This week is the first anniversary of the Sustainable Development Goals—a set of 17 goals and 169 targets to save millions of lives, to protect our planet, and to stop a large range of injustices. The SDGs are a universal call to action—a wake-up call to remind us that we each have a job to do in order to solve problems of massive scale.

Yes, each of us must be willing to accept the role we play in both the problems and the solutions, because activating change is going to take a village. 

We have 14 years to pull it off. That’s 14 years to end discrimination against women, to give everyone access to clean water, to achieve inclusive and quality education, to protect our oceans, to build safer and sustainable cities, to eradicate hunger, and to develop partnerships that make it all happen.

I know, it sounds like a lot. Admittedly, as I sat at the Social Good Summit earlier this week, I wondered what role I even play in helping to achieve all of this—how can I possibly make a difference? I’ve since realized this thought process is a barrier to action. As long as we feel that we’re somehow separate from the solution, we leave the “doing” up to others.

If you have a soapbox, stand on it and scream. It’s important to be loud. It’s a waste of time to just be a passerby— you’re not making an impression and you’re not leaving an impression.– Cheslea Handler, #Impact2030.

Our voices are wasted if not used to speak out about injustices. Our hands and feet are misdirected if not used to serve. And our talents aren’t fully expressed if not channeled in ways that spread joy. So, I guess this is me standing and screaming on my soapbox, asking for each of you to think about your role in advancing social good.

Only together can we start changing hearts and minds, and making progress to 2030.

The Global Goals are for all of us:

They’re for our neighbors.

More than 43 million people worldwide are now forcibly displaced as a result of conflict and persecution. 41% of the refugees are children, and half of all refugees are women.

We have to remember that at the heart of the numbers and statistics and passionate arguments, we’re talking about people. We are talking about human beings—children like Omran Daqneesh, who are waiting for our help.

It’s not good enough to say that we need kids to have shelter and food. We have to get them back in school. – Carolyn Miles, CEO Save the Children

The idea that we’re dealing with a short-term issue is a misconception. With the average displacement for a refugee being 17 years, we are at risk of having an entire generation being lost and left behind.

They’re for our climate.

The reality is that we have between 3-7 years before the next El Nino. The even starker reality is that the majority of countries effected are, and will be, developing nations.

We have to get real about dealing with climate change.

We have to ask ourselves how we get out of silos in order to prepare for the next humanitarian issue. How do we place the responsibility at the door of developed countries? What are the smallest things individuals can do every day to make a difference?

They’re for women.

Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and therefore half of its potential. We can’t win if half of the population is sitting on the bench.

More than ever, it’s important that we use our voice, that we keep talking about the issues. And when we climb the ladder, we hold it steady for other women to climb with us.

They’re for future generations.

No decision we make is without consequence.

Like it our not, we’re paving the way for future generations. The decisions we make today—whether in regards to how we treat our planet, how we create opportunities, or how we deal with inequalities—directly impact the kind of world we’ll leave for those that come after us.

The global goals are our roadmap to ensuring the world we leave behind is one that works for everyone.

We all have choices to make.

The SDGs are targets purposed to set in motion solutions for solving global issues. But, we must remember that they are just mere targets—we all have a choice—a choice to use our voices and our resources to invest in the solutions or not.

In the same vein, modern technology is providing access to tools, information, and conversations that can aid our efforts to solve global goals, yet some are still choosing to use technology to spur fear and hate. We all have a choice.

There’s always going to be a distraction or a reason not to deal with something, but change requires us to continue pushing forward, no matter what. As long as there are people starving and intolerance due to skin color, gender, faith, disabilities, or who someone loves, there is work to do.

We’ve got 14 years—let’s do something.


Madeline Turner is the Online and Social Marketing Manager at Blackbaud. Prior to running Blackbaud’s social media and thought leadership blog npENGAGE, Madeline worked as a Managing Editor for Blackbaud’s Content Marketing program. It is her goal to create content and share ideas that challenge the status quo of the nonprofit industry. When Madeline isn’t tweeting or writing blog posts, you can find her drinking coffee out of her ‘Crazy Cat Lady’ mug, wearing giant headphones and singing off-key.

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