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Friday, July 31, 2015

Can the World Unite to Solve Global Issues?

http://blog.globcal.net/2015/07/can-world-unite-to-solve-global-issues.html?m=1
Friday, July 31, 2015

Can the World Unite to Solve Global Issues?

U.N.’s Post-2015 Development Agenda Under Fire 

By Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS, Jul 29 2015 (IPS) - The U.N.’s highly ambitious post-2015 
development agenda, which is expected to be finalised shortly, has come fire 
even before it could get off the ground.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (second from left) with Irish Minister and UNICEF
Goodwill Ambassador in Dublin. Credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider










A global network of civil society organisations (CSOs), under the banner 
United Nations Major Groups (UNMG), has warned that the agenda, which 
includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), “lacks urgency, 
a clear implementation strategy and accountability.”

Savio Carvalho of Amnesty International (AI), which is part of the UNMG, 
told IPS the post-2015 agenda has become an aspirational text sans clear 
independent mechanisms for people to hold governments to account for 
implementation and follow-up.

“Under the garb of national ownership, realities and capacities, member 
states can get away doing absolutely nothing. We would like them to ensure 
national priorities are set in conformity with human rights principles and standards 
so that we are not in the same place in 2030,” he added.

The 17 SDGs, which are to be approved by over 150 political leaders at a 
U.N. summit meeting in September, cover a wide range of socio-economic issues, 
including poverty, hunger, gender equality, sustainable development, full 
employment, quality education, global governance, human rights, climate 
change and sustainable energy for all.

All 17 goals, particularly the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger 
worldwide, are expected to be met by the year 2030.

The proposed follow-up and review, as spelled out, lacks a strong accountability 
mechanism, “with several references to national sovereignty, circumstances and 
priorities which risk undermining the universal commitment to deliver on the SDGs,” says UNMG.

“We are wondering how committed member states will be able to ensure genuine 
public participation, in particular of the most marginalised in each society, in 
decisions that will have an impact on their lives.”

This applies also to questions related to financing (budget allocations) in the 
actual implementation of the agenda, says a statement titled
 “Don’t break Your Promise Before Making it”.

“We are keen to ensure that people are able to hold governments to account 
to these commitments so that these goals are delivered and work for 
everyone,” says UNMG, which includes a number of coalitions and 
networks who will be monitoring the post-2015 process.

These groups include CSOs representing women, children and youth, human rights, trade unions and workers, local authorities, volunteers and persons with disabilities.

Asked about the composition of the UNMG, Jaimie Grant, who represents the 
secretariat for Persons with Disabilities, told IPS that UNMG is the official 
channel for the public to engage with the United Nations on matters of sustainable development.

“Across all these groups, stakeholders and networks, we share some very 
broad positions, but there are many thousands of organisations feeding in to it, 
in various capacities, with various positions and priorities,” he explained.

Adding strength to the chorus of voices from the opposition, the Women’s Major 
Groups, representing over 600 women’s groups from more than 100 countries, 
have also faulted the development agenda, criticising its shortcomings.

Shannon Kowalski, director of Advocacy and Policy at the International Women’s
Health Coalition, told IPS the SDGs could be a major milestone for women and 
girls.

They have much to gain: better economic opportunities, sexual and reproductive
health care and information and protection of reproductive rights, access to 
education, and lives free from violence, she noted.

“But in order to make this vision a reality, we have to ensure gender equality 
is at the heart of our efforts, recognising that it is a prerequisite for sustainable 
development,” she added.

The coalition includes Women in Europe for a Common Future, Equidad de Genero (Mexico), Global Forest Coalition, Women Environmental Programme, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and 
Development, WEDO (Women’s Environment and Development) and the 
Forum of Women’s NGOs (Kyrgyzstan).

Kowalski also expressed disappointment over the outcome of the recently 
concluded conference on Financing for Development (FfD) in Addis Ababa.

“We hoped for a progressive and fair financing agreement that addressed the 
root causes of global economic inequality and its impact on women’s and girls’ 
lives. But that’s not what we got,” she said.

“We expected strong commitments on financing for gender equality and 
ecognition of the value of women’s unpaid care work. We expected governments 
to address the systemic drivers of inequalities within and between countries,
to establish fair tax policies, to stop illicit financial flows, and to address injustices
in international trade structures that disadvantage the poorest countries.”

“We were disappointed that there were no new commitments to increase public
financing in order to achieve the SDGs,” Kowalski declared.

Carvalho of Amnesty International said, “It will be impossible to achieve truly
transformative sustainable development and to leave no one behind without 
conducting regular, transparent, holistic and participatory reviews of progress 
and setbacks at all levels.”

“The agenda acknowledges the need for international financial institutions (IFIs) 
to respect domestic policy, but does not go far enough to ensure that their activities 
to do contribute to any human rights violations.”

“I think we need to strengthen the argument for the agenda to be universal – 
when all countries have to deliver on their commitments and obligations.”

These, he said, include Official Development Assistance (ODA) and tax justice.

Meanwhile, in a statement released to IPS, Beyond 2015, described as a global 
civil society campaign pushing for a strong successor to the 
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), said “for the SDGs to have a real 
impact on people’s lives everywhere, people themselves must participate in 
implementing the goals and reviewing progress, and be active agents in 
decisions affecting them.”

The Beyond 2015 Campaign said it welcomes the focus on inclusion and 
participation reflected in the current draft that is being negotiated at the 
United Nations, and “we count on governments to translate their commitments into action as soon as the SDGs are adopted.”

In implementing the SDGs, it is crucial that states honour their commitment to 
“leave no one behind”.

“This means tracking progress for all social and economic groups, especially
the most vulnerable and marginalized, drawing upon data from a wider range 
of sources, and regular scrutiny with the involvement of people themselves,” 
the statement added.

Additionally, an even higher level of participation and inclusion is needed, at all 
levels, when implementation starts.

“People must be aware of the new agenda and take ownership of the goals for real 
and sustainable changes to occur.”

The Beyond 2015 campaign also welcomed the commitment to an open and 
transparent follow-up framework for the SDGs, grounded in people’s participation 
at multiple levels.

“We believe the current draft could be improved by including specific time-bound 
commitments and endorsing civil society’s role in generating data to review 
commitments,” it said.

“We insist on the need for governments to translate the SDGs into national 
commitments as this is a crucial step for governments to be genuinely accountable 
to people everywhere.”

Edited by Kitty Stapp

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@aol.com

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