“The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals? What are those, and what are they to me?”
That is the reaction I often hear when I talk about the United Nations’ 17 Global Goals. It’s understandable and unfortunately even JCI members are sometimes unaware that we have a unique partnership with the UN. The JCI Global Partnership Summit each year is a week of inspiring speakers and project presentations at the UN, specifically for and by JCI members. It’s definitely not a small event. As JCI, we contribute to reaching the UN’s Global Goals, in a lot of countries, with a lot of projects.
At least 80 JCI projects that contribute toward the Global Goals
One of the best aspects of my position as a committee member for UN & External Affairs is that I get a peek at the number of projects JCI has initiated around the world. During the European Presidents Meeting (EPM) in Dublin this year, our committee asked the national JCI presidents of Europe to link their country’s projects to the 17 different goals. That resulted in an enormous post-it session for dozens of projects. There were at least eighty projects that contribute toward the Global Goals, which means there are hundreds of JCI members in Europe who, in their own way – on a local level – are making a difference for the UN Global Goals.
Because the Global Goals are so broadly defined, it is possible for every country to organize projects that best fit their current situation. For instance, we asked the European presidents what peace meant in their country. There were a lot of different answers. For some, it was the absence of war, while for others, it meant an end to discrimination and fear.
As JCI, we are good at organizing and initiating extraordinary projects, and we are focusing on how we can share these projects with the rest of the world. These are a few of our projects from last year:
Goal 8 – Decent work and economic growth
Chapter projects such as 1000 Chances and Upstarters are not only happening in the Netherlands; chapters in Germany, Scotland and Letland have also initiated various projects around the 1000 Chances, whereby young job seekers receive skills training to help them on the road to finding a job. In Monaco, workshops were given to entrepreneurs to help them start a business.
Goal 12 – Responsible Consumption and production
JCI Denemarkenteaches children that recycling and waste is everyone’s responsibility. They teach about nature, production, recycling and that you don’t throw trash on the street. They also separate trash for recycling together with the children. In this fun way, JCI Denmark is helping children from a young age to develop respect for nature. This relates to several Global Goals: 13, 14 and 15 (climate action, life below water and life on land). With a relatively small project, JCI Denmark is making a big contribution to the Global Goals.
Goal 3 – Good health and well-being
JCI Malta has its own idea for this goal: They are making possible for patients’ pets to visit them in the hospital. JCI Malta is also working toward constructing a building especially for those pets, where patients can visit safely without (too much) exposure to bacteria, due to risks of infection. Seeing their pets does wonders for the patients. The reunion and feeling of comfort contributes to their recovery. This is how JCI Malta is making a difference in healthcare and the well-being of Maltese patients.
Goal 4 – Quality Education
Global Goal #4 in a way that fits them best: They started a Business Mentoring project JCI Poland has taken that serves multiple aims:
– They are making quality, practical education available for young entrepreneurs who cannot afford the investment.
– The project strengthens ties between generations.
– They are stimulating entrepreneurship among young Polish people.
In the Business Mentoring project, young people can connect with successful business people through meetings and Q&A sessions.
The project is not only educational; it also relates directly to Global Goal #8, Decent work and economic growth.
Goal 5 – Gender equality
JCI Catalonia is motivating young women to take, and to stand for, leadership positions. They are doing this by recording video messages from female leaders and sharing them on social media. With the help of role models – women already in high positions – JCI Catalonia is contributing to equality between men and women.. An inspiring example is the video message from Dawn Hetzel.
The projects above demonstrate some of the different ways we as JCI members can contribute to the Global Goals. The Goals unite us around the world and make us stronger. After all, ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step!’