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12 November 2014
Recap of "Maryland Inter-Generational Consultation on UN Development Goals"

On Tuesday, November 11th, UNA-NCA held an Intergenerational Consultation about the key Sustainable Development Goals being proposed by the UN for the years 2016 to 2030 with the members of the Baltimore and greater Maryland communities. More than 160 representatives of civil society and community based organizations, universities, businesses, and government leaders, including 50 graduate and undergraduate students from several area universities gathered at the main Johns Hopkins University campus in Baltimore. Participants discussed how the proposed 17 goals apply to global needs for development, and how these same goals have relevance to the needs for improved life in the US and the Baltimore and Maryland area. This Consultation was one of 33 area events being held around the US sponsored by the UN Association of the USA and with support from the UN Foundation.

IMG_2593Opening remarks were given by US Senator for Maryland, Benjamin Cardin, UNA-NCA President, Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (retired), and Thomas Lewis, Vice President of Government and Community Affairs, Johns Hopkins University. Senator Cardin, who is also the current US Congressional Delegate to the UN, noted the critical role played by the UN in the range of issues on the agenda from peacekeeping, refugee support, public health in the face of epidemics such as Ebola, and the importance to all nations of climate change.  He urged the group to help all our citizens better understand and recognize how the proposed development goals are important for and relevant to both the poor around the world and many of our needs in Maryland and the US. He emphasized the economic returns to our own economy when the growth in economies of all countries occurs from essential investments in education, health, and many other areas.

President Bliss then introduced the event’s plenary speakers: The Honorable Kurt Schmoke, President of the University of Baltimore and former Mayor of Baltimore and Jenna Slotin, Deputy Director  of the Post 2015 Initiative at the UN Foundation.  Mayor Schmoke emphasized the opportunity in this agenda for all of our citizens to find common cause with the citizens of other countries to address the critical needs for education, training, affordable housing, equitable justice for all, transparency, and good governance. He stressed that one of the necessities to achieve success on all of the goals is to ensure that assistance has the leadership, interests, and pride of ownership of the citizens receiving the aid and most directly impacted. He also stressed the key role that education plays at every level – early childhood, K- 12, and university higher education –  to enable us to become global citizens, fully appreciative of our own environments and that of others around the world. IMG_2595

Jenna Slotin described the evolution and significant progress made by the developing countries around the world from 2000 to 2014, with the global agreement among donor countries to concentrate on 8 focused development goals (the Millennium Development Goals), a first in human history. She noted that the majority of 190 UN member nations are supporting the establishment of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) for the period 2016 to 2030, which would better integrate and recognize the cross cutting needs to be inclusive of all people, to be more transformative, and to have long-term sustainability combined with measured accountability, good governance, and transparency.  The UN recognizes that the goals must be recognized as universal to all countries and communities – not just meeting the needs of those in less advantaged countries but also meeting the needs of the poor in developed countries like the US – in order to be successful.

Following the plenary session, meeting participants were organized into 13 discussion tables, each focused on one of 9 umbrella topics covering various aspects of the 17 UN proposed goals.  The table topics included:  Poverty/Inequality; Health/Wellness/Hunger/Nutrition/Food Security; Gender Equality/Gender Empowerment; Climate Change/Environmental Protection/Sustainable Development/Water/Sanitation/Energy; Economic Growth/Workforce Development; Peace/Justice/Violence Prevention/Human Security; Infrastructure/Innovation/Sustained Growth in Industrialization; Transparency/Good Governance/Partnerships; and Education.

Twenty-six volunteer facilitators and table reporters guided discussion participants to consider how the goals meet global needs, how they can be applied and adapted to the US, Baltimore and Maryland context, and what actions are needed to move the goals forward. 

IMG_2597The participants’ discussion emphasized developing new partnerships and public and private cooperation, the need for sharing experience and knowledge, identifying holistic solutions, and finding innovative ways of financing. There was agreement that we share in many ways one common planet with many common challenges, especially the need for livable urban areas as more than 60 percent of people around the world are migrating to cities, where stable water access, effective sanitation systems, employable skills, education, peaceful collaboration, equity, and recognition of every individual’s human rights are essential for quality living in close proximity. The common threat of global warming and its damage to communities’ infrastructure, food supply, and economic security were underlined. 

The UNA-NCA is committed to follow-up this consultation with more outreach and services to its membershipreport_out and partnership with other organizations in the central Maryland and Baltimore areas to address the critical common needs for poverty alleviation and to help foster a community understanding of the role of the UN in addressing these needs.  UNA-NCA will continue to advocate and help our communities to consider and support adoption of the post 2015 development goals and keep the community abreast of the debate at the UN as nations begin to forge a common agreement on these challenging goals over the next 15 years.