How International Factors affect SDGs

As many of my readers know, this semester, I participated in a class where I was able to do research with students from the UAE who attend the American College of Sharjah. It was great to share ideas with students from so many different backgrounds. We studied other nations and how they are trying to achieve the sustainable development goals they have signed onto. I listened to the groups who researched Bangladesh and Brazil for their podcast, and I will talk about Sri Lanka, which is what I studied.
Sri Lanka has made significant improvements towards their sustainable development goals. However, there is still a considerable gap when it comes to gender equality. International social norms that revolve around women that suggest that women belong at home taking care of the family is straight BS. Sadly, thousands of women are still unemployed, participating in hours and hours of unpaid household labor. Women make up 52% of Sri Lanka’s population, but female representation in parliament is only 5.3%. Especially during the pandemic, many people were forced to adapt to work at home or stop working altogether. Sri Lanka’s economic status would be much better if they did not discriminate against women in the workforce. They need to catch up on a considerable number of able workers. The international community can sometimes understand how our countries are interconnected now, and we need to support one another to stay afloat sometimes, so they have responded with aid. India and other QUAD allies have helped Sri Lanka strive for a better economy.
Bangladesh is struggling to improve its low poverty rates, with 12.9% of its population under the extreme povert

y line. The average income is only $2, and the government needs help. Their government is corrupt, and there has been a recent concern from international agencies that that will not change. Bangladesh receives some aid from different NGOs, like the World Bank. Although that has helped their progress significantly, these NGOs have threatened to pull their aid if the corruption and poverty were decreased considerably. Surprisingly, the pandemic did not do as much damage to Bangladesh as it did to

other countries, and their government has continued to instill different methods to reduce poverty. The government has made progress in unemployment by identifying groups that need support and providing them with supplies and job opportunities they need to continue living. However, the country must learn how to continue on its own because international aid must be something other than a positive source.

Brazil, on the other hand, is working towards a higher standard when it comes to environmental preservation. With the help of their friends and partnerships, like the other BRICS states, there has been a decrease in deforestation in the Amazon rainforest since 2012. Brazil has been working towards its goals with information campaigns, buying land and preserving it with reservations, rainforest trust, various NGOs, etc. Even with people buying

An aerial view shows deforestation near a forest on the border between Amazonia and Cerrado in Nova Xavantina, Mato Grosso state, Brazil July 28, 2021

plots of the Amazon to maintain, some sneaky companies and people purchase the land and clear it for supplies, land, pastures, and more. Brazil’s Amazon rainforest is crucial for global climate stability, and its preservation is critical to achieving several SDGs related to climate action, biodiversity, and sustainable land use.


Clarke Forum: Uncertainty in Climate Change

Dr. Linda O’Mearns, the winner of the Glover Metal, spoke during her forum on how uncertainties play a role in climate change. It is impossible to measure anything for sure, but luck creates motivation to find the closest correct answer. She is a regional climate modeler and participated in work that won a Nobel Peace Prize. Her work has significantly impacted regional, national, and international climate research. She is focused on more minor scales. The talk was rescheduled to a day later because she had an unfortunate fall. I could not attend in person, but I watched the live stream the second I was available!

The IPCC is one of the most credible and official climate resources, and Linda and her colleagues were awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for their work in the IPCC. Linda has a lot of reasons for going to work like this. She could go into a director’s meeting at Encar during Hurricane Katrina. She was disgusted with how her colleagues were so focused on their excellent job of predicting the storm accurately. That’s what they were thinking about, while the reality is that 1500 people died, and there was 100 billion dollars worth of damage.

So now she wondered how we integrate social science into our weather disaster predictions. While informative and conducted by scientists, the research was limited and not written for the general public. NSF offers a program on convergence research for a more integrated scientific approach. 

Uncertainty is defined as a state of lack of knowledge or incomplete knowledge. Linda’s favorite quote is, “Doubt is not a pleasant condition; uncertainty is an absurd one.” It is unbelievable to be 100% certain about anything. When it comes to the problems we are facing today, it is dangerous, even to be specific, because with certainty comes a lack of further exploration. For example, the IPCC updates its evidence every few years so the general public can always be up to date. It has been years, and only now have they said climate change is indisputable. 

Linda needed more time in her talk but was very interested in many uncertainties, including uncertainties in future climate, impacts of climate change, and decision-making. 


