The United Nations has established seventeen ambitious “sustainable development” goals that it hopes will be accomplished within the next several decades. However, as has become a pattern for the international body, its refusal to oppose the practices that maintain the very problems it seeks to resolve dooms those hopes to failure. The U.N.’s predilection towards socialist-leaning economics, its tendency to adopt conclusions based more on public relations than actual research or science, and its avoidance of action against oppressive and aggressive regimes belies the frequently laudatory objectives it seeks to encourage.
The goals set forth by the world body are:
- End poverty in all its forms everywhere
- End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture
- Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages
- Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
- Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
- Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
- Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
- Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all
- Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation
- Reduce inequality within and among countries
- Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
- Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
- Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts (taking note of agreements made by the UNFCCC forum)
- Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
- Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss
- Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
- Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development
An examination of U.N. statements in regard to those goals, however, makes it clear that the results appear to be only excuses to further an agenda which opposes capitalism, and transfer wealth from capitalist economies to those of other nations. Essentially, that would result in weakening rich nations while making little long-term difference in the lives of those in countries whose adherence to socialist economies is the root cause of their poverty.
This unfortunate reality can be seen in U.N. statements regarding the goals. “We commit to making fundamental changes in the way that our societies produce and consume goods and services. Governments, international organizations, the business sector and other non-state actors and individuals must contribute to changing unsustainable consumption and production patterns, including through the mobilization, from all sources, of financial and technical assistance to strengthen developing countries’ scientific, technological and innovative capacities to move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption and production…”
Ian Murray, writing for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, (CEI) Notes that “…the U.N.’s emphasis on “sustainability,” as generally defined among development bureaucrats and NGOs, imposes significant burdens on developing countries’ freedom and ability to achieve the rapid increases in human welfare that were the target of the original Millennium goals.
The U.N. also ignores the lesson of the most successful developing economies. For instance, Hong Kong and Singapore followed a proven path to prosperity that is centered on principles that have significantly increased the resiliency of their societies…”
CEI recommends five alternative goals:
- Secure Property Rights. Markets, the source of wealth and prosperity, are impossible without security in property rights. Governments should make it their first priority to ensure that property rights are recognized and respected. ..
- Secure the Rule of Law. The rule of law reduces arbitrariness in government that can be a huge drain on an economy and human dignity. Research has found that improvements in the rule of law can empower the disadvantaged and help unleash entrepreneurial spirits even among the most previously oppressed peoples. A secure rule of law also reduces corruption…
- Ensure Access to Affordable Energy. Affordable energy is key to unleashing human potential, but the U.N.’s emphasis on sustainability perversely increases energy costs…
- Ensure Access to Capital and Credit. Access to capital is important to unleashing “the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid.” Credit allows those who have capital to share its benefits with those who do not, to mutual advantage…
- Allow Markets in Education. Recent research has shown that low-cost private education is available in many parts of the developing world, and that its quality outstrips that of supposedly free government schools.
CEI’s points are accurate. Those nations with comparatively prosperous economies and acceptable records of human rights should stop supporting programs and goals that are counterproductive and based on failed political philosophies.