Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘sustainable development

Are Youth in Lebanon leading the change in archaic Lebanese system?

With Sustainable Development being a priority on the international agenda, how do youth see this agenda being translated into concrete actions that reflect the priorities of the Lebanese?

What are the actions that will reinforce the economic, social, and environmental pillars of Sustainable Development?

What criteria do we consider when identifying our national development priorities?

Cedric Choukair of WYA Middle East posted on Nov.7, 2012 under:

“Sustainable Development Workshop Series”

The series of independent 3 hour workshops will help Lebanese youth understand the concept of sustainable development based on the World Youth Alliance’s International Solidarity Forum (ISF) 2012 declaration.

The workshop will discuss some of the points presented in the WYA white paper on sustainable development that was recently published. The participants will also help us understand how the underlying ideas of the declaration practically apply to the Lebanese context.

For all the details of the workshop series including registration, click here!

What Last-minute lack of transparency can do? Would it weakens sustainable development goals?

On Sunday 2 August, the 193 countries which make up the UN agreed to a document that will shape the next 15 years of international development policy and action.

Hailed “the people’s agenda” by UN secretary-general Ban-Ki moon, the sustainable development goals (SDGs), have taken some two years to negotiate.

The SDGs in their final form will be agreed to by all governments at a special summit this September.

Yet, the final 48 hours leading up to this milestone moment were marked by closed-door deals and bad faith, I believe.

As a civil society advocate working on the SDGs, I have been witnessing the negotiations since March 2013.

The negotiations had, until the evening of Friday 31 July, been a genuinely open and inclusive process. They were open to observers, included opportunities for civil society and the private sector to speak directly to the governments and were webcast on the UN’s own live TV channel.

But that weekend, as the 17 goals and 169 targets were being debated for the last time, observers were kept out and information was relayed by a small handful of specific negotiators to a small handful of civil society advocates such as myself.

After the negotiations stalled, the US delegation laid down an ultimatum, asking for changes to the language of the final outcome document, without which they refused to adopt the SDGs.

The US asked to replace the word “ensure” with the word “promote” in two targets (2.5 and 15.6, both about equitable benefits from natural resources) which, when applied would see rich nations – whose corporations and research institutions extract the vast majority of world’s natural biodiversity – share fairly the profits and patents reaped from those resources with the countries and communities from which they are extracted.

The legal agreement on biodiversity, published in 2011, clearly uses the word “ensure” but by insisting on the much weaker word “promote”, the US has diluted hard-won legal language and replaced it with something that is nebulous at best, and unenforceable at worst.

In response, a statement was delivered from the countries of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Philippines and Trinidad and Tobago.

These countries stressed that the legal language was vital to maintain, as it is an international commitment stipulated in the Nagoya Protocol that must not be weakened.

This last minute, take-it-or-leave-it deal – proposed despite the fact that countries had repeatedly stressed that the goals must not be reopened to debate – filled the air of the UN conference room with distrust and tension.

A second alteration was made on Saturday 1 August, this time by the EU, which negotiates as a block in the UN.

They inserted the following text into the specific paragraph that addresses debt management: “Maintaining sustainable debt levels is the responsibility of the borrowing countries … ”

It is plainly obvious why this language is harmful and, given the situation in Greece, callous for the EU to even propose it.

If debt is the sole responsibility of the borrower, then the role of the lender in exacerbating the debt burden and setting countries up to default and crisis, as has been evident in Greece’s financial meltdown, is undermined.

Talk of debtors and creditors simply “working together” ignores existing UN agreements, dating back to 2002, that clearly recognise the joint responsibility of both the lender and borrower.

It was particularly disappointing to see human rights and non-discrimination, a cornerstone of the global goals, become a bargaining chip in the final hours.

African and Arab countries (who negotiate within blocks called the African Group and the Arab Group) attempted to delete language on.

While the specific words “human rights” were thankfully kept in the final document, “discrimination” was demoted to “distinction” and “fulfil” was reduced to “promote”. In both instances, these words are vague and inconsistent with established international human rights language, which will make it difficult to monitor progress and change.

Mention of discrimination on the basis of categories such as ethnicity, migration status, culture, economic situation or age as a protected status were also scrapped from the document, in an attempt to appease the African and Arab groups.

However, race, colour, sex, language, religion, political opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, disability or other status managed to survive.

The way in which the SDGs have been adopted leaves a sour taste in the mouth and mirrors the bullying and blackmailing I witnessed at the Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa.

The UN is supposed to be the a democratic and universal institution, one in which every nation has a vote, unlike the rich country-dominated IMF or World Bank. Backroom deals and pressure campaigns inevitably throw the legitimacy and fairness of international negotiations – not to mention the political will of governments to take the sustainable development goals seriously – into question.

The new global development agenda has captured the imagination of civil society, international institutions and many governments – rich and poor – because they have the potential to make ambitious and universal change to our economies, societies and environments. But the process by which we arrive at this new deal is important.

What transpired in the first weekend of August should cause all who are serious about the mantra to “leave no one behind” to reflect on the reality of vested interests and the unequal power between negotiating governments. If we cannot address this, we are left with the same system under a different name.

Bhumika Muchhala is a senior policy analyst at the Third World Network.

Andrew Bossone shared this link

If people are skeptical about govts as honest brokers: US weakens language on biodiversity and natural resource extraction, EU adds text that maintaining sustainable debt levels is the responsibility of debtor nations, while Arab and African nations (unsuccessfully) try to remove language on human rights and non-discrimination

The back room deals and pressure campaigns at the end of SDG negotiations call into question the legitimacy of the goals, says Bhumika Muchhala

Least Developed Countries (LDC):  How are they fairing with the UN?

