Towards 2030: Achieving SDGs through Sustainable Human Behaviour
Bharat Soka Gakkai has committed itself to advocate and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in society as we advance towards 2030, which United Nations to achieve the SDGs.
Sustainable Development Goals (or SDGs) are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals which provide “a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future”. (Ref: https://sdgs.un.org/goals)
The SDG framework was adopted by the United Nations in September 2015 which represents a universal call for action to protect the planet, end poverty and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.
With its end date coinciding with the Soka Gakkai’s centennial in 2030, at the heart of the 17 SDGs is a collective pledge by Nations of the world to alleviate humanity’s suffering and work to create a better world where no one is left behind.
This pledge of the UN captures the dream of Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, who had once declared “I wish to rid the world of all misery”. As a direct disciple of Josei Toda and as an ardent supporter of the UN, realizing the SDGs is also a cherished dream of the third Soka Gakkai President Daisaku Ikeda.
In one of his interviews, President Ikeda has mentioned “The members of the SGI have been cooperating with the UN to raise awareness on issues relating to environment and to promote an ethic of global citizenship. Our stance is not that of bystanders, watching to see whether the UN will succeed or fail. Rather, we want to focus on developing a deeper sense of responsibility—what can and should we do to enable the UN to function effectively”. (Ref: March 2008 interview with Inter Press Service News Agency)
As an organization centered on the guiding philosophy of President Ikeda, BSG takes it as a personal responsibility to actualise this dream of President Ikeda and work to support the UN and realize the SDGs, thereby striving to erase misery from the face of the earth.
What are the main elements of SDGs?
SDGs are about people. More importantly they are about the people who are most under-privileged and those who live without dignity.
With the determination to ‘leave no one behind’ being the central driving theme behind them, the SDGs epitomise the spirit of compassion to treasure each life and to be alongside those who are vulnerable and most in need of support.
President Ikeda says, “We must remind ourselves that these people who are living with extreme uncertainty in desperate circumstances are our fellow human beings, no different from us. It is just that they were born in different countries and have different backgrounds and life stories”. (Ref: “The Global Solidarity of Youth: Ushering in a New Era of Hope,” Daisaku Ikeda’s 2017 Peace Proposal)
Inter-connectedness is an important element at the heart of SDGs. This resonates with the concept of dependent origination which teaches that, at the most profound level, all life is interconnected, that nothing exists in isolation.
When we realize the extent of the myriad interconnections which link us to all other life, we realize that our existence only becomes meaningful through interaction with, and in relation to, others. By engaging ourselves with others, our identity is developed, established, and enhanced.
We then understand that it is impossible to build our own happiness on the unhappiness of others. We also see that our actions affect the world around us.
There is a famous analogy of Indra’s net in Buddhist scriptures, which is an enormous net suspended above the palace of the deity Indra, with brilliant jewels attached to each of its knots. Each jewel not only exudes its own brilliance but contains and reflects the image of all the other jewels in the net, which sparkles in the magnificence of its totality. Indra’s net mirrors the kind of ideal society that can be realized through solidarity through inter-connectedness.
The spirit of global citizenship is vital to realizing the SDGs.
Global citizenship is not determined merely by the number of languages one speaks, or the number of countries to which one has travelled. There are many people who could be considered quite ordinary, who have never travelled beyond their native place, yet who are genuinely concerned for the peace and prosperity of the world.
President Ikeda explains this in the 2020 Peace Proposal as “At that conference, at which the SGI was established on January 26, 1975, I wrote in the guest book under the column for country of origin, “The World.” At this starting point of the SGI, I wished to encapsulate in these two words the spirit of founding president Makiguchi and second President Toda.”
The first Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi also advocated seeing the world as the place where we strive to coexist with one another as its citizens, not merely as members of a particular national community. Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda also espoused the same vision which he termed “global nationalism”
SDGs can only be achieved by Sustainable Human Behaviour. The purpose of our life boils down to how our behaviour is towards others in the course of our life.
To develop Sustainable Human Behaviour means that no matter how others may treat us or what they may say, our challenge is to be the ones who generate and inspire unity, hope and happiness wherever we are. It is through such effort and behaviour that we can effectively realize the SDGs.
Developing Sustainable Human Behaviour is at heart of BSG’s campaign to realize SDGs.
This is the key driver.
President Ikeda said: “The decade from … to… will be crucial. We must be even more determined to show victorious proof of our own human revolution, to transform all great evil into great good and to effect a powerful change in the destiny of all humankind.” (Ref: Pg 14, Nov 2020 VC)
Aligned to the same rhythm, the UN has also called the period leading up to 2030 as “a decade of action and delivery for sustainable development,” and urged Nations to generate an unstoppable movement pushing for the required transformations. The next eight to ten years will determine the quality of life for the next 100-200 years.
President Ikeda says, “The path to resolving the problem of climate change and achieving the SDGs will not be smooth or easy. However, I am deeply confident that as long as there is solidarity among youth, there is no impasse we cannot surmount”. (Ref: 2020 Peace Proposal)
Deeply anchoring ourselves on this guiding principle taught by our 3 founding Presidents, and solidly uniting with each other, Bharat Soka Gakkai is determined to open the way to realizing SDGs by 2030 and adorn the 100th anniversary of Soka Gakkai and create a world where no one is left behind.
“If we do not rise to the challenge now, then when? If we do not fight today, then when? Life is a struggle against the limited time we have on earth. What will have been the purpose of our life if we do not fulfil our mission? If we abandon our dream, no matter how we try to justify ourselves, there will be little left in the end but emptiness and regret.” (Ref: SGI Newsletter 183, July 1998)
Since the beginning of 2021, BSG has been organizing a virtual exhibition titled ‘Seeds of Hope & Action (SOHA): Making the SDGs a Reality’ every month in various schools and colleges of India, with the aim to spread awareness about sustainability to the young students of the country, encouraging them to overcome feelings of powerlessness, and highlight the fact that a single individual can initiate positive change. The SOHA exhibition, which is a joint initiative of the SGI (Soka Gakkai International) and the Earth Charter International, raises awareness on climate change, the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and the role of youth.
Listed below are details of some of the SOHA exhibitions that have been organized so far:
- Virtual Exhibition Titled ‘SEEDS OF HOPE & ACTION (SOHA) Held In NMIMS (NARSEE MONJEE INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT STUDIES), Mumbai
- Virtual Exhibition Titled ‘SEEDS OF HOPE & ACTION (SOHA) Held In New ERA Public School, New Delhi
- Virtual Exhibition Titled ‘SEEDS OF HOPE & ACTION (SOHA) Held In GD Goenka World School, Gurgaon
- Virtual Exhibition titled ‘Seeds of Hope & Action (SOHA) held for Little Angels School, Sonipat
- Virtual Exhibition titled ‘Seeds of Hope & Action (SOHA) held for 3 schools
- ‘Seeds of Hope and Action’ Exhibition (Online) held in Nahar International School, Mumbai
- ‘Seeds of Hope & Action (SOHA): Making the SDGs a Reality’ held for the first time in India