Blog Page Navigation
Showing posts with label climate change. Show all posts
Showing posts with label climate change. Show all posts

Monday, October 23, 2017

Climate Refugeeism from Rising Tides

Refugees: Are We Eating our Young?

Islands at Risk

Deborah Levine, Editor-in-Chief of the American Diversity Report

Refugee International reported a few years ago that a Kiribatian man tried to convince a New Zealand court to make him the world’s first climate change refugee. Kiribati is an impoverished group of Pacific islands vulnerable to rising sea levels. He didn’t succeed, but many experts predict a growing number of displaced people seeking asylum because of global warming. The planet has limited drinkable water, fertile land, clean air, and food. The planet’s current supplies are steadily shrinking.

At the same time, valuable resources such as oil, fishing areas, minerals, mines, and even illicit drugs have become a violent crossroads for old ethnic rivalries, international money, and survival. The result is a threat to a global and local economies. Corporations will eventually run out of poor populations to harness, foreign resources to exploit, and regions free of violence in which to operate efficiently and safely. Local leaders are battling fiercely to control access and power, ethnic divisions are stronger than ever, and refugees abound. Above all, the future of this planet, our youth, are experiencing challenges more likely to be identified with the Middle Ages than a post-modern world.

Islands disappearing underwater. Photo: The Guardian: Environment (See photo exposé) 

Youth at Risk

The displacement of young people is producing experts in arenas that were once little known but are now all too central to society. Siddharth Chatterjee works at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) since 2011. Before joining the IFRC, he served in the United Nations. A former Special Forces officer in the Indian Army, he is a graduate in Public Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School for Public & International Affairs at Princeton University, USA. In South Sudan, he negotiated the release and demobilized 3,551 child soldiers from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. This demobilization of child soldiers was the first program of its kind during an ongoing conflict.

Unfortunately, many ethnic conflicts are likely to increase in direct proportion to the decrease in availability of vital resources. CNN.com reported what is becoming a familiar situation … “The South Sudanese government and military, dominated by the Dinka ethnic group of President Salva Kiir, is fighting rebels allied with former Vice President Riek Machar of the Nuer ethnic group… At stake for now is control of oil-rich regions responsible for more than 95% of the country’s economy, and perhaps leadership of the country.” In the first two weeks of violence, tens of thousands of people to seek the protection of United Nations forces. The high stakes involved with oil production as well as South Sudan’s gold, copper and possibly uranium resources, brought international pressure for what is, no doubt, a very uneasy cease fire.

Shocking pictures of refugees from Sudan, Syria, and Myanmar are reshape our world view. A Canadian high school senior Chelsea Liu wrote, “I recently came across an article titled “Millionth Child Flees Syria” on Yahoo News. The picture under the headline was one of a young girl, with dark circles under her eyes, staring hauntingly at the camera. In the West—perhaps in Canada—she would be going to school in a few years, wearing nice clothes and hanging out with friends… If she lived here in Oakville, she could do all of that, and more. But she’s in Jordan, sitting in a mobile home at a refugee camp. She’s wearing a blue blanket, and her candid expression shows nothing but distrust for everything that has come her way… How many times have we cried over something that we believe to be so utterly important, and yet so insignificant when compared to this little girl’s predicament?”

What to do?

What can we do to save the children caught up in these battles? They are the future of a society. Destroy them, and you destroy a culture and a generation. Yet, despite the compelling arguments for protecting the future generation, there is little escape for them. Much of the apathy or antipathy stems from a shortage of resources and an overall economic squeeze. How can any country support the tidal wave of refugees over time? How can we feed, clothe, and provide clean drinking water, not to mention jobs, healthcare, and housing?

Syria’s neighbors and European countries are imploding under the current weight of refugees. Yet, Egypt deported Syrian and Ethiopian refugees, Singapore deported Indian nationals, and National Turk Magazine reports on Saudi Arabia, “Thousands of Egyptians, Indonesians, Malaysians and others have been flown out of the country as the Saudi government seeks to create jobs for local people by deporting some of the estimated nine million foreign workers.”

No region is exempt from the challenges. The US tries to close its borders with Latin America. Trucks and boats of the poverty-stricken attempt life-threatening escapes not only from Syria but from Haiti, the Central African Republic, and other countries decimated by war or natural disasters. They often die in the attempt or end up in make-shift refugee camps that resemble hopeless prisons without adequate food, water, plumbing, or shelter.

The calls for help are many. Chatterjee asks, “Will this be the year to protect children caught in armed conflict? We were once filled with hope and happiness, eager to see a better world where Human Rights and equality are advanced. Yet, in another part of our world we see the compelling misery and despair.”

