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Debate: What do post-2015 strategic-development goals mean to us?

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Bobby Ramakant, Citizen News Service -- CNS

In the year 2000, countries of the world had agreed to meet the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Numerous consultative processes have been taking place around the world on what should be the development goals post-2015. A draft list of 17 Strategic Development Goals (SDGs) and 168 targets for post-2015 is expected to be presented before the UN General Assembly in September 2014 to agree on modalities and inter-governmental negotiations might begin from January 2015 onwards.

Engaging civil-society representatives from diverse sectors such as agriculture, land rights, gender justice, health justice, ecological justice, trade, political reforms, among others, in a consultative process around the post-2015 SDGs is extremely critical for informing country delegations. These discussions and debates around post-2015 SDGs should shape country positions at international negotiations. In India, such a consultative debate was organized in Delhi on 21-22 August 2014 by a range of organizations and networks such as Third World Network (TWN), PAIRVI, Beyond Copenhagen, Cecoedecon, Family Planning Association of India (FPAI), International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE), South Asian Dialogues on Ecological Democracy (SADED), IBON International, LANDESA, among others.

"The world is growing more unequal and unsustainable resulting in crises of sorts, which has resounded in myriads upheavals throughout the world," said Ajit K Jha of PAIRVI while opening the debate on SDGs.

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for 2015: Taking stock

Those who were involved with MDG processes in 2000, will recollect the relative ease with which different countries of the world arrived at a consensus to meet the 8 goals by 2015. Nearly 14 years later, post-2015 negotiations are far from that 'easy consensus' -- perhaps rightly so. Dialogue is indeed central to the process around post-2015 discussions with diversity and inequalities that exist within and between nations.

Govind Kelkar, a senior advisor to LANDESA, remarked out of the 8 MDGs, countries have failed significantly to meet at least two MDGs: MDG 8, which relates to global partnership for development, and MDG 3, which calls for promoting gender equality and empower women.

Govind reflected that on MDG 1 (eradicate extreme poverty and hunger), according to the World Bank benchmarks, there was a 22% reduction in poverty levels globally by 2010. There is a reduction in numbers of people living in extreme poverty by 700 million. However other participants questioned the World Bank benchmark to define poverty and if it is an acceptable indicator.

Govind commented regarding MDG 2 (achieve universal primary education) that 70% of girls globally are in schools and 90% of total children are in schools. She said that primary schooling has improved over the years.

There has been very limited progress on MDG 3 (promote gender equality and empower women). Govind reflected that development of indicators was a challenge from the start regarding MDG 3. Education of girls has improved only at primary level but not at secondary or higher technical-education level. With regards to economic rights and political participation of women, there was no indicator for economic rights but political participation in parliament has somewhat improved, said Govind.

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