Sustainable Development Goals and Practical Action


February 12th, 2015

Is Practical Action on track with global priorities of development beyond 2015?

We are at the end of the Millenium Development Goal (MDG) era. World leaders will meet at the United Nations in New York in September 2015 to adopt a new set of goals for the post-2015 development agenda under a sustainable development framework that meets the needs of both people and planet. The era of the MDGs has successes, such as a global pathway of development with measurable targets and indicators which are achievable and attainable. In post 2015 development agenda priority has given to sustainability both environmental and social considering the anticipated risks of climate change as a consequence of global warming.  What are the major areas in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)? How will they differ from MDGs? Will they conflict or be coherent with the UN agenda beyond 2015?

MDGs and SDGs differences

22104In MDGs there are six goals with 11 targets.  The total goals and targets are more extensive, with 17 goals and 169 targets. One interesting thing is that when the MDGs were formulated there was not enough consultation at the local and regional level. They were developed through a top down approach. But from the beginning of SDGs there has been a massive consultation process even at the community level organized through a variety of processes such as civil society consultation and global forums on different issues. One example is – the MY World survey, the United Nations global survey for a better world.  Millions of people have voted on which six development issues most impact their lives, and the number of voters continues to grow. Complementing MY World is the World We Want online platform, where citizens have engaged further.  So the negative feedback on framing the MDGs is well addressed in the Post 2015 agenda settings! I had an opportunity to participate in this consultation process in 2013 on behalf of civil society in Bangladesh. The Governance Coalition Forum, a civil society movement for better governance proposed the inclusion of Governance in the Post 2015 and Beyond for Bangladesh country document with some attainable targets and indicators.

How SDGs and MDG are matched

Many less developed countries (LDCs) have yet to attain many targets of MDGs. Therefore the SDG have taken into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respect national policies and priorities. They are built on the foundation laid by the MDGs, seek to complete their unfinished business and to respond to new challenges.  In the MDGs setting local targets and priorities was missing but in the SDG each government will set their national targets guided by the global level of ambition with taking into account national circumstances.

How Practical Action would take part in SDGs era

Practical Action’s  program work has some priority areas which correlate with MDGs goals like extreme poverty reduction, water and sanitation, disasters and climate change. But it has been identified that when we are entering in the SDGs era then responsibility of Practical Action are increasing significantly. Many of our programs are going to be incorporated in the SDGs  (see Table 1).  More interesting and encouraging issue is that this is the first in kind so far when a global agenda has been prioritized the technology divide between north and south. In the SDGs ‘Technology’ has become more priority area of global partnership for sustainable development as positioned just after financial cooperation from Developed countries to LDCs.

Table: 1 Practical Action Programs matched with SDGs and Beyond 2015

Serial Practical Action MDGs SDGs/Beyond 2015
1 Extreme Poverty Goal 1 Goal 1
2 Agriculture, Food and markets Goal 2
3 Urban Services:  Water Sanitation and Hygiene Goal 7: ( Ensure environmental sustainability target 7 C and 7 D Goal 6
4 Urban Services: Energy Goal 7
5 Urban Services- Safer Cities Goal 11
6 Disaster and Climate Change Goal 7 Goal 13
7 To contribute to poor people’s wellbeing, using technology to challenge poverty- by building the capabilities of poor men and women, improving their access to technical options and knowledge, and working with them to influence social, economic and institutional systems for innovation and the use of technology Goal 17 and target 17.6 to 17.8

 What Practical Action should do

Goal 17.8 is to fully operationalize the Technology Bank and STI (Science, Technology and Innovation) capacity building mechanism for LDCs by 2017, and enhance the use of enabling technologies in particular ICT. So this is the time for Practical Action to provide technical support to those less developed countries where it has been working for a long time.  Practical Action has been organizing a global dialogue on ‘Technology Justice’.  I think it is would be a good initiative to identify LDCs status regarding ‘Public Technologies’ – which technologies are more beneficial for communities rather than individuals (e.g.transport, power tillage, sludge disposal systems) where technology justice is denied and where there is progress. At this local level a technology justice dialogue can provide a way forward for global development partners in the design of technology promotion programs for LDCs (SDGs target 17.7) putting people and the environment at the centre,  particularly those who are economically poorest, women and other culturally and geographically marginalized people.

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