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Sense of an ending—Imperatives for delivering research with the (SDGs) end in mind


Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual,
who is willing to leave London.
No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life;
for there is in London all that life can afford.

— Samuel Johnson to James Boswell, 20 Sep 1777

It’s only 2017 and some of us are already in danger of tiring of hearing about the SDGs. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the core of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development were adopted by member states of the United Nations just two years agin, in Sep 2015.

If the SDGs appear to have been ‘over-communicated’ in their short life, to paraphrase the estimable Dr Johnson there is in these goals ‘all that life can afford’. It would appear to be in the interest of all people, people of all nations and all circumstances, to attend not only to the 17 SDGs and the aspirations that inspired them but also, critically and urgently, to the specific means, to the targets and indicators, by which humankind shall be able to meet them.

Speaking last week at the opening of the annual meeting of the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health (CTLGH), which is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ILRI Director General Jimmy Smith reminded his scientific audience of the specific livestock means by which the world can meet their ambitious goals.

The four livestock development pathways Smith describes for meeting the SDGs—economic growth, equitable livelihoods, nutrition and health, ecosystem health—(see below) are largely unknown outside of the South, where they are taken for granted.

Time for that to change, Smith said. Time for livestock researchers to conduct their science ‘with the end in mind’.

Highlights of Smith’s keynote follow.




View or download the whole of Jimmy Smith’s presentation here.
Postscript
. . . Let observation with extensive view,
Survey mankind, from China to Peru;
Remark each anxious toil, each eager strife,
And watch the busy scenes of crowded life; . . .
How rarely reason guides the stubborn choice,
Rules the bold hand, or prompts the suppliant voice,
How nations sink, by darling schemes oppress’d,
When vengeance listens to the fool’s request. . . .
—from The Vanity of Human Wishes, by Samuel Johnson
The Tenth Satire of Juvenal, Imitated

More information
Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health website.
Collection of all the ILRI director general’s presentations.
CTLGH website
CTLGH Twitter @ctlgh_info

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