Tag Archives: UN

SDG Financing: Inaction is a greater cost for all of us

“Investment in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will cost an approximate annual investment of 6 trillion dollars annually – or 9 trillion over 15 years – but the cost of inaction will be far greater.” Peter Thomson, the President of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly stated this daunting figure at the High-Level SDG Financing Lab at the UN in New York. Financing of the SDGs is a key and central theme to current global sustainable development, as well intrinsically linked to our work in CBM. It is particularly relevant at local and national levels in the areas of inclusive education, ensuring healthy lives, water and sanitation for all, gender equality, climate change, inclusive cities among other areas. Please keep reading for an update and overview on Financing for Development (FfD) processes.

Financing for Development Forum

The annual ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development follow-up (FfD Forum) was established by the 2015 Addis Ababa Action Agenda. The 2017 FfD Forum will be held at the United Nations in New York from 22 to 25 May. The four-day event will feature a Special High-level Meeting with the Bretton Woods institutions, WTO and UNCTAD, Ministerial round tables, general debate, thematic discussions on the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and other FfD outcomes and a dialogue with stakeholders. One of the key features of the FfD follow-up process is its multi-stakeholder approach, including civil society.

In accordance with paragraph 132 of the Addis Agenda, the annual FfD Forum results in intergovernmentally agreed conclusions and recommendations that are fed into the overall follow-up and review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development. The outcome document is expected to be adopted at the end of the second day (end of the ministerial segment) of the FfD Forum (23 May). H.E. Mr. Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve, Permanent Representative of Belgium to the UN, and H.E. Mr. Jerry Matthews Matjila, Permanent Representative of the Republic of South Africa to the UN are the co-facilitators for the conclusions and recommendations of the 2017 FfD Forum.

The Inter-agency Task Force

The Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development was convened by the Secretary-General to follow up on the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and is comprised of over 50 United Nations agencies, programs and offices, regional economic commissions and other relevant international institutions.

The Addis Agenda (para 133) mandates the Task Force to:

  • Report annually on progress in implementing the Addis Agenda and other Financing for Development outcomes and the means of implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, and
  • Advise the intergovernmental follow-up process on progress, implementation gaps and recommendations for corrective action, while taking into consideration the national and regional dimensions.

The IATF 2017 report addresses the above as well as:

  • A discussion of the global context and its implications,
  • an overview of each chapter of the Addis Agenda, while covering the broader set of commitments in an on-line annex, and
  • Analyses of thematic issues.

The IATF 2017 report can influence the FfD Forum outcome document and thus is an important document in which to input. The unedited draft of the IATF 2017 report was recently released. As the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC) and the International Disability Alliance (IDA) on behalf of the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities we contributed to this report. Click here to read the submission. We also contributed to the IATF 2017 unedited draft report as part of the CSOs for Financing for Development (FfD) Group. Click here to read this submission.

Currently the draft report includes 9 references to persons with disabilities, including one on the first page of the Executive Summary.

References:

  • One reference in the Executive Summary (page 1) under the paragraph Increased long-term investments need to be complemented by measures to directly ameliorate the living conditions of the poor and vulnerable, such as social protection floors.
  • Two references in the section on Addressing vulnerabilities (page 28 and 29)
  • Five references, including the Washington Group on Disability Statistics, in the section on Strengthening data and statistical capacities (page 134)
  • One reference in Data gaps and challenges (Box 1, page 138) specifically on Science, technology, innovation and capacity buildingData on ICT skills and accessible technology for people with disabilities (disaggregated by gender)

High-Level SDG Financing Lab

On 18 April, the President of the General Assembly convened the High-Level SDG Financing Lab at the UN in New York. The impetus for this event was for Member States to have a dialogue one month prior to the FfD Forum. The event highlighted the critical importance of sustainable finance for the achievement of the SDGs, including climate action. It focused on how to drive the transformation to align financial markets with sustainable development and discussed ways in which Member States can approach the financing of different SDGs.

Main summary points:

  • The private sector was a core theme of the event as a key partner to achieve the SDGs, such as the role of public-private partnerships and banking systems. It was noted that there must be new and different ways to work with the private sector.
  • Public-private partnerships will vary depending on context (e.g., post-conflict versus developed countries), but the ambition needs to be clear to address those most left behind.
  • The role of technology and access to Internet were emphasized.
  • There was discussion on how to reform existing policy and regulatory frameworks to leverage public and private financing for the SDGs, and to contribute to sustainable development, including through local and regional capital markets.

