CPRG on the Sustainable Development Goals (15 October)

Following the recent acceptance and endorsement of the Sustainable Development Goals by world leaders at the end of September in Paris, the CPRG met to discuss the new SDGs and to consider the success or failure of the MDGs. A number of participants from AFAI’s recently launched Cultural Accelerator Course, which worked with a group of talented cultural practitioners from the greater Cape Town region, attended the CPRG and brought new life and perspectives to the meeting.

After an introduction to the new goals, and a brief summary of a critique of the SDG Agenda (http://www.afai.org.za/sdgs-world-going/), there was robust discussion about the nature of international policy agendas and the politics of ‘men in suits’ who shape the course of development. The group reflected on the meaning of the SDG’s on the ground in real terms. It was suggested by some of the members that an SDG list should be drawn up on a localized, community level. It was suggested that while the aim of articulating benchmarks for the future we want is laudible, the scale of the SDG project is just too large to comprehend. To ensure action and transformation in our societies, we need to be able to work from the level of the individual and the community and then expand our reach to a global scale.

If the SDGs spell out the globe’s most pressing issues, and outline solutions to these, then they need to be comprehensible to all. This goes beyond the translation of policy documents into various languages. This is about meaning, access and relate-ability. The meeting was a reminder that policy must speak to experiences on the ground, and vice versa. A drawing up of community and even household SDG’s seems like a viable project for CPRG in 2016…