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Integrating Sustainable Development Goals into Public Policy

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By David Kenneth Waldman
October 30, 2015

Throughout my professional activities, I am motivated by a sincere concern for girls and women who lack access to human rights, gender equality, social justice, public health, sustainable educational development and peace. I have traveled to 45 countries in a quest to understand social, education and economic issues pertaining to children. As an international nongovernmental leader, I had the privilege to participate in high-level ministerial meetings to provide input into the drafting of the United Nations 2016 Sustainable Development Goals.

At the U.N. Sustainable Development Summit, held Sept. 25- 27, 2015, the General Assembly unanimously adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The success of these goals is contingent upon the degree new public policy includes education of children and youth. Before the unanimous adoption of the post-2015 development framework, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated,

“We have reached a defining moment in human history, a promise by leaders to all people everywhere. The Goals formed an agenda for people and the planet, as well as for shared prosperity, peace and partnership.”

To those who advocate for the education of girls, the Secretary-General’s use of the word “people” did not go unnoticed. What position can girls take to influence public policy decisionmaking that may affect the success of the SDG?

Advancing the SDG

Back in 2000, the Millennium Development Goals were developed. Those goals failed, in part, due to the economic, cultural and social challenges across the globe that overtook political will. One of those unfulfilled goals was gender equality. With the development of the SGD, more promises are not the answer. Instead, what is needed is a rigorous review of what worked and what did not from the efforts started in 2000.

Nevertheless, the U.N. and relevant stakeholders rose to the challenge and exceeded expectations in drafting the SDG. But the ambitious goals require an entire world to succeed. Girls and youth are the invisible stakeholders. Slightly less than half of the world’s population is female. The United Nations Population Division reported, “1.2 billion youth aged 15-24 years globally in 2015, accounting for one out of every six people worldwide. By 2030, the target date for the sustainable development goals, the number of youth is projected to have grown by seven percent, to nearly 1.3 billion.” Without the interest, input and involvement of girls and youth, the fulfillment of the SDG will be hard to achieve.

In a previous article, I wrote, “Cross-sector collaboration, with support from public managers, requires an educated public on the importance of listening to children.” Statistical evidence of the impact of girls and youth on the SDG is not yet known. It is not in the interest of the world to wait to find out the results. It is time to engage girls and youth through the implementation of SDG goals four and five: quality education and gender equality.


I listened, learned, contributed and noted the sincerity, passion and expertise that went into the development of the SDG. Society’s commitment is not in doubt. However, based on the past performance of the Millennial Development Goals, the question of commitment from academia, private business and government does not leave one hopeful.

The door is now open to a new opportunity for global sustainable development. I invite colleagues of the American Society of Public Administration to make a commitment. Find a goal to work on and enable it to succeed. Send in your response and I will post it on my website. Integrating Sustainable Development Goals into Public Policy is a choice each one of us needs to make. 

Author: David Kenneth Waldman is the founder and president of To Love Children Educational Foundation International Inc. Dr. Waldman has obtained special consultative status to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. He is an instructor at several institutions including Colorado State University and is dissertation chair at the School of Advanced Studies, University of Phoenix. Dr. Waldman received his Ph.D. from Walden University. He is a founding member of the International Chapter of ASPA. He can be reached at www.tolovechildren.org or [email protected].

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