On 24th February 2022, after years of unrest, Russia launched a full-scale attack on my country, Ukraine, and one year on, there seems to be no end to the violence, and peace feels a long way off.

It’s been a year since Ukrainians were faced with another Russian invasion, and have been fighting for their land and loved ones. In that time, thousands of young lives that should have been studying, working and enjoying life, have been cut short by bullets, and those who survived will forever be left with psychological trauma.


Kyiv, Ukraine, 2019. Photo by Eugene on Unsplash

Leaving Home

War is very scary, it takes away the future from a large number of people at once, drives them into depression and forbids them to live.

A year ago, Ukrainians were divided into two groups: those who emigrated to other countries and those who stayed at home.

I was forced to leave, first to Poland and then to the United States under the influence of panic and stress, so I can describe the feelings that a person who has chosen the path of immigration experiences when fear forces him or her to leave their home. First of all, it is a depressing state, you realise that you may never return to the place where you grew up, never see your hometown and streets again, never breathe in the smell of Ukrainian spring and never hear the early singing of birds that you remember so well at home.

Memories are combined with anxiety for relatives who remained in Ukraine and tears for lost people, as we try to stay in touch with friends and family who escaped to other countries.

A New Country

Added to this are the difficulties you face in a new country, learning a new language, and a different mentality of people, but the most difficult thing is financial problems. Imagine leaving a country where you worked, maybe had your own business, you just drop everything and leave, arrive in a new country where you have nothing, where housing alone costs the same as living in Ukraine for a month, and you still need to eat and study because Ukrainian diplomas are not recognized in the United States. My mom is a doctor, she has a master’s degree, but here, despite her knowledge and experience, she has to survive and work for a low wage. Many refugees experience this; it is a very difficult path, and many do not survive. It’s very easy to say “forget it and start a new life in a new country,” but moving to another country of your own free will and being forced to leave it under such circumstances is not the same thing.


Illustration by Olga Wilson

Illustration by Olga Wilson

Lives on hold

Mariupol is a city that was completely destroyed by the Russian military, up to 100,000 people died there, and thousands more were forcibly taken to Russia, and those lucky ones who managed to get out of Ukraine and are now abroad will never see their hometown again, it simply does not exist. Will a person be able to study, work and enjoy life after that? Of course not. While in the United States, teenagers have the opportunity to plan their future, study and even just walk around and be healthy, in Ukraine, 15-year-old boys are dying in the intelligence service, trying to help in any way they can.

Those who remained in Ukraine are a generation of wounded people who live with the eternal sound of sirens, explosions and fear of death – this is not what a person should feel in our time. No one will understand a person who went to the store, came home and saw that his wife, daughter and grandchildren were gone, all dead, all together.

How can an 18-year-old boy whose parents were killed in the shelling and who was left alone with two younger brothers and two sisters continue his studies? Now he is forced to work so that his family does not starve to death. His life will no longer be carefree, there will be no more walks with friends in the evenings and no more time spent in college.

14-year-old girls who have been victims of Russian harassment will be traumatised for the rest of their lives.

The Future

These are not fictional stories, this is our reality, in which we live, or rather survive. I understand that I am “lucky”, I have a place to live and my family is alive, but I cannot enjoy life, I cannot walk around New York and react with admiration to skyscrapers. I can’t rest because of the suffering of the Ukrainian people, I can’t think about the future, and I don’t have a single thing I enjoy 100%. I pray every day that we will have a future, but unfortunately, the psyche cannot be cured so easily, and the dead cannot be brought back to life, and this war will forever leave its mark on our souls and our health.



Photo by Eugene on Unsplash


Peace is at the heart of the Global Goals. The people of Ukraine, the country itself, and the whole world will not achieve the Global Goals until the conflict is over, and Ukrainians can live happy, healthy and safe lives in their own country.


About the author:

Yelyzaveta Posivnych is a Ukrainian student, who left Ukraine in 2022, and is currently living and studying in New York, USA.

