A CATALYTIC GATHERING AT UNITED NATIONS HEADQUARTERS
DURING UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY WEEK
Solutions Summit 2017 will highlight projects advancing the
17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
_WHAT IS THE SOLUTIONS SUMMIT?
Deadlines: 25 August – Selection Committee / 29 August – Solutions
While nearly a billion people have escaped extreme poverty since 1999, about 767 remained destitute in 2013, most of whom live in fragile situations. Despite major advances, an alarmingly high number of children under age 5 are still affected by malnutrition. In 2016, an estimated 155 million children under 5 years of age were stunted (low height for their age). Between 2000 and 2015, the global maternal mortality ratio declined by 37 per cent and the under-5 mortality rate fell by 44 per cent. However, 303,000 women died during pregnancy or childbirth and 5.9 million children under age 5 died worldwide in 2015.
In the area of sustainable energy, while access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking climbed to 57 per cent in 2014, up from 50 per cent in 2000, more than 3 billion people, lacked access to clean cooking fuels and technologies, which led to an estimated 4.3 million deaths in 2012. From 2015 to 2016, official development assistance (ODA) rose by 8.9 per cent in real terms to 142.6 billion US dollars, reaching a new peak. But bilateral aid to the least developing countries fell by 3.9 per cent in real terms.
Progress is uneven
The benefits of development are not equally shared. On average, women spent almost triple the amount of time on unpaid domestic and care work as men, based on data from 2010-2016. Economic losses from natural hazards are now reaching an average of 250 billion to 300 billion US dollars a year, with a disproportionate impact on small and vulnerable countries. Despite the global unemployment rate falling from 6.1 per cent in 2010 to 5.7 per cent in 2016, youth were nearly three times more likely than adults to be without a job. In 2015, 85 per cent of the urban population used safely managed drinking water services, compared to only 55 per cent of rural population.
“Empowering vulnerable groups is critical to ending poverty and promoting prosperity for everyone, everywhere,”stated Mr. Wu Hongbo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.
Harnessing the power of data
Effectively tracking progress on the SDGs requires accessible, reliable, timely and disaggregated data at all levels, which poses a major challenge to national and international statistical systems. While data availability and quality have steadily improved over the years, statistical capacity still needs strengthening worldwide. The global statistical community is working to modernize and strengthen statistical systems to address all aspects of production and use of data for the SDGs.
About the Report
The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2017 is the annual assessment of global and regional progress towards the Goals. The report is based on latest available data on selected indicators of the global SDG indicator framework, prepared by UN DESA with inputs from a large number of international and regional organizations.
Source: UN DESA
Had this story been happening in present-day Libya, where Alaa Murabit’s parents come from, it could’ve had a very grim ending. In 2015 alone, 303,000 women around the world died during pregnancy or childbirth. That same year saw close to six million children under the age of five perish. That’s over 800 mothers and 16,000 small children dying every day.
Alaa was lucky. She was born in Canada, a country with universal healthcare. “Within minutes I was in a hospital where they took my vitals and made sure I was OK,” she said.
She was even luckier to have supportive, open-minded parents who treated her and her brothers equally and who encouraged her career in medicine. “[My mother’s] definition of leadership was to nurture the necessary confidence and build the skills for her daughters to make their own decisions,” Alaa would later write.
Spurred on by her mother’s example, Alaa Murabit became a vocal activist for women’s rights and universal healthcare. Her initiatives, such as the groundbreaking “Noor Campaign”, which uses Islamic teaching to combat violence against women, are replicated internationally.
Last year, she became the youngest of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals Advocates – a group of eminent personalities who are helping the UN Secretary General to encourage action and commitments for the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals – the SDGs.
This week, Alaa Murabit is in New York for the High-Level Political Forum – an annual meeting to review progress made by countries towards achieving the SDGs. Her message to government officials and other stakeholders is as simple as it is strong: empower women to participate in sustainable development or fail.
“[Only when we] start having honest conversations about the impact that women and girls have on our communities and on this agenda, and the importance of our governments to resource that (…), that’s when we’re going to see legitimate change,” she told ministers and other high-level delegates on Monday.
In Tuesday’s SDGLive interview, she said it was understandable that countries focus more on some SDGs than others, depending on their priorities and capacities. But there are three goals, which according to her underpin the entire 2030 Agenda and where failure is simply not an option.
