New York, September 23, 2013. “The economy is growing, but poverty is increasing. Clearly, we need to change the way we define progress”, said one participant in a community meeting in Nigeria on development priorities. This was among the key messages shared by civil society representatives from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe at the United Nations Headquarters today, ahead of the UN Special Event on 25th September where Governments will debate what should follow the Millennium Development Goals after their 2015 deadline.
“We need to seek out the people who are not usually heard in these high level debates – this is what we are trying to do here” said Richard Ssewakiryanga from the Uganda NGO Forum.
At an event sponsored by the Governments of Colombia and Sweden, the outcomes of a year-long process of national consultations to capture the voices and priorities of some of the poorest and most marginalised people were shared with government representatives and UN officials. Key demands and messages emerging from the process, which spanned 39 countries, were highlighted today as governments prepare to discuss a new international agenda for tackling poverty and environmental degradation. The initiative is part of efforts aimed at ensuring governments see people living in poverty not only as recipients of development assistance, but as critical actors with views and proposals on what needs to change. Key common messages were highlighted:
“We need to challenge the economic and political power imbalances that perpetuate poverty, inequality and unsustainable development. People want a new agenda that puts people and the planet first.” - Cliona Sharkey, Trócaire, Ireland, and Beyond 2015 European Task Force Co-Chair.
“The most disadvantaged have seen little or no improvements in their lives under the MDGs, and the disparities between them and elites have only increased,” said one participant in the national consultation in Finland.
The project consulted thousands of people, from service organisations, to people living in deprived communities. Real-life stories were shared by people who remain without access to basic needs – including healthcare, education and jobs, many of which are supposed to be guaranteed by governments under existing human rights treaties. The outcomes from the project were synthesized, with four key values emerging that should shape a new development agenda:
- human rights
- equality and justice
- environmental sustainability
- good governance, participation and accountability.
“Poverty continues to exist in our society because of gender injustice, unequal access to resources and services such as land, education, health and opportunities such as employment, and participation in decision-making,” said Sharmila Karki from the NGO Federation of Nepal.
The civil society process was facilitated by group of advocacy and campaigns partners working together to ensure a people-centred and participatory process to decide what will follow the MDGs; Beyond 2015, CIVICUS, the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) and the International Forum of National NGO Platforms (IFP).
For further details, contact:
Director of Programmes
Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP)
Mobile no. +49 177 6026904
CIVICUS UN Representative (NY)
Mobile no. +1 6467071060
Mobile no. +19177553108
Magda Elena Toma
International Forum of National NGO Platforms (IFP)
Mobile no. +33673488784