The Year of the SDG's, Number 17

Action 2015 is a movement made up of thousands of organizations, coalitions and partnerships that reflect the diversity of activists fighting injustice, inequalities, poverty and climate change all over the world.

They have joined forces because important decisions with regard to our global future are going to be made this year. You might have read their heartfelt open letter in the Huffington Post which was placed by Action 2015 participants Malala Yousafzai and Angelique Kidjo, and co-signed by lot of interesting public people. I am delighted to see that more and more organizations are working more closely together to improve the wellbeing of all the people in the world.

In this important year, I am a Youth Ambassador for The ONE Campaign, an international campaigning and advocacy organization of more than 6 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable diseases. Starting in February 2015 me and other ONE Youth Ambassadors have visited Dutch high schools to inform the students on the newly proposed Sustainable Development Goals that will be decided upon in a UN summit in New York coming September. Our way of increasing the public awareness on crucial subjects. We will be doing this in the coming months too.  

In my blogs this year I would like to discuss the proposed 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's). Going from number 17 back to number 1.

We all need a healthy, safe and enjoyable environment to live in as human beings. That environment is best described an interconnected whole. We're all in this together is much more than a solidarity call. This does not only apply to climate change, where the fact that we all share the same planet, and better take collectively good care of it is more than obvious. But that this connectedness also applies to the distribution of resources, security in an area, the quality of health care, the quality of education, opportunities to find sustainable work and so on. In the end your life will also be impacted by how your fellow human beings are doing. It is that simply.

Proposed SDG number 17 is: "Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development"  The open working group of the UN on the SDGs proposes the following subjects with regard to SDG 17: finance, technology, capacity building, trade and systemic issues.

I will focus mainly on the finance part of this goal. I do however recommend that you read the other subjects mentioned in SDG 17 also. Why do I think the finance part is such a big deal?

You can have great and wonderful plans, but if you do not know how to finance them it stops. You will get nowhere. To quote from a movie starring Tom Cruise: "Show me the money."

The international standard is that developed countries should at least provide 0.7 percent of gross national income (GNI) in official development assistance to developing countries. This 0.7 percent target was first pledged 35 years ago in a 1970 General Assembly Resolution. Out of a 2010 revised document of the OECD it is made clear that most of the developed countries still have difficulty to reach this international norm:

Sweden became the first country to meet the target in 1974, although on revised GNP figures, the achievement was postponed to 1975, by which year it was joined by the Netherlands. Norway and Denmark reached it in 1976 and 1978 respectively, and all four countries have consistently met it since. Finland achieved it once, in 1991. Luxembourg reached it in 2000 and continues to do so.

In 2013 Great Britain was the first of the G7 countries to meet the target of 0.7 percent of GNI going to developing countries. A great step forward. If you want to lead the world do it by good example. Or to quote Spiderman: "With great power comes great responsibility."

An important part of cooperation is holding your partners in an international agreement accountable for the pledges they made. Those countries who deliver should be praised and those who haven't yet should be more encouraged to do so. If not by our governments then by us! We need to demand better. This includes that we allocate most of the financial resources in those areas where the people are the poorest. They need our help most of all.

Next to "show me the money" another important factor is "follow the money".  In 2014 The ONE Campaign released a report called The Trillion-Dollar Scandal. It shows that at least 1 trillion dollars is lost by developing countries due to shady deals for natural resources, the use of anonymous shell companies, money laundering and illegal tax evasion. On of the best ways to end this kind of immoral practices is by putting the light on them so everybody can see what is going on and act on that information. This is why among other things The ONE Campaign proposes the following actions:

  • Making information on the beneficial ownership of companies, trusts and similar legal structures publicly available in open data formats;

  • Raise global standards for natural resource transparency and make progress towards a common global mandatory reporting standard;
  • Making the automatic exchange of financial information available to all countries, including low income countries;
  • Endorse and apply the principles of the Open Data Charter, make open data the common thread.
  • There's off course a lot more to international cooperation than only finance, in the proposal for SDG 17 it is for example written that there should be international cooperation on and access to science, technology and innovation, and enhance knowledge sharing. And that we should have an universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system. Yes, we do!

    If you want to learn more about international cooperation just check Twitter for #Action2015 and you will find many different organizations united in a common goal. With us of The ONE Campaign you can #DemandBetter from our leaders! If you wish to improve your Dutch and/or support us over here then you can follow us on Twitter via @ONENederland.

    My next blog will on SDG 16: "Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels."