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  • Writer's pictureJessyca Stoepker

Sustainable Development Goals: A local approach

This article first appeared in the Petoskey News-Review on May 27, 2021. I wrote this piece as an installment in the monthly Thriving Petoskey column, a program of the Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Have you ever heard of the Sustainable Development Goals? If you haven’t, they are worth looking into.

The United Nations developed 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which were adopted by all UN member states in 2015. The SDGs provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future, and serve as an urgent call to action for all countries—developed and developing—in a global partnership.

So, what are the SDGs? They form a long, admirable list.

  1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere

  2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

  3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

  4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

  5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

  6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

  7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

  8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

  9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

  10. Reduce inequality within and among countries

  11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

  12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

  13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

  14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources

  15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and biodiversity loss

  16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

  17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

When I first read about these initiatives, I had a lot of questions. Is it really possible to meet these ambitious goals by 2030? How in the world are we going to accomplish them? And who is going to actually make it happen?

At first, I thought this was only designed for the governments of the world—and mostly the big ones—to implement and enforce somehow. But as I read into the details and learned more about how change happens, I realized that all stakeholders must be involved. And, when it comes to the fate of the world, all of us are stakeholders.


In particular, the UN acknowledges the role of the diverse private sector, from micro-enterprises to cooperatives to multinationals. They understand that cross-sector partnerships are instrumental for mobilizing and sharing knowledge, expertise, technology, and other resources to improve quality of life. Sound familiar?

The ideas of Thriving Petoskey can be thought about as streamlined, localized approaches to the SDGs. Started by former chamber president Carlin Smith in 2016, our initiative tailors the lofty ideals mentioned in the SDGs to fit the specific and unique needs of Petoskey—our community and our home. If all 193 member states of the UN are committed to making these global changes, I have no doubt we can accomplish similar success on a local level, too.


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