Increasing conflict and inequality, unprecedented levels of migration and displacement, the devastating effects of climate change, ocean acidification, deforestation to satisfy our demand for meat and palm oil, excess use of herbicides and pesticides polluting ground water systems, plastics destroying eco-systems, political extremism and disenfranchisement, the share of wealth increasingly imbalanced within and between countries – these are just some of the issues that define our age, issues that go beyond national boundaries, issues that require concerted effort at a global level to tackle.
On 25 September 2015, 193 governments signed up to a roadmap for the planet and its people by adopting Agenda 2030, defined by 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets. The SDGs demand an end to extreme poverty by 2030, poverty that condemns millions of people, especially women and girls, to an early death, poor education and ill health; a turning point in the levels of inequality and discrimination; an accelerated transition to 100% renewable energy; protection of the planet whilst ensuring inclusive peace and prosperity.
2 years on little progress seems to have been made. It is now even more important to continue to let our world leaders know that we’re watching them, that we stand at the turning point for the future of people and the planet. The World’s largest Civil Society Movement, Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) is mobilising local, regional, national and continental CSO’s from across the world to monitor the implementation of the SDGs, to ensure that countries achieve the goals and meet and exceed the targets for all groups. It will work to transform unjust and impoverishing aspects of the global economic and financial architecture as well as the root causes of violent conflicts. It will work to ensure that civil society and people’s voices are not relegated to the margins, that people’s voices are incorporated into SDG implementation and decision-making at all levels and that campaigners should feel safe to mobilize constituents for greater accountability, gender justice and climate action.
On the 25th September, CSO’s will unite across the world to raise voices for the generations of tomorrow. Hundreds of actions are planned across the globe including in Scotland. We are determined to end poverty and hunger, in all their forms and dimensions; to ensure that all human beings can fulfil their potential in dignity and equality and in a healthy environment; to protect the planet from degradation; to push for urgent action on climate change; to ensure that all human beings can enjoy healthy and fulfilling lives; that economic, social and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature; to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies free from fear and violence; to mobilize the means required to implement this Agenda through a revitalized Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, focused in particular on the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable.
But how do we know the promise is being kept by our Governments? How can we monitor progress? We must institutionalise Agenda 2030 in Parliament by setting up an SDG committee to ensure its continuous and consistent engagement with its members, creating a framework for SDG Governance and accountability, enabling an environment for multi-stakeholder engagement and ensuring availability of data on SDG progress to inform the work of all committees in setting priorities and allocating resources for SDG implementation. This data must also be available for the general public to scrutinise. Only then can we monitor progress and check the promise is being kept.
13 years remain to challenge the structural and root causes of inequalities and poverty, including climate change. Any Governments, private sector and international institutions, including the UN, who deliberately obstruct Agenda 2030 must be held to account. Policies that promote equality such as tax justice, decent work, redistributive measures, social protection and gender equality are crucial.
The SDGs offer the hope of a future where people live in harmony on a safe, sustainable planet. We have the tools, knowledge and resources to make a big difference. When we come together we can make a difference. As we continue on this collective journey no one must be left behind.
Steering Group Lead, Network of African Youths for Development