Following the July 4th Independence Day celebrations in America the United Nations is poised to commence the High Level Political Forum which reviews the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. For background see my blog of June 14. Registration for JCoR SDG Lab where Congregations are sharing ministries and reporting on their implementation of SDG’s is now open here: https://bit.ly/3OfUqWN
As you will see on that registration page, the schedule of Lab sessions will be as follows:
5 July @ 12:00-13:45 Universal Coordinated Time: Lab Session on SDG 4-Quality Education (part 1 of 2)
6 July @ 12:00-13:45 Universal Coordinated Time: Lab Session on SDG 5-Gender Equality
7 July @ 16:00:17:45 Universal Coordinated Time: Lab Session on SDG 4-Quality Education (part 2 of 2)
11 July @ 12:00-13:45 Universal Coordinated Time: Lab Session on SDG 14-Healthy Aquatic Ecosystems
12 July @ 12:00-13:45 Universal Coordinated Time: Lab Session on SDG `15-Healthy Terrestrial Ecosystems
13 July @ 12:00-13:45 Universal Coordinated Time: Lab Session on SDG 17-Partnerships for the Goals
Good Shepherd are participating on July 5, SDG 4 with a global girls’ panel (India, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Ecuador and Madagascar) speaking to their experiences of education, and reviewing the Voluntary National Reviews (VNT’s) of Sri Lanka and the Philippines. On July 6 Patricia Mosquera (Ecuador) is presenting on SDG 5. On July 7th Genny Dumay from the Philippines is presenting on SDG 4. On July 12th Catharina Indirastuti from Indonesia is presenting on SDG 15 and lastly on July 13th Mary Virgo Espineda from the Philippines is presenting on SDG 17. It is exciting to see such interest and engagement by the Philippines and Sri Lanka in the VNR reports from their countries.
The official website of the HLPF and official program can be easily accessed from the links provided or HERE. All the official programs are live on UN WEB TV and recording will be archived if you wish to review later. A fourth revision of the Ministerial Declaration (the outcome document of the session) has been posed – further consultations took place on June 30. You can check HERE to see the 4th revision and also you will have access to the next version of the document.
Our 31st Congregational Chapter 2021 Direction Statement calls us to “Make a firm Congregational Commitment in alignment with the Laudato Si Action Platform” and the Congregational Position Papers to address the catastrophic consequences of the destruction of our planet caused not only by greed but also by apathy.” The UN Oceans Conference provides one such opportunity to learn more and engage. Laudato Si has some specific references to oceans in Paragraphs 24, 29, 37,40, 41, 48 and 174. The Conference will be held in Portugal with a theme of “Save the Ocean” and hopes to scale up ocean action based on science and innovation for the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14.
The opening paragraph of the position paper on Integral Ecology reads “we live in a time when science and theology offer reliable global insights about the interconnectedness of life and matter in all forms throughout the universe. This enriches our understanding of the world as a source of deep contemplation and sacred activity, calling us to the heart of what it means to be inclusive and reconciled in all ways with the Whole. It challenges us to re-evaluate prior perceptions, previous understanding, and unquestioned practices”. Paragraph 5 continues “we admit our complicity in perpetuating dualistic and domineering attitudes about the earth. We understand that reconciliation with our earth calls for a new consciousness, a new identity, and new behaviors centered on the kinship of all creation and the implementation of human rights for all. Interdependence demands inclusion of all – non-living and living, non-human and human – without discrimination.” This positioning provides the backdrop for interest in the UN Ocean’s Conference.
Mercy International Association is sharing resources – Mercy Oceans Campaign – which will run in tandem with the UN Ocean Conference next week. The TOOLKIT for this initiative contains videos produced by Mercy Sisters and partners from around the world, as well as thematic reflection papers and resources on many of the themes that will be discussed in Lisbon.
The materials below were compiled by the Mercy Global Action Oceans Taskforce and are available for download and use. It is an incredibly rich and holistic resource beautifully laid out and easy to follow.
