universities and other players, and gaining access to resources through the United Nations' Sustainable Development Network.
A panel of Spokane civic leaders will discuss the nexus between Spokane's regional goals and the global goals at a day of celebration and education from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 22, at Unity Spiritual Center.
Sally is dismayed by policies "vital to the nation being pulled back," but she is not discouraged because she knows that around the world countries are moving together on Paris Climate Accords and working on the SDGs.
"Given the world is "interconnected and fragile," she said she is pleased that Pope Francis' encyclical on ecology recognizes the economic, social, environmental and technological connections.
"In the next 12 years, our children, as well as the world they will inherit, will change dramatically. Who and what will shape that change?" she asked. "Our world teeters on the brink of multiple disasters, military, environmental, economic and technological. The severity of the crises motivated the UN to develop Sustainable Development Goals. Crises can spark conflict, but this time the world miraculously opted instead for cooperation," she said.
"History has taught us that when people work together across borders, marvels can happen. The viability and quality of our future depend on the work and combined choices of each person, each community, each country, and each business and organization. Each of us influences the choices of others," she said.
"This is a time for unity in diversity, for thinking globally while acting locally, for using our fear to motivate us to action, and for realizing the undeniable connectedness of all people around the globe along with every form of life on earth," she said.
The Sustainable Development Goals were adopted by 193 nations, plus cities and agencies around the world.
They were formulated through a transparent, inclusive, consultative process, involving civic organizations, governments, faith groups, scientists, specialists, businesses—more than 7 million citizens, including many in Spokane.
"The goals have been called the world's 'to do list' from now until 2030, and they are designed to ensure safety, justice and peace, without weapons," Sally said.
"The greater Spokane area has been working on sustainability issues for many years. The goals help amplify and augment a positive movement in the Greater Spokane area, creating synergy, efficiency, funding potential and growth," she said.
In a recent report ranking 100 large U.S. cities on the SDGs, Spokane ranked 26th.
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Copyright@ The Fig Tree, September 2018