“Advancing the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda. Reconfirming Rights – Recognizing Limits – Redefining Goals” Conference

44020-22 March 2013, Bonn

By Nicole Bidegain

The conference

From 20-22 March 2013 two hundred and sixty representatives from over two hundred civil society organizations from across the globe and key stakeholders gathered in Bonn, Germany to discuss CSO’s perspectives on Sustainable Development and Post-2015 processes. The conference was supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), and organized by the Berlin Civil Society Center.

The goal of the conference was rather ambitious if we take into account the wide topic of discussion and the short time available to include a high range of civil society organizations. On the other hand, neither a report, nor concept notes were disseminated before the conference. This could have helped to frame the discussion and level the knowledge among various organizations that work on different issues at national, regional or global level.  Rather, it was decided to provide a space to meet the stakeholders in Bonn that would for encourage thematic and “interlinkages” discussions. As a result of this thematic discussion and of the contributions from the various CSOs, some short declarations were disseminated on the central issues that must be defended along the negotiations on Post-2015 development agenda. Other declarations came up from the “interlinkages” sessions and from the rising discussions. All these documents were displayed in a gallery so that the organizations could endorse. Anyway, in the conference, there was no time devoted to the discussion of the proposals.

Education was there

Thanks to various ally organizations, the education agenda was taken into account in the workshops, the plenary sessions and in the declarations. From the twelve declarations that were issued, seven included important references to education in the definition of the Post-2015 development agenda (Find the declarations in the site: http://www.berlin-civil-society-center.org/shared-services/post-2015/).

On one hand, civil society warns about the privatization processes and sets out the links between the lack of access to education and poverty. The statement A Red Flag for the Post 2015 High Level Panel affirms: “We caution against developing a set of reductive goals, targets and indicators that ignore the transformative changes required to address the failure of the current development model, which is rooted in unsustainable production and consumption patterns and exacerbates inequality as well as gender, race and class inequities. The ‘poison threads’ in society – like corporate land grabs that impoverish communities, an unjust global trade and financial architecture, corruption and privatization of social services like education, health, water and sanitation – must also be addressed.

We must create some rules and remove others to ensure that the global frameworks do not constrain human rights and development goals”. On the other hand, the statement of the group Ending Poverty, Social Exclusion and Discrimination, adds that, among the measures that must be set to eradicate poverty, we should prioritize “participation in decision making by those most affected. This includes access to and ownership of planning, decision making, and justice. As an integral element of agency, capacity and participation, quality education is essential to eradicating poverty”. The Statement from the Interlinkages session on Social Exclusion and Inequalities widens the role of education adding that “Information and education to enable people to claim their rights and access to remedies and redress when those rights are violated are essential. Accountability mechanisms must be built into the framework and existing national, regional and international human rights mechanisms should be used to this end”.

Besides, education was also emphasized in the measures dealing with social inequalities and expansion of social protection systems. For instance, the declaration of the group Securing Social Justice underscores: “to address within country inequalities we must guarantee effective tax policies, income policies, provision of public goods and services such as food, health, education, water, sanitation as social protection measures, and, ensure access and control over natural resources including land, forests and oceans for those who are most dependent on these for their livelihoods and culture.”  The declaration Structural Transformations for Women’s Rights and Gender Justice also calls to “tackle gendered labor market segregation, and ensure universal and affordable access to social protection and public services including housing, education, water and sanitation, health care and unemployment benefits.”

In addition, the organizations that worked on the declaration Securing a decent future for children, youth and adolescents, included among their demands “access and quality of education at all levels as well as infrastructure in schools, extension of the compulsory number of years of schooling and vocational training, with a particular focus on marginalized groups, including, but not limited to girls, disabled children and children without parental care”. The declaration further adds “Galvanize the necessary political will and ensure adequate financial resources designated to child protection, health and education programs to tackle poverty, inequality and injustice with special emphasis on disadvantaged girls, boys, adolescents and young people”.

Last but not least, the declarations driven by the feminist and women groups set the right to education and lifelong learning at the center of their claims.  The declaration resulting from the Interlinkages session on Gender and Poverty affirms that “Both formal and non-formal education has the power to level the playing field for women. Literacy and equality of access for women and girls to quality education should remain relevant targets for post-2015 education and development goals”. In addition, the declaration Structural Transformations for Women’s Rights and Gender Justice includes as an essential measure: “Ensure equitable and universal access to formal and popular education throughout the life cycle that includes comprehensive sexuality education, gender equality, human rights and environmental sustainability.”

* Editorial note:
Unfortunately, in this meeting none of the education global networks was selected to participate.
The ICAE requested support to allied networks and CSOs (Civil Society Organizations) (including DAWN) for the issue of education to be present. We send you our proposals (Key Messages http://www.icae2.org/files/f4.pdf  )

Following up

In a time where the power of corporations is growing in the United Nations and the private-public partnerships are being galvanized as a tool to finance the development agenda, the claims of civil society are essential to make sure States as guarantors of Human Rights.  In the Conference, the intervention of Homi Kharas, Lead Author and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda caused indignation and astonishment. In this sense, the Latin American participants remarked: “We believe it is worrying that the Lead Author of the United Nations Secretary-General’s HLP on the Post-2015, states that in the face of the so-called insufficient financial resources of governments, resorting to private capital as a financial source is needed, when we know that it is one of the main responsible actors for the current global crises, thus minimizing the responsibilities and the potential of Nation States”.

These messages were taken to the High Level Panel on Post-2015 in Bali, on the 25th -27th and the civil society organizations that were there defended them.

In global terms, the impact of what was agreed in Bonn will depend on the extent to which organizations use them in their advocacy actions at the national and international level.

You can find the Conference panels in the following site: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/es/node/327691




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