Ritchie points out that associations around the world are involved in topics and causes such as population and migration, social justice, narcotic drugs, mental health, volunteerism, human rights and children’s rights, equality for women and girls, sexual and reproductive rights, human settlement and many more.
He says this is why they are in a prime position to examine the 17 UN goals and adopt them into their own programmes.
At the UIA round table, held in Busan, Korea, he also urged convention bureaux and conference industry suppliers to take the goals seriously.
The goals include reducing inequalities, providing decent work and economic growth for all, creating sustainable cities and communities, and striving for peace, justice and strong institutions. The number one goal, which Ritchie says underlines all of the others, is to end poverty.
While Ritchie, who is also president of CoNGO (Conference of Non-Governmental Organisations in a consultative relationship with the United Nations), urges the association and corporate sectors to work together on the goals, he also urges them to pick their targets.
‘It is a massive agenda and the key is not to get overwhelmed. You need to focus on what areas are relevant to your association and get involved in that topic.’
Chris Champion, director of the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (which recently held its conference in Rotorua), was a speaker and participant at the UIA round table and says he will be taking the list of sustainable goals to his members.
He says goal number six – clean water and sanitation – is one that sits well with his association. ‘Infrastructure has a huge impact on health, it has a foundation role in health and safety.’