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Poster showing the icons for each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals

New York, New York, November 15, 2023 – Perhaps one of the best-kept secrets of the United Nations is a set of objectives that it’s been working on since 2015: its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). That’s one situation that Sister Durstyne Farnan, OP, Dominican Representative to the United Nations, hopes to rectify soon.

Originally called the Millennial Goals, the SDGs were established in 2015, with the objective of completing them by 2030 – a deadline that Sister Durstyne doesn’t believe will be met. The goals range from No Poverty, Zero Hunger, and Good Health and Well-being to Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions and Partnerships for the Goals. 

“In the United States, most people don’t know what the goals are, and they don’t realize how much we’re each impacted,” Sister Durstyne said. “They’re about us and about our environment, protecting the planet and us. We’re trying to protect the Earth and humanity, especially in peace and security.”

Sister Durstyne Farnan, OP, a white woman with straight white hair smiling and wearing glasses and a blue patterned scarf and a blue denim button-up shirt
Sister Durstyne Farnan, OP, Dominican Representative to the United Nations

Sister Durstyne described the goals as “pathways to tackle the problems of hunger, environmental degradation, and so on.” She explained that each goal includes indicators: areas that need to be addressed for the goal to be accomplished.

“They’re for the benefit of the world, for all countries,” Sister Durstyne said. For example, she said that reaching the goal of Quality Education (No. 4) would ensure that women and girls in Afghanistan are permitted an education, thus helping support and build up their families and nation. But the goal also benefits local children, ensuring they can access quality education. “We have to keep educating girls because they are our future, our hope that this world will become more equal and that we will become more life-giving,” she said.

Sister Durstyne recommended that the worldwide Dominican family focus on Climate Action (No. 13) and Gender Equality (No. 5). “So many of our Dominican Sisters live in Africa, where [women] don’t have any equality,” she said.

She also related a few of the goals to the Enactments that Adrian Dominican Sisters adopted during its 2022 General Chapter. “Our Enactments are in tune with the SDGs,” she said. “Gender Equality is so much in tune with our Enactment on Women. We are trying to bring about gender equality for all women worldwide so that they can exercise their own decision-making and leadership skills.”
Three SDGs particularly in tune with the Congregation’s Sustainability Enactment are Clean Water and Sanitation (No. 6), Climate Action (13), and Life on Land (No. 15), which address environmental issues such as forest management, land degradation, and biodiversity loss. The Congregation lives out its Sustainability Enactment and makes progress on the above SDGs through efforts in its Permaculture garden, retired Sisters’ gardens, and recent installation of solar panel arrays. In addition, Brad Frank, Director of Sustainability, often challenges Sisters and Associates in responsible consumption and production (No. 12). 

The Sustainability Enactment calls on Adrian Dominican Sisters to join Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ Action Platform. This seven-year global program invites Catholic individuals, families, and institutions to work together to build a sustainable future for the world. It builds on Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical (letter), Laudato Si': On Care for our Common Home, which addresses the ecological issues of our times. Sister Durstyne noted that the seven goals of the action platform correspond well with the SDGs.
The Sisters also exemplify Goal 17, Partnerships for the Goals. “We have so many partners in the mission,” Sister Durstyne pointed out. “I think we can make people aware by sharing our own partnerships and showcasing what we’re doing.”

While delineating specific, distinct goals, the SDGs are also related to one another, Sister Durstyne said. “If I’m satisfied and not hungry, I’ll be a good student, and my well-being will be better,” she explained. “I’ll be able to work and bring in an income. I’ll be able to help bring about a better partnership. … That’s why we want to decrease hunger and poverty – all of these will help us move forward together.”

Sister Durstyne emphasized several ways that people can help move the SDGs forward. “The most important thing is to have our government get behind it and put in some money behind these goals,” she said. “It’s about financial commitment. Every one of these goals requires a financial commitment.” 

She noted the importance of more prosperous, developed countries such as the United States making a financial commitment to the SDGs so that less-wealthy countries can have some financial support in their work with the goals. That will be addressed at the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference, Conference of the Parties (COP) 28, planned for November 30-December 12, 2023, in the United Arab Emirates.

Sister Durstyne also spoke of more specific ways that individuals can work toward achieving the SDGs. 

• Commit the 17 SDGs to memory.

• Adopt one of the goals and investigate it to discover the related indicators and how to move the goal forward in your local area. 

The SDGs “are for the benefit of the world, for all countries,” Sister Durstyne said. “So when we do our part, we are helping other countries do their part."

Click on the image below to view a larger version in a new window.

UN poster showing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals

Man standing on top of a mountain

September 22, 2023, Adrian, Michigan – Many people today speak of being an ally to people in marginalized or minority groups. But Brad Frank, Director of the Office of Sustainability for the Adrian Dominican Sisters, broadens the perspective of being an ally, encouraging all to demonstrate their support and care for Earth in the face of threatening global climate change. 

Brad Frank,
Directory of the Office of Sustainability

Brad’s recent presentation, “Be a Better Earth Ally,” was part of a series of talks sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters Office of Racial Equity and Cultural Inclusion. The presentations – by people of different faith traditions, ethnic groups, or cultures – aim to expose Sisters, Associates, and Co-workers to diverse perspectives and experiences.

Brad focused much of his talk on the science behind climate change and the rapid warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution began in the 1800s. 

“We understand that there’s a direct correlation between atmospheric gases such as carbon dioxide and temperature,” Brad said. He explained that Greenhouse gases –including methane, oxides of nitrogen, and fluorinated hydrocarbons – trap long-wave radiation in the atmosphere, increasing the planet’s temperature. 

“Currently, we’re at 412 parts [of carbon dioxide] per million,” contrasted to 280 parts per million at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, Brad said. At the same time, the planet has heated up. The 10 warmest years on record have occurred in the past 16 years. “It has been espoused that this rate of change in temperature and the emission of carbon dioxide is 10 times faster than anything that has occurred in the last 65 million years, directly attributed to our existence on this planet,” he said.

Brad also described the effects of climate change: an increase in the intensity and size of storms; desert expansion, evidenced by the expansion of the Sahara Desert by 10% every 10 years; thawing permafrost, which generally stores carbon dioxide; and rising sea levels, predicted to rise 10 to 12 inches over the next 30 years. These effects disproportionately affect minorities, people with low incomes, adults who have no high school diploma or equivalent, and individuals 65 and older, he said.

On a more hopeful note, Brad concluded by explaining ways in which individuals, organizations, and nations can improve the health of our planet:

  • Prioritize the Global South. This strategy was adopted by the United Nations. The Global South encompasses many of the developing nations. “Much of their infrastructure is in its infancy,” Brad explained. Thus, these nations can begin with green technology, helping to reduce greenhouse gases and climate change. For their part, he said, governments and corporations in the developed world can pay for practices that lead to a higher carbon footprint by offsetting it, giving donations to countries in the Global South to build their infrastructure.

  • Transition to renewable forms of energy and energy efficiency. “This is one of the hallmarks of what climatologists are pushing: removing natural gas and coal as a means of generating energy and generating your own energy” through solar or wind power.

  • Reduce our overall consumption of everything. “Everything that we buy, everything that we use, has its own embedded carbon footprint,” Brad said. He gave the example of cars, which are transported to various places throughout the manufacturing and purchasing processes that cause carbon dioxide to be generated. “So, be conscious of what you buy,” he advised. “Just by being aware of it, hopefully, you have that appreciation that this is affecting other people.”

Watch the video to learn more about global climate change and how to be a better ally to Earth and the Earth community or on our public video library.



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