Global goals for sustainable developmentMonday, May 15, 2017
You will no doubt be aware that one of the 5 strategic pillars of Taunton School is ‘Global Outlook’, and it never ceases to amaze me what a diverse global community Taunton School is. We have students (and staff) representing well in excess of 30 nationalities, and it is a wonderfully vibrant place. We have much to teach each other, and it’s good to be able to learn from one another, both culturally and spiritually.
This term in Chapel we are looking at a Chapel Series I have called ‘Global Issues – Godly Solutions’. We are using the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development (www.globalgoals.org) as a framework to help us explore what are the challenges which face the present global leaders – and what are the solutions which our students’ generation will be responsible for delivering by the target deadline of 2030? It’s quite a challenge even exploring the various global issues, as we are finding out!
So far, we have looked at the goals of No Poverty (using Nelson Mandela’s speech as part of the Make Poverty History Campaign), Zero Hunger (using Ban Ki Moon’s Zero Hunger Challenge) and this week I explored Clean Water and Sanitation. This issue is important to me personally as, in a previous life, I was responsible for resupplying the 1st (UK) Armoured Division with (amongst other things) fresh bottled water in the desert of Iraq in the Second Gulf War in 2003. It was quite some challenge, and amounted to over 2.5m litres of water over the course of the warfighting phase of the war – and I’ve thanked God for every drop of clean water at the turn of the tap ever since. We learned that here at School we consume 167m litres of water annually, and have over 120 loos to cover our sanitation needs. Of course we rarely think of these things – they’re just part of the site infrastructure – but did become very aware of the 1.8 billion people around the world who don’t have access to clean water to drink, and 2.4 billion people who do not have access to effective sanitation.
What does God think of all this? Using the story of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well, we explored how it is up to us – all of us – to put the conditions in place whereby the plentiful global supplies of clean drinking water are shared for all. I then set the Houses a challenge – how about each of the 12 Houses (including Foxcombe at TSI) twinned a ‘loo near you’ under the Toilet Twinning initiative (www.toilettwinning.org). I do hope the idea will catch on – we as a family have put our money where our mouth is, and we have now twinned The Chaplain’s House downstairs loo with a newly-build latrine in Uganda. Today a certificate arrived, which of course will go on the wall in the loo as a reminder. It’s just a gesture – but it makes a difference. Maybe you might like to consider doing the same at home?
I’m greatly looking forward to other House Chapels this term, and seeing which of the 17 Global Goals strike a chord with our students and staff. I know Foxcombe are looking at Gender Equality (being the only House with both boys and girls) – it seems this Chapel Theme has really struck a chord with staff and students alike. I’m convinced that the God we worship in Chapel week by week delights to think that we are sharing awareness of those in his Kingdom who are in need of our compassion and our support – after all, Jesus said himself that he had come to serve, and not to be served.
I hope, through the Global Issues – Godly Solutions theme we will be doing our bit to try and achieve these 17 Global Goals by 2030 – I shall be reaching retirement age then (doesn’t bear thinking about!) – but it’s wonderful to think that those of my generation will have passed on the baton to the next generation – challenged and inspired to achieve the goals and make the world a fairer, more equitable place.
Revd Matthew Dietz