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NO.412 07.16.2018

"The Driving Force behind Sustainable Development is the Next-Generation Leaders"

Standing at the transition point of our civilization, we are compelled to ask: What is our most urgent global agenda? How can we ensure humankind’s future happiness? On June 5, Professor Irina Bokova, Honorary Rector of Humanitas College and Miwon Chair Professor, delivered a special lecture to ruminate over these questions at the Cheongwoon Building on the Seoul campus.


All the students, professors, and members of Kyung Hee who attended as global citizens discussed ways to understand and take action on the topic of ‘Global Agenda and Future Happiness.’ Professor Bokova focused her lecture on the ‘Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),’ which were adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015 as the common goals to be pursued by the world. The SDGs are the major goals defined by the international society to address universal challenges, global environmental and socioeconomic issues that must be resolved by 2030.


Sustainability must be for all people
Professor Bokova began by explaining the rationale of the SDGs. The international community has been discussing ways to protect the global environment since the 1970s. In the 1980s, sustainable development became an officially defined concept. Then, in the 1990s, the UN Development Plan (UNDP) began to publish the Human Development Report, a pivotal change widely assessed to have shifted the focus of development from an economy-centered method to a human-centered approach.


Since then, the UN has achieved great progress. The Rio Declaration, Agenda 21, Forest Principles, Biodiversity Agreement, and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have been signed. Civic societies have also experienced robust growth. Riding on these achievements, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a global agenda dedicated to eradicating poverty, were adopted in 2000. The 191 member states of the UN agreed to take action by 2015 on eight goals on poverty reduction, health, education improvement and environment protection.

 

Sustainable Development is a universal and mutual agenda

Professor Bokova explained, “Sustainable development applies equally to advanced, developing and under-developed countries. It tells us that we cannot fulfill our current needs at the expense of destroying what the future generations will need. Therefore, solutions to the problems must also be universal.” She assured the audience that “Investing our minds to promote inter-generational equity, quality of life, social integration and international accountability will lead us to sustainable development.”


New ideas, such as efforts to measure sustainability, are constantly emerging. Professor Bokova emphasized the indispensable need to promote this agenda. She emphasized, “There is no other alternative to our progress; sustainable development is the only key to humankind’s future happiness. This must become our universal and mutual agenda.” In other words, she argues that ending poverty, promoting health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, clean hygiene, economic growth, sustainable cities, climate behavior, biodiversity and protecting our resources are all interconnected.


Professor Bokova then exhorted the audience to act. She said, “Until now, we have focused on opening the doors to sustainable development. Now, we must marshal active participation from academic institutions and private organizations centered around this agenda. As people who inhabit a time that is equally unpredictable as exciting, we must all take responsibility for our future generations. It is high time that the next generation leaders put their minds together to find solutions.”

 

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