Inclusion of Marginalized Groups:

  • Bangladesh, on behalf of the Least Developed Countries, highlighted that marginalized groups need to be addressed and included in economic opportunities.
  • Mahmoud Mohieldin, Senior Vice-President for Partnerships, UN Relations and the 2030 Agenda, World Bank Group mentioned persons with disabilities in his presentation in the opening session.

Challenges:

  • Despite the above mentions, marginalized groups were not strongly included in the overall discussions, but the leave-no-one-behind principle and social inclusion were mentioned throughout the event and are areas in which the rights of persons with disabilities can be included.
  • “Park Avenue” and the UN are worlds apart, despite only being separated by a few city blocks, especially in terms of the lack of awareness and action around the SDGs in the private sector. Thus, this is a chasm that needs to be bridged.

Compelling take-away points:

  • The UN and private sector are often saying the same thing in different languages, and perhaps with increased communication and collaboration there can be better synergy.
  • Sustainability is about collaboration, not competition, and it is important to focus on the former.
  • First integrate the SDGs into national plans in which the SDGs are aligned with programs (e.g. inclusive health care and energy programs) and then the conversation with financing cannot be ignored.

I’ll end on a hopeful quote from one of yesterday’s panelists: “When a bank and UN entity are saying the same thing, we are bridging a huge gap.” – Matt Arnold, JP Morgan Chase

 

CSW61: Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work

The sixty-first session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61) took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 13 to 24 March 2017. Representatives of Member States, UN entities, and ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations from all regions of the world attended the session. The themes of CSW61 included: (1) the priority theme ofWomen’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work,” (2) the review theme over “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls (agreed conclusions of the fifty-eighth session),” and (3) the emerging issue/Focus area on “The empowerment of indigenous women.” CSW61 and its themes tie in nicely with CBM’s work on gender equality, specifically addressing multiple and intersectional discrimination encountered by women and girls with disabilities.

The outcome of the Commission’s consideration over the priority theme took the form of agreed conclusions, negotiated by all States. Click here to read the advanced unedited version of the agreed conclusions. The agreed conclusions include 13 explicit references to persons with disabilities. These include a reference to the UN Convention on the Rights to Persons with Disabilities (para 2), para 30 (social protection policies and infrastructure development), para 38 (labor force and inclusion in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda; 2 references), para k (strengthening education, training and skills development), para t (implementing economic and social policies for women’s economic empowerment), para w (health systems), and para dd* (empowerment; 6 references).

Side Event

On 21 March, I participated in a CSW61 side event on behalf of CBM. The event, organized by the stellar organization Women Enabled International, focused on “Intersectionality and SRHR: Key to Ensuring Successful Implementation of SDGs for All.” The goal of the event was to ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) achieve their objectives to end poverty and improve equality for all and that the implementation of the Goals must incorporate an intersectional lens to give full effect to the notion that this is truly “for all.”

It was truly a pleasure to be included in such a dynamic panel of activists and academics. Thank you, Stephanie Ortoleva and Women Enabled International for including me in the event! Please continue reading for a summary of my presentation.

Background

  • Persons with disabilities comprise 15 percent of the world’s population or 1 billion people of whom 80 percent live in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Women and girls with disabilities make up at least 50 percent of this population.
  • Persons with disabilities are more likely to live in impoverished conditions and be the most marginalized.
  • Women and girls with disabilities encounter additional barriers, including exclusion from participating in a sustainable and inclusive economy; an increased risk of violence and abuse; lack of access to justice; minimal participation in political and public life; and prejudice and discriminatory attitudes in sexual health, reproductive rights and in the right to family life.
  • Women and girls with disabilities face barriers in accessing healthcare services, including higher costs, lack of accessible transportation, and inadequately trained medical staff, and preconceptions about whether they need certain services, such as sexual and reproductive health services.
  • Women with disabilities more often seek health care than women without disabilities, but have worse health outcomes and rate their well-being as lower than both men with disabilities and women without disabilities.

Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and persons with disabilities

  • The SRHR of persons with disabilities is not well recognized and needs specific attention.
  • Disability activists focusing on SRHR often lack resources and opportunities due to invisibility and stigmatization.
  • Technical language and processes often are not accessible, which further excludes women with disabilities.

