The 17 Sustainable Development Goals - a global mission.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals - a global mission for a better future

Today it's about a slightly higher-level topic, next time it will be about a vanlife-specific topic again. And because I often talk about the 17 SDGs and often look into questioning faces, I would like to explain them briefly.

First of all: Do you know the 17 goals? Which ones appeal to you the most? Which ones can you most imagine getting involved with?

Where do the 17 SDGs come from?

The 2030 Agenda is an ambitious plan by the United Nations to make the world more sustainable and equitable. At the heart of the plan are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved by 2030 by all United Nations member states. These goals comprise a total of 169 sub-goals and take into account the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainability.

The SDGs are unique in development policy as they combine poverty reduction and sustainable development in one agenda for the first time. All countries are equally called upon to make their contribution to solving the pressing challenges of our world. This means that developed and developing countries must work together towards a more sustainable future.

Now I wonder how and if this will be implemented. But our humble opinion is another matter.

Switzerland and Germany - both countries with a large climate footprint - are also challenged to implement the goals at national level and to create incentives for non-state actors. These actors, such as companies, NGOs and private individuals, play a crucial role in achieving the SDGs. They can develop innovative solutions, provide resources and drive the necessary changes in their communities.

We are all called upon here, each and every one of us!

Youtube video: Short statement 17 Sustainable Development Goals

Here they are: the 17 goals

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals - a global mission for a better future
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals - a global mission for a better future

In the coming years, it will be important that we all do our part to achieve the SDGs. This is the only way to ensure that we leave a sustainable and just world for future generations.

Let's take a look at what vanlifers, campers and travellers can contribute to each destination. Honestly, it's not easy to find something clever for everyone. Often we think: "This is a matter for the industry" or "This is a matter for politics".

Eradicate poverty (Goal 1)

Eradicate poverty in all its forms worldwide.

No hunger (Goal 2)

End hunger, achieve food security, improve nutritional quality and promote sustainable agriculture.

Health and well-being (Goal 3)

Ensure healthy living and promote the well-being of all people of all ages.

Quality education (Goal 4)

Ensure inclusive, equitable and quality education and promote lifelong learning for all.

Gender equality (Goal 5)

Achieve gender equality and empower women and girls.

Clean water and sanitation (Goal 6)

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Affordable and clean energy (Goal 7)

Access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

Decent work and economic growth (Goal 8)

Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full employment and decent work for all.

Industry, innovation and infrastructure (Objective 9)

Building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and supporting innovation.

Reduce inequalities (Goal 10)

Reduce inequalities within and between countries.

Sustainable cities and settlements (Goal 11)

Ensure that cities and settlements are inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Responsible consumption and production (Goal 12)

Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Measures against climate change (Goal 13)

Take immediate action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Life under water (Goal 14)

Conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Life on land (Goal 15)

Protecting, restoring and promoting the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainable forest management, combating desertification and halting biodiversity loss.

Peace, justice and strong institutions (Goal 16)

This goal addresses the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development. It focuses on access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

Partnerships to achieve the goals (Goal 17)

Goal 17 focuses on strengthening global partnerships to support sustainable development. This includes collaboration between governments, the private sector and civil society to jointly provide resources, technologies, knowledge and expertise needed to achieve the SDGs.

And what could this mean for travellers, vanlifers and campers?

No poverty (Goal 1):

  • Asking homeless people if they need something from the market or supermarket and bringing it to them.
  • Volunteering in local poverty alleviation projects.
  • Support the local economy by buying products and services locally.
  • Donations to charitable organisations dedicated to poverty alleviation.

No hunger (goal 2):

  • Participate in or organise food distributions in needy communities.
  • Spontaneously inviting people who don't have any money to dinner or buying them a burger, a pizza or something similar.
  • Support local farmers' markets and sustainable agriculture initiatives.
  • Avoid food waste through conscious food purchasing and storage.

Health and well-being (Goal 3)

  • Promote healthy eating and regular exercise.
  • Attend first aid courses to be able to help in emergency situations.
  • Responsible handling and disposal of medicines.

Quality education (Goal 4):

  • Participate in workshops, courses or online learning platforms to keep learning.
  • Sharing one's own knowledge freely
  • Share knowledge and skills with other travellers and locals.
  • Support educational projects in local communities through volunteering or donations.

Gender equality (Goal 5):

  • Pay attention to gender diversity and inclusion, both in interactions with other travellers and with locals.
  • Promote equality by standing up against discrimination and injustice. This can also mean simply not pouring oil on the fire of the gender debate.
  • Support women and girls in education and decision-making processes.
  • You can also simply look to see if the camper manufacturer, the car repair shop or your favourite supermarket publicly addresses inclusion somewhere and choose accordingly.

