Just a few years ago, Juan Carlos Baltazar was living with other homeless people on the streets of Bolivia.
“When I was living on the street, no one ever spoke to me about the Millennium Development Goals and I did not know about any fight to eradicate poverty,” the Bolivian told Devex as a new set of recommendations for combatting destitution after 2015 was unveiled on Thursday at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
The report — put together by Baltazar and more than 2,000 people living in extreme poverty in Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, France, Haiti, Guatemala, Madagascar, Mauritius, the Philippines, Peru and Poland across a three-year participatory action-research program with ATD Fourth World and its partners — is expected to be a catalyst for change when it becomes part of the post-2015 debate that will start at the U.N. General Assembly in September and culminate with the new anti-poverty framework after the Millennium Development Goals expire.
“Because many people live like I have, without documents, without any work, struggling day by day to survive, with the experience that we have, we could bring a lot to the debate. We can bring our knowledge, we could say which goals have worked,” explained Baltazar.
He and other members of ATD Fourth World warned in the report obtained ahead of its launch by Devex that the calls from the most marginalized sectors of society must be heeded if the post-2015 agenda is to reach greater heights than the MDGs.
“There has been very little talk, in the SDGs and post-2015 agenda debate, on discrimination and its impact on people living in extreme poverty, and their capability of accessing projects due to the discrimination they are subjected to,” the NGO’s international policy and advocacy officer Brendan Coyne told Devex. “There is also not enough about human rights, which we wish to emphasize.”
Goals that make an impact
The report, entitled “Towards Sustainable Development that Leaves No One Behind: The Challenge of the Post-2015 Agenda,” urges emphasis on five goals, also processes, in the post-2015 debates.
One goal that Baltazar mentioned would make the biggest impact to his family is promoting decent jobs, which he said would allow him to give his children better education and nourishment.
The rest of the goals are:
1. Leave no one behind
On the ground: Eliminate stigmatization and discrimination based on gender, social origin or poverty. Reach out to the most impoverished population groups. Foster participatory development and service provision.
At a national and international level: Align development targets and their implementation with human rights norms and standards. Re-examine the indicators linked to extreme poverty.
2. Introduce people living in poverty as a new partner in building knowledge on development.
On the ground: Create cooperation and new forms of shared knowledge between people living in poverty and mainstream society. Join forces with academics, professionals and policy-makers to increase their involvement on a regular basis in processes of pooling knowledge with people living in poverty. Create reporting mechanisms in cooperation with impoverished communities.
At a national and international level: Create cooperation and new forms of shared knowledge between developed and developing countries. Improve and expand qualitative knowledge and measures on development, discrimination, empowerment and participation with people living in poverty.
3. Promote decent jobs, social protection and meeting the essential needs of all.
On the ground: Invest private and public funding to create decent jobs by meeting essential needs.
At a national and international level: Implement ILO standards on national floors for social protection. Build a new tax system that drives social justice and environmental protection.
4. Achieve education and training for all based on cooperation between all stakeholders.
On the ground: Remove hidden barriers on equity in education. Build cooperative forms of education in partnership with communities. Ensure high quality education with improved results for people in poverty.
At a national and international level: Focus on policy coherence and accountability to ensure access for all. Reflect community needs in education policies. Improve quality, equitability and learning outcomes.
5. Promote participatory good governance.
On the ground: Ensure that participation in governance is more than a consultation exercise, and that communities take part willingly. Help communities to form their own support organizations and build links with the wider society. Recognize the important role civil society organizations can play in building participatory governance.
At a national and international level: Ensure that national and international structures encourage participatory governance. Develop participatory mechanisms at all levels, with transparency at all levels of governance.
‘MDGs have not benefited equally all people living in poverty’
The report said that while the MDGs offered time-bound yardsticks on actions on key development issues, the strides reached under the MDGs “have not benefited equally all people living in poverty and have left behind those experiencing the greatest hardships.”
“It is vital that people living poverty can contribute to the current debate on post-2015 goals, because they bring to the table knowledge about on-the-ground conditions and day-to-day realities that other experts simply cannot,” explained Coyne.
The report calls for a new development framework that aligns development targets with human rights norms and standards.
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