August 20, 2016

Commitment into Action, “Leave No One Behind”

Dr. Khine Khine Win

After tense negotiations with many stakeholders, 193 countries have agreed the next set of development goals, which will seek to end poverty, achieve gender equality and ensure food security in every corner of the globe by 2030. The United Nations General Assembly formally adopted the “Transforming our world: 2030 agenda for sustainable development” by UN member States in September 2015. It is a new compact for people and planet anchored in 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and 169 targets. The Goals and targets stimulated the action over the next fifteen years in areas of critical importance for humanity and the planet.
This new agenda officially came into force on 1st January 2016 across the world. Introduction of new agenda states “we pledge that no one will be left behind”. Recognizing that the dignity of the human person is fundamental, we wish to see the Goals and targets met for all nations and peoples and for all segments of society.
The 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development offer a historic opportunity to eradicate extreme poverty and ensure no one is left behind. Here we need to ensure that no person – regardless of ethnicity, gender, geography, disability, race or other status – is denied universal human rights and basic economic opportunities. Yet, too many people have been left behind, trapped in cycles of poverty, disease, and injustice. And while there has been much progress, it has been uneven due to the ongoing and universal challenge of inequality and injustice, which hamper development efforts. You can see easily many inequalities around you even in your country and/or others regarding ethnicity, gender, disability, race or other status for the time being. From my point of view “Leave No One behind” is the key feature of all the goals and the idea is ‘no goal should be met unless it is met for everyone’.
However, “the idea of ‘none left behind’ meant different things to different people. Some countries thought it was about leaving no country behind, whereas others focused on traditionally-excluded groups such as LGBT, women, older people, and those with disabilities said Helen Dennis, Christian Aid’s senior adviser on poverty and inequality, who co-chaired the Beyond 2015 Coalition,
Whenever I met people and had a chance to talk about SDGs I always ask them, Do you believe the word “Leave no one behind” by 2030?  The answer is no. They said it is not the easy task. If you look back at MDGs, you can see clearly. Though MDG process (only 8 goals and 18 targets) led to significant progress, the result is uneven across regions and countries exacerbated by conflict, gender inequality, poverty and environmental threats they said. My perception is same as them. Achieving SDGs is difficult and tough one as SDGs are intended to be universal including without doubt well developed countries, least developed countries and small island developing states. What do you think? Can we get same result from those countries having different cultural, political and economic background?
Serra Sippel, President of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, said the SDGs did not go far enough to reduce existing inequalities. Reducing existing inequalities in all over the world is critical. Can we reduce all existing inequalities within 15 year timeframe? I doubt. Again, financing is considered the linchpin for the success of the 2030 agenda. From financial perceptive, the UN has estimated that the new goals could cost as much as $172.5tn over the 15 year time frame. Estimates of annual investment requirements in for example infrastructure — water, agriculture, telecoms, power, transport, buildings, industrial and forestry sectors — amount to $5 to $7 trillion globally. UNCTAD has also estimated that the total investment needs in developing countries amounts to $3.3-4.5 trillion annually, with current investment at $1.4 trillion implying an investment gap of $1.9-3.1 trillion per year. Despite there is an agreement, Addis Abba Action Agenda, provides a foundation for implementing the global sustainable development, the question is how to implement effectively this agenda worldwide?
Let us see from another perceptive, indicators. Countries have the primary responsibility for follow-up and review of progress made in the process of implementing the SDGs, which requires quality, accessible and timely data collection. Adopting so many indicators — viable and otherwise — could end up harming the larger SDG agenda to “Leave No One Behind.” This is because many of the countries for which little to no data exist are the very countries that require special attention from the global community to move the needle forward.
UN Statistical Commission (UNSC) established Interagency and Expert Group on SDGs indicators (IAEG-SDG) and IAEG-SDG adopted 230 global indictors on March 2016. After UNSC, there need to be approved by ECOSOC and UNGA on June 2016 and on September 2016 respectively. Here there is an issue. Take, for example indicator1.1.1 on the proportion of the population below the international poverty line. Seventy-two of the 193 UN member states report no data for this indicator since at least 2000. Interestingly, these countries fall into three broad categories: 10 conflict or fragile states, 19 small-island nations, and 45 high-income countries. (Some countries fall into multiple categories). This dearth of data points to potential problems for both the “Leave No One Behind” focus and the universality agenda. ( In this regard, UN and its member states are need to prepare to advance an agenda with 17 goals, 169 targets, and 230 indicators, they must also be prepared to bring the same level of ambition and resolve to monitoring and implementation. Here is the question: Is it possible to make people have same level of ambition within different countries? Can we establish timely, accurate and high quality data to achieve and measure sustainable development and to monitor progress and assess whether targets are being met by all peoples and all segments of society?
Despite many great challenges being along the way to implement worldwide, on September 2015, world leaders commit to work tirelessly for the full implementation of “Transforming our world: 2030 Agenda”. In this regard, we have to make sure that no one is left behind by 2030. Can We? I do hope the world leaders commitment will become a reality. I do hope world leaders will work tirelessly to show the word “Leave no one behind” become true. I do hope all the people in the world are living happy, prosperous and peaceful lives by 2030. I do hope world leaders clearly understand what they need to do to achieve 17 goals for their people.  I do believe they will change their commitment to action for their people focusing to leave no one behind by 2030.


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