Globalization From Liberal and Critical Perspectives

Liberal International Relations scholars see globalization as a positive step towards a more interdependent world government. They believe that it promotes economic interdependence, international cooperation, and the spread of democratic values. Regarding economic interdependence, we look at the trades, investments, and finance.
When a country is getting imports necessary for their citizens’ well-being, like food, they want to avoid being in a situation where those imports stop abruptly. To prevent that, from a liberal perspective, they will avert disruptions of security competition. Whether this country is a high power or not, they are having their needs satisfied, and in turn, peace between nations is preferred. There is also a comparative advantage when trade is in an open market system. When one country is not trading with others, they have to be able to satisfy the needs of their citizens in-house, and by that, I mean they need to produce everything with no help. When countries can trade, they do not need to make as much, and they can specialize in something specific. For example, Ireland and China trade dairy and electronics. Ireland has sufficient dairy production because of their geography. They have suitable land for dairy cows, and China has the industry and labor to create electronics. These two countries can get what they need at a low price because it is more beneficial for them to export, and everyone is satisfied. A liberal scholar will see this as a positive, interdependent thing.
Critical theorists see globalization very differently. They see trade and other patterns in globalization as something called dependency theory. The dependency theory explains that the comparative advantage is not because different regions have better or worse conditions to produce specific products but that colonialism created Western ideals. The idea of democracy spread because the great powers said so. That is not a very formal way to put it, but to me, that makes sense. There is constant competition for the top, and through a critical perspective lens, no one will be satisfied with just the status quo. Capitalism and monopolies are seen as favorable to the people who are getting the rewards, more money, less problems. But as companies expand, so will others across seas. This will create a division of labor between leading sectors, which will have very negative impacts on satellite countries.

Personally, I see both sides. Yes, interdependence, in theory, seems excellent. Peace among everyone, even if it is coerced peace. Globalization created progress because states could collaborate, get the needed materials, and produce newer and better things. Why would that not be good? Because these countries are now connected and almost depend on each other to keep receiving the goods and services they want, they are incentivized to avoid turning on one another. However, we do have to consider that some of these countries may not have wanted to be globalized in the first place. But because the world had so many great powers participating and trading, there was no other way to survive decently without joining the party.

My Community

Community is important.Whether it be people within your religion, your classmates, or even your family, it is a way to feel connected to others even if there are other differences in your life. With a community, you all have something in common, and that commonality allows you to feel grounded and happy. Depending on the type of community, someone might not fit in, and they are an outsider to this group. That outsider; however, does not deserve to be shamed or hated for not belonging. This is an issue when it comes to a lot of communities.

Personally, I identify most with my religion. I come from a reform Jewish upbringing. I am an atheist; however, ethnically I am very Jewish. My favorite part of my childhood was going to the jewish sleepaway camp that my cousins went to, our parents went to, and our parents’ parents went to. Pinemere Camp was an extremely influential time in my life, and it helped me understand what it means to be jewish. We did the prayers over the bread before every meal, and celebrated shabbat every Friday night and Saturday morning. Services were always inclusive, and every Thursday you were allowed to sign you and your friends up to lead whichever prayers you wanted. Everyone wore khakis and white shirts to synagogue, so we all matched. 

Sure, anyone who is not jewish is not considered to be a part of this community. That does not mean that they cannot enjoy our traditions and gatherings. Another huge part of my camp was bringing in international counselors. They were from all around the world. Many of them were from Israel, and many of them were Jewish. But a lot of them were not. There were no issues, and no one felt like they did not belong. When you are a part of a community, you should always consider others feelings and situations. It would be a different situation if whoever was coming in was being discriminatory. When an outsider to Judaism makes it clear they do not like our community, and they become anti-semetic, hateful, and violent, then our community stands together to fight for our religious freedom. *Edit from October 15th: Along with this I would also like to say that personally, I am not Israeli. My jewish haritage does not have ties there, nor do we consider ourselves zionists. 

If you have ever heard the word Mensch, that’s what it’s all about. Being a mensch means loving and accepting everyone, and always considering how your actions affect others. In international politics it becomes very complicated when religion and policy mix. You can see in Israel right now, the Hamas organization is bombing Israel, and there are a lot of outsiders still blaming Jews for the years of torment in Palestine. Communities are not their government, and you cannot blame all jewish people, especially the ones who are not even Israeli or from Israel, for what is going on. The hate and anger is being thrown onto us, and they are not considering what is happening to innocent lives of Jews that were lost. People need to pull themselves away from their own biases, and focus on governmental push back. The Israel government has been violent towards Palestine for years, there is no denying that. The fight for the holy land will probably never end, and it will be years before there are any real resolutions. That does not justify bombing and killing innocent children and young adults for political gain. When religion and politics mix, things become very complicated, and it ends up with massive damage on all fronts.


