The Inner Development Goals: How we can all drive change

The Inner Development Goals is a framework established to empower people to live ‘purposeful, sustainable and productive lives’, with the ultimate aim of supporting and achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. 

Mel Young: I have been following the Inner Development Goals (IDGs) recently and have found them very interesting. We all are aware of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which will change the world if they are all achieved by 2030. Whilst the SDGs are very laudable aims and we should all be making efforts to achieve them, they can be a little grand at times which can make us feel excluded as individuals. The IDGs support the achievement of the SGDs, but they are taking a different approach and talking about how we, as individuals, can change ourselves and our behaviour in order to make the world a better place. Consequently, the much higher global goals are more likely to be achieved if we all change as individuals.

Alex Matthews: I hadn’t heard of them before you told me about them, but I think they sound really interesting. As you say, the SDGs are very important and are a great framework for societies, institutions, governments and businesses to be working within in order to make the world more sustainable and equitable – but for the average person they can be intimidating and disempowering. When I look at them, I can appreciate how important they are, but subconsciously my reaction is to leave the work to someone else, because it doesn’t feel like there’s anything I can do or contribute to make them a reality. The fact that the IDGs both complement the SDGs and are achievable – with work and effort – by normal people means that they are much more relatable. This makes them really important – there are so many ‘normal’ people that if we all felt empowered to make changes to ourselves and the way we act, think and behave, the difference could be seismic. 

MY: When the numbers are huge and people are talking about global issues we can all naturally feel disempowered and even depressed. We ask ourselves what on earth can I do which is going to make a difference globally? The IDGs should provide an answer to some of those challenges. As you say, we might want to live a different way but the system constrains us so we end up driving cars when we don’t really want to, but have to for practical reasons. We feel guilty and hope someone else is making the changes we want. The IDGs give us some pointers about how we might look after ourselves and how we might resolve some of these personal challenges. We have often said at The New Ism that if we all do a little then the outcome can be enormous. I think that’s the way we have to look at things. Look after ourselves and be aware of our surroundings. The change will come naturally.

AM: Yes and it should feel exciting that actually, we can all create change – and this is a framework with which we can do it. What we need now is for this framework to be disseminated widely so that people are aware of it and are empowered to act on it. I guess the ideal would be if it was taught in schools so that children leave school knowing what they can do – and how to do it – to drive change. But we need adults to get involved too, as I think there’s a tendency to leave everything to our children. How can we ensure that everyone sees it and is empowered to act on it?

MY: How does the song go again? Teach Your Children Well. So, that has to be the mantra doesn’t it? We need to teach our children about the IDGs as well as to understand the UN SDGs. But it is us, as adults, who need to make the change in our lifestyles and provide a lead. Meantime, it is about us spreading the word and getting everyone to understand that we don’t require a violent revolution to change the world but we do require all of us to understand how we could improve our own lives which in turn will help make the world a better place. So what are you going to do tomorrow Alex? What little thing will you do differently?

AM: A very good question Mel – and a good way to gently apply pressure!! There’s certainly a lot I can do in my everyday life to help contribute to creating a better world. But I think the first thing I want to do is to explore the IDGs further and see if they have any resources that help people to implement them – perhaps webinars or even a manual. I think this is about setting yourself up for success rather than jumping in and getting burned out quickly. What do you think?

MY: Exactly to the point, I think. We don’t have to make grand gestures but you are going to do something. And you may learn a great deal or even something very small which you may then start to do in your daily life. You then might tell your friends and neighbours and so on. Sometimes people think that they need to take to the barricades to create change when in fact you just don’t need to do that. It’s all about how we live our lives and the very fact that you are now going to explore an organisation which you have discovered is a perfect example.

AM: Totally agree! I hope that people who read our blogs and listen to our podcasts can see that we believe that anyone, no matter who they are, can make a difference, even just a tiny one. 

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