By Karol Alejandra Arámbula Carrillo, National Operations Director & Founder of MY World México
Everytime I get the opportunity to talk about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), I like to look back at the story behind these 17 promises made in September 2015: The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs were humanity’s first global agreement to reduce poverty and human deprivation at historically unprecedented rates through collaborative action. Unlike previous efforts, the MDGs were a unique global promise of a comprehensive nature and systematic efforts to finance, implement and monitor them. This was certainly what David Hulme from the University of Manchester called in his 2009 paper on the MDGs: the world’s biggest promise.
Despite the MDGs’ greatest achievements worldwide and at the national levels, the world’s biggest promise failed to fulfill many of its purposes as a result of different circumstances. Our world changed. Humanitarian crises arrived, technological changes emerged, our environment had been significantly altered, and our world was interconnected in ways like never before. The MDGs was an agenda in need of revisions and mechanisms that would help leaders to make better decisions. They were also in great need of opening up a wider discussion that could integrate the voices of everyone, everywhere.
This is why in 2012 the international community came together to review the world’s biggest promise and reiterate its commitment towards the achievement of a fairer, healthier, and more prosperous world. The journey began everywhere--or almost everywhere--and asked everyone to participate. I found out about this process while finishing my undergraduate studies in International Relations in Jalisco, Mexico. By then I knew the world was coming together to adopt new goals that would not only cover what was left behind by the MDGs, but that would also integrate our world’s most urgent issues, such as climate change, inequality, and insecurity. From my degree, I learned that the world had been through so much in the last two centuries and that development global agreements were necessary to not only secure our place as humanity in the planet, but to live in peace for the rest of our journey here. Like no other international agreement, the MDGs and the Post-2015 process brought hope to the United Nations and the international community.
This is where my personal journey with the SDGs started. And to be honest, if I have a look at it now, I never thought I would get so involved in the SDGs and the world’s efforts to achieve them. My first encounter with the Post-2015 process was when I was still studying and participating in Model United Nations in 2006. Six years later, I got the chance to participate in the United Nations Youth Assembly that aimed to discuss the global revisions of the MDGs. In 2013, while working at the United Nations Migration Agency in New York City, I participated in the High-Level Dialogue on International Migration in Development, where I was able to realize that development is not only accompanied by economic, social, or environmental issues, but also ethical and cultural perspectives. I also realized that development should be a bottom-up effort and that without the voices of all, we would not have been able to achieve a real and reachable agreement. A year later, I decided to come back and work in the field in Mexico when I got to know a practical and open instrument to encourage people’s participation in the Post-2015 process. This instrument was the United Nations Global Survey For A Better World MY World 2015 developed by the then United Nations Millennium Campaign.
In 2014-2015, I was directly in charge of implementing MY World 2015 in my hometown Jalisco, Mexico –my country’s second largest state. At the end of the day, we were able to reach over 400,000 people from 72 different regions in Western Mexico. We were also able to reach other 28 states in Mexico and position our country as the second most active country in MY World 2015. Jalisco was able to stay as the fifth most participative entity in the world and our work received the People’s Voices Award for Best Multistakeholder Collaboration during the General Assembly’s Summit to adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda in September 2015. While being at this summit, I knew my commitment towards the implementation of the SDGs was quite unique and a needed responsibility. This was not only based on the numbers we were able to integrate in the discussion thanks to MY World 2015, but in people’s interest in being part of the solution and actions.
A few months later, after the adoption, I had the chance to replicate what happened in Jalisco at the national level. In partnership with the United Nations SDG Action Campaign and United Nations Volunteers, MY World México was created as an initiative aimed at activating people throughout the country to achieve the SDGs. One year later, MY World México has now the participation of 150 volunteers and 60 organizations from across sectors working in at least 25 states in my country, as well as numerous partnerships worldwide.
One of the main activities while leading this project in the last nearly four years, has been teaching. Teaching people about the world’s biggest promise, the greatest promise ever made. In this journey, I have come to realize the power education has upon individuals. Education is the most important tool for appropriation of The Global Goals and without this, I certainly believe our promise to build a better world by 2030 will hardly be achieved. This is the most powerful tool I have come to get as a result of all this policy, advocacy, and mobilization efforts in the last years of my life. It is through education we will be able to lead change. A change for a world capable of achieving the 2030 Agenda and The Global Goals.
Karol is originally from Mexico. Karol serves as National Operations Director at MY World México, as Civil Society Represenative to the United Nations and as expert consultant for intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations in Mexico and overseas focusing on partnerships for Sustainable Development, Financing for Development, Development Education, Human Rights, Peace, Governance and Democratic Processes, and International Organizations and International Cooperation. She has worked in numerous projects and programs led by the United Nations, the Organization of American States and the European Union in Brasil, Uganda, Peru, South Korea, Canada, Australia and the United States. On Twitter, you can connect with Karol at @KarolArambula and MY World México at @MYWorldMexico.