Rabita Tareque, the president of United Nation Association (UNA) of CCNY, is currently majoring in International Relations and minoring in Public Policy & Public Affairs at CCNY. She is a 20 year old Muslim woman who advocates for gender equality and youth involvement on global issues. These issues are very closely tied with her ethnic background. The following is an article she recently wrote about her experience at the UNGA and the importance of the SDGs.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which were adopted by prominent world leaders in 2015 has been bringing countries, communities, and local organizations together to work towards reducing poverty, hunger, inequalities and climate change. I was born and raised in Bangladesh, a developing country where these global challenges have been a critical aspect of our everyday lives. As a result, I personally find a very strong and personal connection with the SDGs. This has motivated me to become a global citizen, who advocates and inspires our generation to unite and take action towards reaching the global goals for sustainable development.
The importance of achieving all the SDGs was one of the most vital topic of discussion at the recent 71st United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) week, which was a filled with conferences, meetings and events, joined by Heads of States, Foreign Ministers, CEOs and many influential leaders.
On September 22, 2016, I was thrilled to spend my afternoon at the Pathways to Zero Hunger, a high-level UNGA side event which took place in the Economic and Social Council (EcoSoc) of the United Nations. The event was surrounded by the conversation of achieving Zero Hunger and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. In his opening remarks, United Nations Secretary-General, H.E. Ban Ki-moon made a correlation between the SDGs and zero hunger by stating, “with the 2030 agenda, we have the opportunity to silence once and for all, the cry of hunger and malnutrition.” The Secretary-General later asked world leaders and agricultural organizations to take the challenge and work together until Zero Hunger is a reality. Followed by the Secretary-General’s speech, H.E. Ambassador Peter Thomson, President of the 71st UNGA, H.E. Mr. John Dramani Mahama, President of Ghana and H.E. Mr. Faure Gnassingbe, President of Togo also made remarks regarding the SDGs and asked for more resources and leadership initiatives to be made, in order to achieve zero hunger goal by 2030.
The next day on September 23, I had the opportunity to attend another high-level UNGA side event, Leaving No One Behind which advocated for the SDG 5: Gender Equality. This conference was joined by Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister for International Development, Liberal Party of Canada, Bangladesh Permanent MIssion to the UN as well as grassroots organizations to discuss the importance of sustainable development goals and achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and young girls. One element that every panelist were advocating strongly on was local and grassroots support towards ending issues like child marriage, violence against women and young girls as well as social, political and economical inequalities.
After attending these conferences at the UN and witnessing such influential people speaking up to end global crisis through the SDGs has given me tremendous hope. As a global citizen, I am not only motivated to engage and take action towards the SDGs but also confident that these global goals can be achieved, if we all take the initiative. I am now certain that the global crises will be alleviated not only from my home country of Bangladesh and other underdeveloped nations but also from the rest of the world.