Wolfgang Jamann

8 May, 2018

Leave no one behind – a brave and bold ambition that forms the theme of the Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to eradicate poverty and injustice by 2030. The international community, including the civil society sector, takes this as guidance for its programmes and projects. As part of that ambition, one area of focus will include the most marginalised communities and people in every country. And there are many: discriminated ethnic minorities, mutilated war victims, impoverished children, desperate refugees and displaced families, to name but a few.

Last week, the global ‘Leave No One Behind’ (LNOB) coalition met in Dhaka, Bangladesh, bringing together several of the largest international civil society organisations. The aim: to join forces to raise the voices of the most marginalised. The group has been working in five pilot* countries over the past six months and is developing a plan to combine data, distil learnings and use those for better programming and advocacy nationally and globally.

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Bringing together many actors from different national contexts has many complexities, but provides for valuable learning, and hopefully, greater impact through a collaborative approach. In one country, for example, Vietnam, this coalition is already becoming the principal voice of civil society vs the Voluntary National Review which is submitted annually to report progress on SDGs. One overriding theme at the meeting was indeed, how the coalition can input into those government-led monitoring mechanisms, which too often lack disaggregated data and the voice of marginalised communities. And it proved beneficial to have representatives of the Bangladesh Government attend part of the meeting, which was hosted by the influential NGO BRAC, in order to discuss better linkage of monitoring between state and civil society.

Figuring out what marginalisation means is a key, and difficult task, because of its highly contextual nature. Bangladesh, again, is a good example of this, as it is now hosting one of the largest vulnerable and marginalised refugee communities, which fled from neighbouring Myanmar last year. Giving Rohingya people a voice is imperative, without losing consideration of those communities that are less visible.

Inclusive data gathering needs to cover quantitative data according to the many SDG indicators that exist. But every marginalised person has a story, which should be told so that underlying causes for discrimination and injustice are understood and addressed. In a world of increasing use of big and small data, their protection and the concerns for privacy need to be dealt with seriously, especially as marginalisation often has highly political dimensions. The LNOB coalition is seeking expert advice on data use so that people‘s rights are not violated.

The High-Level Political Forum of the UN exchanges progress and challenges on the Goals every year. The LNOB project is aimed at this Forum and will be represented there this year. It will link up with similar initiatives to bring the voices of the most marginalised and poorest into the centre of discussions. Without prioritising them, the international community will not achieve the Goals, nor live up to the needed structural changes that need to happen in social, economic and political terms.

If your organisation is interested in joining the coalition or in finding out more, then please contact the project manager Peter Koblowsky at pkoblowsky@icscentre.org

*Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Nepal and Vietnam

Lars Gustavsson

30 August, 2016

We need a new type of civil society organisation (CSO), one that is free of the constraints, mindsets, limitations and compromise of today’s norm. The prevalent ‘charity/aid’ model is clearly creaking; it’s failing both to capture the imagination of the emerging generations, and to enable sustainable transformation for people in poverty. The co-dependency between donor and aid organisation stifles innovation and creativity. Yet, we’ll never ignite the new from within the old; we need to start over with a clean slate.

Architects and entrepreneurs must convene to frame the new: naming, connecting, nourishing, and illuminating the required elements of the ‘beyond aid’ CSO. We’re fairly sure we know what some of the ingredients are: market-based mechanisms; long term capital; donors becoming investors; voices of the poor in the driving seat; disciplined and transparent intermediation spending; and real impact measurement that has meaning to front-line communities and investors alike. Other ingredients are still to be uncovered.[1] MORE

Alexia Skok

16 August, 2016

In 2016, disruptive factors are being whirled04_Certain around civil society in what can feel like a ceaseless tornado of governmental crackdowns, natural disasters, digital revolutions, and global human movement – just to name a few.

So how can civil society organisations (CSOs) prepare for – and overcome – these ever-changing obstacles that affect both their internal and external operations?

Over the past month, leaders and innovators from within the sector responded to this very question in a series of blog entries, covering topics including: preparedness and leadership; business involvement in the sector; the pressing need for Northern CSOs to learn from the South; and paving the way for development mutants. Here are some highlights from our blog series on Managing Disruption: MORE

Craig Zelizer

26 July, 2016

One of the most famous quotes of business in the 20th century comes from Nobel Prize Winning Economist, Milton Friedman, “The business of business is business.” As a leading conservative economist, Friedman believed corporations should largely be left to pursuing profit, which would lead to a social good, as then they would hire more people, pay more taxes, and invest/save their profit.

This approach to business has led to somepexels-photo-large of the highest inequality since the great depression, with the top 1% controlling more than 50% of global wealth, many environmental challenges, and an increasingly disenfranchised workforce. Despite these enormous disruptions, there is an increasing push by key leaders in the business community, government, and nonprofit sectors to increase the role and positive impact of business. Business leaders are increasingly talking about the triple bottom line that business needs to pursue: profit, planet and people. That is a business needs to make money to survive, but that at the same time can have positive impact on the planet and diverse stakeholders. MORE

Alexia Skok

7 June, 2016

How leaders from some of the world’s most prominent civil society organisations (CSOs) ensure that poor and vulnerable people benefit from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Girls must be more effectively supported, people with disabilities better included, and civil society partnerships reinforced if we want to make significant headway towards fair and sustainable development, our experts say.

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The announcement of the SDGs has sparked stirring dialogue across the development sector; the agreement of comprehensive, inclusive goals that ‘leave no one behind’ has put forward a new challenge, and inspired organisations and governments across the globe to commit to achieving a sustainable, equitable world.

