In this article we interview Lars Bosselmann, Acting Director of CBM’s International Advocacy and Alliances, Elizabeth Lockwood, CBM’s UN Advocacy Officer in New York and CBM’s partner, Risnawati Utami, Founder/Director of Ohana and Chair of Indonesian National Consortium for Disability Rights on the SDGs/Agenda 2030.
The SDGs or as they have become known – Agenda 2030 were adopted in September. CBM was intensely involved in the advocacy leading up to their adoption at international, regional and local level. Recently we took some time to interview individuals who were involved in advocating for an inclusive agenda, we asked them what their thoughts on the new goals were and their wishes for the future.
Can you explain what your role has been in the lead up to the adoption of 2030?
Elizabeth: I have been intensely involved in the process leading up to the adoption of Agenda 2030. I began my involvement with the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals with a total of 13 sessions from March 2013 to July 2014. On 19 July 2014 the Open Working Group concluded with the “adoption” of a set of sustainable development goals, which with only minor changes is what is included in the final Agenda 2030. Next, I continued being involved in eight sessions of the post-2015 intergovernmental negotiations from January to July 2015.
Specifically, I supported persons with disabilities to participate at post-2015 sessions at the UN, wrote policy briefs, analysis papers, interventions, organised and hosted side events, and lobbied Member States to include persons with disabilities in their national statements. This advocacy work was done in collaboration with colleagues from the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC).
What do you think have been the wins for persons with disabilities with the new agenda?
Risna: The adoption of Agenda 2030 is amilestone for the rights of persons with disabilities. It is a victory for disability rights movement globally that the agenda has adopted the rights of persons with disabilities as the most vulnerable population and poor of the poorest population in the world. It will support the work I do in advocating for disability rights and inclusive development at all levels of development.
Elizabeth: Overall, Agenda 2030 is quite disability inclusive with 11 explicit references to persons with disabilities, which are in the human rights, vulnerable groups, and education declaration paragraphs, as well as data disaggregation by disability in the follow-up and review section. Additionally, there are seven references in the Sustainable Development Goals and targets, including two in education, one in employment, one in reducing inequalities, two in inclusive cities, and one in data disaggregation by disability.
Particularly strong is paragraph 23, on people who are vulnerable and must be empowered, which refers specifically to “persons with disabilities (of whom more than 80% live in poverty)”, thereby putting persons with disabilities in the centre of poverty eradication throughout the Agenda.
Moreover, persons with disabilities were widely included throughout the three-day summit on sustainable development (25-27 September) including references from His Holiness Pope Francis and many Member States, including the United States (President Obama), Albania, Costa Rica, Ghana, and the African Union amongst others.
The SDGs/Agenda 2030 have been adopted. How important is this for CBM’s work?
Lars: It is a milestone in and for our work; and I feel that we probably don't see all the potential it could have in the future, such a short time after its adoption where we are still celebrating. The 2030 Agenda gives CBM's work a new momentum, as it brings into the centre of broader development debates the question of "leaving no one behind". So all partners implementing the SDGs, whether they are governments, regional bodies, UN Agencies, Civil Society organisations or the private sector, will have to come-up with concrete answers in how to reach out to those who were until now often forgotten and excluded. Of course, persons with disabilities are amongst those who have been left behind to date.
Where are the gaps and challenges for SDGs/Agenda 2030 implementation?
Elizabeth: Despite the inclusion of persons with disabilities in Agenda 2030, gaps remain. First, the Agenda does not reference persons with disabilities in the Health (Paragraph 26) and the Gender goals (Paragraph 20). Also, it is imperative that the global indicator framework is inclusive, so no-one is left behind, especially persons with disabilities. The global indicators and global monitoring and accountability framework are still being finalised and persons with disabilities must be strongly included in both of these frameworks. In New York, we continue to focus and work on this.
Second, since Agenda 2030 is not legally binding, there is the risk that national governments will cherry pick areas for implementation and consequently persons with disabilities could be excluded. Therefore it is imperative that persons with disabilities and organizations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) are actively involved in the implementation process at the national and regional levels and that this is linked back to the global level.
Lars: In answering this question, I would focus on two aspects for now: 1. How to sustain the momentum and 2. The disaggregation of data. There was a great deal of enthusiasm around the adoption of the 2030 Agenda with unusual media coverage for such kind of UN processes. This now needs to be sustained, especially at the national level, in order to make progress. The danger always being that 15 years sound like a long time to go and that many commitments made in New York are easily "forgotten" once back into daily domestic politics. The second point is of a totally different nature: in order to measure the results of the SDGs, there is a need for substantially more and different kinds of data. This includes, but is definitely not limited to, data on disability. As of today, few countries are in a position to provide this data; consequently, lots of capacity-buildingwill be required to enhance the capacities of statistical authorities so that they can collect, analyse and provide reliable data on persons with disabilities. Data is not an end in itself: it should also help policy-makers to design the best and most inclusive policies.
Risna: In my opinion, the gaps were happening when the process of negotiation or consultation meetings in the country were quite difficult to convince the government stake holders that disability is related to poverty. Disability wasn't considered and it wasn't included as the critical aspect of development framework in particular on poverty reduction programs and other development aspects.
How important will partnership (for example with mainstream organisations) be for SDG implementation?
Lars: This is a critical part of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. According to me, one of the biggest gaps in the Millennium Development Goals was the lack of progress in creating a truly global partnership for development. This has to change now with the SDGs. And there are positive signals: the engagement by UN Member States from across the globe is unprecedented. Formerly, the adoption of the SDGs would have been a matter of few donor countries providing money for developing nations. This time, there has been a real global dialogue amongst nations, but also bringing in civil society and the private sector. So the commitment to the goals, but then also the obligation to implement, is far greater than in previous frameworks. And this is promising, also for the implementation in the areas related to persons with disabilities.
What are next key steps and how will CBM be involved?
Elizabeth: The global indicators will be finalised in March 2016 and the modalities of the monitoring and accountability framework by July 2016. CBM is and will continue to be involved in advocating for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in these processes at the UN in New York and elsewhere. Moreover, CBM is working on DRR indicators and will link the two processes to have cohesive frameworks. In terms of global monitoring and accountability, CBM will advocate with partners for active participation of persons with disabilities in the High-Level Political Forum, the global mechanism for (voluntary) monitoring of Agenda 2030. CBM is working on an organisation-wide advocacy strategy to implement Agenda 2030 and will work with partners at the national and regional levels where CBM works and will link implementation with CBM programmes.
Lars: For now, efforts should go into getting the indicators frameworkright. Only if they are as inclusive as the actual 2030 Agenda, will progress for persons with disabilities be possible and measurable. Also in parallel, the already mentioned translation of the goals into national plans and policies is important. Lastly, I also would highlight the importance of setting-up an inclusive global monitoring framework which has persons with disabilities and their representative organisations at its heart.
Risna: The next step is Agenda 2030 and the CRPD should be used together as advocacy and monitoring tools. The most important thing is that DPOs should be aware that we have strong advocacy tools to protect the rights of persons with disabilities. The advocacy work should be continued by using the goals, indicators and target of Agenda 2030 as disability is explicitly referred to in the Agenda 2030. DPOs should partner with other civil society mainstream organisations and NGOs working for the rights of persons with disabilities in order to collectively achieve real implementation of CRPD principles and Agenda 2030.