Sustainable Development Goals

Why we need new 'Good Life Goals'

Personal actions to make the SDGs a reality

16.07.18Solitaire Townsend

From gender equality to ending hunger, via climate action, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals have got it all. The world’s governments, civil society, stakeholders and business did a pretty good job of creating a To Do List for humanity.

Except that list is written in a way which excludes the most important change-maker of all – YOU.

Because sustainability won’t be solved by institutions without individuals. Because each of us need to be invited to take part. Because we all have the right, the responsibility, and the opportunity to change the world for the better.

Because ‘people power’ is as important as ‘powerful people’ when it comes to progress.

At Futerra we know the incredible impact millions of folk working together can make. So, a few months ago we hacked the 17 Global Goals into a set of Good Life Goals.

We hacked the 17 Sustainable Development Goals into a set of lifestyle actions that people could take.

These were simple behaviour asks for each of the 17 SDG’s. It was a playful attempt to show how easily the SDG’s could be translated into lifestyles. We didn’t expect much, but 1000’s of you liked our first post; you tweeted it, shared it and threw new actions, asks and big ideas at us. Clearly, we had struck a nerve.

To their everlasting credit the United Nations 10 YFP Sustainable Lifestyles and Education programme decided to work with us to make our crazy idea a reality.

Why Good Life Goals?

By sharing clear, evidence based, personal actions for each SDG we can build confidence that we are all important, we are all needed, and we can each make the Global Goals a reality.

Changing the world has never just be about policies or products, it always comes down to people.

We’ve gathered a dream team to make this happen, led by Futerra and the 10 YFP Sustainable Lifestyles and Education programme (which is co-led by the governments of Sweden and Japan).  We have the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), UN Environment, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and UNESCO. All working feverishly to make this happen.

Because identifying smart personal behaviours for each SDG isn’t going to be easy. Our criteria are strict:

  1. Will this personal action make a tangible impact on the Goal?
  2. Will this action be accessible/relevant/affordable to the greatest number of people?
  3. Is the action comprehensible and likely to benefit our own lives?

Our second rule is the hardest to meet. Our brilliant partner, Peter Repinski from SEI, said “Finding evidence-based actions that are relevant to lifestyles worldwide, from over to under-consumers, and in different cultural contexts, will be a challenge. But we all share a planet, and the SDGs themselves, so the process of creating these SDG links to lifestyles is a necessary, and overdue, step in the SDG process.”

We have already begun with our first three Good Life Goals. During the United Nations General Assembly in September we’ll launch all 17.

SDG 6 Clean water and Sanitation translated into a Good Life Goal
SDG 4 Quality Education translated into a Good Life Goal

Then what happens?

Businesses interested in lifestyles and purpose can leverage their brand power and marketing to help their consumers change behaviour. We’ll set up a business roundtable to work on that.

Educators can use these actions as an ‘on-ramp’ to the SDG’s themselves. Because even the youngest children can make a difference in their daily lives.

Civil society and NGO’s can activate their members and audiences and push us to make these personal actions even better, harder and bigger.

Governments can build in the incentives and infrastructure to help all us take these actions, every day.

We’ve only just started. Everything is draft, in development and work in progress.

But we made a film, because we’re Futerra and we know logic always has to come with a touch of magic.

Perhaps we’ll design an emoji for every action. Perhaps we’ll use celebs, or real people, or cartoons. Perhaps we write a massive report on people power?

It’s going to be a busy summer.


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