Viewpoint: Shake It Off: How the Sustainable Development Goals Grew Up and Got Out of Nashville

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I love country music. I even went to see Dolly Parton in Sydney a few years ago, when she came to Australia and brought her very own star-spangled retro tour bus.

I love the simplicity of the verse-chorus-verse formulation, how every song tells a clear and vivid tale. I can see how the world-view of Dolly, Kenny and many of the Nashville greats is attractive, because it’s easy to understand: work hard, be good, and you’ll make it through or go down fighting.

But that story doesn’t hold true for everyone. It’s just too simple.

I read the country music woes of Terence Wood and Ben Day last week – and they made me smile. Terence thinks the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will hurt your achey-breaky heart. Ben thinks the Goals’ creators haven’t followed the good advice of Kenny Rogers by ‘knowin’ what to throw away and knowin’ what to keep.’

I think the SDGs just grew up – got out of Nashville and into the wider world – Taylor Swift style.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were simple. They achieved a great deal, as the UN has recently celebrated through their final report [pdf] on the goals. Most importantly, they rallied support around important targets such as addressing hunger, improving access to safer water and getting kids into school. Like a good country song, the eight MDGs made sense pretty quickly and could even be written easily into a poem, as Steven Dorsey did under Terence’s post, or a jingle, like this one from the Girl Guides.

Source: Development Policy Centre (link opens in a new window)

Environment, Health Care