Celebrating the Sustainable Development Goals

L-R: Sam Mostyn, Tim Costello, Cr Cathy Oke, Professor John Thwaites, Lee Joachim, Sam Loni, Cate Turner

L-R: Sam Mostyn (ACFID), Tim Costello (World Vision), Cr Cathy Oke (City of Melbourne), Professor John Thwaites (MSI), Lee Joachim (Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative), Sam Loni (SDSN Youth), Cate Turner (Futureye

Over 350 people gathered at Federation Square on Monday 19 October  for a free public seminar on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and why they matter for Australia. 

The event, ‘People, planet and prosperity’, was presented by the Monash Sustainability Institute in partnership with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Australia/Pacific, the School of Social Science in the Faculty of Arts, the Centre for Development Economics and Sustainability in the Monash Business School, and a number of other partners.

Adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the UN general assembly is considered by many to be the most important agreement of the 21st century. The Goals seek to end extreme poverty and promote economic prosperity and wellbeing while protecting the planet.

The event brought together leading thinkers from a diverse range of sectors to discuss how these ambitious goals could guide global and Australian development over the next 15 years.

In an opening presentation, MSI Chair Professor John Thwaites explained how the SDGs build on the successes of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which helped address extreme poverty from 2000 to 2015. But he said the SDGs also differ significantly from the MDGs, encompassing a much broader range of social, economic, and environmental issues that make them as relevant to Australia as to other countries.

Professor Thwaites explained how the SDGs are interlinked and illustrated how working to achieve one goal, will help achieve others.

“If we want to get rid of hunger, we also have to attack climate change, because it’s droughts and flooding and natural disasters that are one of the big threats to food supply,” Professor Thwaites said.

Professor Thwaite's presentation was followed by a distinguished panel of experts, which included Tim Costello, CEO of World Vision; Sam Mostyn, President of the Australian Council for International Development; Cr Cathy Oke of the City of Melbourne, and Sam Loni, Global Coordinator for SDSN Youth. The panel discussed the opportunities of the SDGs for Australia in areas such as international development, business, cities, Indigenous development, infrastructure and youth.

The panel agreed that the SDGs provided a common framework for governance and shared language of global and national priorities. They emphasised that the goals can be applied contextually to all industries and sectors in Australia, and that collaboration is the key to achieving them.

To close, SDSN Youth representative Melissa Peppin encouraged the audience to take ownership and action on the SDGs, such as through participation in the SDSN Youth-led #KnowYourGoals campaign. 

A recording of the event will be available shortly – visit the MSI website for more information.

For more information about the SDGs, visit MSI’s Sustainable Development Goals initiative webpage.