Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world
by Global Call to Action against Poverty
In 2017, the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) will assess the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, focusing on “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world.”
As the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) Major Group – which facilitates the engagement of a diverse group of NGOs in the HLPF – we offer our perspectives on each of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under in-depth review this year.
As recognized by the 2030 Agenda, NGOs play critical roles in SDG implementation: we raise awareness and mobilize; build capacity; design and implement projects; monitor and review policies; collect data; provide technical expertise; and both support and hold governments accountable to their commitments.
We note with concern the shrinking space for civil society, and call for increased political and financial support for civil society participation at all levels and stages of implementation and review, to increase the Goals’chances of success.
The 2030 Agenda is universally applicable, intersectional, and holistic; achieving the SDGs requires integrated solutions and relies on complementary roles of different actors in society.
As governments assess their progress towards implementingthe SDGs, we encourage consideration of this consolidated official input of the NGO Major Group.
The 2017 High Level Political Forum addresses the theme “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world,” an imperative that is also a prerequisite for sustainable peace.
Achieving these aims will not be possible unless the structural and systemic barriers to achievement and root causes of exploitation and degradation of the environment are addressed.
Current neoliberal macroeconomic policy is a major driver of unequal distribution of wealth and power and the destruction of natural resources, and must be reconsidered and replaced.
Notions of development based entirely on economic growth present a myopic view of progress and must be discarded, and corporations must be held to account for their social and environmental records.
We call for a new development paradigm which furthers the well-being of humans, nature and animals, and which sees as its ultimate aim the achievement of equity and justice, to “leave no one behind.”
The practical contributions of civil society are a distinct and important element of this process. The NGO Major Group therefore calls on the United Nations and its Member States to increase the engagement of civil society, by soliciting more extensive inputs from Major Groups and other Stakeholders, and providing their translation into the six UN languages.
Allowing ample time for meaningful engagement of civil society in SDG implementation and review processesis essential at global, regional and national levels.
Each country is responsiblefor achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in consultation with its people, to address collective challenges from a place of shared endeavour.
From individuals to local authorities to national ministries to UN agencies, each must take ownership of the Goals in their particular contexts – acknowledging that all Goals are interrelated and mutually reinforcing.
The NGO Major Group recommends the following regarding the SDGs under review in 2017:
Goal 1: Addressing the causes and manifestations of structural poverty requires holistic, context-specific solutions interlinked with all other goals. Governments should report on their efforts to increase opportunities, wellbeing, and resilience among all sectors of society.
Goal 2: To end hunger and all forms of malnutrition, we must change our agricultural production from high-input, industrial exploitation towards systems that support smallholders’ livelihoods and preserve cultures and biodiversity.
Goal 3: Efforts to achieve health related targets should prioritize the full spectrum of services from promotion, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliation.
Governments, through a multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder approach, must endeavour to remove social, cultural, and economic barriers to ensure full access to affordable, quality physical and mental health services for all.
Goal 5: Obstacles to the actualization of gender equality and the fundamental rights of women and girls should be overcome through implementing laws and policies that prohibit discrimination, redistribute unpaid carework, promote equality in access to resources, education, and decision-making, in alignment wit internationally agreed conventions and standards.
Goal 9: All governments, including regional and local authorities, should promote inclusive, ecologically-sound industrialization and the provision of basic infrastructure that incorporates the protection of nature and participatory decision-making.
Goal 14: SDG14 must be a keystone in protecting the oceans as a substantial part of the biosphere, a unique ecosystem, an integral part of human civilization and major food provider, and a common good with equal and fair access rights.
In keeping with the commitment to “Leave No One Behind,” the full position paper of the Non-Governmental Organizations’ Major Group details the ways in which the SDGs are interconnected, locally applicable yet requiring universal commitment, and essential for the eradication of poverty and promotion of prosperity for all.
* Access the “Leave No One Behind,” NGOs position paper via the link below.
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Tens of millions of children out of school in conflict zones
by UNICEF, Education Cannot Wait
24 April 2017
More than 25 million children between 6 and 15 years old, or 22 per cent of children in that age group, are missing out on school in conflict zones across 22 countries, UNICEF said today.
“At no time is education more important than in times of war,” said UNICEF Chief of Education Josephine Bourne. “Without education, how will children reach their full potential and contribute to the future and stability of their families, communities and economies?”
At the primary school level, South Sudan has the highest rate of out-of-school children with close to 72 per cent of children missing out on education. It is followed by Chad (50 per cent) and Afghanistan (46 per cent). The three countries also have the highest rate of girls who are out of school, at 76 per cent for South Sudan, 55 per cent for Afghanistan, and 53 per cent for Chad.
At the lower-secondary school level, the highest rates of out-of-school children are found in Niger (68 per cent), South Sudan (60 per cent) and the Central African Republic (55 per cent). Out-of-school rates for girls spike for this age group, with nearly three quarters of girls in Niger and two in three in both Afghanistan and the Central African Republic not in school.
To help drive an increased understanding of the challenges children affected and uprooted by conflict face in accessing school, 19-year-old Syrian refugee and education activist Muzoon Almellehan, dubbed ‘the Malala of Syria’, travelled to Chad, a country where nearly three times as many girls as boys of primary-age in conflict areas are missing out on education.
Muzoon met children who are able to get an education for the first time, and community members who, like her once, are risking it all to get children into school.
“Conflict can take away your friends, your family, your livelihood, your home. It can try to strip you of your dignity, identity, pride and hope. But it can never take away your knowledge,” said Muzoon. “Meeting children in Chad who had fled Boko Haram reminded me of my own experiences in Syria. Education gave me the strength to carry on. I wouldn’t be here without it.”
When Muzoon was forced to flee unspeakable violence in Syria four years ago, her school books were the only belongings she took with her. She spent nearly three years in Jordan, including 18 months in Za’atari refugee camp, where she made it her personal miss ion to get more girls into education. She went from tent to tent talking to parents to encourage them to get their children into school and learning.
Like Muzoon, who fled violence in Syria to Jordan, 4,400 children have fled Boko Haram violence in northeast Nigeria to Chad. Unlike her, many of them remain out of school – and therefore risk abuse, exploitation and recruitment by armed forces and groups. Around 90 per cent of children arriving into Chad from Nigeria have never been to school.
UNICEF works in conflict-affected countries to get children back to learning, by providing catch-up education and informal learning opportunities, training teachers, rehabilitating schools and distributing school furniture and supplies.
In response to the education crisis in Chad, UNICEF has so far this year provided school supplies to more than 58,000 students, distributed teaching materials to more than 760 teachers, and built 151 classrooms, 101 temporary learning spaces, 52 latrines and 7 sports fields. UNICEF Chad also supported the salaries of 327 teachers for the 2016-2017 school year.
A USD $10 million allocation from Education Cannot Wait, a fund launched during the World Humanitarian Summit held in May 2016, will assist in providing quality education for children who have been displaced and those living in host communities in Chad.
Despite these efforts, funding shortfalls are affecting children’s access to school in the conflict-affected areas of Chad. Currently, 40 per cent of UNICEF’s 2017 education funding needs in the country have been met.
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