“The Decade of the Family” for the SDGs
“If we act now, the global goals are still within reach,” says a recent communication from the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs regarding the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. “What is needed now is to turn these goals into reality, for people and planet. The High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development taking place from 6 to 15 July, is just the right venue to make this happen.”
With development challenges now set back further by the worldwide pandemic, can the SDGs actually be accomplished by the target date of 2030? “We must build back better, greener and fairer,” says DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Liu Zhenmin, and “we must put people at the center of all our recovery efforts.”
His formula is good as far as it goes, but it stops short of identifying the key ingredient for success. “The family is the driving force behind social progress and development,” stated Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser of Qatar. The General Assembly heard that same truth from Bangladesh Ambassador Iftekhar Chowdhury, whose testimonial—spoken at the 10th anniversary of the International Year of the Family—about the MDGs is also true for the SDGs: “The attainment of every Millennium Development Goal must begin with the family. The family is the main instrument of societal transformation.”
And responding to Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s declaration that “the family is a vital partner in efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals,” the twenty-five nations comprising the Group of Friends of the Family announced, “We recognize the vital role of the family in attaining the internationally agreed development goals and confirm our commitment to enhance the contribution of the families in the efforts to achieve sustainable development goals by promoting family-oriented policies and prioritizing the needs and priorities of the family at the national and international levels.”
The vital role of family in development begins with the first SDG (one of nine focused on by this year’s HLPF) whose goal is to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere.” Dr. Timothy Rarick has written,
Renowned Russian developmental psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner summarized his research, stating: “The family is the most powerful, the most humane, and by far the most economical system known for building competence and character.” Consider this powerful, evidence-based statement! Now consider how the current trends in out-of-wedlock childbearing, divorce and cohabitation are threatening the power of the family unit. Furthermore, each of these threats produces a common result: fatherlessness. These infections, along with many others, have decimated stable homes and families for millions of children worldwide. Until we address the breakdown of the family—particularly the absentee father problem—there will never be a sustainable alternative to eradicating poverty.
Dr. Rarick’s words are from his article appearing in our acclaimed book Family Capital and the SDGs (edited by Susan Roylance), available in print format in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library (where it has several times been a featured title) and available for free download at http://familycapital17sdgs.org and from the UN digital library at https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/3813111?ln=en.
We also offer our World Family Declaration, online at http://www.worldfamilydeclaration.org, and recommend what Moldovan President Igor Dodon declared in 2018 in Chișinău at our World Congress of Families XII. He stated,
For all of us, the family is the most important social institution. It is the family that shapes the human personality. The family is where the spiritual, cultural, and social experience of previous generations is shared…. [But there are] serious threats to the institution of the family… [including] an anti-family ideology, which is artificially propagated all over the world, including with the participation of a number of international organizations. It is based on depriving mothers and fathers of their natural roles in the family and denying parents’ right to determine the priorities while bringing up their children…. In order to consolidate society around the comprehensive program of supporting the family, motherhood, and childhood as the foundation of the future of our state, the Republic of Moldova, I officially declare 2019 as the Year of the Family in our country. We will do our best, including through public policy in this sphere, to unite all healthful initiatives, organizations, and communities in order to achieve the essential goal of strengthening the institution of the family. May God help us do this!
What Moldova did for the year 2019 in declaring it the Year of the Family, the United Nations could do for the rest of this decade in declaring it the Decade of the Family. It would thereby become a decade of unprecedented progress toward attainment of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals so critical to the welfare of humanity.
International Organization for the Family
United Families International