UN Secretary General’s Synthesis Report To Set Stage For Intergovernmental Negotiations On Post 2015 Agenda
By Catherine Nyambura and Lennox Yieke
On the 4th of December, 2014, the advance unedited Synthesis Report of the United Nations Secretary-General on the Post-2015 Agenda was released in New York, U.S. The report, which discussed the proposed plans that will shape the world’s development narrative in 2015 and beyond, is crucial because of the important role it plays in summarizing key events that have shaped consultations and outreach efforts in the crafting of the post 2015 development agenda this far. Besides attracting the diverse views of different stakeholders in various global development circles, the report also sets the stage for intergovernmental negotiations among member states; a process which Kenya and Ireland will co-facilitate.
We at Dandelion Kenya, were not only impressed by the synthesis report’s strong articulation of pertinent issues such as universal health coverage, gender equality, youth development and the 6 proposed elements, but also by the deliberate involvement of civil society in the post 2015 development agenda, including calls for response to the report from civil Society. These are our views.
The unedited synthesis report’s observations are based on the six essential elements identified as crucial to the delivering of the 17 proposed sustainable development goals (SDGs). These six elements include: people, dignity, prosperity, justice, partnership and planet. Through a number of proposed SDGs such as ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages (goal 3), achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls (goal 5) and Reducing inequality within and among countries (goal 10), the UN and other development stakeholders want to achieve dignity by 2030. (For full list of the 17 proposed SDGs as well as full unedited synthesis report, contact the authors using the contact details provided at the end of the article).
Young people, women and girls should not be left behind
After tirelessly going through the synthesis report, we realized that the report took keen interest in young people’s education. In paragraph 71 of the report, the UN recognizes the need for life-long high quality education that equips young people with relevant skills, from early childhood development to post-primary schooling, including life skills and vocational education and training, as well as science, sports and culture.
Although we commend the report’s solid stance on young people’s education, we strongly believe that more can be done, especially in providing comprehensive sexuality education. The need for quality education to encompass evidence based and scientific comprehensive sexuality education that promotes gender equality, respect for human rights and provides facts on human sexuality should be articulated in the report .We have noted with concern that the entire report does not mention comprehensive sexuality education either as a component of sexual and reproductive health information or a component of quality education. We should work towards ensuring access to sexuality education for young people and youth friendly sexual education services in Africa and the rest of the world.
Still on the topic of young people, we noted that paragraph 3 of the report highlighted the need to leave no one behind. Identifying youth as the torchbearers of the next sustainable development agenda. Paragraph 20 further equated leaving young people behind as a form of inequality.
In paragraph 37, the report went further to add that young people contributed to the report through various consultation and outreach efforts. As laudable as the involvement of young people in the post 2015 development agenda consultations and outreach efforts has been, we strongly believe that more should be done. The involvement of youth in the development agenda was not cited in its entirety in the report—something we believe should have been done. Crucial moments, including the World Conference on Youth, which bore the Colombo Declaration following a successful meeting of young minds on May 6-10th 2014, were left out of the Synthesis Report.
The report does not identify the need for governments and development stakeholders to invest in young people’s health, education and employment in order to reap the demographic dividend. In Africa, 70 percent of the populace is composed of young people below the age of 35 years, illustrating the need to invest in young people.
Improved healthcare, especially for youth and African women
We cordially welcome the fact that paragraph 70 of the report recognizes the need for the post 2015 agenda to address universal health coverage, including maternal, new born health, women’s reproductive health and rights. In accordance with sustainable development goal 3, targets 3.7 & 3.8 and goal 5, target 5.6, we believe that more still needs to be done for the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people, adolescents and women. The synthesis report in paragraph 26 cites the roots of the post 2015 development agenda as deep, extending to the experience of the development community in the last twenty years, and visionary outcomes of the global conferences of the 1990s .
There is need for the forward outlook of the ICPD POA; a landmark document for sexual and reproductive health and rights, including the recommendations from the Beyond 2014 review, to inform SRHR and goals and targets in the post 2015 development agenda. There were gaps identified both during the Beyond 2014 review and Beijing +20 Africa Regional review, these findings should inform advocacy and governments efforts to breach gaps identified during the 20years of implementing the ICPD POA& Beijing platform for Action (www.icpdbeyond2014.org/about/view/29-global-review-report http://bit.ly/1z1sLx8).
Although we implore the UN and other development agencies to prioritize access to health for youth and women, we also urge governments and businesses to provide an enabling environment for the overhaul of healthcare. This is with specific reference to Africa.
Lennox Yieke, the editor of Business Monthly East Africa, a leading print East African business magazine, shared this observation in the magazine’s December, 2014, issue. In his cover story, Yieke, who also helped co-author this article, observed that some Kenyan healthcare providers such as Dactari Health Ltd. had started using telecommunication tools such as the internet, smartphones and video conference to diagnose and provide health care solutions to patients in remote locations. While this development is good in terms of easing healthcare access, it is not scalable if the government and businesses do not step in to overhaul electricity and othersupportive infrastructure, Yieke observes.
We at Dandelion Kenya believe that the issue on improving health care should be a collaborative effort and include development partners, governments and businesses. The synthesis report should therefore go beyond the mere mention of the importance of providing universal healthcare, and offerpractical ways through which other stakeholders such as government and businesses can be involved, especially in Africa where the healthcare problem is more acute.
Fighting gender based violence, early marriage and inequality
We welcome the synthesis report’s paragraph 69 that declares “zero tolerance of violence against or exploitation of women and girls”. This, we believe, should be continued in the spirit of the open working group document on the SDGs, which under goal 5, targets 5.1- 5.3, explicitly call for elimination of all forms of violence against women, violence and harmful practices.
We, however, press for more attention on child and early marriage, which is only briefly mentioned in paragraph 78 of the synthesis report. We further challenge the report and question its conspicuous omission of female genital mutilation and other harmful practices that continue to hinder girls from accessing education. Such vile practices need to be religiously fought since they hamper efforts to achieve gender equality and doom women and girls to a merciless cycle of poverty, further perpetuating inequalities.
In paragraph 61, it is noted that poverty breeds inequality. We feel the need to emphasize on the need to prioritize poverty eradication in order to achieve universal health coverage as referenced by paragraph 70. We finally appreciate paragraph 78 that articulates the elements on justice, including the need to actively and meaningfully engage civil society and advocates reflecting the voices of women, minorities, LGBT groups, indigenous peoples and youth. This continues to breed the spirit of inclusivity and broad access that has embodied the synthesis report this far.
Catherine Nyambura and Lennox Yieke worked on a report that discusses the place of African women in a sustainable world. The report, which will be widely published and distributed globally as from January, 2015, features:
- Climate change and African women, including how African women must adapt to survive in the face of adverse climatic conditions.
- Conflict and African women, including how terror groups make millions of dollars from environmental harm and how African women are caught in the middle of it all.
- Exclusive commentary from Thomas Gass, assistant secretary general in UN DESA, who weighs in on conflict financed by natural resources, including offering views on corporate social responsibility.
Kindly Contact Catherine or Lennox for an excerpt, enquiries or other consultations:
Catherine at: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @catherinenyamb1
Lennox Yieke is the editor of Business Monthly East Africa, a Media 7 Group Kenya publication with over 220,000 loyal monthly readers across East Africa. Yieke@media7groupkenya.com Twitter- @lyieke