One of the key issues at Rio, the development of a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), has been a focus of many meetings since the opening of the 67th session of the UN in September. Many are using the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as a “template.” (The MDGs were a set of goals that world leaders set for themselves in 2000, to end extreme poverty and improve the quality of life for women and children by the year 2015). It is hoped that the SDGs will improve upon and expand the MDGs, by addressing poverty eradication, environmental protection, and sustainable consumption / production, as well as by providing the foundation for a global “green economy.” The formulation of the SDGs is open to all of civil society. All participating organizations will submit suggestions to an inter-governmental Open Working Group (yet to be formed; there are 100 nations competing for 30 positions!) who will submit the final report to the 68th session of the UN General Assembly, with publication of the goals in 2015. It is this set of goals that will then become the working agenda for the United Nations for the next ten years.
– contributed by Kathleen Ries
So, how shall UNANIMA contribute to this important discussion? At its fall meeting, the UNANIMA board considered a remarkable piece of work submitted by the Social Justice Office of the Sisters of Saint Anne in Montreal. Renaude Gregoire (pictured left) of that office studied the evolution of the purpose / content of the MDGs, as well as many other UN documents and UNANIMA’s own objectives, and came up with a set of proposed “Sustainable Development Goals.” The communities in Canada have been using this set of goals for their discussion, and the dialogue is now spreading to Ireland! See what you think of these as our “own” SDGs, which we could use to form the basis of our lobbying efforts at the United Nations, as the work goes forward there:
- Ensure a Social Protection Floor
- Ensure Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture
- Ensure Access to Sustainable Energy
- Ensure Access to Safe Water
- Preserve Biodiversity
- Promote Sustainable Consumption and Production
- Promote Healthy Land and Oceans
- Promote Air Quality
- Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
- Promote Partnerships for Sustainable Development
If you would like to make any comments / suggestions, or to support these as our “UNANIMA SDGs” you can contact email@example.com …in any case, feel free to use these as a basis for your own discussion. And we thank Renaude for leading us forward! In the next few Updates we will explain each of these goals in greater detail.
Things are back to normal now, with flags flying, delegates hurrying to meetings, and NGO committees hard at work. One of the biggest events at the UN was the celebration of October 17, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Extreme poverty may be the greatest cause of violence in the world. As a member of the NGO Subcommittee for the Eradication of Poverty, UNANIMA helped with this event. Check it out on our Facebook page.
This week we heard from the Special Rapporteur on Sale / Exploitation / Violence Against Children. In her report she stressed that we need to focus more on the “rights of children to be heard,” and let them speak for themselves, safely and without fear of punishment.
This worldwide gathering of 50,000 people holds great possibilities as it calls for the eradication of poverty, decent jobs, women’s leadership, creation of a sustainable society, jobs for youth, and respect for the wisdom of indigenous people. We can appreciate the outcome document, “The Future We Want”, as a starting point for the journey ahead. Many citizens’ groups, communities, towns and cities already are developing sustainable practices that are shared on the internet; those countries committed to their 1997 Kyoto Protocol pledge to reduce greenhouse gases are realizing economic benefits from their efforts.
But to put in the effort needed to save our planet, the UN speaks of a transformation that needs to take place. Are we willing to change our consumption patterns? Will our sense of entitlement keep us from opening ourselves to the rights of Mother Earth? Can we change our habits of excess to ‘reduce, recycle, reuse’? Economists are calling for a transformation of the global economy, describing the global economic crisis as “an opportunity for significant reforms”. Our infinite growth economy based on the GDP is in conflict with Earth’s finite resources.
“We recognize that people are at the centre of sustainable development and in this regard we strive for a world that is just, equitable and inclusive, and we commit to work together to promote sustained and inclusive economic growth, social development and environmental protection and thereby to benefit all.” “The Future We Want”, pg. 6.
–Kathleen Ries CSA –
“It was a gift for me to participate as a representative of UNANIMA in an event of this magnitude. As a Brazilian in my own country, to be with people from around the world was an incredible experience! My vision has broadened and deepened, as I met many groups are also fighting for another possible world; it may be possible if we join forces!
I especially liked the participatory methodology used in both major groups and in the civil society dialogues promoted by the Brazilian government. Discussions and meetings of People’s Summit allowed wide participation of all organizations present. We were all equal and we could express ourselves.
However we were frustrated that the demands of civil society and the proposals of the People’s Summit are not well reflected in the final document. (It is now up to the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.)
