19 September 2014 blog post by Charlotte Gill
In July, many of us celebrated the Outcome Document of the Sustainable Development Open Working Group which recommended a set of goals and targets that the international community should adopt to achieve sustainable development.
For ARTICLE 19, and many other members of IFEX, the most important goal is 16, which focuses on promoting "peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, […] access to justice for all and […] effective, accountable and inclusive institutions".
Targets that ARTICLE 19 particularly welcomed were:
- 16.6 develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels ;
- 16.7 ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels ;
- 16.10 ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements ;
- 5.b by 2030 achieve universal access to ICT for women and men to promote women's empowerment.
However, despite the conclusion of the Open Working Group process which demonstrated that there is appetite to include good governance in the SDGs, it is far from a done deal. There are several states forthright in their opposition to any reference to good governance in the final goals, arguing that it's 'not development'. At ARTICLE 19, of course, we disagree. There are thousands of examples all over the world of how good governance, free expression, access to information, and participation in decision-making lead to tangible and sustainable development outcomes, whether it be improved maternal healthcare outcomes, better investment in local education provision, or improved access to clean water.
This September, Right to Know Day, coincides with the start of a year-long negotiation process to agree the Post-2015 agenda. States will be discussing the framework that will be the foundation for international policy commitments for the next fifteen years and more. They will agree goals that will galvanise efforts to improve the daily lives of vulnerable and marginalised people and set out targets that will focus the attention of donors striving for sustainable development.
At the end of this year, the UN Secretary General will publish a synthesis report bringing together three global process that have contributed to the progress made so far in establishing the Post-2015 framework. Three official UN documents will provide the backbone of the Secretary General's synthesis report: the Sustainable Development Open Working Group Outcome Document; the report of the Expert Committee on a Sustainable Development Financing Strategy to provide insight into the financing options for the SDGs; and the 2013 report by the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on Post-2015 which offers additional recommendations for certain goals and targets.
We're at a crucial cross-roads in the campaign for the inclusion of good governance in the Post-2015 framework. The fundamental building blocks of sustainable development are fundamental freedoms. One cannot happen without the other. Without free expression, journalists can't publish articles holding governments accountable for their election promises. Without access to information, individuals can't make informed decisions about their livelihoods. Without public participation in decision-making, vulnerable groups can be overlooked and marginalised individuals miss out on the benefits of development.
ARTICLE 19 will be continuing to push for an ambitious agenda for Post-2015 so that the development progress we celebrate in years to come is truly sustainable and benefits everyone.