Beyond Compassion

It may be time to recognize that compassion can alleviate, but not resolve. Yes, humanity leads to acts that make a difference. However, there is simply not enough money or resources to counteract the massive dislocations we are seeing. Increasingly, our compassionate acts are like band aids, more temporary and less effective every year. How else can we use our humanity to magnify our efforts, to change the trajectory of the destruction of our children, our future?

Let’s address the root causes of “devour-our-young” syndrome that we are experiencing: Resources. We must create enough food and drinking water for the planet’s population so that we don’t end up killing each other to survive. None of us will be exempt from the impact of depletion. Therefore, we must invest in alternative fuels and renewable energy to power us beyond the fossil fuels that are poisoning the air we breathe. Housing must be energy self-sufficient with solar panels. Roof gardens and urban community farming plots should be encouraged to alleviate the loss of arable land. No longer can we turn a blind eye to the global impact of natural disasters.

Yes, it is humane to contribute food and clothing for those affected. However, the relocation of vulnerable populations only delays, not manages the problem. Investment in structures that can withstand changing weather patterns are long-term solutions that must be rapidly pursued.

As tribalism engulf our planet, armed-conflicts over diminishing resources are resulting in humanitarian crises that overwhelm our ability to assist. Decimating cities and regions in the process of wiping out the perpetrators is creating vast areas of destruction. There must be investments in innovative technology to re-build these areas for environmental sustainability. Will this be the year that world leaders recognize the urgency and act to save the planet, or are we eating our young for years to come in the fight over shrinking resources?

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 24, 2015

The SDGs can turn-around Climate Change

How does climate change fit within the Sustainable Development Goals?

Republished from the Carbon Brief 

On Friday in New York, countries will adopt a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will guide global development up to 2030.

The SDGs take the form of 17 goals, accompanied by 169 targets that give precise information about what should be achieved.

© Elmari Joubert/Great Stock/Corbis
They do not skimp on ambition. If countries succeed in meeting the goals, by 2030 there will be an end to poverty, hunger, child labour, AIDS and various other problems that blight millions of lives globally.

Climate change plays an important role in what the UN is calling the "post-2015 development agenda". "Sustainable development" - a notoriously difficult term to define - becomes impossible unless global temperature rise is tackled, according to the final document:

"Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time and its adverse impacts undermine the ability of all countries to achieve sustainable development."

Not only has climate change been given its own, dedicated target, but it is also integrated into almost all of the other goals. Many of the targets directly reference the need to tackle climate change and its impacts in some form or another.

What was the process?

Governments instigated the process of designing the SDGs in June 2012, when they met in Brazil for the Rio+20 conference, 20 years after the original 1992 Rio Earth Summit.

Here, it was decided that there should be a new set of goals to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - a more modest set of eight goals that are set to expire in 2015. These would continue to build on Agenda 21, the 700-page guidebook for development adopted by the UN in 1992.

The MDGs registered many successes: the number of people living in extreme poverty declined by more than half; more than 6.2m malaria deaths were averted; and development assistance from developed countries increased by 66%, according to the 2015 progress report.

However, it also points out that there are limitations to their achievements, with progress patchy across regions, and hundreds of millions of people still living in extreme poverty.

The SDGs aim to fill this gap, and this time they are stressing that no one should be left behind. The SDGs also elevate the issue of environmental sustainability, which was missing from the MDGs.

How are they different from the MDGs?

There are high hopes that the SDGs will be more successful than the MDGs. Bernadette Fischler, executive advisor at WWF UK, who followed the negotiations, tells Carbon Brief that the process was more open and inclusive this time around. She said:

"The Millennium Development Goals were really put together by a bunch of middle-aged, white guys somewhere in the basement of the UN, basically, at the exclusion of other parties. It took the MDGs about five years to take off, also because there was quite a bit of pushback.

"Countries, especially developing countries, were a bit suspicious of this agenda, and that was completely different to the SDGs. With the SDGs, everybody was part of the creation of the agenda, which is maybe why it's such a broad and inclusive agenda."

The SDGs are also different qualitatively to the MDGs, offering a more systemic approach to tackling the world's problems, says Kitty van der Heijden, director of the World Resources Institute Europe.

This should also help to frame the new goals, not just as something for the developing world, but for everyone. She said:

"It is a truly global action agenda, whereas the MDGs were largely about an agenda for the south, with the role of the north just being the funders. This agenda is as much about what happens there in the south, as about what happens here in the developed economies. This is not about development cooperation like the MDGs, but it is about a structural transformation of our economy in all countries, for all sectors and for all people, and the great thing is it will be adopted universally."

Climate change

The SDGs cover a range of topics, but it is hard to ignore the way in which climate change is woven throughout the 17 goals.

