The importance of the Sustainable Development Goals

Blog by Stephen Kituku, national director of Caritas Kenya


In Bagrohi village near Sagar in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, farmers grow wheat, black gram, chilis, and other crops with support from SAFBIN, an adaptive farming programme funded by Caritas Austria. Photo by Sheahen/Caritas

In my country of Kenya, almost half the population lives below the poverty line*. This can mean that they have no access to clean water and their children die because of this, or they suffer from diseases which could easily be cured in countries with more resources, or they just do not have enough food to live a long and healthy life due to the impacts of climate change.

Towards the end of September, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be adopted by member states at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. These goals will set the tone and direction for development and aid over the next 15 years. The SDGs will give the world a chance to end poverty and ensure that people’s human dignity and human rights are respected.

Caritas will be at the UN for the launch of the SDGs. We really couldn’t miss such an event. We’ve been working hard for two years, with the UN, governments, civil society and other partners to ensure the voice of the Church and the poor are heard and incorporated into these crucial anti-poverty goals. It offers us an opportune moment to look ahead and build political commitment with our governments towards national level implementation and monitoring.

Caritas is a key partner in the integral human development of communities in around 200 countries across the world. We tackle the roots of injustice and inequality not just through our programmes, but also by ensuring governments honour their commitment to the poor.

We will have a powerful ally at the UN for the launch of the SDGs – Pope Francis. Many people are looking forward to hearing what the Pope says about our responsibility to the future of development when he addresses the General Assembly on 25th September.

The Holy Father published the encyclical Laudato Si’, Caring for our Common Home in June. The letter was a timely reminder to us all that we’re all inter-connected and our actions across the world have a profound effect on the lives of the most vulnerable people.

The Caritas delegation at the UN is part of the commitment of the Catholic community towards the delivery of the SDGs from now until 2030. We walk side by side with the poorest and most marginalised people in the world and we want to ensure that these people are a key part in the implementation and monitoring of the 17 SDGs.

This participation of the poor and the growing awareness of the urgency of true global development is where we hope the SDGs will differ from the MDGs. MDGs were created through a top-down, closed door process that did not engage people living in poverty, meaning that the goals often failed to respond to the experiences or priorities of people on the ground. This is our generational chance to make this right.

In Kenya, we are expecting strong commitment from the government in ensuring transparency and accountability in the implementation of these SDGs for the betterment of all citizens, particularly the poor and marginalised Through the structures of Caritas, under the leadership of the national bishops’ conferences, we will continue to work collectively and cohesively at the local and national level to ensure that the reach of the SDGs is broad and deep and leaves no-one behind.

*42 % according to Unicef


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