On July 2 2015, Member States of the UN adopted The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which consists of the Declaration and the Sustainable Development Goals and Targets besides two other chapters on implementation and partnerships and follow-up. The Agenda will be formally adopted during the Post-2015 Summit, September 25-27.
The negotiation process mobilized governments, key stakeholders and civil society. Each goal matters but I would like to point out that women’s rights organizations played a major role in ensuring that the agenda highlighted the importance of gender equality. It took a great deal of compromise to build a consensus especially as some countries were opposed to references to human rights, gender equality and sexual and reproductive health.
Goal 5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls is considered as a “big win” in the sense that it implies dealing with the barriers and challenges to gender equality.
Putting sexual and reproductive health on the agenda is essential and it must be defended through large coalitions involving the South alongside the North so that everyone can work on a common agenda.
Advocacy groups and women rights activists are instrumental in pressuring for governmental accountability. I personally believe that the feminist approach is essential to push the agenda forward because what is stake is the role of women in society.
I feel like those goals and targets are hardly known by the public. The French media for instance hardly covered the Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Accord adopted during the Financing for Development conference.
So the question is: How do we, as citizens, engage in this debate? The Agenda should not be an abstract document signed by a group of delegates and diplomats at the UN, a pledge that will remain unfulfilled and will be remembered as another symbolic declaration. To make a difference, shouldn’t we plead for the inclusion of those goals in national legislations? They should be part a sort of Magna Carta and be taught in schools to raise a global awareness and entice people to act. This is not about wishful thinking, it’s about saving our planet and our societies which are highly endangered by climate change, inequality, political instability, lack of transparency, and many other issues. In this globalized era, we can and we have to be aware and get involved in actions towards sustainable development. We should use all the tools and technology we have at our disposal to adopt a critical approach and be active citizens. In that respect, I urge everyone to get acquainted with the Club of Budapest and carefully ready its Manifesto on Planetary Consciousness.
For the last 10 months, we have seen refugees from Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, Afghanistan and other countries desperately trying to escape their native lands to live decently in the Western world. I, like many people, was aghast at the reactions of those who claimed that France should not accept migrants who, for the most part, are actually refugees, on the grounds that they were potential terrorists or that France could not afford to welcome aliens who would end up living off of welfare subsidies. In the late 1930s, France accepted refugees from the Spanish civil war (440.000) and in 1979, Boat People from Vietnam (120.000). It is so convenient for some extremists to blame all our social problems on foreigners, Muslims and what not. This narrow-minded attitude operates on collective fear in a period of socio-economic crisis. Therefore, we should not fall prey to political manipulations and the misuse of the terminology related to asylum, refugees and immigrants. In that respect, the UNHCR clearly defines each status in this viewpoint published on August 27, 2015.
In a nutshell, everything is related, a sustainable world is possible if we all contribute to the implementation of each goal. We need to educate our children and ourselves in order not to be spectators of our lives. Over the years, I have observed that nonprofits (the ones I work with and others) achieve a great deal through their steady advocacy efforts and activities in the field, they do manage to make a difference while collaborating with grassroots organizations, as well as local governments. We cannot just sit there and say that politicians are all the same…. Democracy allows us to express ourselves through the vote but it’s also up to us to venture into concrete actions to help developing countries. Time for action!