By Gugulethu T. Ndebele (CEO) & Abongile Sipondo Head of Advocacy and Campaigns) at Save the Children South Africa
Would you believe us if we told you that by 2030 no child in South Africa would be living in extreme poor conditions? It indeed sounds like a farfetched dream yet it is a possible. A framework that can fulfil this prediction and stands to have impact on the lives of our children and those of generations to come is being finalised in New York. The Post-2015 Development Agenda is a process led by the United Nations and aims to help define the future global development framework to succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This year was set as a year to achieve the MDGs and a new set of ambitious targets relating to future international development, called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), had to be negotiated. The SDGs were first formally discussed at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 (Rio+20). This year in September, world leaders will gather at the UN General Assembly summit in New York to announce this new framework.
The SDGs have the potential to shift the course of global development, and has a prospect of getting every child out of extreme poverty within a generation. But only if we get a few things right. As we enter a stage of final negotiations, nations of the world are earnestly pushing, making last minute decisions that could affect many generations to come. If we get this one wrong, it could be the beginning of the end, with dire consequences for billions of the people of the world. Children are even more vulnerable. It is therefore crucial to take action on this process to build a world in which each and every child has an equal chance in life, not only to survive, but also to thrive and reach their full potential. A permanent end to extreme child poverty is possible if we ensure that next generation of children are at the centre of the new development agenda.
As the world is busy with the final negotiations of the development path, it is critical to reflect on what will happen after the framework has been announced. Obviously if we are to achieve the ambitious goals of eradicating poverty by 2030 and that the new development framework has the real impact of children’s lives, a few necessary steps need to be taken. It is important that, firstly, the framework is financed, both at national and global levels through adequate financing from domestic and donor sources. Secondly, means of implementation must be set and agreed upon. Thirdly, there must be mechanisms in place to ensure accountability for the plans and targets.
South Africa is key in this process for a number of reasons, and has to make sure that it uses its position to ensure that the framework benefits the citizens of the country. South Africa is a member of different regional and international bodies such as the G77, BRICS, and others and as a result it can use its position of influence on these groups to push an agenda that the framework is implementable and resourced. South Africa currently holds the chair of the G77 group of nations. The G77 and African states are central in the negotiations for the new framework, and are able to either bloc or facilitate the process. Moreover, because of South Africa’s role in the Development Working Group of the G20, especially its leading role in domestic resource mobilization, the country can use this experience as an opportunity to push the debate on difficult issues around means of implementation. However, South Africa’s membership of these different bodies and its African allegiances have meant that it has not been easy to determine what the country’s position is on the post 2015 development agenda.
South Africa has successfully achieved many of the MDG targets. However, research shows that there is a lot that still needs to be done to ensure that every child has a chance in life. In South Africa there is a growing incidence non-communicable diseases (NCDs) aggravated through poor health care and development in infancy; child survival rates remain comparatively low, especially the neo-natal mortality rate; the maternal mortality ratio has increased; a substantial number of child deaths in South Africa are preventable and/or treatable. Therefore South Africa has an interest in ensuring the successful implementation of the SGDs, for it to achieve what it could not achieve under the MDGs.
We therefore urge the South African government to use its position of influence to ensure that our children live better lives. The post-2015 development framework should build on the best of the MDGs, but also have a single set of ambitious and measurable goals and targets, underpinned by principles of equality, equity, universality and sustainability. To achieve this, a number of factors need to be considered. First, the targets must aim to finish the job of the MDGs, emphasising poverty eradication, children’s rights and getting to zero on key human development outcomes. Secondly, ensuring that no one is left behind is critical, prioritising a reduction in all forms of inequality. Thirdly, the framework should address substantive gaps in the MDGs, including quality service provision, protection of children from violence; open, transparent and accountable governance; and inclusive & sustainable economic growth. Fourthly, no one should be left behind on the path to end extreme poverty because of their age, gender, disability, income, ethnicity, language, location or vulnerability to disasters and climate change.
South Africa’s domestic policy focus on reducing inequality is even more of a reason to push that agenda on the international stage, ensuring that the new development framework leaves no one behind. This is an opportune time for the country to show leadership, and to use the respect from its peers to ensure that the new development framework benefits the children of this country and of the world. If we miss this opportunity, it will affect multitudes of our children negatively for many decades to come.
For interviews and further information, please contact: Asanda Magaqa, Media Relations Manager, Save the Children South Africa Tel: +27 (0)12 430 7775