GLOBAL What Is In The Text

 USA
 Advocacy
 24th Jul 2015

Martha Rojas-Urrego, CARE International Head of Global Advocacy, follows the latest negotiations for the Post-2015 Development Agenda in New York. Here she explains CARE’s position on the latest draft of what will be adopted by the global community in September.

For the past two years, I have followed the discussions between governments about a new universal development agenda and goals that aim to end poverty in all its forms. These goals, called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) build upon the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were adopted in 2000 and expire this year. United Nations member states will use this new global development framework to set their agendas for development and aid from 2015 until 2030.  Having closely watched the progress of the negotiations so far, I am now in New York attending the final round of negotiations with the CARE delegation.

The draft of the goals is called “Transform Our World” and by 2030 the goals aim to do just that. The world has come a long way since the MDGs, yet these upcoming days are still filled with a lot of work.

'People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnerships'

It is remarkable that sustainable development, with its three pillars, economic, social and environmental, which came from the mostly “environmental” track of the last 20 years of international negotiations, is now the reference for this defining development process. The resulting Sustainable Development Goals are now the balanced package that should not be re-opened. This integration needs to be strengthened and reflected on the new catch-phrase of the ‘5Ps’: “people, planet, prosperity, peace, partnerships.”

Though climate change is included as a stand-alone goal, the text still falls short of fully incorporating the fundamental sustainable development challenge it entails. It needs to be strengthened by incorporating clear reference to the 2/1.5 degree warming limit, the need to phase-out carbon emissions; and by strengthening the role of and support for adaptation to climate impacts and addressing loss and damage.

No fragile state has achieved the targets set out by the MDGs so it is a notable improvement that the role of peace in sustainable development is recognized in the draft goals. However, the role of women in conflict is not mentioned, and the longstanding UN-mandated agenda on women, peace and security continues to be absent from these discussions.

This brings us to the stand-alone goal on gender equality and women’s empowerment. The targets address critical issues, such as eliminating all forms of violence against all women and girls, and giving women equal rights to economic resources, including land ownership and financial inclusion. It seems too obvious now that development cannot happen when one out of three women in the world is subject to violence and when women do not have equal access to productive assets. CARE has been a strong advocate for gender equality as a key driver for development and – ultimately- a question of human rights. We see in our daily work with poor communities around the world that a woman who is empowered to make her own choices can lift her family and her whole community out of poverty.

The inclusion of this goal is a sign of huge progress, but we must not let this progress overshadow the fact that gains made 20 years ago on sexual reproductive health and rights are being slashed. I’m hearing some governments opposing the inclusion of sexual and reproductive rights in the draft Political Declaration; even if the international community agreed on these rights 20 years ago.

Mapping the road to sustainable development

Underlying all this, the litmus test will be whether the framework, so hardly negotiated throughout these years, can be implemented, whether the ambition of this document will be translated into action. Coming from last week’s Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, the international community has gone backwards in terms of financing commitments and addressing the structural injustices in the current global economic system that undermine our fight against poverty. It will thus be critical during these negotiations that gaps from Addis are filled and that the means of implementation currently included in the text are not only maintained, but strengthened.

I am particularly taken by the last sentence of the draft political declaration: “We have mapped the road to sustainable development: it will be for all of us to ensure that the journey is irreversible”.

I can’t help but think that before making development irreversible we need to make that very development happen in the first place. What we need is a solid roadmap, backed up by the political will and financing at all levels in order for it to be well implemented. The challenge is to ensure that all countries are able to implement the goals and be accountable to those the goals are meant to serve. We need and agenda that won’t leave anyone behind and will truly transform the lives of the world’s poorest people.

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