The six theme are listed in the graphic above and below is a quick glance at the issues addressed and materials provided. By clicking on Download the TOOLKIT you have access to the link for the six themes followed by a thematic reflection. Don’t forget to share the “Prayer for our Oceans” and use it for personal prayer or in community over the coming week. SDG 14 is one of the goals under review during the High Level Political Forum from July 5 – 15, 2022
Reading from Mark Gospel 8:1-8 on Saturday February 10, I was struck by the feeding of the people and was reminded of words quoted by the Chair of the Commission María del Carmen Squeff of Argentina ‘we need to be kind when thinking of each others’ suffering’. Response to suffering is not a platform but an action. These phrases echo Jesus’ words ‘I feel sorry for all these people, they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat. If I send them off home hungry they will collapse on the way; some have come a great distance.’ His disciples replied, ‘Where could anyone get these people enough bread to eat in a deserted place.’ Ched Myres (“Binding the Strong Man: a Political reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus”) notes that the response of the disciples was one of despair in the wilderness. There were outside of the dominant social order and it’s markets. How can one find resources to feed the hungry? I felt myself pulled into the suffering of people experiencing increased hunger and malnutrition throughout the world because of ‘desert like conditions’ due to COVID pandemic, climate change, displacement, ongoing conflict, mining, deforestation, some traveling distances to leave behind oppression and extreme poverty as migrants and refugees vulnerable to being trafficked.
Often we (you and I) feel desperation in attempting to make a response in the midst of these situations. People are being exploited by today’s markets, with patents, profits and monopolies ruling to the exclusion of people and care of the planet. In the midst of the situation Jesus asks ‘How many loaves have you?’ Immediately my mind jumped back to our Chapter and a morning prayer reflection which challenged us ‘FEED THEM YOURSELVES’ inviting us to a mindset of abundance which can be contrasted with a mindset of scarcity. Resources are within and among us. We have the 7 loaves. These loaves symbolize resources, good stewardship, co-responsibility, capacities and a culture of justice. As I continue to reflect I realize more and more that the policy issues pursued by the GSIJP Office are from a mindset of abundance – national floors of social protection, inclusion of all, gender justice, ending all forms of exploitation, climate justice, sustainable livelihoods, food and decent work – in collaboration with like-minded NGO’s and the ‘Gospel Space’ within the United Nations, the Commission for Social Development in this case.
Ched Myres comments that in the organizing of the people there is a superabundant result. “FEED THEM YOURSELVES’ is possible through the organization of the people. Everyone shares their resources, all the people are listened to and empowered to act for change. There is an upholding of human dignity, recognizing each person’s inalienable human rights, encouraging participation, voice and action. There is one paragraph in the Resolution from the Commission on the priority theme Paragraph 25 “Encourages Member States to facilitate the meaningful participation and empowerment of those in vulnerable situations, including those living in poverty, in the design, implementation and monitoring of COVID -19 recovery plans.” The feeding of the people includes building peoples’ self-esteem, unleashing the capacity of the people themselves to bring about the change that is required. We declare that our programmes have moved from a ‘charity model’ to a ‘right-based’ approach. How open are we to engaging the participants themselves in the design, implementation and monitoring of our multiple projects and programmes? We have good practice from our experiences with girls for the Day of the Girl activities.
February 20 was Social Justice Day – “Change means more than charity and occasional service. Two strands of practice must intersect in us to establish justice for permanent change. First and obviously, we have to create relationships, institutions and communities ruled by just practices. Second, and perhaps equally obvious, we need to change ourselves” from Just Prayer: A Book of Hours for Peacemakers and Justice Seekers.
The resulting resolution recommended that the Economic and Social Council urge Member States to address multiple causes of poverty, hunger and inequality by creating decent work, improving coherence between social protection, food security and nutrition policies, and prioritizing investment in early childhood education, nutrition and care to break intergenerational poverty. “Sustainable agricultural production, food security, food safety and nutrition are key elements for the eradication of poverty in all its forms,” the Commission emphasized through the text.
The priority theme of the sixty-first session is “Creating full and productive employment and decent work for all as a way of overcoming inequalities to accelerate the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. In the tradition of the Commissions at the UN one closes and the following one is immediately opened.
The Season of Creation begins on Tuesday. The theme for this year 2020 is ‘Jubilee for the Earth.’ Lots of resources are available for your information, reflection, and prayer. I love the symbolism behind this logo
The orb of the logo is planet Earth filled with the waves of God’s Spirit. The veins of the leaf suggest the web of creation. The leaf forms a tree of life that is also the cross of Christ. Leaves from the tree of life are for healing (Revelation 22:2).
The Dominican Center has prepared a liturgical guide for each of the Sundays in the season.
This text from Laudato Si #109 gives us the rational for being attentive during the season of creation “We are faced to by two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both environmental and social. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.”
