Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Western India NGOs seek to "nationalise" sustainable development goals, being finalized at United Nations

By Our Representative
A fortnight after the UN drafting committee deliberated on the final draft of the revised Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 after taking suggestions from all the stakeholders, including an Indian civil society network led by Wada Na Todo Abhiyan and Oxfam India (click HERE), several of the country’s well-known NGOs met in Ahmedabad to deliberate on the type of institutions needed to achieve SDGs. The effort allegedly was to "nationalize SDGs" in western India.
Among those who sponsored the meet Beyond Copenhagen, Cecocdecon, FPA India, IPPF, Landesa, Pairvi, Third World Network, Vaagdhara, Vikalp, and Wocan. Paryavaran Mitra, Ahmedabad, coordinated the deliberations, which continued for two days. The UN drafting committee met in New York on June 22-25 to finalize the SDG draft, and by its new goals are likely to be a final word at the UN General Assembly at its September meet. The topic of the deliberations was "Nationalizing the Sustainable Development Goals: Economic, Social and Environmental Sustainability in Western India", and the discussions were about how to do it in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
Talking with newspersons soon after the two-day discussions, Pairvi’s Ajay Jha said, “We tried to find out ways to ensure how to implement the SDGs at the grassroots level through our collective effort. While implementing the SDGs, we will not be guided by the limited view of poverty, which is income based. We believe that poverty definition should take into account social backwardness, environmental issues, and democratic freedoms.” He thought, all this would provide them a "national" character.
Paryavaran Mitra’s Mahesh Pandya said, the main effort would be to ensure that people are empowered to ensure implementation of SDGs. “Unless people are made aware about the SDGs, the government in power will not be implementing it. There is a need for sustained advocacy both at the grassroots level and the government and politicians and local self-governing institutions. In fact, a legal framework would need to be created for implementing SDGs.”
Mina Bilgi of Wocan, a women’s advocacy network, said, special focus would need to be placed on women’s empowerment. “It is by now proved that 70 per cent those who work in the farm sector are women. Yet, they have no say in what they produce, not provided with any access to market, have no say on land on which they work. There is talk of gender budgeting, but nobody cares to finance women”, she said.
A statement issued by the organizers expressed “compelling concerns related to sustainability” adding, “We have failed to address it adequately.” It emphasized that “the development paradigm has been lopsided in favour of economic growth to the large exclusion of social and ecological aspects.”
Talking about the need to finance sustainable development, it insists on the need to get rid of the “ecologically damaging growth path”. It adds, “While it is important for India and other developing and poor countries to raise issues of justice, equity and resources in the global debate without which sustainable development cannot be achieved; it is also equally compelling to address sustainability nationally.”

Industry intervention

Meanwhile, in a related development, the industry in Gujarat is reported to be successful in having a say in the deliberations on sustainable development. A meet organized on sustainable development by well-known NGO Vikalp, Ahmedabad, saw the state's premier industrial house, Adanis, Gujarat government agency Gujarat Pollution Control Board, the state's environmental group Paryavaran Mitra and the Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry discussed the issue. 
The meet, which took place on June 20 at Surat, particularly focused on the role of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in sustainable development. No details of the meeting, however, have been made public so far. 

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