26 November 2015
In September this year, the international community met in New York to debate and ultimately adopt the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): a set of 17 goals and 169 targets that will direct and assess the world's progress towards sustainable prosperity by 2030.
Speaking to a group of young entrepreneurs soon after the UN summit, I was struck by the varied reactions engaged Millennials had to the SDGs. Whilst many of the voices I had been hearing had criticised the goals for being too ambitious, one woman in this group argued the opposite: these goals aren't ambitious enough.
There is no doubt that the goals have achieved one thing: a shift in thinking from a dual model of the world as being divided according to the relative status of development. The Millennium Development Goals, which had preceded the SDGs, adhered to a dichotomous idea of the world as divided between developed and developing nations, the Global North and the Global South. Crucially, the new targets are to be applied universally. We are all developing nations now, says Henrietta Moore, Director of the UCL Institute for Global Prosperity (IGP) and Chair of Culture, Philosophy and Design at UCL.
"The SDGs represent a huge opportunity to rethink our approach to achieving prosperity globally," argues Henrietta. "To do this, we need to start looking beyond outdated models and start thinking deeply about how we want to live, and who we want to be. That discussion should start in our own institution - UCL - and involve everyone, from UCL partners to academics to undergraduate students."
It falls to all of us - the international community gathered at UCL, the super-diverse communities of East London as well as national governments - to investigate and debate what sustainable prosperity means in different contexts, and to determine how we will get there. Countdown 2030 is one attempt by my institute - the IGP - to instigate that conversation.
Countdown 2030 brings together the academic community at UCL with some of the most visionary young entrepreneurs in Europe and the most dynamic creative practitioners in East London. We will debate, across the two locations of East London and Bloomsbury, what sustainable prosperity means to us, and provoke thought on how we might achieve it.
You can see the full Bloomsbury Sessions agenda on the IGP website, and you can register for the Bloomsbury Sessions on the UCL Stores website. Tickets are only £5 for students. You can find out more about what's happening in East London by going to the Countdown 2030 website, following IGP on Twitter (@glo_pro) and by using #Countdown2030.
Hannah Sender, Projects and Communications Officer, UCL Institute for Global Prosperity