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Showing posts with label MDGs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MDGs. Show all posts

Friday, September 25, 2015

Fixing our Broken World

How to Fix Our Broken World—in 17 Bullet Points

By Mother Jones author Tim McDonnell Fri Sep. 25, 2015 6:10 AM EDT

Here's why you should care about the United Nations' newest heap of jargon.

Bangladesh is already being dramatically affected by climate change.  
As the United Nations convenes in New York this week for its 70th General Assembly, one of the most prominent items on the schedule is to formally sign off on its brand-new Sustainable Development Goals. The SDGs, which have been in the works for a few years, are basically a to-do list for all the world's governments from now until 2030. They're also a seemingly impenetrable pile of diplo-jargon.

"If you were to pick up the document, your first reaction could be that it's a lot of 'blah blah blah,'" said Peter Hazlewood, director of development at the World Resources Institute.

Still, the SDGs could have a significant impact on the allocation of resources to fight climate change and other environmental issues over the next decade. Here's what you need to know.

Replacing the Millennium Development Goals. The SDGs are a follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals, enacted in 2000. There were eight specific MDGs, all targeted at different aspects of extreme poverty: Reduce the child mortality rate by two-thirds, vastly expand access to clean drinking water, turn the tide against HIV/AIDS, etc. Of course, the goals aren't legally binding. Instead, the point was to give developed-country governments and international financial institutions such as the World Bank a target to shoot at when they make decisions about how to spend aid dollars or invest in certain projects. It's a way of saying: "We agree that these are the world's top priorities right now."

The "we" in that sentence was pretty controversial, since—according to lore, at least—the goals were drawn up behind closed doors in the UN basement by a group of elite diplomats. For that reason, it took years for a critical mass of governments to actually rally behind the MDGs and start to implement them. And even then, the they were sometimes criticized for being too narrow and not sufficiently focused on the root causes of poverty.
"Goals such as 'End poverty in all its forms everywhere,' may seem so broad that they will be easy to ignore," Michael Specter wrote.
As of the end of this year, the MDGs will have reached their expiration date. How well did we do on meeting them? So-so. Global poverty and childhood mortality have been greatly reduced; for example, between 1990 and 2015 the portion of people in developing countries living on less than $1.25 per day fell from 50 percent to 14 percent. Still, obviously, global poverty has not been eradicated. The UN's own recent assessment found many goals were un-met, especially with respect to gender equality and conflict refugee issues.

And even in the best scenario, it's far from clear how much impact the MDGs actually had on any of the issues they sought to address. During the same time period, for example, China was developing rapidly and opening up to international trade, which had a huge impact on lifting its citizens out of poverty—quite separately from anything the UN was doing. But it's safe to say that the MDGs loomed over budget conversations at agencies like USAID, and in that way had a tangible impact on how the US and other rich governments spent money on aid.

The MDGs "were far from perfect, and you cannot attribute all progress to them," Hazlewood said. "But you can make a strong case that they had a galvanizing effect."

So what are the Sustainable Development Goals? This time around, while still including poverty, the focus has swung much more toward environmental issues, including climate change adaptation. Here are the 17 goals:

  1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
  11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

If that seems like a lot, well, it is. While the MDGs were too narrow, the SDGs could very well be too broad. As Michael Specter pointed out in the New Yorker, "goals such as 'End poverty in all its forms everywhere,' may seem so broad that they will be easy to ignore." UK Prime Minister David Cameron said as much last year, warning that with so many goals, "there's a real danger they will end up sitting on a bookshelf, gathering dust." Even just reading the list seems overwhelming; imagine being a head of state trying to implement it in your sprawling national bureaucracy.

And they're not cheap: By some estimates, they could cost more than $7 trillion a year to implement, and there's still no clear consensus on where exactly that money will come from. It would likely be a mix of private-sector investment; aid from the UN and developed countries; and increased spending by developing countries.


Chart by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)

At the same time, the goals' breadth could be a strength, as less affluent countries become more involved in implementing them—as opposed to only being on the receiving end of aid dollars. They could provide an impetus for developing countries to get more serious about things under their control, like empowering women, or conserving natural resources, or making urban planning decisions with an eye toward climate impacts. At the very least, the goals provide ammunition for diplomatic peer-pressure: No country wants to look lackadaisical compared to the one next door, or act in direct contravention of the goals, lest they scare off donors or investors. And it could be a way for US agencies to justify increased spending on climate adaptation.

