The United Nations is one of the most influential supranational organizations, and in 2015 they created seventeen different Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) as a plan of action for the planet and humanity. Beginning with “No Poverty” and ending with “Partnership for the Goals,” the SDGs aim to increase quality of life around the globe. NYU Shanghai senior Nicole Chan received a unique opportunity to attend the UN’s Novus Summit as a delegate, listening to experts discuss their progress in each of the seventeen SDGs.
Chan is a member of the UN Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development (IANYD)’s Working Group on Youth and Gender Equality, where she heard about the Summit. She explained her area of interest out of all the SDGs: number five, achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. “I believe also to be directly connected with SDG four (education), ten (reduced inequalities), and sixteen (peace and justice),” said Chan. “Many of the SDGs are interlinked. Not many educated people live in extreme poverty and drink contaminated water, for example.” Increasing progress in one SDG will lead to progress in the other areas.
After listening to world-renowned humanitarians like Anousheh Ansari, the first female private space explorer; and Peter Diamandis, founder and chairman of the X Prize Foundation, Chan found the most thought-provoking to be Daniel Roberts. “His speech connected the categories of humanitarian work, anthropology, and technological innovation to emphasize the necessity of creating smarter tech but also kinder people. Without both in tandem there is no progress,” said Chan. “We’re in the fourth industrial revolution. Our vast technological improvements have made us more powerful than ever, but not more kind.”
As a forum for young leaders and innovators to discuss the major challenges facing today’s world, Chan and the other delegates came away with connections, ideas, and inspiration to use in their own studies and future plans. Chan, for example, connected with environmentalist Robert Swan, known for his international Antarctic explorations and dedication to renewable energy. “The point of attending these types of events is to continue the impact in your own community. Not everybody can squeeze into the UN assembly hall, but if every person in attendance can pass on a little bit of the idealism or inspiration, then we’re closer to making tangible progress,” Chan believes. “We all need to work together to make possible a world where every person’s basic needs are met.”
This article was written by Savannah Billman. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Maersk