In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or Global Goals that are designed to achieve peace and prosperity for people and our planet. These goals have been implemented worldwide the same year and are supposed to be achieved by 2030. Since then the UN official website shares their annual statistics on the progress in meeting the Goals. However, numbers show that we will most likely fail to do so. And the main reason for that is .. the rising global population. According to some experts, there are not enough resources for everyone to live comfortably in the future, which corresponds to the Malthusian theory of population. Even though the author of the theory, an English economist, Thomas Malthus, was criticized and officially proved to be wrong, his thinking (Malthusianism) turns out to be very much alive.
Indeed, the methods that are used to achieve the Global Goals lead directly or indirectly to a slower growth in population. Besides, the means of operating are often questionable when it comes to ethics and humanity. The thing is that since the day the Global Goals were implemented up until today we’ve been living and continue to live and function in the capitalist society. The main goal of any company operating on a capitalist market is to grow its profits by lowering costs. And the lowering of costs has gone out of control recently, which makes it impossible to achieve the SDGs.
1. No Poverty
The cost of living keeps growing, which makes people get further into debt. They opt for smaller families or abstain from having children at all.
2. Zero Hunger
The creation of genetically modified food is believed to solve at some point the problem of hunger on our Planet. Let alone the long-term consequences such food has on our health and bodies. Now, the new invention of the insects-based protein-rich superfood is being pushed and is supposed to solve the problem of CO2 emissions and land degradation caused by cows. But what about private farming and gardening? For the last 3 years or more they’ve been tightly regulated and controlled everywhere in the world. In post-soviet Russia, growing their food in small private gardens saved lots of families during the hard times of Perestroika. While today several restrictions on harvesting and raising poultry have been imposed on behalf of big businesses controlling the food market. Obviously, there are plenty of tools to solve the problem of hunger by taking into account the interests of people, not big businesses.
3. Good Health and Well-Being
Alexander Fleming, a Scottish microbiologist who discovered the first true and effective antibiotic, penicillin, warned that it’s misuse (and specifically underdose) can lead to the drug resistance. And the consequences are hard to predict. That’s why Fleming advised to use penicillin only if there was a properly diagnosed reason for it. Today, on the contrary, antibiotics are prescribed to anyone who caught a common cold. As a result, lots of people experience various health issues at some point in their life as their immune system becomes imbalanced. More drugs are prescribed “to fix” that imbalance. More adverse reactions occur. And we become regular customers at our local pharmacy. It’s a vicious circle and it’s not about health. Moreover, it is highly unethical on the part of the big pharmaceutical companies who are thriving. Their stocks go up in value due to a raising number of their sick customers. Health is about eating natural organic food, drinking clear water, exercising, breathing fresh air, living stress free and enjoying life.
4. Quality education
The distance education that was practiced during the pandemic proved to be ineffective and stressful for all the participants. However, the officials found the idea of implementing this schooling method on a permanent basis quite interesting. Besides, the development of Artificial Intelligence is making the profession of a teacher unnecessary in the future.
5. Gender Equality
There is nothing bad in empowering women to find their role in life, to have equal rights and to choose a better life for themselves. In reality, women are encouraged to take contraceptives at a young age in order to prevent them from becoming “unplanned parents”. It’s a fact that the birth control medications often have irreversible consequences and may affect the ability of a woman to conceive in the future.
6. Clean Water and Sanitation
Back in the days in Soviet Russia and other countries of the Soviet Union people never bought bottled water simply because it didn’t exist. Tap water was clean, chlorine-free, rust-free and also pay-free. Today, according to the official sources the ecological situation in the cities worsened and so did the quality of tap water. Thus, recently the officials in Russia made a statement that they put antibiotics and hormones in tap water and that they encouraged businesses selling bottled water to do the same. In the United States, the market leader of the bottled water industry, Nestlé, extracts millions of litres of spring water while paying the price of a one-time application fee to the government (about $100-$500). Besides, the officials of the company support the idea of privatizing and controlling public water resources in US and across the globe.