Welcome! My name is Zoe LaBow, and I am a mere 18 years old. I am so excited for the next four years, the opportunities that will arise, and my plans to travel the world. During this class, I hope to expand my knowledge and be able to understand other cultures, religions, and regions in our world. I am also so happy to have been placed in Dr. Webb’s course of International Relations. From my understanding, the other classes do not get the pleasure to work along with other students from The University of Sharjah. To start, we met together on the 5th of September to introduce ourselves and to get to know one another a little. When it comes to the countries we reside in, The United States and The United Arab Emirates have many parallels.

A little about me: I rowed for a club crew team in my area. I love to take pictures, spend time with my family and the people I love, and listen to tons of different music. I am going to be an environmental science major, and was vegan for over three years, until I came to college and realized that’s not so easy on a campus. I grew up in Rutherford NJ “The NJ Borough of Trees. ” Every house has a tree right in front of it, and you’d think it had some forest areas or undisturbed land. But no, it was a very suburban town, with a neighbor to your left 20 feet away, to your right 20 feet away, right behind you, and across the skinny one-way street. Some might enjoy this type of living; it’s just not right for me. When it came to rowing in the armpit river of the east, I was always surrounded by trash and debris. Something about being able to truly see how filthy people can be, all in one trash river, makes you dislike a place a bit. In the six years I was rowing there, we had to evacuate the river three times, because a body was found within. There was maybe another 3-4 while I wasn’t at practice. 

Being 8 miles outside of NYC, Rutherford NJ being home to Metlife stadium, and the Dream Mall of America,  there were always traffic jams, accidents, and the stereotypical “Jersey Driver”. It was hard to get anywhere. The beach was 30 minutes away, but with traffic, an hour and a half. The city? 20 minutes away, but it takes over an hour, sometimes two.

Even more specific to my town, everyone around me was white, polish, and catholic. I am white, however I come from a Jewish family. There was no hiding the fact that I was Jewish, and I got a lot of hate for it growing up, being one of three Jews in my whole school. I was given a barcode nickname, similar to one you might find on a victim of the Concentration Camps from the Holocaust. 

Obviously I wasn’t having a great time, so I left highschool a year early, and got to go to school in Upstate New York. Woods everywhere, mountains, rivers, cold winters, and it was just the scenery change I needed. It was hard to see my future out of this town, and now that I’m out, I can’t even imagine where and what path I am going to take in my life, but I know it’s going to be full of adventure, new things, and pretty sights. 

Now, on to some of your lives. I am no expert, but after talking to a few of you, and doing a little research, I have come to understand a few things. We both come from a fairly diverse area, and our countries are full of different cultures, religions, and places. What those different cultures are, can vary between our countries, but is diverse nonetheless. 

As I said before, I can access a city, a beach, a mountain, and a lake by driving a few hours. From what I heard, in the UAE, you can get to a beach 10 minutes away, the city another 15, and some mountains maybe 30 minutes away. The UAE is significantly smaller than the US. The United States is around 118 times bigger, to be exact. 

The United States has a democratic government, while the UAE is more of an absolute monarchy, with each emirate ruled by a different royal family. Off topic, but something I found very cool and is probably known by everyone but me, is a fact that I came across while researching the United Arab Emirates. The tallest building in the world is located in Dubai, called the Burj Khalifa. At 2,717 feet, it is twice the height of the Empire State Building

When it comes to some geographical differences, it can be much warmer in the UAE than in the US. On the other hand, during the colder months, the United States can dip down to 6º C, compared to 24º. Along with that, “On a per-capita basis, the UAE’s energy, water and carbon footprints are amongst the highest in the world as the hot and dry climate requires a high amount of energy and import of many goods that cannot be produced in the country” (link). However, the UAE is not an unsustainable place, in fact, it contains three of the “ largest and lowest-cost solar plants in the world.” (link

It’s hard to know what it’s truly like to live somewhere else, if you have not been there, or had a full rundown of someone’s experiences. I wish I could paint a better picture of our differences, but with what time we were given to talk, and what I could find, I hope I was able to capture a few differences. I can’t make assumptions and believe everything that I read, so sticking with more contextual facts felt right. I want to hear from some of you guys! Please respond down below with some fun little snippets of your lives, and how you perceive my life vs yours!