“The three areas we cannot overlook (…) are education, healthcare and gender equality. Those are the three areas that, when they intersect, can completely transform the world,” she said.
Alaa Murabit is convinced that the only path to achieve the SDGs leads through the economic and social empowerment of women and girls, and through ensuring that they have access to education.
“Data (…) backs up the fact that women and girls really are the key to seeing this agenda come to fruition,” she said in her SDGLive talk.
“If you talk about climate change action [for example], the most cost-effective and practical solution to climate change is the combination of girls’ education and women’s reproductive rights,” she added.
She quoted estimates, according to which equal education and employment opportunities for women and girls would result in a global economic growth greater than that of China and India combined. “We have to realize there is an untapped resource and the only way we can really leverage that is through education and through economic empowerment,” she said.
During the brutal conflict, which erupted in Libya at the beginning of this decade, Alaa called for women and local leaders to be allowed active participation in the peace process. In her new role of SDG Advocate, she remains a fervent champion of genuine women empowerment.
“We so often instrumentalize women,” she said. (…) “We very rarely empower and allow for women to be able to architect their own projects. And the one way, in which we can actually do that, is through economic empowerment, because we know that when women are economically empowered they re‑invest 90 per cent into their community. And the vast majority of that 90 per cent goes into health and education, so you’re completely transforming that landscape for future generations.”
But despite the wealth of data that supports empowerment and a broader participation of women in SDGs implementation, Alaa Murabit doesn’t see enough progress by countries in that field. “We need to start asking ourselves why, two years in we still haven’t really taken on this agenda as much as we can.”
To Alaa Murabit, the answer is simple: “Without women and girls, this agenda is not going to see the light of day – not even a little bit.”
The Committee of Experts on Public Administration will hold its sixteenth session at the United Nations in New York from 24 to 28 April 2017. The main subject of discussion will be “Ensuring effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals: leadership, action and means”.
Dr. Deisi Kusztra, WFO President, is participating in todays session as an expert at the “Interactive dialogue with CEPA members, Member States, United Nations system and civil society organizations”
More information is available at https://publicadministration.un.org/en/CEPA/session16
Who we are: As individuals and organizations committed to the successful implementation of the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we call for enhancing the power and capacity of communities to take charge of their own development.
Watch our brief introductory video.
A Human Right. Every human being has the inalienable right to participate in governance. For most of those living in hunger and poverty, this means governance within walking distance. People deserve this right to know that their voice and energies can make a difference. People in power must view people as “active citizens,” not beneficiaries, and “solutions,” rather than “problems.”
SDG #16 calls for building participatory, effective, accountable institutions “at all levels” – which must start at the level closest to the people. This must become a high priority.
A Gender-focused, Transformative Process. Community-led development is more than participatory projects. It requires a long-term process that empowers citizens and local authorities to transform entrenched patriarchal mindsets and take effective action.
Key Global Challenges. Four of the biggest challenges in the SDGs – to halt stunting, empower women, achieve inclusive economic growth and build climate change resilience – all require integrated and community-led solutions at the local level.
An end in itself. Community-led development is more than an effective and sustainable means to achieve development goals. As expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 29, “Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.” Participatory local governance is the only pathway through which most people will have this opportunity.
We therefore commit to work in alignment to achieve the following near-term goals:
- Raise the profile of community-led development in SDG-implementation discourse – starting with ourselves. We will develop a shared language for the practices, interventions and policies that enhance community-led development and we will project this language in our internal and external communications.
- Do the analysis. We will work in every context to ensure that the systems thinking being carried out by policy makers includes a bottom-up analysis – starting from people — as well as an accurate understanding of the community-level programs and institutions required.
- Generate, gather and disseminate evidence. We will build the evidence base for the importance of community-led development, and what works to enhance it.
- Share best practices. Empowering community-led development is a science, and we will document and share what works.
- Build the movement. Community-led development has strong relevance to good governance, peace and security, and humanitarian response, as well as to urban and rural social and economic development. We will reach out to all those working to enhance community-led development in all these communities.
- Advocate for an enabling policy environment and funding. Communities face an uphill battle, and are often starved for the information, skills, voice, and human and financial resources they need to fulfill their aspirations. We will develop and work together to support local, national and global advocacy efforts to remove the obstacles and strengthen support for community-led development.
- Take it to scale. Within activities already underway, there are enormous opportunities to work together to mobilize communities and unleash the greatest and most under-recognized resource for development – people power, and particularly the leadership of women and youth.
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