Post 2015: towards an Africa Common Position on SGDs

"Make Sure You are in the Room and Do not Ghettoize Your Issues"

The sixth session of the UN General Assembly's (UNGA) Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is taking place in New York (9-13 December 2013). Stakeholders from the UN, civil society, Governments and the private sector are currently discussing the post 2015 sustainable development goals and in particular the means of implementation (science and technology, knowledge-sharing and capacity building), Human rights, the right to development, global governance, and a global partnership and the needs of countries in special situations, including African countries.
ACORD, represented by its Head of Policy and Advocacy, Salina Sanou, is in New York, to defend and promote the voices of African citizens, drawing from its citizen-driven consultations it held in 11 African countries (Mozambique, Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Chad, Guinea, Mauritania).
The UN Technical Support Team has issued three briefs in preparation for the sixth session of the UN General Assembly Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals and it takes stock of (source: UN Technical Support Team briefs for OWG6): sustainable development financing, noting the importance of official development assistance and the insufficient investment of the private sector in sustainable development; technology transfers, which have fallen short of specified goals; and trade, noting differences in the extent to which developing countries have benefited from the multilateral trading system. It also highlights the need to build capacity for policy coherence and integrated approaches to sustainable development. The brief further provides an overview of proposals on various approaches to means of implementation. In looking forward, it highlights the importance of an integrated global partnership with effective means of implementation and accountability mechanisms to address, among other things, poverty eradication, food insecurity and malnutrition, gender inequality, and climate change.
The issues brief on 'Needs of Countries in Special Situations, including African Countries, highlights the uneven progress among African countries toward the MDGs despite an overall increase in growth and business opportunities. It notes that African stakeholders have called for a post-2015 development agenda that reflects the priorities of the African Union's (AU) New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), including: structural economic transformation and inclusive growth; innovation and technology transfer; human development; and financing and partnerships.

1. Africa Region's recommendations to the Open Working Group

Download the Africa Region's recommendations.

ACORD and its African partners, through the Africa Working Group on post 2015, made their voices heard in New-York by submitting clear recommendations to the OWG6. This document highlights key asks from the African continent, currently working towards an Africa Common Position for the SDGs post 2015, and in particular: full employment, universal social protection, reinvestment of resources in real production and expansion in social infrastructure, investment in smallholder farmers, especially women, and encouraging agro-ecological practices, rejecting industrial scale agriculture production, ensuring land rights to communities, redistributing lands from agribusinesses to smallholder or landless farmers, providing interest free loans to support agro-ecological farming, supporting reclamation of genetic resources from corporations and support seed saving systems, review the investment protection treaties and Free Trade Agreements signed by countries that restrict the policy space of states to fulfil their obligations regarding human rights and environmental sustainability...

2. Meeting with OWG6's Co-chair Macharia Kamau

On 10 December, ACORD, WICF and representative members of the Women's Major Group interacted with H.E. Mr. Macharia Kamau, Co-Chair of the Open Working Group and Ambassador, Kenya Mission to the United Nation, on global partnership for achieving sustainable development. Discussions were focused on the Women`s Major Group recommendations for the Open Working Group 6 and generated quite an interesting debate, with Macharia Kamau pushing for a ‘more ambitious key document' arguing that women have been portraying themselves as a vulnerable group for years and that is one of the reasons why they haven't been taken seriously enough. He regretted that ‘women have ghettoized themselves' and should take a different approach to be heard. He also questioned the idea of a stand-alone gender goal and indicators for gender mainstreaming in all the other goals, he warned that it could alienate women even further. He rather recommended the Group to work on concrete targets on women and girls issues that would be integrated into all goals. For instance if there is to be a Sustainable Development Goal on infrastructure or natural resources management, then we should think of specific targets for women and include them into that very goal. The reactions to Macharia Kamau's feedback were divided, some supportive of the idea and others sceptical that it could indeed be more successful that a gender goal in itself.

3. Civil society groups recommendation to the OWG6

On the overall theme of the OWG6, civil society groups insisted on the following reforms and requirements for a global partnership to successfully support the achievement of the SDGs:
• A global partnership in the SDGs needs to stand for meaningful analyses and reforms of global systemic issues in trade, finance, macroeconomic, industrial and financial policies, as well as social policies concerning women and the care economy, senior citizens, the disabled, and all those marginalized or discriminated
• The objective of global systemic reforms is to remove the main impediments to development and secure an accomodating international environment for sustainable development
• Developing countries today still need adequate degrees of policy space. However, the policy space afforded to them by international rules and agreements are considerably narrower than that enjoyed by today's advanced economies when they were developing. It is necessary to reform both multilateral and bilateral arrangements to allow developing countries to make use of policy tools and measures.

