For the past two years and more the words ‘post-2015’ and ‘MDGs’ have been critical for development practitioners and civil society. August 18 would mark 500 days until the deadline to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The processes leading upto the eventual intergovernmental negotiations that will determine what kind of a post-2015 development agenda that the world gets, are almost through. Last year saw the High Level Panel on Post-2015 come out with their report and their now famous theme of ‘leave no one behind’ towards the goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030. In the past two months, we have seen the culmination of two more processes. The Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Financing for Sustainable Development have come out with their final reports.
All these processes will now feed into the Secretary General’s synthesis report that will form the basis of the intergovernmental negotiations.
The development organisations, especially those from the civil society, have so far been mostly focusing their attention towards the processes in New York and Geneva; and other such international platforms. The results have been mixed – some hits and many misses.
The non-negotiables from the civil society have been to have a framework that is based on universality, indivisibility, and inalienability of human rights as the macro frame with specific goals and targets woven into it. There is a growing demand to ensure intersections of factors leading to inequalities and social exclusion be adequately addressed, especially keeping in mind the more vulnerable sections of the populations.
There is also a significant worry that governments from developing countries will never accept the present framework as is being proposed by the OWG report – a framework that is a prescriptive list for Global South countries without spelling out the role of the developed nations. If climate change negotiations are anything to go by, most governments of the Global South will negotiate hard on several issues such as poverty eradication, just governance, transparency, etc.
Amidst all this, civil society needs to re-focus its attention on the grassroots and on national governments, because at the end of the day, it will be the governments of the nations that will negotiate and finalise the post-2015 framework. National development organisations, civil society organisations need to be involved in advocating with their governments to ensure that nation specific priorities reflect the aspirations of the people. This is especially true for movements such as disability.
People with disabilities have so far been left out of the global development agenda. This needs to be corrected if we are committed towards eradicating extreme poverty by 2030. The World Health Organisation and the World Bank say that one in every seven person has a disability. The World Bank also says that 20% of the world’s poorest are people with disabilities. Nobel Laureate Professor AmartyaSen spoke about this connection between poverty and disability in his theory of conversion handicap. People with disabilities not only earn less but they are also unable to convert the income into adequate standard of living because of disability specific costs. The world therefore cannot make the same mistake it made at the time of the MDGs and leave this huge section of the population out of the post-2015 development agenda.
It is in this context that a new campaign assumes utmost importance. Called Action2015, this campaign aims to take the movement for a strong post-2015 development framework to the grassroots. National organisations will determine what should be the priorities for their countries when it comes to post-2015. The issues will be incorporated in the larger campaign slogan called iMove against– Inequalities, Injustice, Insecurity.
The post-2015 development framework holds immense importance for people in the Global South, especially people with disabilities. Organisations working for disability, therefore, have to be proactive in working with their respective governments to ensure that disability is included as an integral issue cutting across all goals, targets and indicators. Disability will also have to be given due importance in resource mobilization and allocation. So far, globally, the disability movement has celebrated small victories of being mentioned sporadically in some of the reports and outcome documents. But this may not necessarily be reflected in the final post-2015 development framework. And, if we do not involve the grassroots leaders and organisations, our hope of an inclusive development agenda will not materialize.
(Dorodi Sharma works with Disabled People’s International, the world’s first global human rights based disabled people’s organisation. It has reach in over 130 countries across seven regions of the world.)