Launching 17Goals: Aiming to Scale Up

17Goals_Logo_smallerLet me tell you about our new website and social media channel:  17Goals.

I am feeling very optimistic these days. The world, as I write this, is about to enter a new era. The largest gathering of global leaders in history is assembling at UN headquarters in New York to launch this era. Until today, we called the coming era the “Post-2015” period. Now we can call it by its new, formal name: the era of the 2030 Agenda, and the Sustainable Development Goals — the SDGs.

To celebrate the arrival of these history-making words, I took some action. I gathered (virtually) a number of friends, and together we hatched an idea. That idea went public yesterday.

17Goals is an initiative, a project, a campaign, a program (take your pick, and yes, eventually it will be an app) whose purpose is to make it easier for anyone, anywhere to engage with the SDGs. To learn about them in more depth — from a whole-systems perspective. To share information about them, with their classes or colleagues or communities. And to take action, using a wide variety of tools and resources that we are making available via the website.

17Goals is live now … but it is a newborn, and it has a lot of growing and developing still ahead. Already, you can use the site to take a tour through SDGs and sample over 30 selected websites and tools — the ones we think can really inform you, and really help you make a difference.

In the future, I imagine 17Goals being the gateway to an ample but very selective (“curated” is the word people use these days) library of tools, handbooks, videos, etc. that are all excellent ways to learn about sustainable development — and do sustainable development — in a more integrated way. You will be able to search it easily, find what you need (e.g., by combining various goals), and put it to work.

Much of the current messaging around the “Global Goals” attempts to simplify them, sometimes to as few as “three key messages”, or “one overarching goal.” That’s useful for communicating, but my personal belief and experience is that many people want to engage with the complex reality of our world. And they — as well as their students and colleagues and friends — can handle that complexity. They don’t need it always boiled down and simplified.

That’s why 17Goals has its name: it puts the emphasis on the 17. These goals were arrived at through an incredibly intensive and delicate process of international negotiation (hats off to the UN for facilitating that!). And they are all inter-connected.

This new initiative — which is a not-for-profit venture hosted (to start) by my firm but with the named support of many other partners — is going to be a very active and exciting place to be, virtually, for the coming months. We’ll be building it, fast. We’ll be sharing what we find, and what we are building, in real time.

It’s also going to be a fun place to be physically … in just a couple of weeks, at the Gribskov Culture Hall in Denmark (about an hour north of Copenhagen). Partnered with our new friends at Transition World, led by Bente Milton, we have attached the launch of this initiative to a fabulous conference with young people and adults on Accelerating Change — so it has now become, also, the “launch event” for 17Goals. I’ll be keynoting that conference, and then over 500 students will spend much of the day doing 20 or of our “Pyramid” workshops — linked to the SDGs. (You can find out more about Pyramid here.)

Now, the following might sound a bit “over-the-top” … but I’m personally putting my whole “bag of tricks” on the line for this event, because I think the SDGs deserve our all. In addition to the keynote, I’ll be debuting a new song that I’ve written about the 17 SDGs — and I think you’ll be a little surprised by it, once we release it publicly. (If you want to hear it early, you have to come to Denmark.)

And then in the evening, I will be performing my one-man show: “Sustainability is for Everyone: the Musical!

Actually, the Accelerating Change event is a lot bigger than anything I have to offer, as it also brings in big names in Denmark’s cultural/entertainment world, and some serious psychological depth as well, thanks to the very thoughtful people with whom I have the good fortune to share the stage. Plus, all that youth energy and brilliance from the students!

But to sum this up: from now on, it’s all about “Accelerating Change”. Scaling up. The SDGs are here, now. This global vision of a sustainable world — specified in 17 goals and 169 targets, signed by nearly every head of state on Planet Earth — is “official.”

As someone who’s been in the business of promoting sustainability for over 27 years, this time that we’re living through is just amazing — the realization of a lifelong dream. The dream of sustainable development truly becoming “global”, “mainstream”, and “normal” … while still retaining its essential qualities of being a big “stretch goal.” A vision, around which all of need to unite, in order to make it real.

That’s the motivation for creating 17Goals. I know: it is just one of many initiatives to engage with the SDGs. And that’s great: in fact, that’s the point. We need many initiatives. But I am going to work with our wonderful partners to make 17Goals … well, one of the coolest places to do it.

See you there!

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