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"The SDG Generation - Healing the future in a wicked present"

The SDGs concern everyone

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a hot topic, high on the political agenda and increasingly reflected in government decisions. Building Change (FMS' partnership with Partos and Word and Deed) focuses on a coherent implementation of the SDGs within the Netherlands, looking in particular at the effects of our policies on sustainable development (using the SDGs) in developing countries. This focuses on political commitment, but as Hugo Von Meijnfeldt (Dutch SDG coordinator) said, "achieving the SDGs is not only a challenge of the government, but of everyone". Hence, we attended the event "Healing the future in a wicked present" on 13 June to look at commitment to the SDGs from a different perspective, at Windesheim in Zwolle. 

Roles of education, personal development, partnerships and complexity

At different levels, people are talking, speculating, motivating, encouraging and working on the SDGs. At the Windesheim Honours College, for instance, motivated students are committed to projects with a social mission in which the SDGs are leading. The two-day event focused on the role of education, personal development and collaboration between different parties to achieve the goals. For instance, education and research can provide knowledge, which the government can build on. What emerged during this event is that we can only solve today's complicated problems through cooperation. Knowledge between different layers of society must be exchanged and partnerships can complement each other: SDG 17! 

There was a wide variety of workshops, focusing on the roles of different layers and parties. How can the next generation tackle complex problems, how to deal with uncertainties and how to use the power of collaborations? During the workshops, participants interacted, thinking together about solutions to connect students from different backgrounds.

Broader perspective

Something that is not easily experienced within the "SDG bubble" is the preconceived image about sustainability that is widely held: it is often associated with greener greenest, expensive and it does not fit the modern image for many people. Precisely bringing together different perspectives (i.e. also outside the bubble) opens eyes, the connection and many intersections between the SDGs can then be highlighted and that makes the concept of sustainability more accessible.

"We are moving fast but we are not there yet," said Hugo von Meijenfeldt in Zwolle. If we as a country and society put aside our personal interests and focus on common interests, we are already on the right track. Henk Hagoort, chairman of Windesheim College, said, "We care, we dare, we share!". The Netherlands' sustainable vision lies not only with the government, but with all parties in society. We set bold ambitions that we achieve through cooperation and sharing knowledge!

Written by: Jaël Voskamp