Know, Love and Serve with the SDG’s is a Lenten resource prepared by the Claretian Development Network. Focus Goals for the Planet reflect on SDG 6, 12, 13, 14 and 15. Conversion needs to be holistic – ecological, social, and spiritual. Text is currently available in English and Spanish. Coming soon in French. This year the focus at the United Nations is on “Accelerated action and transformative pathways: realizing the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development “.
As Lent begins our representative to Economic Commission in Africa (ECA) -Donatus Lili – has been attending the sixth session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD-6), which was held from 25 to 27 February 2020, at the Elephant Hills Resort in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. As a member of the Major Groups and other stakeholders the following statement has been shared with a focus on People, Prosperity, Planet, Peace and Partnership.
This Lenten Reflection Guide, offers reflections, questions, prayers, and actions based on each week’s scripture readings in light of the theme of ecological conversion. Use this guide individually or in small groups to reflect upon your life patterns, to pray more deeply, and to renew your spirit to face the realities of our world.
The annual Commission for Social Development will take place from February 10 – 19, 2020 in New York. This is the 58th session and marks 25 years since the Social Summit for Social Development, held in Copenhagen in 1995. The outcome of the Social Summit was contained in a document entitled ‘The Copenhagen Declaration and Platform for Action’ In brief it contained 3 Pillars – (i) Poverty Eradication, (ii) Full Employment and Decent Work, (iii) Social Inclusion, 10 Commitments, and put PEOPLE at the center of development. The Priority theme this year is Affordable housing and social protection systems for all to address homelessness.
The Secretary General has prepared a report on the theme – English, French, Spanish, Arabic It is 19 pages. There are some interesting point of information. Recent trends show that housing has become the single largest household expenditure and has become less affordable (paragraph 7) and the younger generation (20 – 34 years old) are facing increasing difficulties in becoming homeowners. Homelessness is a global problem in developing and developed countries. There is an interesting section on Drivers of Homelessness as a structural issue; (Paragraphs 16 – 24) The reports notes that domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and children under personal and family circumstances. Is domestic violence, divorce, separation, and abandonment a personal and family circumstance or a structural issues? Two global issues today causing homelessness are climate change and conflict.
Strategies to address homelessness are two fold: – provide affordable housing (paragraphs 33 – 48) and social protection (paragraphs 49 – 53). The Commission for Social Development focuses on specific social groups and thus there are suggested policies to address challenges faced by these specific groups – family, persons with disabilities, youth, older persons, and indigenous peoples. The reports concludes with some recommendations paragraph 72 (a) to (h)
Opportunities to engage with the Commission for Social Development are through written statements, oral statements and in Side Events. The Good Shepherd written statement to the Commission has just been published on the Commissions’s Website. (French; Spanish.) Some structural issues, raised in the SG’s report are elaborated in the statement – commodification of housing and the financialization of housing projects promoted by financial institutions in the name of public-private partnerships. These are antithetical to the provision of affordable housing.
“When confronted by such realities, we are decidedly on the side of people and planet, particularly those who live the experience of multi-dimensional poverty, lack access to social protection and social services, and are excluded from financial services, yet show resilience in the face of homelessness and marginalization. Our ministries are undertaken in the context of upholding and addressing the human rights of girls, women and children in the absence of policy and/or public goods and services to ensure their most basic needs and inclusion. Through innovative learning and new approaches, global advocacy on social protection floors, capacity building, education and empowerment, Good Shepherd ministries on the ground seek to implement services and programmes including financial inclusion, and empowerment in the context of family and local community. ” The statement was supported by the following organizations.
In writing the statement we referenced the work of Good Shepherd Microfinance, Australia. The Financial Action Plan report of June 2019 noted that safe and secure housing is a key factor influencing positive social outcomes. Sharing two life experiences – one from Honduras and one from India – illustrate what financial resilience looks like, and feels like. (Bottom of page 2 and top of page 3). Addressing multidimensional poverty and social inclusion is not about people aspiring for a place in the global financial markets or seeking ‘handouts’, but women and families seeking sufficiency, well-being and security in the face of global processes that exploit through advertising, marketing, the undercutting of wages, the continuance of the gender pay gap and lack of recognition of women’s unpaid care work. Affordable housing and social protections systems for all in collaboration with local initiatives can only strengthen human dignity and human well-being to create as outlined in Commitment 1 of the World Summit for Social Development, “an economic, political, social, cultural and legal environment that will enable people to achieve social development.”
