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2030 Agenda: Development for whom?

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"So what we see is a socialization of risks and further privatization of gains or profits. This is the most alarming aspect to this agenda", he added.

Role of civil society

As we talk of a new global partnership, Justin Kilcullen wonders about the role of civil society in it. He agrees that civil society organizations, like CPDE, are in a very strong position today as civil society has been recognized as an independent development actor, having a voice in the negotiations. But there is a question mark over the future of this role because SDGs are purely intergovernmental. In the UN, the role of civil society remains consultative with minimal if totally no actual influence in policy-making. Other than playing a role in implementing projects in sectors like agriculture, health, and education, what is needed more is to hear the voices of citizens holding governments to account and challenging them if they make mistakes. This is what good citizenship is about, feels Justin, and wonders why governments perceive active citizens and civil society as a threat, instead of as an asset.

He gives the example of his own country, Ireland, where civil society played a very significant role in its development after it got independence from British rule. "The Catholic Church did a lot for education and healthcare of poor people; other NGOs were involved with homeless people; sports organizations built up the national spirit of the new state; and cultural organizations helped re-establish our Irish identity. All this was done outside the government, with civil society playing a major role in making Ireland a modern and wealthy state".

Paul sees the 2030 agenda as non-transformative, as it does not challenge existing unequal relationships of power and distribution of wealth. So it remains for the civil society to continue engaging with governments and making sure that they are held accountable for the promises that they have made. Most importantly, it is about how we build power from below through people's collective action, in challenging those who are in power.

"People will have to continue to challenge the status quo by resisting and fighting land grabs, mining expansions and plunder, making sure that corporations are held accountable for human rights violations and environmental impacts of their operations, and governments' complicity to all that. That is where the hope lies," said Paul.

Leaving no one behind

The theme of the post 2015 goals is that 'No one will be left behind.' For Justin it is a big challenge to ensure that this becomes a reality. "For me hope is a very strong virtue and with the commitment and the energy of civil society around the world we can make something of these goals. No matter how difficult it may be, I believe in the end it will be right".

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