The United Nations' sustainable development goals are the foundation of the world body’s efforts to eradicate poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation. UN Chief Economist Elliot Harris says the strategy can help societies recover from conflict and prevent new ones from taking hold.
Speaking to Rudaw at the UN in New York, Harris explains why all nations must pursue sustainable development to benefit their people, their neighbors, and the welfare of the planet.
“When we talk about inclusive development, we talk about growth that does not lead to further widening of inequality, we talk about development that is sustainable from an ecological and environmental perspective, we realize we are addressing many of the root causes of conflict,” says Harris.
In the context of Iraq and the wider Middle East region, Harris believes the goals will help prevent future conflict by addressing the problem of inequality.
“In many respects the sustainable development agenda is the best approach we have to preventing conflict happening in the first place. And when conflict has happened and we come out of the conflict it puts us back on the trajectory of development that is sustainable such that these root causes don’t cause a reversal back into conflict,” he adds.