Least Developed Countries (LDC) is a name given in 1972 to the poorest nations, during the third conference of the UN on world commerce and development. How LDC are fairing after the many UN conference made in their name?

It is 1972, Santiago, the Capital of Chili, during President Salvador Allende. The UN consisted of 120 recognized States (currently, there are 189 States).  In that UN conference, the richest powers qualified 24 countries as LDC.

For example, a LDC is generally an insular country (no commercial sea port), has no satisfactory sanitary and hygienic facilities, high rate of illiteracy, high rate of infantile mortality, and earning less than $200 per year per individual.

At that conference, the World Bank economic ideology was supported by the US government under the “Washington Consensus”.  The guidelines under the consensus was that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would not support State policies that refused to have open market for foreign products, or refuse to adopt loose laws permitting free flow of money, or capital managed by multinational financial companies, disposing of unregulated liberal commerce, have reduced the government involvement in social institutions and contribution to health and social security…

Tough reduction in social benefits like what current England, France, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and Greece… are trying to make their people swallow under the banner of balancing budgets while increasing huge gifts extended to their multinational companies, and financial institutions…

It is 1981, Paris.  The first UN conference focused on the LDC that have grown from 24 to 49 poorest States. The rich powers decided to allocate 0.7% of their GNP to developing countries; 20% of that miserly aid was to be attributed to the LDC.

It was all well-intentioned promise that was not kept.

Latin America States were undergoing US pressures for avoiding social reforms and maintaining oligarchic structures…Most African States were experiencing long-lasting civil wars while multinational companies were exploiting the raw minerals at full scale.

It is 2001, Bruxelles (Belgium).  The third UN conference for the LDC.  The Washington Consensus on economic guidelines have proven to be the worst remedies for the developing countries. Emerging nations suffered financial crisis for obeying the guidelines of the IMF.  The new guidelines are oriented toward human development in education, preventive health, equitable job opportunities,

The civic organizations for sustainable development, conserving biodiversity, climatic changes…have been very dynamic and virulent in transforming the UN conferences from an economic and financial Davos focus to Porto Alegre spirit.

Still, the aid to development to the LDC never increased to 0.7% of GNP. Worse, the effective development aid was reduced to half:  Included in the budget of development to poorer nations are paying off accumulated debts and paying employees of the main institution at home base.

Since 2001, the world witnessed serious upheavals such as invasion of Iraq that lasted 9 years, the financial crisis of 2008, and the polarization of world powers between the US and China.  The US counted on for maintaining financial world stability and China being given the prerogative of world effective productions…

How are the least developed countries fairing with the successive UN conferences?

Evidences point out that central government of the powerful States have given up getting involved directly.  Only civic organizations are relied upon to cover for the impotent States activities.

In a working democracy, with an adequate equitable election law, people elect local politicians that represent their interest, not based mainly  on political programs but on how candidates are perceived as high-energy individuals, intelligent, good communicators, ready to work 24 hours a day, fielding calls and demands from the voters, and skilled in finding resolutions to pragmatic problems.  Once a politician demonstrates that he is no longer interested in talking and meeting with people and is not spending time on the job of representing the community then, he is not elected, no matter how much money he spends on the campaign or enterprises back him.

A working democracy is not about the right of citizens voting at regular intervals for their representatives.  An equitable election law that engage all citizens in “doing politics”, regardless of gender, race, working classes, and level of education, is a process that demonstrate the seriousness of the political system:  The democratic system is initiating the citizens, early on in their life, to valuing politics in all the aspects of community associations and organizations, programs and policies.

A working democracy instructs citizens that social behaviors and communication are an integral part of doing politics.  For example, when we engage in a private business we are doing politics:  We have to communicate with clients and satisfy their requests, retain clients, respond to them in timely manner, and prove that we have a pragmatic decision-action tendencies.  That is what politicians are expected to demonstrate in their job.

Doing politics is basic to all our actions and endeavors:  Everything is politics and if we start giving “doing politics” bad connotations then, it means the political system has failed in doing a good job and representing a working democracy.  As citizens start considering the word “politics” or working in politics as evil word and its citizens  shun getting involved in the political process then, we should be sure that the system, on purpose, wanted its citizens to keep away from doing politics and letting the “representatives” thinking and deciding for them.   When citizens are interested in entertainments and hate participating in the discussions of community programs or getting engaged in political parties then, you know that the democracy is failing to work properly.

In general, successful politicians are highly intelligent extrovert people, exhibiting high-energy types able to recharge when meeting with people and directing the conversations toward practical problem-solving and communicating honestly and humbly as if he is one of the audience, those who voted or did not vote for him.   When a politician is compromised it should not be a basis for disrespecting all politicians:  The kinds of pressures and incentives tendered to a politician by interest-lobbying associations are overwhelming.  When a politician fails in his representation it means the constituents failed in supporting and encouraging him in his job:  They let the lobbying parties sidetrack the interests of the community and fill the void.

Not every one can be a politician:  This job requires many talents, energy, conversation and communication skills, quick-minded and a pragmatic-minded individuals.  However, every citizens should be able to doing politics:  That is the primary job of a citizen if a political system is to be functioning properly and society witness stability, equitable laws, and sustainable development.

A Working Democracy is expressed by valuing politics, doing politics, and respecting politicians.  It has been a long time since democracies failed to functioning properly.  Democracies have been transformed to oligarchies of the richest classes in return for “higher standard of living” at the expense of the people in the poorer States.




June 2023

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