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The United Nations’ Development Program

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Yashaswini Tanna, from the United Nations’ Development Program (UNDP), presenting her take on the relevance of the agenda, or a part of it, in the present global scenario.

“Is this the real life,

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Is this just fantasy,

Caught in a landslide,

No escape from reality…”

– Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen, 2003.

Armed Conflict: (noun): “a contested incompatibility, which concerns government and/or a territory where the use of armed force by at least two parties, of which at least one is a government of a state, results in at least 25 battle-related deaths.”

There are armed conflicts raging through several parts of the world today, and most of them are prominent enough for the unwitting eye to notice as well. Syria is in concrete and ethical ruins, Myanmar is combatting for a breath of fresh air, Palestine, for an identity, Kashmir, for a moment to call its own, and a bunch of others, who are waiting fervently, for the ray of hope to dawn some morning, unto their lands.

In the last few years, the world has seen a rising number of refugees and this inflow, especially to the Eurozone countries, has caused a global refugee crisis, with several strains on the global economic and socio-cultural fronts. There are some countries, taking in people beyond their capacity can ever permit them to, and governments are struggling to make ends meet, for the refugees, with rescue operation teams on the run throughout every waking moment of their existence.

Let us look at this in simpler light. People are fleeing. Lives are at stake. Basic survival is a far-cry. There is hunger, fear, and terror, amass the people. This, is life in conflict torn areas. There are children dying, giving up, dreams burning down to ashes, and sheer nothingness all around them. They wish for a safe haven; if not hungover-hamlets and whimsical melodies, at least, something to call their own, perhaps their lives, and maybe families.

Where life has to begin from scratch, it is far too daunting, to think of achieving a massive goal of sustainability. It is way too ambitious, and there’s more than just multidimensional poverty or inequality to tackle. There is fear and trepidation, where the people have lost faith in their governments. There are several military, emotional, psychological, economic, social, cultural, legal, political, and miscellaneous other aspects to these problems.

It is no secret, that every news reporter that has ever stepped foot on the conflicted lands, specifically the Syrian terrains, has never made it out alive. They’ve gone missing, physically and sexually tortured, before being killed and done away with. There is little hope, which is but bleak, and all attempts made, in the direction to ease the situation, have failed miserably.

A majority of the refugees have fled their lands, in hopes for a safe life, elsewhere. They go anywhere that they’re accepted, with arms held open. Life in refugee camps is shelled into a basic settlement. Back in their home lands, these survivors weren’t even granted menial respites, happiness being a total alien concept to these traumatised, innocent lives.

Given this light, it is but impossible to even as much as venture close to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), present the chanciness of the very next minute, in conflict zones, anywhere across the global scape.

This leaves us boiling down to the unassailable point, that a great part of the agenda at hand, proposed for discussion in the United Nations’ Development Program (UNDP), is unachievable, and rather unrealistic. Conflict zones and Sustainable Development, at the very moment, do not fall unto the same page.

Zero poverty, economically decent wages, quality education, and environmental safety and preservation are few of the SDGs, as etched down in Agenda 21, which deals with sustainable development plans. Almost each of the seventeen SDGs are unattainable in these conflict zones, where the government, however legitimate and acceptable by the UN, has ultimately let down its people. It is practically impossible, to achieve far-fetched objectives such as sustainable development, when a country can barely keep up with the fringe groups, and militants, with no dearth to bombings, air raids, and military showdowns. And this is a blatantly obvious truth, which is rather undisputable. This brings us back to the square one, the invalidity of almost half the agenda.

The United Nations too, is falling short, with all its interventions, to provide any refute to the victims of these conflict areas, right at the source, in their own lands, which is leading to them fleeing to safer terrains. And when this is the miserable state of affairs, it is rather unfair to impose an SDG achievement regime, when there is fire, taking away all that people ever have, which is but their lives, and families. Things have to begin, life is yet to sprout, and when nothingness prevails, achieving sustainable development is maybe the last in the order, the first being survival.

Almost everyone is fleeing, and those who remain, are almost of the verge of it. Then who is left, to reap the benefits of the SDGs in the future, when at present, there is no future even visible? “Where the mind is without fear, and the head is held high Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake…”

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