Suggestions to ensure more inclusive/intersectionality of SRHR programs

  • Have increased participation, engagement, and trainings with SRHR experts in the gender and disability movements to learn, exchange, build on intersections, and engage in collaborative advocacy between movements.
  • Understand the connections and intersections between SRHR and disability. Organizations such as ARROW have written on disability rights and SRHR, are thinking of creating accessible formats of publications for persons with disabilities, and dedicating publications on issues of disability and SRHR.
  • Consider different types of disabilities, contexts, and geographical locations when including SRHR into programs.
  • Be aware of and sensitive to the different layers of intersectionality and multiple discrimination of women with disabilities, especially including Indigenous, youth, older, and other groups of women with disabilities.
  • Link programs with global frameworks, such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs, specifically with Goal 3 on healthy lives and well-being and Goal 5 on gender equality. These Goals are crosscutting in nature regarding women, women and girls with disabilities, and SRHR.
  • Apply the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs within the frameworks of the legally binding Convention on the Rights to Persons with Disabilities and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), to create an effective platform from which to push for positive change, particularly when addressing the challenges encountered by women and girls with disabilities in health care and SRHR.

In closing, the common thread among the different movements represented (women and girls, persons with disabilities, LGBTQI, youth, Indigenous, climate change, and more) is that we must have inclusion, empowerment, and build cross-movement collaboration to truly “leave no one behind.”

 

*The full text of paragraph dd: Promote gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls with disabilities and the full realization of their human rights and their inclusion in society, and take measures to ensure that women with disabilities have access to decent work on an equal basis with others in the public and private sectors, that labour markets and work environments are open, inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities, and take positive measures to increase employment of women with disabilities and eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability with regard to all matters concerning all forms of employment, including recruitment, retention, promotion, and safe, secure, and healthy working conditions, in consultation with relevant national mechanisms and organizations of persons with disabilities.”

 

Additional information

March 25th: Raising awareness and preventing violence against women and girls with disabilities

Five Perspectives on Gender Equality

Women with Disabilities Are Women Too

Enforcing the Rights of Women with Disabilities

SDG 5: Gender equality and Disability Inclusive Development in the SDGs

 

Disability Statistics: Our Place in the Sun

The 48th session of the UN Statistical Commission took place from 7-10 March at the UN in New York with over 650 participants and 45 NGOs attending the opening session. This was an important and relevant session for our work as the SDG indicator framework was discussed and put forth for agreement, and on 10 March the UN Statistical Commission adopted the SDG indicator framework and will recommend that ECOSOC adopt it. This is another building block strengthening the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and is relevant for persons with disabilities as there are 11 disability indicators in the framework, as well as disaggregation by disability in the chapeau.

Disability was included throughout the four days with explicit inclusions in the opening, closing, and social statistics sessions. During the social statistics session, disability was strongly highlighted, and particularly positive was the push for the work of the Washington Group on Disability Statistics from some Member States/National Statistical Office (NSO) representatives.

John Pullinger representing the United Kingdom was the first to push for the Washington Group Short Set of Disability Questions calling it “the only show in town” as the tool to use for disaggregation of disability in the 2030 Agenda (see below for the full statement). Member States/NSOs that also explicitly supported the use of the Washington Group included Italy, Grenada in its national capacity and on behalf of CARICOM, Australia, Hungary, and Germany (in the opening session). Other Member States/NSOs that referred to the importance of disability statistics, but did not explicitly mention the Washington Group, included the Philippines, Cambodia, Barbados, South Africa, and the State of Palestine.

Furthermore, the UN Statistics Division hosted a disability statistics side event on “Improving Disability Statistics in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” Jennifer Madans from the Washington Group on Disability Statistics presented on behalf of the United States and within her presentation highlighted the successful work of the Washington Group in the US context. Other presenters included NSO representatives from Uganda and Myanmar, whom both discussed the use of the Washington Group Short Set of Disability Questions in the statistical work at their respective national levels.

As a way forward, UN Statistics Division Director Stefan Schweinfest, provided a concise closing oral report in which he listed priorities for the work ahead regarding statistics. These include to:

Challenges included the need to:

  • Have constant discussion between statisticians and policy makers as the latter are the “holders of the purse” and the “setters of the agenda”
  • Build mutual respect and cooperation (connection from local to global) with international agencies, about which Schweinfest is “fiercely optimistic”
  • Work with civil society and the private sector (some have “trepidation because we don’t know each other,” but statistics should be about “joyful cooperation” and this can be done if we clearly agree on a division of labor with comparative advantages; and the Global Action Plan is a good tool for everyone to “find their place in the sun.”)

