A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the 2015 Cause Marketing Forum in Chicago. It is a great opportunity to discuss challenges and opportunities with other nonprofits, as well as, mingle with folks from the corporate sector looking to contribute to the greater good. As the name implies, the Cause Marketing Forum is focused on collaborations between corporations and nonprofits that engage the public. I always leave this conference feeling energized knowing that local parks and recreation are instrumental in addressing so many of society’s concerns – and excited for the work NRPA is doing with you to improve communities.
Inspiring me to write this blog post was a presentation by Aaron Sherinian, Chief Communications and Marketing Officer for the United Nations Foundation. Few groups are as attuned to global needs as the United Nations and the focus of Mr. Sherinian’s keynote address was of particular attention.
The United Nations spent the last three years identifying the most pressing issues affecting the planet; in particular, the human element of the planet. Resulting in 17 goals that are critical to improving lives around the world; these Universal Sustainable Development Goals will set the framework for countries to address the most pressing issues facing us – and our neighbors worldwide. These goals will be adopted by world leaders this coming September.
One part of the presentation really jumped out at me – a slide that illustrates all 17 goals. What may be a boring slide to someone else in the room, struck me so much that I had to take a picture.
This image has profound meaning for me and it should for you, too.
Look at the list of 17 goals that have been deemed by countries around the world to be the most critical in improving the human condition. Give a few seconds of thought to each of these. How many of these goals is your department already addressing?
1) END POVERTY
2) END HUNGER
4) QUALITY EDUCATION
5) GENDER EQUALITY
6) WATER AND SANITATION FOR ALL
7) AFFORDABLE AND SUSTAINABLE ENERGY
8) DECENT WORK FOR ALL
9) TECHNOLOGY TO BENEFIT ALL
10) REDUCE INEQUALITY
11) SAFE CITIES AND COMMUNITIES
12) RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION BY ALL
13) STOP CLIMATE CHANGE
14) PROTECT THE OCEAN
15) TAKE CARE OF THE EARTH
16) LIVE IN PEACE
17) MECHANISMS AND PARTNERSHIPS TO REACH THE GOALS
I challenge you to find one of these goals that your agency is not contributing to.
Our world is not perfect, but the work you do – at the local level where impacts are truly felt – is so important to improving lives.
You are in a unique position. Your work blurs the line between civil service and charity, between social services and social change, between grounds management and a greener landscape.
NRPA is also in a unique position – your association represents your professional interests and needs, while at the same time advocating for the improved health and wellness, conservation, and social equity that we all seek. NRPA is a voice for you, but you are the voice of NRPA. The work you do is increasingly recognized as a critical need – we see this through our corporate and federal partners, through our work on Capitol Hill, and through your stories of change.
It is inspiring that these goals, set by the UN, intersect so closely with parks and recreation. This is such a great reminder of how important the work of local parks and recreation truly is and we are excited to keep up the good work with you!
Which of the UN’s goals do you think your agency directly influences and in what way? Leave a comment below.
Jimmy O’Connor is NRPA's Director of Grants and Partnerships.