July 17, 2019
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Yes, the president should call New Zealand

Yong Teck Lim | AP
Yong Teck Lim | AP
New Zealand's prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, speaks during a joint press conference at the presidential palace in Singapore, May 17, 2019.

One of the most insightful comments of the 20 candidate-packed Democratic debates left everyone’s head scratching.

Call New Zealand?

Yes, the president should call Prime Minister Jacinda Kate Laurell Ardern. Led by Ardern, New Zealand has its priorities in order, most notably its vision of making the island nation the best place in the world to live and raise a family. If every country adopted this strategic goal, the world would be more than a better place, it would survive and even thrive. Healthier, safer kids will be the initial result of adopting child-centered national plans such as New Zealand’s, with securing more productive global societies the economic advantage for all.

Perhaps it is unfair to compare more challenged countries like the United States to a smaller one so full of resources — New Zealand’s population is less than 5 million and the country consistently ranks higher than the U.S. in quality of life rankings. However, if there is one thing everyone should be able to get behind, it is basing decisions on what is in children’s best interests, something that benefits every country economically, socially and environmentally — those triple bottom line returns so badly needed in the United States and globally.

Creating strong foundations for children mean decisions and related plans contributing to the world’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals: no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, industry innovation and infrastructure, reduced inequalities, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, climate action, taking care of life under water, and on land ensuring peace and justice strong institutions and establishing goal-leveraging business partnerships.

These goals were developed by all 193 United Nations member states and launched in 2015. If these goals with their 169 targets are achieved by 2030, the Earth will pivot away from the brink of disaster onto a path of sustainability. New Zealand is one of 188 countries that has already written, or plans to write, a Voluntary National Review outlining how the country will contribute to Agenda 2030. (The United States appears to be one of just five U.N. member states without plans to prepare one.) My assumption is that Marianne Williamson, who made the “call New Zealand comment,” read that country’s draft review, as I have.

A cornerstone, driving vision of making their country the best place in the world to be a child and raise a family is outlined in New Zealand’s Voluntary National Review. This review is being presented along with 46 others at the United Nations High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development currently taking place in New York City. Related, one of the country’s measures to determine economic health is the well-being of its citizens and residents, launching the world’s first well being budget last month.

When children are the greatest beneficiaries of decisions, from health care to education to the environment to defense to immigration to everything relating to the Sustainable Development Goals — that means everything that comes before Congress or a judge or a president and more — much better decisions are made for everyone, everywhere.

New Zealand’s superbly well thought out Voluntary National Review and the global goals themselves are templates for success that can be applied and customized for the U.S., individual states, cities and towns.

I have heard Williamson’s advice to contact New Zealand’s prime minister referred to as “kooky” and “bizarre” in social media posts. Since when is it kooky or bizarre to properly care and plan for children? The world’s future literally depends on every country having child-focused visions with implemental plans that support them, and this starts with paying attention to the global goals developed and agreed on by the world’s countries via the U.N. As Williamson seemed to suggest, collaborating with and seeking counsel from one of the most visionary leaders on the planet – New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern – is indeed a wise early step for the next United States president.

Kate Taylor of North Haven has promoted the Sustainable Development Goals in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe while serving the United Nations. She advises companies on how to contribute to the world sustainability while increasing profitability.

 



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