Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Global Citizens Day of Action 2015: Who lights the way and what follows afterwards?

By Kimbowa Richard

On 24 September, thousands around the world plan to make a call on leaders to ‘light the way’ to a better future for people and planet. In 2015, World leaders will meet at key summits to set the goals and targets that will affect how we tackle issues like poverty, inequality and climate change for years to come. These include the UN General Assembly due 15th – 28th September 2015 to adopt a new set of Global Goals. 193 world leaders will commit to 17 Global Goals to achieve 3 extraordinary things in the next 15 years. End extreme poverty. Fight inequality & injustice. Fix climate change. These Goals are to be achieved in all countries and for all people.

Hence, the Global Citizens Day of Action that brings together CSOs under Action2015 movement seeks to mobilize citizens to call upon their leaders to take action on poverty, inequality and climate change as they adopt the new Global Goals this September. This day is in also in line with the UN’s 2015 slogan: ‘Time for Global Action for People and Planet’

Intertwined: Inequality, climate change and poverty

The UN MDG Report (2015) provides starting point on what is pending to address global inequalities that come in various forms across regions and countries. For example millions of the poorest and those disadvantaged because of their sex, age, disability, ethnicity or geographic location that are being left behind. Hence, targeted efforts will be needed to reach the most vulnerable people across the globe that face the 3 horrors of poverty, inequality and climate change on a daily basis with little hope of breaking this bondage. For example, poor people’s livelihoods are more directly tied to natural resources, as they often live in the most vulnerable areas. They therefore suffer the most from environmental degradation in form of overexploitation of marine fish stocks, forest degradation, water scarcity due to droughts and flood conditions.

Who to ‘Light the Way’ now and in the long-run?

According to the UN MDG Report (2015), the global mobilization behind the Millennium Development Goals has produced the most successful anti-poverty movement in history. The landmark commitment entered into by world leaders in the year 2000 - to “spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty”— was translated into a framework of eight goals and, then, into wide-ranging practical steps that have enabled people across the world to improve their lives and their future prospects.

The emerging post-2015 development agenda, including the set of Sustainable Development Goals, strive to reflect lessons from the MDGs, build on successes made and put all countries, together, firmly on track towards a more prosperous, sustainable and equitable world. But then, in light of these lessons, who should take the drivers’ seat to propel the Global Goals? What criteria should be followed in selecting these leaders from the global to local levels?

In the foreword to the UN MDG Report (2015), UN Secretary General – Ban Ki Moon provides some useful clue in this regard, by noting that ‘further progress will require an unswerving political will, and collective, long-term effort’. He further adds that, ‘we need to tackle root causes and do more to integrate the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development’.

What follows afterwards?

The challenge is therefore on how to harness and sustain the ‘latent’ political will that has been shown since the start of 2015, evidenced by the high-profile meetings and pronouncements during the G7 Summit in Germany (June – 8, 2015) and the Financing for Development Conference held in Addis Ababa (July 13 – 16, 2015).

The success of the 17 Global goals needs redoubling of efforts to truly achieve this universal and transformative agenda. Having a collective effort means citizens, communities, municipalities, townships, nations, regional and international bodies should be ready to support one another in pursuance of these global goals. Relatedly, long-term effort means investment in knowledge and information sharing, skills development (for example on monitoring of data on the global goals to inform planning in real time in order to ‘count the uncounted so that can we reach the unreached’) and manpower exchange with less or no conditionalities to enable experiential learning and mutual support.