7. Clean energy
The world needs equal access to clean renewable energy and thus more batteries. But at what price? Electric car batteries, phone batteries and others contain a highly strategic mineral, cobalt, that is found particularly in Democratic Republic of Congo. An estimated 70% of the world’s cobalt is extracted by so-called “artisanal” miners. Most of them are children working in dangerous conditions, breathing toxic cobalt dust and being paid 2.50 USD per day. Big companies profiting from low cost resources, like cobalt, make it seem like they are not aware of the reason for its low cost. The lithium ion battery production requires the extraction of a rare metal, lithium. Like any resource extraction, it is harmful to the soil and requires a lot of water. Approximately 2.2 million litres of water is needed to produce one ton of lithium. And that affects communities where the extraction takes place.
8. Good jobs and Economic growth
“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” – is a common question they ask a candidate at a job interview. However, the development of artificial intelligence is making it hard to plan too far ahead. Not only hard manual labor is being replaced by machines, but intellectual professions like journalists, lawyers, computer programmers and many others will be totally automated in the nearest future. The recent strike of Hollywood actors and screenwriters (the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike) showed that creative jobs are no exception either.
9. Innovation and Infrastructure
The goal is to upgrade infrastructure by adapting clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes. However, the recent example of Tesla’s so-called “Gigafactory” in the eastern state of Brandenburg in Germany showed the opposite. The enormous car factory has constantly been fighting against German environmentalists as well as residents of the area where it was built. Their main concern is about the water supply that Tesla has been literally stealing from the locals. Brandenburg authorities are backing the company’s efforts to drill for more water in the area, while the residents are not allowed to water their lawns.
10. Reduced inequalities
One of the targets is to immediately ensure safe migration that is supposed to reduce inequalities. In reality, the UNsafe migration is still there.
11. Sustainable cities and communities
The sustainability of modern residential buildings is very questionable. The growing urbanization requires the construction of more affordable houses that in reality turn out to be low quality and even dangerous. This trend is typical for the world in general, whether it’s a developed or a developing country. While the price of residential property is constantly rising, the average apartment size has been considerably reduced in the recent years.
12. Responsible consumption
The end consumers, i.e. us, ordinary people, are often accused of consuming too much. Keynes’ Law says that demand creates its own supply. In reality, it’s quite the opposite. Companies are using all the possible marketing tools (like discounts, promotions (“Buy two at the price of one”, credit cards) to inspire people to buy more products that they don’t even need. From the point of view of businesses, that is understandable. They do everything to survive and prosper on a highly competitive capitalist market. Their main goal is to gain more profit and lower expenses. However, it’s not rare that big companies often put their profits above the environment and the interests of local communities. They take advantage of low-paid child labor in the third world countries in order to lower their production costs. They use cheaper materials which makes the end products low quality and non-durable. As a result, the excessive consumerism is beneficial to big companies, and they blame us for it.
13. Protect the planet
While reducing the consequences of natural disasters, the officials should not violate the human rights of the affected local communities, that is their right for their property and monetary compensation.
14. Life below water
Again, when we speak about the environment and the need to protect and preserve it, we usually address to people in general. Ordinary people are taking all the blame for the economy of excessive consumerism. However, this economy was created by big monopoly corporations that are aimed at maximizing their profits. There is a big difference between preserving and protecting the environment and the so-called ecological responsibility that is imposed on us. Big companies and plants are the ones who often neglect the Nature protection laws and regulations. The world’s largest mining company, Rio Tinto, for example, caused a considerable environmental damage in many countries. Even after massive criticism and protests of the environmentalists and local communities, they continue to engage in environmentally destructive practices. The recent example of the company’s plans to mine lithium in Serbia faced significant opposition. The proposed mine would destroy forests and endangered species in the area, cause harm to the local ecosystem. Same thing with oceans. Big companies are supposed to take all the precautions to prevent the catastrophes like The Deepwater Horizon Oil spill in 2010.
15. Life on land
It’s not that we do not have enough land to live on. It’s the modern urbanization, the forced relocation of the rural population to the big cities and building modern metropolis cities that lead to forest loses, land degradation and species extinction.
16. Peace and Justice
The governments all over the world are implementing the digital identification system of their citizens that includes their biometrics. The problem is that there is no guarantee that our personal information is secure and cannot be hacked and stolen. Besides, how is it not the violation of our Legal right to privacy?
17. Partnerships for the goals
By 2030 we are supposed to be living in a different economic system, called inclusive capitalism – capitalism that works for everyone equally. However, until today it looks more like the rich developed economies are taking advantage of the poor third world countries.