Better Life Vietnam: A Pivotal Initiative for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals - Nikol Nikolova
The year is 2012, and we are in Rio de Janeiro. The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development has commenced, embarking on a mission to develop universal objectives that will tackle some of the most important political, social, economic and environmental challenges that we are facing in the 21st century. Here, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were born.
Prior to this, the United Nations had set the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). Since the implementation of these, more than one billion people have escaped extreme poverty between 1990 and the present, and the number of children out of school decreased by more than half according to the UNDP. These are only some of the achievements that the MDGs brought about. Since the MDGs were replaced by the SDGs, they have paved the way for global change in every aspect of society.
A key objective that these goals set out to achieve is to reduce inequalities globally (SDG 10). This is an important task, as inequality remains a major issue worldwide. Although incredible improvements and development have occurred in this sphere in the last few decades, there is still a long way to go. According to the World Inequality Database on Education, since 2010, in 23 out of 50 countries fewer than 25% of children in rural areas are able to attend a pre-primary programme, and in 35 out of 75 countries, at least 25% of the poorest young women are not literate. Reducing inequalities ensures better economic growth, increases sustainable prosperity, and guarantees that everyone has equal access to quality education, jobs and healthcare.
On top of this, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly exacerbated pre-existing inequalities, impacting the world’s most vulnerable communities. This global emergency has shed light on systematic disparities that leave many at a grave disadvantage. As a result, the work of organizations like Better Life Vietnam is essential towards the success of the SDGs, ensuring we move towards a fairer and more equal world.
Founded in 2010 by Ms. Nguyen Minh Thinh of Hanoi and the Walter family of the town of Weiterstadt, Better Life Vietnam has set out to improve education conditions for underprivileged youth in Vietnam. The organization’s mission focuses specifically on rural communities, where children and young people are in grave danger of being left behind due to the urban bias that exists in the educational sector.
As a result, Better Life Vietnam runs several projects with the aim of reducing such inequalities. Perhaps one of the most important ones is BLV’s online English learning program. It is common knowledge that a strong grasp of the English language opens many doors for education and work. COVID-19 has created numerous challenges to the progress that has been made until now in terms of reducing inequalities. Therefore, the work of Better Life Vietnam is pivotal. The organization has built a strong network of volunteers throughout Vietnam, Europe, and the United States, serving as an example of the global cooperation that is needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Furthermore, inequalities in education arise due to limited access to resources and books. For a metropolitan population, reading may appear to be a completely ordinary activity, but for many rural communities, it is a luxury. In order to tackle this issue, Better Life Vietnam has teamed up with the Center for Knowledge Assistance and Community Development. To this day, BLV has collectively built more than 10,000 bookcases for nearly 500,000 children in rural areas. The teams have set themselves the challenge of offering access to books to 15 million rural youths in Vietnam in the coming years.
Vietnam has been incredibly active in the implementation and success of many of the SDGs. For instance, there has been a considerable reduction in the national multidimensional poverty rate from 9.9% in 2015 to less than 7% in 2017 according to the Voluntary National Review 2018. Additionally, there have been annual GDP growth rates at 6.7%, 6.2% and 6.8% for 2015, 2016, and 2017 respectively.
Reducing inequalities requires the collective work of governments, institutions and organizations in order to ensure our efforts are oriented towards the same goal. Better Life Vietnam is among the organizations that play a key role in this journey, ensuring progress and development for the communities that require it the most. If you would like to be a part of this journey and volunteer with us, or would simply like to know more about the organization’s work, find out more here.