The thirteenth goal in the SDGs sees governments pledging to: "Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts."

This is accompanied by five underlying targets. These are:

13.1 Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries
13.2 Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning
13.3 Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning
13.a Implement the commitment undertaken by developed-country parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to a goal of mobilizing jointly $100 billion annually by 2020 from all sources to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and fully operationalize the Green Climate Fund through its capitalization as soon as possible
13.b Promote mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management in least developed countries and small island developing States, including focusing on women, youth and local and marginalized communities

(Note that the first three are targets for the goal; the fourth and fifth, labelled with letters, provide direction about how to implement the targets. This applies throughout the SDGs.)

The document acknowledges that the UNFCCC, the agency responsible for overseeing the international climate deal this December, remains the driving force within the UN for pushing action on climate change. During the negotiations, some parties expressed concerns about how the SDG and UNFCCC processes would operate in parallel, without interfering with each other.

There is also a goal dedicated to energy. This is a pledge to: "Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all."

This, too, comes with five associated goals. These are:

7.1 By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services
7.2 By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix
7.3 By 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency
7.a By 2030, enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and advanced and cleaner fossil-fuel technology, and promote investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technology
7.b By 2030, expand infrastructure and upgrade technology for supplying modern and sustainable energy services for all in developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States and landlocked developing countries, in accordance with their respective programmes of support

However, references to climate change don't stop at these goals. The need to tackle rising emissions and prepare communities for the impacts of climate change is embedded throughout the document, sometimes directly and sometimes obliquely.

The first goal, for instance, is to end poverty. But this includes a target to reduce the exposure and vulnerability of the poor to climate-related extreme events.

The second goal is to end hunger. One of the targets involves ensuring that food production systems are able to adapt to climate change.

The goal relating to education includes a target that all learners should be educated in sustainable development and how to live a sustainable lifestyle.

These are just a few examples of the many places in which climate change is woven throughout the SDGs.

Implementation

The SDGs are not legally binding, which means that it is up to individual countries to implement the goals and targets set out within the document. It stresses that every country retains "full, permanent sovereignty over all its wealth, natural resources and economic activity".

However, every country has been involved in the three-year process of designing and implementing the document. It is both accepted by all and applicable to all, taking into account each country's distinct national circumstances.

This consensus was not easy to achieve, but it should make the job of implementing the SDGs easier over the next 15 years, says WWF-UK's Fischler. She tells Carbon Brief:

"Everybody was involved. They really were fighting to the end, so they invested a lot of emotions and brainpower and diplomatic weight in this process, so the ownership is here already. I think it's much more likely that implementation is going to happen faster, and people feel more like it's their own, that it's their agenda. They can now implement it together - rather than something that was imposed on them."

The document also sets out some specifics about how the SDGs will be implemented, monitored and funded - although finalising the details remains a job for future UN meetings.

Goal 17 is dedicated to implementation. This includes targets to mobilise more financial resources and promote the development and dissemination of environmentally sound technologies in developing countries. It also covers capacity building and trade.

The document makes clear that implementing the goals is a task for everyone - governments, civil society, the private sector and the UN - in what is termed a "Global Partnership".

The UN, for instance, has launched a "Technology Facilitation Mechanism", which will include an online platform to provide information on science, technology and programmes that could help countries to achieve the goals. There will also be an annual two-day meeting to discuss such developments.

There will also be an effort to track progress on the goals over the next 15 years. The follow-up programme will take place at a regional, national and international level, and a set of global indicators will be developed to show how effectively the goals are being implemented.

A global review by a high-level political forum will be primarily based on nationally collected data, which illustrates the importance of securing the goodwill of the countries behind the goals.

The issue of how the goals will be funded was dealt with at the Financing For Development conference, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in July 2015.

There is already evidence that some governments are looking to embed the SDGs into their decision-making. For instance, the Welsh government recently passed the Well-Being of Future Generations Act, which explicitly mentions the need to consider the goals in future reports on Welsh development, and puts the concept of sustainability at the heart of policymaking.

Conclusion

The SDGs set out an ambitious plan of action for the next 15 years. As well as setting the wider development agenda for the world, it could also bolster the UN's efforts to tackle climate change through a new climate agreement.

But, unlike the UNFCCC, the goals do not treat climate change as a subject that takes place in a vacuum.

There are many hopes resting on the development agenda for post-2015. The biggest is, perhaps, that the need for low-emission, climate resilient communities will be integrated into wider efforts to end poverty, hunger and inequality over the course of the century.

23 Sep 2015, 13:50 by Sophie Yeo

To read more about the greatest change in human history follow our blog. Read more about the resource based economy and the environment at the Carbon Brief Blog.

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