September 1: Creation Day/World Day of Prayer for Creation
Creation Day, also called the World Day of Prayer for Creation, opens the season each year. Pope Francis, Patriarch Bartholomew, the World Council of Churches, and many other leaders have called the faithful to celebrate this day. Globally, Christians are invited to join the online prayer service to come together in a joyful celebration of our common cause. More information will be updated at Season of Creation If you wish to participate you need to register The website and resources are in different Languages – French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian and there are specific links for different dominations. They have published a Celebration Guide and have set aside one week September 19 – 26 to act globally for the SDG’s. The list of other events can be seen HERE including regional webinars. The World Day of Migrants will be a focus on September 27th. A season of creation calendar has been published. If you check it out you may find local events that are of interest to you or you may be interested in hosting your own event.
Below are some advocacy points are outlined from page 32 of the Celebration Guide.
A reflection on COVID 19 and creation can be accessed at the ARRCC outlining 6 learning from COVID that can help us better care for creation. Literature, writings, suggestion, abound. What is important is that you choose one action to commit to. Happy Season of Creation to all readers!
The High Level Forum that reviews the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals is virtual this year. It started on Tuesday morning, July 7th and will continue until Thursday July 16th. The theme this year is “Accelerated action and transformative pathways: realizing the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development “. The theme was determined prior to the outbreak of COVID 19 calling for a decade of accelerated action. This year the SDG’s are 5 years in operation. Has there been progress? Yes, and no, but now in these COVID 19 times progress is halted and the deep fault lines in current global systems and structures are revealed for what they are – exacerbating poverty. The world bank estimates that between 40 and 60 million people will be pushed into extreme poverty this year (2020) while inequality within and between countries is exposed and magnified.
The Sustainable Development Goals Report was launched on July 7 where it was shared that for the first time in over 20 years there is a rise in global poverty. An estimated 71 million people are expected to fall into extreme poverty.
Pages 6 – 23 are a series of graphics, one for each goal – illustrating before COVID 19 and COVID 19 Consequences. A webcast of the launch can be seen HERE with an overview of the report and a summary presentation of the graphics.
Where does one add one’s voice? Which action, program or intervention is more effective in bringing about a fair future for people and planet? How find this in the midst of multiple words, publication, side event, exhibitions, training sessions, VNR labs, and others?
One of the most interesting session that I have engage in was entitled “Towards a New Global Economic Architecture that works for the People and Planet.” The one hour session featured feminists critical thinkers from the Women’s Working Group on Financing for Development, Third World Network, EURODAD and a speaker from Global Alliance for Tax Justice. Moderator: Emilia Reyes, Program Director, Policy & Budgets, Equidad de Género, Ciudadanía, Trabajo y Familia & Co-Convener, Women’s Working Group on Financing for Development
Speakers: Dereje Alemayehu, Executive Coordinator, Global Alliance for Tax Justice; Ranja Sengupta, Senior Researcher, Third World Network; and Maria Jose Romero, Policy and Advocacy Manager, EURODAD
The presentation really demonstrated how inequalities are continuing to grow and profits are being made on medical supplies and protections required globally during the COVID 19 pandemic while debt increases and trade rules destroy a countries ability to provide for citizens. Private investors are undermine the right to health for all. Governments and public sector services need to at the center.
The panel provided a strong call to the United Nations to take the challenge of leadership and facilitate a UN Economic Reconstruction and Systemic Reform Summit towards a New Global Economic Architecture that works for people and planet. The Principles and Calls for Action are laid out in the two page document.
Access to the recording is on YouTube This is the sort of of global action that is required to facilitate the seismic shift required to reach ‘the furthest behind first’ and ensure that every girl, women and child is assured of her/his rights to the basics for health and well being. This sort of action would favour full implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals while challenging the concentrated power and resources of some countries, including the G7, G 20 and the Bretton Wood Institutions while permitting every country to be at the table. Piecemeal implementation on the basis of single issues or favorite goals is no longer tenable. The COVID 19 Pandemic has shown us this. The world needs sustainable economies focused on people’s needs and planet care, and away from Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and profits for the few.
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.
Voici les liens vers une boîte à outils publiée en trois langues: Boîte à Outils
What dots would Good Shepherd be connecting? Human Rights, Gender Equality, and Poverty Eradication in the context of Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals!
¿Qué puntos estaría conectando el Buen Pastor?Derechos humanos, igualdad de género y erradicación de la pobreza en el contexto del desarrollo sostenible y los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible!
Quels points le Bon Pasteur se connecterait-il? Droits de la personne, égalité des genres et éradication de la pauvreté dans le contexte du développement durable et des objectifs de développement durable!
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!”