”LIVING UP TO THE ASPIRATIONAL NATURE OF AGENDA 2030”
By Busani Sibindi. Twitter: sibindibusani
The year 2016 marks the 1st anniversary since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda by world leaders in September 2015 during the 70th UN General Assembly.
The 2030 Agenda aspires to create a more inclusive world with the help of governments, businesses, civil society and ordinary citizens. A very unique aspect of the formulation of the 2030 Agenda was that consultations leading up to the adoption of the agenda were very unique and different. All over the world more than 1 million people participated in consultations and Civil Society played a significant role in articulating the true needs of the world.
National Consultations where conducted by UN Country teams in more than 88 countries. The consultations were organized and worked with a wide range of stakeholders including governments, civil society, the private sector, media, universities and think tanks. Consultations where designed according to stakeholder groups and constituencies, making deliberate efforts to engage groups that generally do not participate in policy discussions. The consultations combined various methods – focus group discussions with vulnerable groups, roundtables with various stakeholders and online and SMS methods for greater outreach. Results of all these deliberate efforts where massive in impact and inclusivity was truly incorporated in the final outcome documents.
The same spirit that dominated the formulation of the 2030 Agenda must be carried forward in its implementation. People and their organizations should not only be consulted in developing development frameworks. They should be given a role in the monitoring and accountability of the National and Local Implementation. After all, they are the primary rights holders and governments act on their behalf and as such must act in good faith.
Messages of inclusivity and the Leave No One Behind Rhetoric filled the Post – 2015 Intergovernmental Negotiations as by the end of the Negotiations nearly every major statement being issued – be it from a government or from stakeholders – incorporated the aspect of engaging and empowering those most often left behind. As the world celebrated in the Adoption Summit, a lot of expectations where generated. Indeed, the world looked forward to a truly transformative agenda.
The context of implementation of development frameworks is always at the local and National level. However, echoes for inclusivity and the Leave No One Behind call seems to be dying down and lacking in concrete and deliberate efforts to engage Vulnerable Marginalized and Minority Groups (VMMGs). While in principle the LANGUAGE is still heard in various platforms the ACTION is non existent.
Vulnerable Marginalized and Minority Groups are diverse in their own nature and in their own right. Scathing the surface in language alone will not be sufficient and will not transform the lives of the people most impacted by the challenging problems of the 21st Century.
As the world forges forward in implementation the true inclusion will be achieved by adopting deliberate efforts that seek to address and speak to the following challenges that those often left behind face everyday.
Research and Data
While acknowledging that Vulnerability and Marginalization varies by geo–political setting and other factors like the environment, Development Indices etc, implementation must prioritize the collection and verification of disaggregated data, using sophisticated and multi-dimensional approaches that capture the intersecting inequalities faced by vulnerable and marginalised groups, and the impacts of particular policies and actions on different groups of people. In engaging ways capacities must be developed for the target groups to be empowered enough to participate in the data collection and inputting as this will facilitate accountability in implementation. VMMGs must be capacitated enough to set priorities for data collection and gathering. This can be broadened by creating approaches to address current gaps, including qualitative data and participatory methodologies, and engaging those often left behind in creating priorities as well as cooperation between different statistical institutions and civil society.
Mapping and Resourcing
Before we can answer this question we need to introspect the modus operanda of the MDG era. Vulnerable Marginalized and Minority groups where mostly seen as statistics in report and in interventions modelling. During the Post–2015 Consultations, the Call for Inclusivity finally made headway into the limelight and those often left behind where prioritized not only on goals and the text but more so in engaging with Policy Makers at the United Nations. Efforts must be taken still to map by geo-setting various National Groups often left behind and in danger of being left behind in the implementation. Further to this, identified groups must be Resourced enough to effectively participate in implementation processes. Meaning access to critical Finance must be made available. Funding models must be crafted and channeled directly to VMMGs through the institutes they lead other than through the same silos that threaten inclusivity in implementation as well as inclusive implementation.
Big organizations must take the lead in supporting VMMG serving organizations with the structural, and financial support needed to implement the SDGs. The universal post-2015 agenda will be implemented in an unequal world and systemic changes will be needed to decrease the sustainable development gaps.
Advancing the international consensus on international financing for development is an essential component of the realisation of an equitable 2030 Agenda.
Domestic resource mobilization through progressive taxation, international cooperation and democratic creation of international rules governing finance contribute to reducing economic inequality. Financial flows from the private sector could contribute to equality if transparent, adequately regulated and respecting human rights. It is important that the IMPLEMENTATION of the 2030 Agenda tackles the economic dimension of inequality by strengthening specific indicators and means of implementation that will realise progressive domestic resource mobilization that contributes to the fulfillment of states’ human rights obligations
There is a strong correlation between groups – for example ethnic, religious and regional groups – are strongly correlated with the risk of violent conflict, whether economic, social, political or cultural. As such, there is a case for addressing inequalities during implementation as part of a holistic approach to building peaceful societies that goes beyond Goal 16 its targets and indicators. We must recognise that inequalities in access to resources are one of the root causes of violent conflict – and that these can be exacerbated by issues such as climate change, exclusionary governance or economic marginalization and hence the need to ensure inclusion in access to resources and opportunities of engagement of all groups with an emphasized bias of VMMGs.
Effective, meaningful and diverse civil society and citizen participation must be an integral part of implementation processes from beginning to end and at all levels – from local to global. A safe environment for debate and decision-making must be ensured VMMGs to get involved, through an enabling environment consistent with internationally agreed rights including freedom of association, organization, and speech.
Participation of marginalized peoples – in the design, delivery, monitoring and accountability will be essential to ensuring that goals are met for everyone.
By engaging all rights-holders in the implementation and monitoring of goals and targets will Agenda 2030 result in equitable sustainable development. Participation of, VMMGs must be recognised as a means to an end in, addressing inequality and TRANSFORMING our world for everyone.
Above everything advocacy for all these critical practical reforms must be a significant extent be led by the VMMGs themselves as this will allow for a clear articulation of their needs in implementation and transformation.
In conclusion, Human Rights as embedded in every progressive constitution and International Frameworks applicable and relevant by region and setting cannot be divorced from the 2030 Agenda implementation, which seeks to create a better world where everyone has equal opportunities and accessible overarching development and social protection flows. This responsibility goes beyond human societies but also includes taking adequate and proper sustainable care of our environment. Using finite resources wisely and preserving the core elements of nature that make earth a habitable planet.
About the Author: Busani Sibindi is the founding director of Save Matabeleland Coalition, a member of the Together 2030 Core – Group, runs the SDG Digest. He is a board member of the International Institute for Global Leadership and has served at the YOCIC (Youth for a Child in Christ) board since 2007. He has coordinated various high-level programs locally and globally. A 2016 Mandela – Washington Fellow (University of California – Berkeley). He works in sustainable development with a strategic focus on Goals 1, 10, 13, 16 and 17 through amongst many the NACOS 2030 and the #SDGSFOREVERYONE Project.