by Lord Jack McConnell, LCID Vice-President
The Labour Party has internationalism in our core. We have always wanted a world free from want, and where people can live at peace with the planet, and each other. Yesterday in New York, the new Global Goals were agreed: a road map to end extreme poverty and to peaceful sustainable development.
Launched by the UN at the start of the new century, the Millennium Development Goals were meant to tackle the worst extremes of ill health and poverty. But they were never designed to tackle root causes. And with their time coming to a close, there is now the opportunity to transform global development and security – making sure no one is left behind.
Global poverty has been halved in 20 years, more children go to school, most people now have access to clean water, deaths in childbirth have been slashed. The last Labour government helped achieve this by transforming Britain’s approach to international development. But still 1 billion live on less than a pound a day; UNICEF reports that every five minutes, somewhere across the globe, a family loses a son or daughter to violence; women perform two-thirds of the world’s work, produce 50% of the food, but earn only 10% of the income and own only 1% of the property; and more people have a mobile phone than use a working toilet.
The Global Goals for Sustainable Development follow the MDGs but they are much much more. 17 Goals including quality education and health care, protecting the environment, peace and justice, and jobs – ambitious, for all.
The Goals are fundamentally about inequality and sustainability, but they are also about tackling the great fears of the 21st century. Fundamental to tackling these fears is the need to end extreme poverty; to ensure women and men have the same rights and opportunities; to prevent conflict and to recognise those marginalised as a result of their physical condition, their identity, their sexuality or their location have the same basic rights as others.
The Global Goals are the result of a unique process, engaging countries and peoples across the globe. Because of this process, these goals will have greater shared ownership than ever before, and action can start now. The key difference to the MDG’s: the Global Goals are universal. All goals apply to all countries. All goals are to be implemented in all countries. All goals are to be financed and reported on by all countries. All countries are accountable. With this universality and the aim to transform, has also come a promise: leave no one behind.
As we agree these goals, I am struck by three important priorities.
First, we need an consistent effort to investment in capacity: taxation authorities; fair and transparent courts and justice systems; strong parliaments that hold governments to account; reliable, independent data collection; and effective government ministries. And a willingness in the nations where the vast majority of the extreme poor live, to respect accountable institutions that put people before those in power.
Next, peace and security. Those most at risk of violence or war have the worst lives and the greatest needs. They must not be left in the ‘too difficult’ box. Building peace is essential if development is to reach everyone.
And perhaps most importantly of all is gender equality. The world cannot move forward whilst half of its population is held back. We need to universally empower women and girls so that we can build the better world that we want to see.
This is a special moment. A real chance to change the world. Let’s grab it with both hands.