The following are some key areas for global systemic reforms:
1. Review multilateral rules and agreements with a view to improving the policy space in DCs in pursuit of economic growth and social development. For example, reforming agricultural trade rules so that developed country farm subsidies do not harm the food and production security, as well as livelihoods and incomes of small farmers, in developing countries [Food Security, WTO];
2. Financial regulation and food price speculation must be addressed, as recurrent financial crisis and lack of access to food affects women disproportionately.
3. Re-orient the international Intellectual Property regime with a view to facilitating technological catch-up and improving health and education standards and food security in developing countries;
4. Ensure that bilateral FTAs, trade and investment agreements, and BITs are oriented to the economic and social development needs of developing countries rather than excessively encroaching on the policy space of the developing countries;
5. Establish binding mechanisms, such as a legally enforceable multilateral code of conduct for TNCs to secure social responsibility and accountability and prevent restrictive business practices;
6. Multilateral mechanisms to bring oversight to developed country policies that have adverse consequences and spill-overs to developing countries;
7. Establish impartial and orderly sovereign debt workout mechanisms to prevent meltdown in developing countries facing balance of payments and debt crises;
8. Provide financial resources and technology to developing countries to enable them to cope with environmental deterioration and climate change;
9. Address tax evasion, tax havens, and transfer mispricing by MNCs, particularly in extractive sectors, and through subsidiaries;
10. Reform international economic and financial governance toward increased participation and role of developing countries in the IMF, World Bank and WTO, including FSB and BIS.

4. Forum on Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls

Watch the full event video on UN webtv.

ACORD was also invited to share its views, experiences and the voices of African women and girls during the Forum on Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls. On 5 Dec 2013, the Forum organized by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), in preparation for the fifty-eighth session of the Commission on the Status of Women, Given that the UN-Women Stakeholders' Forum of December 2012 generated momentum and consensus that contributed to the success of CSW57, UN-Women has again convene a forum to engage a range of stakeholders in the preparations for CSW58 and beyond. A special civil society segment brought the authentic voices of girls and women to the discussions.
At the session "What do the MDGs mean to me?" Voices of girls and women, the civil society panel looked at how the MDGs affect young girls and women, including older women. It brought together the voices of women and girls from across the age spectrum - young girls, women and older women - to discuss what the MDGs mean to girls and women throughout the life cycle. Participants shared their views on how the MDGs affect them and present their aspirations for the new development framework including for a transformative gender equality goal that can meet their unmet aspirations from the MDGs. Salina Sanou, representing ACORD and Kenya, spoke as an individual and also as an advocate on the MDGs and on the future. Salina, on behalf of the African Working Group, advocated for 5 clear asks from the African continent for women and girls in the post 2015 world:

1. End all forms of sexual and gender- based violence faced by all women and girls by 2030
2. Ensure women and girls have access to, control over and ownership of resources including land, credit, energy, information and technology - I work with small scale farmers in rural Africa
3. Ensure 50% representation of women in decision- making across all sectors by 2030
4. Universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights
5. Recognition, redistribution and remuneration for unpaid care work for women and girls

5. Meeting with Special Adviser to the Ban Ki-moon on post 2015 development planning Amina Mohammed

On 5 December, the Women's Major Group (WMG) and ACORD met with Amina J. Mohammed, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary General on post-2015 development planning, during the WMG Strategy Meeting, and emphasized 6 priorities for the SDGs: ensuring gender equality, preventing and eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls, providing social protection, ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, adopting a human rights based approach to population dynamics and environmental justice.
Amina's message to CSOs was unambiguous: ‘Civil society, you must be in the room!'. ‘As of now it is all about member states' she asserted and ‘if we want to influence them meaningfully, then we have to be in the room with them and not in the corridors'. She advised us to know how and when to fight our battles but to also learn when to stop so as to stay relevant. If we work well with the member states, even in Africa where sex and reproductive health rights, (where the word ‘rights' is rejected by most governments associating it with sexual rights for LGBTI groups) will not be easily accepted, we might be able to influence quite a few member states, some already championing some of the asks of civil society.

 

 

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