New Development Goals lack foundations to deliver according to women’s rights network
14 August 2015
After 2 years of debate and negotiations 193 governments agreed to adopt a new development agenda at the UN on the 2nd August. While the 17 goals and 169 targets have been widely celebrated at the UN, the foundations required to achieve the goals are missing according to the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD).
“The breadth and ambition of the 17 goals are welcome and include some critical commitments” said APWLD regional coordinator Kate Lappin, “but three fundamental pillars required to truly transform the development agenda are missing: financing, accountability and reform of the global financial system.”
The Agenda is universal in its scope and includes targets for developed and developing countries, which is a welcome change from the previous, reductive, donor-driven Millennium Development Goals. The SDGs are also more ambitious than the MDGs, particularly in their inclusion of goals to address inequality within and among countries, and to curb unsustainable patterns of production and consumption; and to achieve gender equality. However, “the targets within the SDGs fall far short of what is needed to challenge the growth-focused, extractivist model of neoliberal development that has caused unprecedented inequality and pushed the planet to the brink of collapse” according to Aijamal Bakashova, rural women’s leader from Kyrgyzstan.
In the final months of negotiation, the world’s governments revealed their true lack of commitment to the structural and systemic change needed to deliver sustainable, equitable development. The first true test of commitment was the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD) held in July in Addis Ababa. In that meeting governments not only failed to make a single new financial commitment, they also regressed from previous commitments to address the imbalances in the global financial system that have caused multiple financial crises and pushed tens of millions more people into poverty. They also expanded the role for the private sector already created in the SDGs, paving the way for unaccountable partnerships with big businesses that have contributed to, and profited from, the very problems the SDGs seek to address.
“In the past 2 years governments repeatedly recognised that we must reduce inequalities of wealth. Inequality didn’t happen by accident. It happened because of the rules governments have imposed on the global economy. It happened because governments are governing in the interests of the private sector and billionaires. But rather than reform those rules they are cementing them and ensuring the private sector profits from development” said Lappin.
Another litmus test of political commitment to the SDGs is whether or not governments can be held accountable for their pledges to creating a more just and sustainable world. By this test, governments have once again failed. The post-2015 development agenda includes a weak, voluntary process for reviewing progress under the Agenda, failing to adopt even the system used in the other UN processes, such as the Human Rights Council.
“Governments have already made repeated commitments to ensure all people enjoy human rights, including the right to development” said Vernie Yocogan-Diano, an Indigenous leader from the Philippines “if governments can’t be held accountable for failing to deliver on promises, we are simply adding to the rhetoric. With no requirement to even report on progress we might start calling these the “optional development goals”’ she added.
Despite these failures civil society are determined to use the SDGs to hold governments to account and strengthen participatory democracy. “We the peoples will be rigorously monitoring these goals even if governments don’t” said Diano. “These goals form part of the social contract between peoples and our public servants, our governments. Should they fail to deliver, they relinquish the right to govern” she concluded.
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Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development is a regional, women’s rights network that initiates and promotes regional and international advocacy on women’s rights and development, with membership from 180 women’s organisations. It works with the Women’s Major Group constituency at the global level and with the Asia Pacific Regional Civil Society Engagement Mechanism at the regional level on the Sustainable Development Goals process and has campaigned with its members to shape the SDG agenda since 2012.
Aizhamal Bakashova represents our member organisation PA Shazet, a rural women’s organisation based in Kyrgyzstan.Vernie Yocogan Diano represents our member organisation Cordillera Women’s Education Action Research Center from the Philippines.