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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/9/21

Governments must adopt a strong political declaration that the global crisis mandates

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Shobha Shukla - CNS

Governments must unite together to adopt a strong Ministerial Declaration at the ongoing United Nations High Level Political Forum
Governments must unite together to adopt a strong Ministerial Declaration at the ongoing United Nations High Level Political Forum
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Because if they do not, then we are doomed to fail to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 (for which only 104 months are left). The clock is ticking but governments from around the world, who are convening at the United Nations High Level Political Forum (HLPF) seem to be regurgitating old timid commitments and shying away from taking bold decisions. The Covid-19 pandemic and cascading humanitarian crises warrant governments to adopt a strong enough Ministerial Declaration at HLPF 2021 which is critical for progressing towards a resilient recovery post-pandemic as well as for SDGs. The Ministerial Declaration is a major outcome of the HLPF, but sadly our governments failed to adopt one last year. The price of inaction for not taking genuinely transformative actions globally will not only be regressive, but will also worsen the already existing inequalities and injustices for the majority of the people.

"Adding to the existing crises of sustainability and climate, rapid biodiversity loss, inequality and poverty traps for low and middle income countries, Covid-19 pandemic has given a serious blow not only to the economic and social sectors but also to whatever little (and howsoever fractured) progress was made so far towards achieving the SDGs. The HLPF presents an acid test for the governments to walk-the-talk on multilateralism, political ambition and courage to take a step forward from usual intergovernmental rigmarole to make good on the promise of Agenda 2030" said Wardarina, Co-Chair of Asia Pacific Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism (AP-RCEM), and Ajay Jha of AP-RCEM. Wardarina and Ajay were also speaking to CNS (Citizen News Service) on behalf of members of the Global Coordination Committee of the Major Groups and Other Stakeholders of the HLPF.

The HLPF shoulders the responsibility to help the current highly unsustainable world navigate its way to eradicate poverty and hunger, and ensure ecological balance by 2030. To achieve this, it is an absolute imperative that the governments at the HLPF adopt a strong Ministerial Declaration this year to address these issues effectively.

Even before the pandemic, a large majority of the global population was reeling under the severe impact of deep rooted injustices and inequalities. The promise of SDGs by the world leaders does provide a direction towards sustainable development where "no one is left behind", but it fails to address the real problems that plague our people and our planet. "We are extremely concerned with consistent refusal to address the systemic barriers (climate change, seeking infinite growth from extractivist economies, unequal power relations engendering unsustainable debt and illicit financial flow, patriarchy as a political tool, corporate capture of the governance, development and sustainability agenda and its implications on the fulfillment and respect of human rights, among others)" said Wardarina and Ajay Jha.

The pandemic is not an excuse for the governments for inaction. It actually heightens the urgency for governments at the HLPF to come out with a strong political (Ministerial) Declaration which addresses:

Equitable universal free access to Covid-19 vaccines and treatment: HLPF should encourage countries to recognize ongoing efforts to take vaccines out of the patent regime (including those at the World Trade Organization or WTO) and make efforts to remove other impediments related to infrastructure and capacity gaps, resistance of the vaccine manufacturers, embargo and trade-related restrictions on raw materials, and facilitating movement and distribution of vaccines. It is also important that vaccine related requirements do not impose universal coercive measures and otherwise adversely affect movement of essential goods and supplies, and mobility of migrants and other travellers.

Poverty and hunger eradication: The impact of Covid-19 necessitates an urgent stronger action towards ending poverty and hunger, and is certainly not an excuse to dump or slacken efforts towards these essential goals.

Means of Implementation: The target of 0.7% of the Gross National Income of the developed countries made 52 years ago in the 1970 Resolution of the UN General Assembly (which was reiterated in the Monterrey Consensus 2002 and Addis Ababa Action Agenda 2015) is not sufficient today to rid the world of poverty. The USD 100 billion too is equally insufficient to prevent the climate crisis and its impacts. Developing countries face a financing gap of USD 2.5-3 trillion every year through 2030. Full range of means of implementation, including aid, finance, trade, technology transfer and capacity building, needs to be deployed besides addressing systemic barriers like addressing asymmetry in global power relations, debt sustainability, preventing illicit finance flow, among others.

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