But what does this mean for the implementation process? How does the sector ensure that the inspiring, people-oriented rhetoric is converted into concrete actions that actually achieve sustainable progress? Our blog theme for the last seven weeks featured leaders working within the new global framework sharing their experiences, concerns, and calls to action on the topic of SDG implementation. MORE

Dominic Haslam

31 May, 2016

One undeniable trend in the development sector over the last few years has been people talking more about disability. From the WHO/World Bank World Report on Disability in 2011, through DFID’s first Disability Framework in 2014, to the UN’s adoption of disability within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015; disability appears to have captured the development community’s imagination.

Continuing the trend, the International Centre for Evidence in Disabilities’ (ICED) third international symposium earlier this year – Disability in the SDGs: Forming Alliances and Building Evidence for the 2030 Agenda – had a record turnout. More than 300 people attended from around the world, and from the disability community, official development agencies, NGOs and academia. The symposium generated 67 recommendations for its call to action, many linked to the SDGs. Clearly, there is much to do. MORE

Mitchell Toomey

24 May, 2016

MY_WORLD_GOALSIn September of last year the world witnessed an historic moment – leaders from every member state of the United Nations unanimously ratified a bold and comprehensive 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This agreement emerged not only from the negotiating chambers at the UN but also from a radical and far reaching global conversation that eventually included more than ten million people and thousands of civil society organisations (CSOs), largely through the MY World 2015 survey. The mix of new and old techniques opened the negotiation process to a vivid display of the variety of experiences, knowledge and organisational forms which populate the civic space and left member states buoyed by the energy and enthusiasm of people worldwide, ultimately resulting in a far reaching, complex and ambitious agenda for action.

Thus, the new Goals carry in their DNA openness and inclusiveness, and it is this same spirit that will be required in order for member states to achieve them. The shared vision of the SDGs will be tested as governments lead the process for their implementation: It is critical that space is created for a broad range of actors beyond those traditionally involved in development-related decision processes, if the scale and ambition of the agenda – to leave no one behind – is to be realised. Through the MY World survey initiative for example we saw a massive engagement from young people worldwide (over 70% of survey respondents were under 30 years of age) we must continue to harness this energy to not just debate what the agenda should be but to drive the agenda forward, foster innovation and mobilise new actors. MORE

Patrick Watt

17 May, 2016

Asha* was just 13 when she was forced to move in with her aunts because her parents had to move away for work. Despite the change, she was optimistic. She was looking forward to starting secondary school – and felt lucky in a country, Tanzania, where three-quarters of girls don’t get more than a primary education.

But when Asha moved, her aunts broke the news that they could not pay for her school fees. Devastated, Asha had to drop out of school and put her future hopes on hold.

That same year, aged 13, she was forced to marry. Her husband quickly became abusive, beating her daily and often withholding food. Soon she was pregnant and felt like she lost all hope to continue her education.

It’s the situation of children like Asha, denied the right to survive and learn through a combination of poverty and discrimination, which has driven Save the Children to launch its new global campaign, Every Last Child.

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We know the world has made unprecedented progress for children. Since 1990, the world has halved child mortality and the number of out-of-school children. But it’s also the case that there’s a huge unfinished agenda. Each year, over six million children die from preventable causes. Almost 60 million children remain out of primary school, and four times that number are in school but failing to learn. Increasingly, these children are being denied the opportunity to survive and learn because of who they are and where they live. We need new and innovative approaches to reach the most excluded children and deliver on the ambition set out in the Global Goals. MORE

Richard Pichler

10 May, 2016

What a joy it was last September for the international civil society sector: Pope Francis’ address touching many of today’s challenges; Presidents  of small and big nations giving their supportive views to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); Malala conveying essential voices of young people; and the plenary of the General Assembly endorsing and applauding the SDGs.

UNSustainableDevelopmentGoals_w_logo-e1442391056454As civil society organisations (CSOs) we have come a long way in the development process of the SDGs; at the beginning, we were not at all sure if our arguments would be considered. Thanks to our joint efforts, and the clear message that we must have a seat at the table, we have harvested fruits. Many of the needs and the rights of the people we represent have become a priority. Just in time, we – smaller and bigger organisations alike – understood how much was at stake if we didn’t work together. We realised that our responsibility had to go beyond our organisational interests. This put healthy pressure on us, and we managed well under strict time constraints. But can we maintain this spirit in the implementation?

Even more energy is needed during the implementation process; now it’s about action. We know the goals, but what is the right approach to achieving them? We can’t allow ourselves to run off with great intensity into different – or even opposite – directions. We can’t think that we are faster alone, and that we can achieve quick, sustainable results without collaboration. My wish is to see us act in the spirit of cooperation that made us succeed in the advocacy phase.  MORE

Thomas Gass

3 May, 2016

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its set of interlinked Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets resulted from the most inclusive policy dialogue the United Nations has ever organised, one in which civil society organisations (CSOs) fully participated.  This established a new benchmark for dialogue and inclusiveness at the UN. As the Secretary-General noted recently, there can be no going back.

The 17 SDGs address – in an integrated way – the most pressing economic, social and environmental challenges of our time. They are a universal and shared vision of humanity for transforming our society and projecting our planet. They form a social contract between the world’s leaders and ‘We the peoples’.

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Implementing this comprehensive and far-reaching Agenda will require all governments and decision-makers to commit to leave no one behind. It calls for adopting new approaches and breaking down silos. To begin such a transformation and place humanity on a more sustainable course, we need all hands on deck to work across borders and sectors, and move from the ‘what’ to the ‘how’.

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