Communities Without Boundaries International, Inc. and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network are collaborating to carry out a national initiative that introduces sustainable development concepts in local communities.
The purpose of the initiative is to effect a national movement that is rooted in local communities for improving the quality of life of all Americans by redressing poverty, building community, and fostering the common good through sustainable development strategies that are efficient and fair. Its strategy anticipates the need for political, social, and economic solutions. It begins with articulating such strategies as goals for targeted communities across the nation and a plan of action for achieving them.
The initiative presents the idea of developing sustainable development goals in targeted communities beginning in Detroit, Baltimore, and NYC this fall. The City of Detroit was first the first in the initiative. Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, along with a team from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and Communities Without Boundaries International, held meetings on September 3-4, 2014 with local youth, government, civic, and business leaders as well as community advocates and civil society organizations. The meetings included youth leadership, civil society, and an initiative strategy discussion. The goals of the visit were for Dr. Sachs and CWBI to share the vision of the initiative and explain its program strategies, and to begin the process of organizing networks of young leaders and civil society organizations as the local action network, which will connect to the national, to develop community specific sustainable development goals and carry out strategies to achieve them.
The youth meeting included a representation of young leaders (approximately 25) associated with Wayne State University as well as youth organizations throughout the Detroit area. Dr. Peter J. Hammer, the director of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne State University, hosted the event. Its purpose was for Dr. Sachs and CWBI to share the vision of the initiative, to hear the concerns and aspirations of the youth regarding their leadership ideas, and to enlist them into the local network of young leaders who will focus on the challenges and opportunities for positive change.
The strategy meeting brought together local Detroit representatives and the SDSN/CWBI team to discuss the formation of both the local and national campaigns. It also provided a pre-briefing of the civil society meeting, which consisted of a gathering of local leaders across sectors and took place in two parts. First, local representatives discussed the specific issue of the housing challenge the city is facing. Dr. Sachs then responded to the discussion and he and CWBI presented the vision of the initiative, including both it local and national implications. Specifically, Dr. Sachs discussed the role that sustainable development goals could play in rearticulating the city’s challenges and opportunities and an accompanying new set of strategic values that would inform and instruct an operational strategy to achieve them. Participants in the discussion expressed strong interest in this new approach expressing their belief that such a strategy would be relevant and responsive to Detroit’s unique circumstances.
These initial engagements in Detroit made clear that a new national initiative based on the principles and logic of sustainable development holds significant promise for effecting positive and substantive change, as well as the “future rights” of the current and future generations of Americans.