By Merybell Reynoso, member of the Youth Governance and Accountability Task Team, supported by Restless Development and Plan UK
“Who are we here for?”…
The question has been on my mind, ever since I heard Ambassador Talbot say this during the April Intergovernmental Sessions (IGN) on Means of Implementation and Global Partnerships.
This five-word phrase accompanied my thoughts and reflections during that week in April, the week after that, and even today as I write. I have known the answer since day one, and yet I feel there is still a need to remind member states, and all stakeholders who they should be pushing for.
“We are here for you, and your families, your sons and daughters, grandchildren, your parents, your uncles, aunts, cousins, your colleagues in this room and out of this room, your friends on Facebook (laughs*), your followers on Twitters, your compatriots. In short we’re here for you, and everybody that means something to you.”
– Ambassador Talbot (co facilitator of the FfD process, during the opening session of the April Intergovernmental Negotiations)
Today, the fifth Intergovernmental Sessions (IGN) on the post 2015 agenda will take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Co-facilitators, member states, and stakeholders will discuss key issues of the post 2015 agenda with a focus on follow up and review.
Almost a month has passed since I was there myself, in the April joint session on Financing for Development (FfD) and post 2015 processes, as a delegate and speaker on behalf of the Major Group for Children and Youth in the Interactive Dialogue with Stakeholders from the post-2015 process.
A few takes on the April IGN on Means of Implementation and Global Partnerships
During the April IGN, there was general consensus emerging on the need for ambition, the need for universality, which in Amb. Mancharia Kamau’s words involves “challenging ourselves to engage and reach all constituencies”; the need for financing, which will involve moving “from billions to trillions;” the recognition of the need and roles for both public and private sector financing; and the crucial and important role for Official Development Assistance (ODA) including a need to better target it to certain groups.
Interactive Dialogue with Stakeholders from the post-2015 process
During the Interactive Dialogue with Stakeholders from the post-2015 process youth were clearly vocal. It was a great opportunity to have a say and demand member states to listen!
On behalf of the MGCY, I made a call for stronger accountability mechanisms and resources for data collection and analysis. Governments need to place close attention on resource allocation, and investment in the statistical capacities of countries that enhances the ability of young people and children to engage at all levels in decision making, implementation, monitoring, and accountability through legally mandate and funded mechanisms.
You might ask, why are we making such “big fuzz” on investing in data disaggregation?
I’ll tell you why.
There is a global lack of high quality, timely disaggregated data, and data concerning youth. Also, at the moment it is all too easy for girls and young women to slip through the cracks of information monitoring. Investment in new and reliable disaggregated data will be required to cover gaps in monitoring progress. Without this investment in data disaggregation, children and young people remain at risk of being invisible, and the most vulnerable will continue to be left behind.
People, people, did I say people?
Jennifer ViÃ±as from Youth LAC Alliance, made a case for bringing the agenda down to earth, stating that “the overuse of these UN jargon “keywords” has turned them into “buzzwords”, emptying them of meaning”.
I definitely agree. I had a very hard time explaining my ‘abuela’, my afghan aunt Rona, my friends, and even my mom what this all means, and why this is crucial for the world we are determined to build. In the end, if you think about it, this post 2015 agenda, with all its goals, targets, and indicators should be ‘for and by the people’.
Moreover, the whole post-2015 framework needs to be conducted in a fully transparent way with reviews of the process and progress disseminated in a way which all people, including children, and youth, can understand and hence hold member states to account.
Bringing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) back to the agenda
An another statement worth highlighting is Nabila Nasir’s, from the Youth Leadership Working Group, who silenced all delegates as she delivered with courage her statement and personal account on how female genital cutting affected her, and why it is crucial that there is a stronger commitment and strategies in the implementation of the agenda at a national level in order to tackle issues related to Gender Equality and SRHR.
Governments should maximize the fiscal space for health spending, including for SRHR and remove financial barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health services, so that we never have to see or hear Nabila’s story repeating itself.
Did we deliver?
As young delegates, we did have some successes. For instance, Ambassador Kamau, co facilitator of the post 2015 process, responded to the MGCY statement, and said that Data Disaggregation and other indicators are going to be priorities for this May IGN session. (Yeah!! Now let’s hold him to account)
Also, moments after I delivered the MGCY statement, I recall Amb. Hiroshi Minami from Japan stressing the need to collect disaggregated data, to ensure that the impacts on the most marginalized of society will be monitored as well. Other member states like the European Union, United Kingdom of Great Britain, Philippines, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Peru, United Arab Emirates, Liechtenstein also addressed this issue, highlighting that countries should support each other in order to enhance their national statistical capacities, and that there should be a link between planning, programming, and budgeting and requires capacity building to do so.
Some member states are very supportive of children and youth’s key role for successful means of implementation. For example, Luxembourg, for the Group of Friends of Children, said that investing in children is “the smartest investment that can be made for social cohesion and inclusive economic growth. My own country (Dominican Republic) is also starting to fully support youth. The Ministry of Youth in Dominican Republic and the SG Envoy on Youth signed last year an agreement for the creation of a National Development Strategy on Youth. This is an important step towards the creation of youth friendly policies. We will definitely follow up on this and demand that Dominican youth, CSOs, and other stakeholders sit down and work together with policy makers in the creation, implementation and monitoring of this strategy.
On another note, it was very exciting to learn that the Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth is calling on and holding to account every Member State, so that they include at least two youth delegates in the official delegation of the upcoming negotiations and the September summit! (This could be you!!)
Okay so what’s next?
These are a few things we would like to see children and youth pushing for in this May session and beyond:
We demand that member states fully guarantee enabling environments that ensure good governance, national accountability based on the rule of law, and gender equality. (See goal 16)
As it has been stated above, commitment to and investment in the creation of more and better-disaggregated data will be necessary at a national and global level. Additionally, indicators for the SDGs need to be disaggregated by age in 5-year intervals.
Also, to be effective monitoring mechanisms must be implemented by all relevant stakeholders, and include youth-led participation. Participatory budgeting and allocation, along with monitoring and evaluation is the only way to improve outcomes.
Moreover, the final September post 2015 declaration should highlight the importance of means of implementation as a deciding factor on the overall success of the other SDGs. The MGCY suggests that this can be addressed by institutionalized avenues for youth-led shadow reporting- monitoring, evaluation and data collection throughout the year. We welcome to see this is as a priority theme for the Interactive Dialogues of the September Post-2015 Summit.
To sum up, dedicated funded mechanisms are needed in order to enhance the capacities of organizations that support the leadership development and full participation of young people in all levels of decision-making and across all sectors, supporting Goal 16 and the SDGs more broadly.
We’re counting on you(th) to champion with us for children, and youth, especially those who have been excluded, for those who are in vulnerable situations. We want your help in holding member states to account, and we want citizens to engage effectively in the decision-making processes that directly affect their lives and their communities. If children and youth do not engage meaningfully in the implementation, and monitoring of the post 2015 framework, we will all fail at Sustainable Development.
Finally, we want to tell citizens that there is hope, because we are in this together, and because they are the reason why we are here today.