Not rocket science at all …

anaru-fraser-huie-3Anaru Fraser
General Manager
Hui E!

Te Iwa o Matariki is upon us and soon the 9 stars of Pleiades will emit their brilliance….yes, that’s 9 not 7 as normally depicted. But as the Māori New Year beckons us so too does the promise of a new era, a new generation of people, planet and prosperity, yes, the dawning of the age of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Among the many events we attend the latest I participated in was quite poignant – United Nations Association of New Zealand National Conference 2017. Our panel was about localising the SDGs, which provided an opportunity to contextualise a domestic approach towards progress.

Facilitated by Robbie Nicol we had a broad range of experience across the panel – from international development, cutting edge research, government aid and grassroots ‘getting stuff done’. Our collective understanding of sustainability seemed conclusive – limited awareness amongst the community. The measurement of progress seemed less agreed – by collecting more data the government will have better information to make policy decisions vs data as real people rather than just another number. Our reality of leadership of the SDGs remains stagnant – the responsible government has yet to determine where the SDGs might sit and who will lead on behalf of New Zealand. The current result is that unless you’re in the space of progressing international agreements relating to domestic policies then you might be in the ‘I don’t really care’ category, which you should have every right to maintain because there’s hardly any media coverage or active campaign from the government to educate the public. In contrast, the community sector will need to up our game and look for ways to educate ourselves, otherwise when 2030 arrives we will be caught unaware.

A couple of ways that Hui E! is helping to educate ourselves is through collaboration with Victoria University and parts of the business sector. We will be participating in the first New Zealand summit on the SDGs scheduled for April 2018 in Wellington. Led by academia we expect the key players to participate in the summit i.e. government, community and business sector. This will be another starting point for us to share our stories and figure out what the SDGs look like from a uniquely Aotearoa perspective. Another focus for us is to collaborate on an SDG indicator table that will collate what’s actually happening out there in the community. This could form a key piece of the puzzle that would inform policy and progress towards achieving the SDGs.

We, the community sector, have the impetus to make these goals a reality – isn’t that what we’ve been doing anyway long before the international arena decided otherwise. So, how do we stimulate awareness of an international agreement where we’ve already been active for so long? Yes, we need to measure and collate information. Yes, we need to take a people approach. Yes, we definitely need government to take responsibility. But probably more than ever we need others to recognise what we’re already doing. This invites a view that unless you ask the questions to those who are doing the work you won’t have an informed perspective – hence the importance of the summit in April 2018 and the SDG indicators. Without an informed view any policy design will have gaps – not rocket science at all.

This blog has been contributed by a member of the ComVoices network

ComVoices actively promotes the value that community sector organisations and their people, both paid and unpaid, add to New Zealand’s economic and social wellbeing through information, and political advocacy and dialogue.

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