What are the Global Goals and why are they more important than ever in 2023?

2023 is the halfway point in the world’s journey towards the Global Goals. It is the midpoint between the Goals being agreed by all 193 UN member states in 2015, and the target date of the Goals in 2030. Before we look forward to the second half of the road to 2030, let’s go back, right back to the beginning of the 17 Global Goals, and what exactly they are.

The Global Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (also known as the SDGs, or Global Goals as we like to call them!) are 17 ambitious objectives agreed by the UN in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, reduce inequality of all kinds, and protect the planet and nature. They call for education, healthcare and decent jobs for everyone, and protection for the oceans, forests, and all-natural habitats. They paint a picture of a future where progress benefits everyone, where climate change is halted in its tracks, and all people can live in peace and prosperity. The unique nature of the Global Goals means that they are interlinked – making progress on one Goal often leads to progress on another one, or sometimes even several.

Photo by Steven Lelham

Halfway, but not halfway

Fast forward seven and a half years, and great progress has been made on many of the Goals, with the development of malaria vaccines, agreements to protect and restore nature, and global commitments to green jobs all making headlines in 2022. However, Covid-19, conflicts new and ongoing, and climate crisis threaten the progress of all the Goals. For the first time in over two decades, global extreme poverty increased in 2020, new conflicts erupted across the planet, and nature faced unprecedented threats. To put it bluntly, we are halfway through the Global Goals, but we are not halfway there to achieving them.

The polycrisis, as it has been labelled by politicians and pundits alike, could be enough to make even the most ardent activist feel like giving up, but before we throw in the towel it’s worth remembering that the Global Goals are the only framework agreed by every world leader. It’s not just world leaders either; businesses, schools and non-governmental organisations have been using the Goals since 2015 as a model for action and accountability.

Photo by Fab Lentz

The good news

We know that the Goals are off track, we know that we won’t reach all the targets by 2030, but we also know that progress is possible. We can imagine a future where we make real progress again. Why? Because we’ve done it before. Between 1990 – 2015, more than a billion people escaped extreme poverty, a global decrease of over 1% every year. The number of children dying before their fifth birthday decreased by 60% from 1990 – 2020. That’s over 7 million more children celebrating their birthdays every single year. More women are in parliaments all around the world, and more women have economic freedom than ever before. After global cooperation to phase out harmful CFC chemicals, the ozone layer is on track to repair itself within the next four decades.

None of this progress happened by accident. International cooperation and collaboration meant that someone born in 2015 was far more likely to survive childhood, get an education, and lead a healthy life than someone born just 25 years before. Progress is possible, but it isn’t inevitable. That’s where the Global Goals come in. They give us the framework and the actions we need to make even more people’s lives longer, better and happier.

Photo by Natalie Pedigo

What next?

So, what happens next? Why should the activist keep going? Why should businesses adopt the Global Goals? Why should governments uphold their promise of a better future for everyone?

It’s simple. With the right ambition and action, we can imagine winning. While it’s true that we are halfway through, but not halfway there, it’s also true that every match is won in the second half. The halfway point doesn’t have to be a time for despair, instead, it should be our rallying call… a time to supercharge our tactics, bring in new players, and accelerate to the finish line.

To do that, the Global Goals need proper funding. The UN Secretary-General has called for an SDG Stimulus Plan to leverage public and private financing for the Goals,
and experts are asking for financial support for developing countries as they face the effects of climate change, and reform of multilateral development banks.

We must continue to raise awareness of the Global Goals, putting them on the To Do List of business and political leaders, and leverage new technologies that unleash innovative solutions to the world’s biggest challenges.

The numbers are big, and they might seem scary, but the risk of inaction is the real danger. We have a choice: we can give up now, or we can work together to create a brighter future. We can imagine winning.


About the author:

Lydia Paynter, Communications & Campaigns Manager, Project Everyone