Clean water and sanitation (Goal 6):

  • Economical and responsible use of water as a resource. (We are writing a separate chapter on the subject of water, just this much: we need about 60-80 litres per week for two, the "normal" household in Switzerland consumes 142 litres of drinking water per person per day. If you add the consumption at work, during leisure time and on holiday, it is 163 litres).
  • Use of biodegradable soaps and detergents. (We will also write about washing and hygiene in more detail).
  • Responsible disposal of waste water and waste so as not to pollute the environment.
  • Raise awareness of this issue among other travellers (do not proselytise!)

Affordable and clean energy (Goal 7):

  • Installing solar panels on the vehicles to use renewable energy. We are almost 100% electricity self-sufficient. (In the beginning we didn't have a good charging booster and too little sun in Lapland, but since spring 2022 we haven't had to plug in once!)
  • Use energy-efficient appliances and lighting. For us, it's only the laptops that "draw" a lot of electricity. And very rarely the hand blender.
  • Minimising energy consumption through conscious use of heating, air conditioning and electronics.

Decent work and economic growth (Goal 8):

  • Support local businesses and craftspeople by buying their products and services.
  • Respect working conditions and laws at work in different countries.
  • Use local jobs to boost the local economy and innovation.
  • For us, one of the most important points: Don't constantly haggle over prices, don't always buy the cheapest etc.. Because a lower price is always at the expense of nature or the employees! (This is true for countries like Germany and Switzerland, where haggling is not common, isn't it?)

Economy, innovation and infrastructure (Objective 9):

  • Investing in new, more robust and sustainable products around Vanlife.
  • Support local initiatives to promote sustainable infrastructures and innovative solutions.
  • Participate in events and workshops that focus on environmentally friendly technologies and innovations. (Here I would have two ideas: Living fit for grandchildren and Living climate friendly(6 x 2.5 hours, spread over 6 months each, takes place online or on site, as desired).

Fewer inequalities (Goal 10):

  • Respect and appreciation of cultural diversity in the regions and countries visited.
  • Supporting projects and organisations that work to reduce inequalities.
  • Responsible travel to counteract the negative social and economic impacts of tourism.

Sustainable cities and communities (Goal 11):

  • Use public transport and cycling to reduce traffic and pollution. There is still a lot to improve. If only we liked cycling...
  • Participation in urban projects or volunteering that focus on environmental protection and sustainability.
  • We don't know if this belongs here, but the respectful treatment of nature (incl. waste disposal, water and sewage etc.) suits us. We choose campsites (if we ever go to campsites) according to ecological criteria.

Responsible consumption and production (Goal 12):

Measures for climate protection (Goal 13):

  • Use of environmentally friendly fuels or electric vehicles to reduce CO₂ emissions. Since we cannot spontaneously convert our diesel vehicle, the motto here is: fewer kilometres! And on site by public transport or on foot!
  • Adjustment of the travel route and the travel speed to minimise fuel consumption.
  • Participation in reforestation or climate protection projects in the countries visited.
  • CO2 compensation (reforestation, etc.) is also possible.

Life under water (Goal 14):

  • Responsible behaviour when snorkelling or diving so as not to harm coral reefs and marine life.
  • Participate in beach clean-ups or other projects to protect the marine environment.
  • Refrain from buying souvenirs made from endangered marine life or coral reefs.

Live on land (Goal 15):

  • Respect wildlife and their habitats by keeping an appropriate distance and not feeding animals.
  • Participation in environmental protection projects such as reforestation or protection of endangered species.
  • Responsible behaviour when camping and hiking in order to disturb the natural environment as little as possible.

Peace, justice and strong institutions (Goal 16):

  • Respect the laws and regulations of the countries visited.
  • Support local projects or organisations that work for peace and justice.
  • Culturally sensitive behaviour to avoid conflicts and misunderstandings with the local population.

Partnerships to achieve the goals (Goal 17):

  • Collaborate with other travellers to jointly participate in sustainable development projects and initiatives.
  • Participate in local, regional or global networks to share experiences and resources to implement the SDGs.
  • Support and promote organisations and companies that are committed to the SDGs and sustainable solutions.
  • Here again is the suggestion to take one of the two short courses: Living fit for grandchildren and Living climate friendly6 x 2.5 hours each, spread over 6 months each, takes place online or on-site, as desired.

Invitation to participate and reflect

That's quite a lot now, we know. However, we think it's also good to take a look at one or two goals. After all, if everyone participates, something is done.

And once again, let's do what makes us happy, what is easy for us and helps others, us and our environment. So what do you think? Where would you still see potential for travellers, campers and vanlifers? What are you already doing, what could you imagine?

Thank you for reading our sustainability thoughts. Every two to three weeks on Mondays we write something about the possibility of living future-oriented in the van. We try to shed light on different areas and hope to do so without pointing fingers.

Our focus is on the joy of van life and the many possibilities. We want to avoid the usual doomsday and renunciation communication.

You can find all the sustainability posts collected in the Category Future.

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We are also very happy to hear your views, your tips or your questions. Just comment on the post!

Best regards - Heike & Gerd


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