Thursday, February 6th, Peace Boat US’s director Emilie McGlone and volunteer staff Rachel Clark attended the briefing on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. With eight basic global agendas including education, health, equality, human rights, poverty, environment, and more, the Millennium Development Goals were set to be achieved by 2015. (See more details on the MDG’s : http://goo.gl/xIBJF)
In a conference led by the President of the 68th session of the UN General Assembly, H.E. Dr. John W. Ashe, and Deputy Secretary General of the UN, H.E. Dr. Jan Eliasson, representatives of various civil society groups amongst UN community and delegates discussed the next stage of the post 2015 development goals.(See Dr. Ashe’s profile: http://goo.gl/2wPHCo) (See Dr. Eliasson’s profile: http://goo.gl/0qDhxb)
During this time, having set six major initiatives to jumpstart progress on sustainable development after 2015, Dr. Ashe announced that he woulda convene six events at the United Nations this year:
Three high-level events focusing on:
1. Women, youth and civil society (6-7 March);
2. Human rights and rule of law (17-18 June);
3. South-South cooperation, triangular cooperation and information communication technology (ICT) for development (20-21 May),
And three thematic debates on:
1. The role of partnerships (9-10 April);
2. How stable and peaceful societies can contribute to development (24-25 April);
3. The way that water, sanitation and sustainable energy can contribute to the post-2015 development agenda (18-19 February).
Dr. Ashe encouraged the participation of multi-stake holders, which include government representatives, businesses and civil society, so that there will be equal representation in a multilateral system. Through communication and collaborative partnerships of multistake-holders that will participate in the aforementioned events, Dr. Ashe hopes to build momentum for the 2015 agenda by the end of 2014.
Following the conference, Dr. Eliasson gave the closing remarks and invited the attendees to participate in an open Q & A session, which was filled with in-depth questions by various NGO representatives from around the world.
In his remarks, Dr. Eliasson commented “I sense great dynamism in this room. Civil society groups are driving progress across the international agenda. On peace, human rights, inequalities, rule of law, climate change, eradicating poverty, sustainable development and many other global issues. We rely on you to push for progress among governments and generate action on the ground.” Having witnessed poverty-stricken conflict zones throughout his diplomatic career, Dr. Eliasson’s expectations are high and his powerful remarks conveyed the urgency of the situation to the audience: “While in conflict resolution, diplomats can have a Plan A and a Plan B” said Dr. Eliasson,”when it comes to the environment there is no Planet B.”
Following the traditional briefing, the Chair of the NGO department for DPI (the Department of Public Information) was given the first seat to pose a question. On behalf of 150 NGOs associated, Chairperson Anne-Marie Carlson asked about the importance of education when working towards progress. Dr. Eliasson replied that education was the most successful movement among all of the 2015 agenda, particularly focusing on primary education in Africa, especially amongst girls. He further mentioned that it was necessary to improve both primary and secondary education, as well as the quality of education as a whole. He noted that tackling inequalities and promoting life-long learning is one of the main focuses in his home country Sweden’s three educational pillars: programs, institutions, and free education for all. At the end of his reply, Dr. Eliasson added that he is concerned about the spread of youth unemployment worldwide becoming systemic and structured. “In order to eradicate this global social phenomenon,” said Dr. Eliasson, “education is a significant key to success.”
A highly interesting question was posed by Chris of World Vision. Having defined the meaning of the word “young” as interpreted to include “children” and “youth”, Chris asked how we can move forward to ensure the critical issues of child rights and development were not merged or lost within the wider discussion of youth agenda, and how they could ensure that the voice of children were heard in the process. Dr. Eliasson first mentioned that he was horrified by the fact that the children’s rights were severely violated around the globe in the form of child soldiers, human trafficking, child abuse and neglect, which are absolutely unacceptable. He emphasized that every adult has the responsibility to represent children since, defining the age range of “youth” as 18~30 years old and the word “young” means that total of children and youth, children of age 1 to 18 do not have voting rights.
The first of the six high-level events focused on the post 2015 goals, will take place on March 6 and 7, 2014. The current title is “Women, Youth and Civil society.”
This post was written by Rachel Clark, Peace Boat US Volunteer Staff.