Elements of the Post-2015 Political Declaration

The United Nations has invited comment on its draft document on the Elements of the Post-2015 Political Declaration, available at this link. Our president and CEO addressed the intergovernmental interactive session on 19 February 2015: click to download the Statement by Åsa Skogström Feldt.

Here is an expanded version of The Hunger Project’s response to the paper, according to the five components it sets out.

The Hunger Project strongly endorses the call for a bold and transformative agenda, all 17 goals called for by the Open Working Group, and the synthesis into six elements articulated by the Secretary-General. What is missing, in our view, is the recognition that achieving the SDGs will be a bottom-up process.

1. A Collective Vision of the Road to 2030: People Are the Answer

  • Empower the people: Our vision must recognize that to build the world we want, we must create a world of opportunity – programs and policies that empower every women, man and child to be the authors of their own development. People living in poverty are not the problem – they are the solution. They must not be treated as target populations or beneficiaries, but as hard-working, intelligent individuals who – when empowered with opportunities – can overcome poverty and preserve our natural environment.

2. What We Must Do to Get There: Gender-Focused, Community-led Development

  • Start with women: To eradicate poverty and sustain the environment, we must start with women. Women are the majority living in poverty, do more than their share of the work to meet basic needs, and so must be the key decision makers and change agents in the development process.
  • Mobilize Everyone: While we deeply value the result implied by the phrase “leave no one behind” it could be interpreted in a paternalistic way. The real point is to empower everyone – to awaken everyone to what can be done to create the world we want, and organize them for effective action.
  • Engage Local Government: Where poverty and environmental degradation is most severe, it is because grassroots level government is starved for resources and decision-making authority – and where communities are denied voice and the opportunity of social accountability. Forging strong, accountable partnerships between grassroots people and effective local government is key to success.

3. How Will We Do This: Participatory Local Democracy

  • All of the inextricably linked issues in the SDGs (eg: health, education, nutrition, natural resource management and sustainable economic development) require gender-focused, community-led development. National and sub-national government and all other partners must take steps to create the conditions for community-led development to succeed. This includes:
    • Empower Active Citizenry: ensuring that people’s rights to information, to assembly, and to participation in government are protected and strengthened.
    • Apply Subsidiarity: human dignity, inclusion and social harmony are enhanced when planning, decision-making and resources and moved as close to the people as possible.
    • Plan with all stakeholders: long-term planning for sustainable community development requires all relevant stakeholders to be at the table.

4. Follow-up and Review: Data for the People

  • Localizing the SDGs: National and International statistics and reviews are important, but are insufficient to inspire and focus community-led development. Data collection must be local, and aggregated upwards, so that community actors can set their own priorities and track their own progress.

5. Our Commitment: Mobilize Everyone

  • No time to lose: Our commitment must begin with a massive and urgent campaign to inform, educate and inspire everyone on the planet to join in this extraordinary human endeavor. Governments, Civil Society and especially the media have important responsibilities to get the implementation off the ground as quickly and comprehensively as possible. “We the peoples” created these goals through the most inclusive policy-making process in history – and 1000-times that many people need to hear about them, understand them, and see the pathway through to their own unique contributions.