As 2014 makes way for 2015, I can’t help but feel that the world is poised on the cusp of big, fundamental change. Throughout history, there have been some years that are far more significant than others – 2015 might just be one of those.
To begin with, it is the year that the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) expire – to be replaced by the even more ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The MDGs, for all their imperfections, marked the first time in history that the international community created and acted on a common set of aspirational goals to lift the lives of billions.
In September, the world will meet at the United Nations Special Summit on Sustainable Development to finalise the SDGs, which will for the first time weave the principles of sustainability throughout all targets. This will
guide the global development agenda for the next 15 years.
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It will set the stage for the next major event of the year in December – the UN climate change meeting in Paris, where governments have set a deadline for inking a global deal to tackle climate change. A climate treaty in Paris will finally enable governments to act boldly in implementing low-carbon policies and send a crystal clear signal to the private sector on the future of the global economy.
If the world delivers on the goals and agreements of these two events, the course of human history could be changed forever. Professor of Sustainable Development at Columbia University Jeffrey Sachs, in an opinion piece we publish this issue, aptly dubs it the “greatest opportunity of our generation”.
With this highly-anticipated year ahead of us, Eco-Business has produced a special issue this month, featuring a series of interviews called “15 on 15” where 15 global and Asian leaders share their thoughts on the year ahead.
We have profiled thought leaders, decision-makers and trail blazers from across government, business and civic society for this crystal-ball gazing exercise, which we hope will provide intellectual as well as emotional food for thought for our readers.
We are grateful to all the interviewees who spared their precious time to speak with us, and we hope you enjoy reading the stories as much as we did writing them.
Finally, 2015 is already proving to be an eventful year given the headlines we’ve seen in just the first week - from the tragic loss of AirAsia QZ8501 to the terrorist attack in Paris.
It made me recall one observation by UN Global Compact executive director Georg Kell in his interview about the increasingly uncertain global environment in which we now live in, and the erosion of public trust in key institutions. The demand for ethical leadership has never been greater, he says, to restore trust and infuse hope and goodwill among people to work towards a better future.
I can’t think of a more fitting sentiment to take into the year ahead.