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Leaving No One Behind
Written by Angela Kim | Published. 2020.08.31 16:14 | Count : 983

“We are in this together- and we will get through this together.” 

COVID-19 is a global challenge that goes far beyond the implications of the pandemic for health and wellbeing. Aside from the suffering caused by the virus itself, the pandemic has exposed complex global interdependencies that highlight fault lines in societal structures. Protracted conflicts such as systemic racism and economic fallouts represent that the pandemic amplifies and deepens existing ethnic, economic, social, and gender inequalities. Yet these challenges do not indicate that it is the end of the world- rather, it presents a wake-up call that emphasizes the need to not only mitigate but also build sustainability and strengthened resilience into future recovery. 

Hosted by ‘Hope to the Future Association’, the first iteration of the ‘United Nations∙international organization expert lecture’ was held on the 9th of August, 2020. Attracting students who were eager to learn more about Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the session had approximately 500 people join online and offline. I attended the session online as a regular member of SDGs Book Club Korea. When everyone had come together, Joon Oh, a former Korean Ambassador to the United Nations Board Chair, masterfully explained to us the topic of the United Nations and the SDGs.

[Mr. Oh during his speech about SDGs. Photo Credit: Hope to the Future Associations]

Sustainable Development Goals are 17 global goals adopted in 2015 by all UN member states to recognize and strive to resolve the international challenges we face today. They include those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace, and justice. All 17 SDGs are interconnected, and to reach them all by 2030, as Mr. Oh mentioned, “It is important to leave no one behind.” 

“Leaving no one behind is the primary principle of the United Nations and Sustainable Development Goals,” stated Mr. Oh. Likewise, through the pledge to Leave No One Behind, countries have devoted to tracking improvement for those furthest behind first. That is why the SDGs are designed to achieve several metamorphic ‘zeros’- zero poverty, hunger, AIDS, and gender inequality. On the other hand, while the pledge to leave no one behind is seldom disputed, the complexity of its practical implementation is often insufficiently acknowledged. Mr. Oh continued, “It is not enough to address inequality just by focusing on those left behind at the bottom. It is also necessary to address the concentration of wealth and decision‐making power at the top and break the link between them.” Overall, “we are making progress in some areas, but there still are bigger steps to climb.”

[The writer asking a question to Mr. Oh via online. Photo Credit: Ms. Kim]

When the lecture had ended, I became curious: Now that the amount of data in the world is increasing exponentially, how is the progress of SDGs in all countries, especially Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs), and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), measured to leave no one behind? As a human rights activist, I asked Mr. Oh on how the basic elements of human rights, such as privacy protection, respect for ethics, and data sovereignty, are guaranteed during the monitoring process of these data. He answered that the progress could easily be “measured through the global indicator” which are then discussed by the leaders and experts on this field. He added that issues related to human rights are still a task to be solved. Besides that, passionate questions ranging from the changes in the plan of achieving SDGs after the COVID 19 pandemic to achieving domestic gender equality were answered during the Q & A session. 

Through attending the first ‘United Nations∙international organization expert lecture,’ I was able to reaffirm the significance of cooperation in promoting Sustainable Development Goals in the world. As John F. Kennedy once said in his speech in June 1963, “by defining our goal more clearly, by making it seem more manageable and less remote, we can help all people to see it, to draw hope from it and to move irresistibly towards it.” Indeed, setting a feasible goal encourages everyone to move forward in the same direction with a single purpose. And with commitment, we will be able to discover the powerful impact of collaborative synergy in making our world a better place.



Angela Kim
Grade 10
Yantai Huasheng International School

Angela Kim  student_reporter@dherald.com

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