Writing Participation Into the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
Later this week the U.N. will vote on the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of international development targets that will replace the Millennium Development Goals, which expire at the end of 2015. The 17 new commitments include goals related to eradicating poverty, building sustainable cities, combating climate change, and more. Interestingly, the SDGs were agreed upon in a decidedly more collaborative and participatory process than the Millennium Development Goals. This included everything from thematic consultations to door-to-door surveys.
Perhaps the final language is a result of this more inclusive process. Several of the goals have civic tech implications, including two goals I find especially exciting: Goal 16.7 calls for “responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels.” Goal 17.18 notes, “By 2020, enhance capacity-building support to developing countries, including for least developed countries and small island developing States, to increase significantly the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts.”
These goals frame the challenges of inclusive governance and open data as global problems. Building towards a global partnership on sustainable open data and more responsive politics are challenges with daily implications on the lives of citizens. Diverse organizations are already pledging commitments: the ONE campaign’s Follow the Money portal; the DataKind and Mastercard partnership to foster data scientists to work with public sector leaders to build responsive protocols around data collection and usage; and CIVICUS is working to strengthen the capacity of civil society on SDG data initiatives, with a focus on the Global South, to name a few.
Working towards fulfilling these goals will require cutting across domestic and international divides to share lessons learned and best practices. Critically, the SDGs serve as a useful reminder that challenges are global in scope, often with local level solutions.
For more context on participatory processes around the world, read Hollie’s recent piece on the SDGs over at Vox.