In closing, I’d like to echo Stefan Schweinfest’s words that “data can be the glue of the entire agenda” and in recognizing this it is important that we continue to collaborate so we all find our place in the sun in this agenda.

 

Social Statistics Statements on Disability Statistics (in order of presentation and not verbatim)

Statement by the United Kingdom, John Pullinger (at the 19-minute mark):

I too would just want to speak on one item, and that is the item relating to disability statistics. I think the work program here is very good and very positive on what has been done, but I would urge the Statistics Division to extend their ambition in the work program for 2017 in two respects. First, there has been outstanding work done by the WHO and the Washington Group to really understand the parameters of disability and help decision makers make sense of diverse and complex problems. I hope during the coming year in the work program proposed that the Statistics Division can give good guidance on how those instruments can be used in social survey programs, but also in individual country programs, which are many and varied. But the main point I’d wish to make is the link between disability questions and the Agenda 2030, and particularly on the issue of disaggregation. In that area, it is absolutely vital that we have a very simple framework for enabling people with disabilities to be counted so that none of them are left behind. And here, I think there is only “one show in town” and that is the short set of questions developed by the Washington Group that enables social survey operators to get simple classificatory data on disability that would enable their voice to be heard. And I would hope that the statistical division would be able to give clarity and guidance on this matter.

  • Italy strongly recommended a better relationship with Washington Group and the UNSD and highlighted the regional meetings of the Washington Group and that they provide capacity building (huge theme this UNSC) and technical assistance worldwide.
  • The Philippines supported the UNSD on disability statistics and its plans
  • Cambodia included the importance of disability statistics
  • Barbados included the need for disability statistics
  • Grenada on behalf of CARICOM – aligned with the UK’s statement and supported the use of the Washington Group short set and also highlighted the disability work with the Washington Group in the region and in Grenada.
  • Pali Lehohla, South Africa’s Statistician-General and Head of Statistics South Africa on behalf of South Africa supported disability statistics in his statement.
  • Australia supported the Washington Group as pragmatic and supported its further use in disability statistics.
  • Hungary supported the disability statistics work and the Washington Group, which also helps population and ageing.
  • The State of Palestine stated it would be useful to identify a particular framework on disability statistics.

Additional Information

Data and persons with disabilities

The first UN World Data Forum took place in Cape Town, South Africa, from 15-18 January 2017, hosted by the Government of South Africa and Statistics South Africa. The Forum brought together key experts from governments, businesses, civil society and the scientific and academic communities to discuss opportunities and challenges and showcase the latest innovations to improve data and statistics for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Why is data important for persons with disabilities?

Data collection can provide the number of persons with disabilities in a location, the barriers, and what policies and programs are needed to eradicate those barriers. Disaggregation of data by disability is a key step in including persons with disabilities who encounter higher rates of poverty and exclusion from society.

To disaggregate by disability status in the SDG indicators, it merely requires the addition of a small set of questions – such as the Washington Group on Disability Statistics Short Set – on already existing data instruments. When disability questions are included in the data systems that produce the SDG indicators, disaggregation of data is not only feasible but can easily be accomplished.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development specifies that data should be disaggregated by “income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national context” (17.18). Overlooking these groups undermines the Agenda’s core concept of leave no one behind.

In contrast to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), civil society and other stakeholders, including persons with disabilities, have more space to drive and be involved meaningfully in the SDG indicator framework, particularly at the national level. The main reason for this is because the SDGs are country led, use a multi-stakeholder approach, and employ the principle of leave no one behind.

Alt="Elizabeth Lockwood CBM International, Berhanu Tefera from African Disability Forum, and Sarah Meschenmoser from CBM Germany"

Elizabeth Lockwood from CBM International, Berhanu Tefera from African Disability Forum, and Sarah Meschenmoser from CBM Germany

Disability inclusion at the Forum

Persons with disabilities had a strong presence at the Forum. This included an IDA-IDDC disability-focused side event (more below), having various panelists throughout the Forum highlighting disability (e.g., World Bank, DFID, and WHO) and with many DPO representatives and allies as participants and panelists. Moreover, in the opening session, Mr. Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General of DESA, included the need for data on persons with disabilities in his speech. Similarly, at the end of the Forum, disability was again highlighted as a group that needs to be addressed in data. Particularly relevant, is that in the final session on the IAEG-SDGs, two members included disability in their final conclusions on the Forum (Jamaica and Fiji).

