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Healing is a missing goal in the UN SDGs

by Luqmaan Rawat
The UN SDGs, while good misses out on a goal of healing Photo United Nations 

Word – In September 2015 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This agenda included the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are global goals aimed at improving the planet. The goals range from ending poverty to education for all and even climate change. However, there is one important goal which is missing and is perhaps the most vital one in ensuring our planet truly does change for the better.

Dr. Pali Lehohla, Director of the Economic Modeling Academy, believes healing should be one of the goals in the 17 SDGs set by the United Nations for 2030. He emphasised the critical importance of addressing intergenerational trauma and healing the psyche to foster a more sustainable and harmonious world.

“Human beings have the ability to be conscious and transform that consciousness into material life artefacts that push them. That consciousness is driven by spirituality and in that respect you realise that until we deal with this spirituality with consciousness, we are unable to deal with the conflicts that have had over a period of time.”

Lehohla highlighted the interconnectedness between spirituality, consciousness, and conflicts that have plagued human history. Using examples such as World War I, World War II, and the ongoing genocide in the Middle East, specifically between Israel and Palestine, he argued that unresolved trauma leads to a cycle of victimisation. The absence of healing processes can turn victims into victimisers, perpetuating a destructive cycle.


The 17 UN SDGs and the missing Element

The United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals outline a comprehensive agenda to address various global challenges, ranging from poverty and hunger to climate action and gender equality. However, as Lehohla pointed out, the absence of a specific goal dedicated to healing is a significant oversight. The SDGs primarily focus on material aspects of development, neglecting the crucial role of consciousness and spirituality in achieving sustainable progress.

“As the world comes together it must focus on this thing of healing of memories because otherwise the 17 goals are pointing at material things. They forget that humanity is conscious and consciousness, although it’s grounded in material beings, it’s highly spiritual. Unless we deal with that consciousness in its spiritual form while influenced by material beings and we are unable to deal with this.The absence of consciousness, active consciousness and spirituality in the goals mean that it will be in this kind of difficulty for ages to come because it is the psyche that is at play.”

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Intergenerational trauma and systems thinking

Healing goes beyond individual duty; it’s a shared responsibility. Lehohla suggests integrating healing into cultural practices and adopting a systems-thinking approach to weave it into the fabric of society. Lehohla contends that the shift away from traditional healing practices has played a role in shaping a more materialistic and fragmented world over time.

“We actually have to create a systems process, systems thinking, systems design as a process of healing. It has to be embedded in our culture. It has to be embedded in our thinking. If it is not then we are going to have serious problems … There has been a rapture in societies in terms of thinking and dealing with spirituality and consciousness. That rapture has made us so materialistic, has made us so much driven by splashing conspicuous consumption. It can be correct and most of the time this conspicuous consumption is at the back of sacrifices that have been made by generations before.”

Using South Africa as an illustration, Lehohla pointed out that individuals who engaged in wrongdoing during Apartheid now roam freely, displaying disrespect despite the sacrifices made by those who fought for change. Lehohla emphasized that the broken spirits of these individuals raise questions about the worthiness of their struggle. He warned that if this remains unaddressed, future generations may seek revenge against those responsible.


Evaluating Past Efforts: The TRC and Beyond

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in South Africa was set up to help heal the country and bring about a reconciliation of its people. However, whether it did enough to address the deep-rooted issues of greed, power, and inequality is a question that still needs to be answered. Lehohla expressed concern about the current state of political economy, suggesting that a reductionist approach to economics, devoid of spirituality and consciousness, contributes to societal challenges.

“When the Minister of Finance says we have run out of money, he is mimicking the tragedy we have seen in a political economy which is stripping economics of politics, culture, consciousness, of spirituality and reducing it to cash.”

Lehohla compellingly argues for the integration of healing as a vital component within the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Emphasising the overlooked importance of addressing intergenerational trauma. The absence of a dedicated healing goal in the SDGs is a critical gap, and we must advocate for a shift toward systems thinking and cultural integration to facilitate comprehensive healing. Only by including this goal into the SGDs can we work towards a better work come 2030.


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