"These are universal goals," Hazlewood said. "It's not just about what the US should be doing with countries in Africa; it's about what every country in the world needs to do."

What's next? Of course, the UN can't compel any country to do any of these things. So the goals won't matter unless individual national governments take them seriously. Unlike the old MDGs, the SDGs were developed over several years with maximum transparency, involving a huge, diverse cast of governments, NGOs, and private companies. The rationale for that strategy was to increase everyone's stake in the goals, so that when they come into effect, countries will swiftly incorporate them into national policy decisions—in other words, take them off the page and into practice. We'll have to wait and see if that will really happen.

"With the MDGs it took years to get any kind of traction and for countries to take them seriously," Hazlewood said. "But this time we can get the process off to a better start."

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Irresistible SDGs to Change our World-View

What are the Sustainable Development Goals and why do they matter?

Barcelona, Spain - Sept 10 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - In late September, world leaders will meet at the United Nations in New York to adopt a new global plan of action for ending poverty, known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

President Barack Obama views Bear Glacier on a boat
tour of Kenai Fjords National Park in Seward, Alaska Sept. 1.
What are the SDGs? A set of 17 goals and 169 targets aimed at resolving the social, economic and environmental problems troubling the world. Covering the next 15 years, the SDGs replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which expire this year. Who decided the SDGs? Governments came up with the idea at the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development in Brazil in 2012. A working group with representatives from 70 countries then drafted a proposed set of goals.

At the same time, the United Nations ran public consultations around the world and an online survey asking people about their priorities for the goals.

This summer governments negotiated a final version of the SDGs, due to be adopted by 193 countries at a Sept. 25-27 summit at the United Nations in New York. What did the MDGs achieve? The United Nations says the MDGs led to achievements including: - a drop in the number of people living in extreme poverty by more than half, to 836 million in 2015 - gender parity in primary schools in the majority of countries - a reduction in the rate of children dying before their fifth birthday by more than half since 1990 - a fall of 45 percent worldwide in maternal mortality - over 6.2 million malaria deaths averted and 37 million lives saved by tuberculosis prevention and treatment - access to improved drinking water sources for 2.6 billion people between 1990 and 2015 So why do we need the SDGs? - Around 800 million people still live in extreme poverty and suffer from hunger, with fragile and conflict-torn states experiencing the highest poverty rates - Between 2008 and 2012, 144 million people were displaced from their homes by natural disasters, a number predicted to rise as the planet warms, bringing more extreme weather and rising seas - Water scarcity affects 40 percent of the global population and is projected to increase - Some 946 million people still practice open defecation - Gender inequality persists in spite of more representation for women in parliaments and more girls going to school. If we meet the SDGs, how will the world improve? The 17 goals aim to achieve these wider aims by 2030: - end poverty and hunger everywhere - combat inequalities within and between countries - build peaceful, just and inclusive societies - protect human rights and promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls - ensure lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources - create conditions for sustainable, inclusive and sustained economic growth, shared prosperity and decent work for all. What's new and different about the SDGs? The United Nations says the SDGs go much further than the previous goals, because they address the root causes of poverty and pledge to leave no one behind, including vulnerable groups

They also emphasise the need to tackle climate change urgently and protect the environment through a shift to sustainable consumption and production.

The SDGs are intended to be universal, applying to all countries rather than just the developing world.

They recognise the key role of the private sector in pursuing and financing sustainable development, in partnership with governments and civil society. (Sources: United Nations Development Programme and other U.N. agencies. Further information: sustainabledevelopment.un.org )

(Reporting by Megan Rowling; editing by Katie Nguyen. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit trust.org )

Take Action: Become Part of the Change!

Join us at Globcal International as a Global Citizen or Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations SDGs and the Post-2015 Agenda. Members will have special access to thousands of locations around the globe as well as gain special privileges, benefits, entitlements, and other perks through our pilot program which is available to all people willing to leave behind religious, monarchical, and state based populist political systems to adopt the new emerging global perspectives based on the ecosystem, the rule of law, and Internet governance.

Most involved participants will be asked to travel and use the social media to promote their work and adventures as global citizens and goodwill ambassadors. 

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 recognition 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