Alistair D. Edgar
Executive Director, Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS), Wilfrid Laurier University
The Sustainable Development Goals are indivisible. Without peace, ending poverty and hunger and ensuring healthy lives and well-being are all but impossible. Without gender equity, women and girls will continue to be abused, neglected and vulnerable in situations of poverty and hunger. Without sustainable energy for all, and access to safe water and sanitation, the goals of economic growth, food security, and healthy lives will remain out of reach for too many. Without inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all – recognizing and taking account of indigenous knowledge, different cultures, and various mediums of expression and learning – humanity will fall short in its capacity to turn data into information, information into knowledge, and knowledge into appropriate and constructive decisions and actions towards achieving the goals of Agenda 2030.
ACUNS was established thirty years ago, to foster innovative and advanced scholarship – research, writing, and teaching – about the United Nations, international organizations, and the challenges of global governance. It also was intended to help build dialogue between the academic and practitioner communities. The Council’s members, consisting of scholars and practitioners working on a wide range of subjects and approaching these from a broad variety of perspectives and backgrounds, support the shaping of data into information, developing knowledge, and ultimately producing critical thinking about policy choices and their potential outcomes. To this end, we strongly support freedom of thought and expression, inclusive and equitable education for all, and universal access to information; we make every effort to provide open access to as much of our work as possible, and look for best practices in our dissemination of information about that work. We encourage Member States of the United Nations, private sector businesses, foundations, NGOs, and other donors to take seriously the need to invest the time, energy, and dedication, as well as funding, to build vital human capital – an educated, healthy population living in peace and enjoying gender equity – that is the basis for, and should be the ultimate purpose of, the Sustainable Development Goals.