But, encouraged by what was said in the UNANIMA newsletter, we who are part of the common people must be ready for vigorous follow up. We must continue to pressure the governments of our countries, working with local groups in which we operate and with our networks, and change the way WE LIVE AND WE USE THE PLANET. We will work in light of the proposal of our Franciscan brothers, to advance the paradigm of the law of Mother Earth, and the eradication of extreme wealth! The Earth Charter has much to offer – let us go, because the future we want is in our hands!”
– Maria Jose Meira,
Carmelite Sisters of Vedruna
“The possibilities of the Rio + 20 global gathering were endless and while some hoped- for results did not happen, there is still much to be positive about. After 4 years of hard work on the part of UNANIMA and other major stakeholders, water has moved from being a non-topic on the global UN stage to being front and center as a vital portion at the nexus of sustainable development. Additionally, sustainable development goals (SDG’s) are to be developed, going into effect whenever the MDG’s expire in 2015. Another positive side effect of attending this epic gathering was the ability to touch base with friends and to expand the networks of like-minded people. It was awesome!”
Sisters of Providence
Renaude (right) and S. Kathleen Ries in the plenary hall at Rio+20
“The Rio +20 conference brought together thousands of people from different backgrounds. Many ideas and hopes were shared. Different views of the green economy emerged. Positive sustainable development experiences of local and regional level gives more hope than the lack of international will to reach firm and historical commitments for people and the planet. UI members will have to take ownership of the Rio + 20 outcome document so that our interventions in the future can be more daring. Rio + 20 starts now!”
– Renaude Grégoire, SSA Social Justice Office
Many of you have asked if it is too late to sign your name in support of the Social Protection Floor for all people. NO! it is not too late – even though we presented the signatures you sent us so far, as part of the opening ritual for the Commission for Social Development, they still are being collected (we are hoping for a million!) They will be used by the International Labor Organization at a ceremony in June. So if you have not signed on, you can do so on the website below. Thanks, UNANIMA communities!
Take an action today to end poverty: Add your signature in support of the Social Protection Floor Initiative
The work of the UN Commission on Social Development captures the essence of many of our community ministries, dealing as it does with social issues such as education, health, marginalized people, and poverty. Nobody (not even the bureaucrats) could possibly be opposed to this year’s theme, The Eradication of Poverty, right? But ah, “the devil is in the details,” as they say! It was interesting to watch the G-77 (a large group of smaller and/or developing nations plus China) oppose wording about human rights, and the USA oppose any reference to climate change. Can we guess what is going on behind the scenes there?
The meeting opened with a ceremony designed by the NGO Committee on Social Development, featuring a presentation of the petition signed by many of you; UNANIMA’s Catherine Ferguson was the guiding hand behind this project. Besides this banner with hundreds of signatures–being hung here in the UN conference room— we presented several thick books filled with over 15,000 signatures, asking the commission to ensure that a “social protection floor” exists for all people. (Picture thanks to Renaude Gregoire!)
UNANIMA International members Renaude Gregoire (the Social Justice Coordinator for the Sisters of Saint Anne) and Sylvia Obrigewitsch (board member and a Sister of Notre Dame of Sion) attended most of the events, and worked hard at keeping track of what was going on—reading research documents, networking with panelists and presenters, and enjoying the daily NGO briefings/ strategy sessions.
Some of the best parts of a commission meeting are the side events, many sponsored by NGOs. A side event on trafficking made it clear that trafficking may never be eradicated until we deal with the poverty that drives both the traffickers and their victims; and it is obvious that poverty is rooted in injustice… so we know where to start.
If you would like to see copies of the negotiated documents as they come out, go to http:// www.un.org/en/documents/index.shtml to access the UN Official Document System (ODS) and do a keyword search, such as “Commission on Social Development 2012.” For example, the document from the part of the meeting that dealt with Mainstreaming Disabilities is already there under number E/CN.5/2012/L.6.
Several representatives of UNANIMA communities will attend this UN commission on February 1-10 this year. UNANIMA works with three committees preparing for it (the Working Group on Climate Change and Poverty, the NGO Committee on Social Development, and a Subcommittee on the Eradication of Poverty. See the prayer service for this month!
UI delegation on Poverty Eradication from Asia to the Commission for Social Development (2005) Jesusa (Philippines) speaks at opening session of Civil Society Forum
|2 February 2012|