Read more about the Commission for Social Development . Join the social media campaign from now until February 19 – retweet, share, like and comment on the content concerning homelessness. Facebook and Twitter #csocd58 #endhomelessness #SDG’s #LeaveNoOnebehind #Solidarity #TogetherStronger
An analogy to help describe the experience of attending the High-Level Political Forum is that of an 8 ring circus. There is (i) the official program, (ii) voluntary national reviews, (iii) special events, (iv) VNR labs, (v) side events, (vi) parallel events, (vii) constituency events and (viii) collective events. How to strategize on what is important to attend? How to feel the pulse of each ring? How, when and where does one raise one’s voice or do advocacy? How can one be heard? The numbers below also hint to the complexities involved:
Good Shepherd has a presence in twelve of the countries that presented Voluntary National Reviews. Seven of these countries contributed to a survey which the GSIJP Office compiled into a REPORT – GSIJP – HLPF Survey Results We acknowledge the work done on this by Caileigh Finnegan, a summer intern in the office.
I attended a set of VNR’s on July 18. Among the presentations made was the one from Mauritius. Review their slide presentation. The REPORT on page 134 lists Soeurs du Bon Pasteur as among those consulted and who contributed! The following points remains with me – the reported growth over 50 years moving from sugar cane production to technology and becoming an upper middle income economy. It was also reported that there is a social housing scheme, inequality has lessened, minimum wage is implemented and there is a universal pension with free broadband to all families on the social register. It was further shared that women can access loans without a guarantor. Sr Donatus Lili, NGO Regional Designate visited Good Shepherd in Mauritius and made vital connections between the sisters, ministries, local communities and the UN Resident Coordinator who facilitated a meeting with personnel from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who were compiling the VNR Report.
The sisters had a fruitful conversation with Kelly Culver who came with two officers, Miss Prateema Kutwoaroo (Senior Analyst) and Mr. Hemal Munoosingh, both from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration. Mrs. Madelon from ATD Fourth World, and Mrs. Josiane Schultz (Mission Partner) together with representatives from the six workshops also participated in the dialogue.
The group reviewed the workshops conducted by Donatus while in Mauritius and how they see the SDGs. Mrs. Madelon suggested that the SGDs need to be translated into local languages and simplified so that they are more accessible and practical for people at the grassroots. Ms. Culver was delighted about the prison ministry and said that Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd is the first group who did not forget the voice of prisoners. She was very interested in Marie Therese Saturday’s program with children and in the college. She hopes to follow-up with these three places and proposed to visit in the future for effective partnership. The team spoke about the two groups formed during the workshops for the VNRs, and requested that the sisters send their final recommendations to be inserted in the State Voluntary National Report for the HLPF. This will be the first-ever input of the Congregational achievements in Mauritius to be included in the State database. Ms. Culver had the opportunity to meet the girls in Pelletier, so she could see first-hand the ministries in which the sisters are engaged.
Very often there is a disconnect between what Good Shepherd reports from the grassroots and what is presented at national level. Why is this so? Because Good Shepherd are reaching out to do what they do best – reach the furthest behind, the one who is excluded, the one not counted, not heard, not recognized, focusing especially on girls and women, and bringing the voice of women prisoners to attention. While the provisions enumerated in the government report are available, it is a fact that dis-empowered people are unaware of them. Another challenge identified is the necessity of having materials in French Creole. Well done Good Shepherd, Mauritius!
To the 9 Major Groups a number of other stakeholders have been added bringing the total number to 18 constituency groups – the most recent group is the LGBTI. Good Shepherd aligns and collaborates with the Women’s Major Group. Donatus contributed to the drafting of the Position Paper for HLPF 2019 and the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity endorsed the paper. The advocacy work of the Women’s Major Group can be captured in this quote from the executive summary addressing the need for structural and systemic change. “This Agenda’s success necessitates political changes so the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) truly benefit the marginalised and systematically excluded. There must be a profound shift from the dominant yet discredited fixation on economic growth to institutionalised leadership for development, justice and peace. This means moving away from extractivist industries, military investments, and emaciated humanitarian, gender equality and human rights action, and reorienting towards empowering feminist and social movements and human rights for all. Governments, corporations, the military industrial complex, international financial institutions, and other power holders must be held accountable to human rights and commitments to leave no one behind.” An analysis of the impact of the Women’s Major Group this year was phenomenal – Social Media reached 5 million people and made 42 million impressions. There were 21 interventions, 17 side events, 7 meeting with delegates and the daily colour campaign.
Each thematic review session at the HLPF opened with an overview of the relevant goal under review from ‘The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019″ This paragraph from the forward outlines the current situation and set the scene for the SDG Summit on September 25th. “Notwithstanding that progress, this report identifies many areas that need urgent collective attention. The natural environment is deteriorating at an alarming rate: sea levels are rising; ocean acidification is accelerating; the past four years have been the warmest on record; one million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction; and land degradation continues unchecked. We are also moving too slowly in our efforts to end human suffering and create opportunity for all: our goal to end extreme poverty by 2030 is being jeopardized as we struggle to respond to entrenched deprivation, violent conflicts and vulnerabilities to natural disasters. Global hunger is on the rise, and at least half of the world’s population lacks essential health services. More than half of the world’s children do not meet standards in reading and mathematics; only 28 per cent of persons with severe disabilities received cash benefits; and women in all parts of the world continue to face structural disadvantages and discrimination.”