Also, there is a disability reference in the Cape Town Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data that was launched at the World Data Forum. IDA and IDDC were active in advocating for this reference, so we welcome the inclusion of disability language. Specifically, the Plan states “Support the strengthening and further development of methodology and standards for disability statistics” (Objective 3.5). “Accessible” is also used twice in the document. While this is a good first step, the language can be improved from “strengthening” and “development,” to systematic mainstreaming of disability statistics. But as was stated in the closing session, the GAP is only the first step of what needs to get done and the beginning of a process.

GAP background

The Global Action Plan (GAP) was drafted by the High-Level Group on Partnership, Coordination and Capacity-Building (HLG) as one of the Group’s main objectives (the other was convening the UN World Data Forum). The GAP focuses on monitoring and statistics and calls for a full, active and focused commitment of government, policy leaders and the international community to implement the sustainable development agenda. Furthermore, the GAP calls for policy leaders to achieve a global pact or alliance that recognizes that funding modernization efforts of National Statistical Offices (NSOs) is essential to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.

The (projected) work plan of the GAP:

  • January 16, 2017 – the GAP was launched at the UN World Data Forum, Cape Town, South Africa
  • March 2017 – Present the GAP to UNSC for endorsement by members
  • May/June 2017 – Endorsement of ECOSOC
  • July 2017 – HLPF: Side event to provide an update on the GAP
  • September 2017 – UNGA: Endorsement of UNGA
  • September 2017 – UNGA: Side event to provide an update on the GAP

Disability data event

The program covered six main themes, one of which was on leaving no one behind. Specifically, this theme looked at innovative approaches for SDG follow-up and review on all groups, data in post-conflict countries, and data and human rights.

I was a focal point organizing the session focused on disability data on “collecting disability data toward implementing the sustainable development goals and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.” The key messages and recommendations that jointly emerged from the compelling session are as follows:

  • The inclusion of the Washington Group disability short set of questions in data collections that produce the sustainable development goal (SDG) indicators is a tested and efficient method for disaggregating indicators by disability status for monitoring the SDGs and the overarching objective of leaving no one behind. In addition, a child functioning module has been developed by the Washington Group and UNICEF for monitoring ‎the status of children with disabilities.
  • It is very feasible to disaggregate data by disability status at the primary and secondary levels in a range of health programs and within ministry of health and NGO facilities and outreach. The key is what is next?
  • Collection of disability-related data is greatly improved by involving organizations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) and persons with disabilities in data collection analysis and related programs and policies. NSOs and other organizations responsible for data collection and analysis would benefit by having persons with disabilities on their staff as well.
  • The Washington Group short set endorsed by UN agencies provides a way to leave no person with disabilities behind by disaggregating the SDGs. It is critical to make use of this tool for planning and monitoring, and to go beyond disaggregation to understand how discrimination occurs and how to challenge these, while at the same time engaging with DPOs to hold their governments accountable.

In addition, another IDDC member, Sightsavers, wrote a great blog over the Forum highlighting the importance of using the Washington Group Short Set of Questions and how this is being carried out in their programs.

Next steps and upcoming data-related events

  • A plan will be developed for increasing the data coverage of tier II indicators with the joint working group of the IAEG-SDGs and the HLG.
  • The 8th meeting of the HLG will take place on Sunday, 5 March 2017 in New York to discuss the outcomes of the first UN World Data Forum and plans to develop a short summary document on lessons learned.
  • The IAEG-SDGs will hold two meetings, the first in March 2017 and the second in the fall of 2017.
  • The 9th meeting of the HLG will take place in September/October 2017.
  • The next World Data Forum will take place in Dubai in two years.

This was the first of many UN world data gatherings, so let’s keep working together to ensure that no one is left behind and to build a more inclusive society.

Additional information

IDA and IDDC joint blog for the UN World Data Forum

IDA and IDDC joint blog for the UN World Data Forum in International Sign

World Data Forum Article on persons with disabilities