This action needs to tackle deeply embedded issues at the structural and systemic levels within the global community and invoke a spirit of multilaterialism. There must be a profound shift away from the dominant yet discredited fixation on economic growth to institutionalised leadership for development, justice and peace.
High Level Political Forum July 9 -18, 2019 has just begun at the United Nations in New York today. The question is that is central to the debate is how are we doing? This year concludes the ending of the first cycle of implementation (2016 – 2019) and will culminate with a Summit in September under the auspices of the General Assembly.
Yolanda Joab Mori, youth leader from the Federated States of Micronesia, was the most impressive speaker this morning . “Today I look out to this room and I see power. I see people in a position to either make or influence the decisions and actions we need. But the world doesn’t need any more power.
What we need, if we’re ever going to come close to reaching our 2030 Goals, isn’t power, what we need now is action, and to get there we need some courage. Young people are starving to see some courage to see some courage reflected in our leaders. Leadership that has guts to take action. Leadership that is fearless enough to put people and planet above profit. Leadership that is inclusive, uplifts equality and empowers everyone, even a small island girl like me.”
“Indeed, we can call this the children’s HLPF!” Ms. Najat Maalla M’jid, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Violence Against Children.
Najatexplained that SDG’s 4, 8, 10 and 16 – directly affect the realization of the rights of children to the best start in life, an education of good quality and a childhood free from violence, abuse, neglect, while ensuring that no child is left behind. Najat noted that there are disturbing trends and emerging challenges that threaten the gains that have been made for children. These include climate change, long terms conflicts and more sever humanitarian disasters, increasing migration and the numbers of children on the move, discrimination, growing inequality and constraints in the availability of financial resources to provide quality services for children and the spread of terror.
The thematic review of SDG 4 “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” will take place later in the afternoon. You can catch up by watching UN Web TV later. Simultaneously there is an event ‘SDG 4: At the Heart of the Achieving the 2030 Agenda as indicated in the flyer below. With regard to structural and systemic issues we need to ask who is profiting when school fees are paid for children to attend school in the face of the concept of universal education as a human right? Who is profiting when children are exploited in the mines? The Secretary General’s report on implementation of the SDG in paragraph 16 “The nexus among inequality, injustice, insecurity and the lack of sufficient trust in Governments and institutions can further hinder the necessary conditions for advancing sustainable development” including education. We at the global level need to advocate against structures and systems that exploit people and planet. We need a strong ethic of solidarity, embracing the logic of the common good and the common dignity of people and care for the planet. We need to advocate for ethical and moral ‘boundaries’ around unfettered economic and financial markets.
Following the HLPF at the UN is usually a 12 hour day affair. The Women Major Group will have their side event from 6.30 to 8.00 this evening addressing systemic issues from feminist perspective.
An interesting mapping of the Sustainable Development Goals is available HERE
The UN Office at Geneva has mapped out the expertise on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) found across international organizations, NGOs and other institutions based in Geneva. Good Shepherd’s main focus – contributing operations in the field to SDG’s 1,2,4,5,6,7,8,16, and 17. Also, focusing on gender equality and poverty eradication in Norms and Standard Setting, Legal Frameworks and Support, Capacity Building and Training and Outreach, Advocacy and Communication! Well done Good Shepherd! Check out the website – it is interactive and an interesting way to learn about the Sustainable Development Goals
Thanks to Sr Marie Halligon we have some french translation “Ah oui, mais l’avez-vous lu? ND de Charité du Bon Pasteur contribue aux opérations 1, 2, 4, 4, 5, 7, 7, 7, 17 et 17 de SDG, en mettant davantage l’accent sur l’égalité des sexes et l’éradication de la pauvreté dans les normes et standards, les cadres juridiques et le soutien, les capacités Bâtir et former et sensibiliser, défendre et communiquer! Bravo NDC du Bon Pasteur!”
The 8 days concluded with a Ministerial Declaration. The Ministerial Declaration did not happen by consensus as was hoped for but required a vote. It was adopted by 164 votes in favour and 2 against (Israel and the United States) and no abstentions.
The Russian Federation requested a recorded vote to delete paragraph 16 on gender equality. 134 Member States voted to retrain the paragraph, 10 were against and there were 10 abstentions.
UN Water in its report noted that the world is not on track with water and sanitation READ SDG6_SR_2018_3_highlights_web_ENG and makes suggestions as to what to do. Secretary General, Antonio Guterres addressing the HLPF said that while much progress has been made, the world has also backtracked in areas that are fundamental to the shared pledge to leave no one behind. For the first time in a decade, the number of people who are undernourished has increased, gender inequality continues to deprive women of basic rights, and investment in sustainable infrastructure remains “entirely inadequate” – all amid runaway climate change, eroding human rights and persistent pockets of poverty.