Tag Archives: Sustainable Development Goals

2015, a Defining Moment to End Poverty in a Generation

By Michel Anglade, Campaigns and Advocacy Director, Asia – Save the Children

2015 could be a momentous year in human history. It could be the year that governments across the world put a deadline on their longstanding commitment to end extreme poverty, ensuring that no child dies unnecessarily, every child gets a good-quality education, and every child is protected from violence. It is the year that governments are expected to agree a new global framework of concrete goals and targets to take the legacy of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) forward, and bring the commitments that were made at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20) to life.

The next six months represent a critical phase in the international process to define the post-2015 framework. As governments discuss the shape and contents of the new development goals, they must keep levels of ambition high, putting the foundations in place for a framework that is capable of inspiring real and sustainable change for the world’s poorest children.

Protecting and advancing children’s rights lies at the heart of this process to make the world better and fairer for children. The post-2015 framework must focus on meeting children’s needs. The MDGs spurred political and financial commitments to achieve significant breakthroughs for children. However, the job is still not completed, and the world’s most disadvantaged children are being left behind. The eradication of poverty is not only a matter of social justice, but is also a cornerstone for effective, equitable and sustainable development for all. The post-2015 framework will shape the future, and it is therefore imperative that needs and rights of children, as present and future citizens of the world, are fully reflected within it.

More than a million people from around the globe have shared their experiences, expertise and perspectives about what post-2015 sustainable development goals should look like, via UN and civil society consultations and the MYWorld2015 global survey. A number of considered proposals have also been presented by international institutions and networks. These include the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the UN Global Compact, the outcome of the Open Working Group, the UN Secretary General’s Synthesis report on the Post-2015 Agenda, and civil society organisations from around the world, many of which are members of the international Beyond 2015 campaign and have now joined the Action/2015 campaign.

As the inter-governmental negotiations to finalise the post-2015 framework take place in the UN Headquarters in New York, Save the Children call for a strong focus on equity. Inequalities are not an inevitable outcome of development progress. If we are to recognise the truly transformative potential of the new sustainable development framework we must embed equity at its core. No one must be left behind by virtue of their gender, age, disability, income, geography or ethnicity. Save the Children urge UN member states to ensure that the Declaration of the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda includes an explicit reference to the criterion that “no target should be considered met unless it is met for all social and economic groups”.

Learn more:

Michel Anglade is Save the Children’s Campaigns and Advocacy Director for Asia, based in Singapore. In his role, he coordinates EVERY ONE, Save the Children’s flagship campaign to reduce child mortality. He supports Save the Children country offices across Asia to advocate for better practices and policies to fulfil children’s rights.

Prior to his present position, Michel Anglade worked for Oxfam from 2000 to 2011, in various leadership positions in Asia and in Africa. He started working in the field of humanitarian and development in 1995 and undertook various assignments with Doctors without Borders and with Action Against Hunger in Armenia, Sudan, Somalia and North Korea.

Michel Anglade graduated from Sciences-Po (Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris) in 1989. He also holds a Master in Media and Information Management from the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Paris.

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Save the Children is the world’s leading independent organisation for children. Save the Children works in 120 countries to achieve breakthroughs in the way the world treats children. Save the Children’s Asia Regional Office is in Singapore.

Sustainable Cities and the Sustainable Development Goals

by Elyssa Ludher, Senior Assistant Director, Centre of Liveable Cities

“Managing urban areas has become one of the most important development challenges of the 21st century. Our success or failure in building sustainable cities will be a major factor in the success of the post-2015 UN development agenda.” ~ John Wilmoth, Director of the UN’s population division.

In 2010, for the first time in recorded history, urban dwellers outnumbered rural dwellers. By 2030, the United Nations estimates that 60% of the world’s population will live in cities.

It is thus propitious that Sustainable Cities are an important focus of the post-2015 agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. A sustainable world cannot be achieved without changing the trajectory of our cities to a more sustainable path. Across the globe, cities are leading the way in sustainability. New York, Copenhagen, Suzhou and Surabaya are just some examples of cities that have adopted more ambitious sustainability goals compared to their national governments. At city level, local governments can focus, channel resources, execute, scale up and achieve results.

Global urban growth will not be proportional; it is expected to double in emerging economies, mainly in existing and new cities in Africa, Latin America and Asia. These rapidly expanding cities face acute pressures on infrastructure and services. Few are equipped with the necessary mandate, resources and capabilities to plan, implement and manage its own development. An SDG focused on cities could thus influence national governments to devolve much needed authority and resources to the local level so they are adequately equipped to address these challenges.

The cities of tomorrow also need to consider a model that will maximise efficiency in terms of delivering infrastructure and services, such as public transport, schools, hospitals, sewage and recreational facilities. Planning a city based on a high density model could achieve the scale required to achieve a high quality of life and sustainable environment for its residents. There are few cities that have managed to achieve high density and high liveability. Singapore is one such city, according to numerous liveability surveys.

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Figure 1: the Density- Liveability matrix

Singapore started out as a fledgling city in the 1960s, plagued by challenges commonly experienced in the emerging cities of today, such as high unemployment, slums, road congestion, lack of sanitation and pollution. Singapore has, however managed to transform into a modern and turbhriving global city in just 50 years.

Other high density cities too have successfully transformed themselves to achieve high liveability coupled with high density. New York, Surabaya, Medellín and Hong Kong, for example, while distinct in history, political structure, geography, character and urban challenges, have commonalities in their urban transformation experiences. The Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC) Singapore has captured and distilled some of these commonalities, published in Liveable and Sustainable Cities: A Framework. A simple illustration of the CLC Liveability Framework is shown in Figure 2.

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Figure 2: The Centre for Liveable Cities Liveability Framework

The Framework can be summarised in three simple messages:

  1. Have clear vision and goals: Cities must have vision and goals to guide development aspirations. In Singapore, this was to achieve high quality of life for all residents, a competitive economy so that all are able to live a life of dignity, and a sustainable environment for future generations.
  2. Plan Comprehensively: Cities must plan comprehensively to achieve these goals; this requires foresight, pragmatism, and innovation. Agencies must work together not only to plan, but to implement. Plans must also have enough flexibility to adapt to changes which arise in time.
  3. Inculcate Sound Urban Governance: Cities must have governance structures that embody integrity to carry out these plans. Governance implies more than government; it requires the participation of the private and civil sectors as well, working together to advance collectively. Community engagement is vital for ensuring

If cities are able to integrate the three messages above, their path to sustainability will be infinitely smoother. Once sustainability, inclusiveness and fairness are entrenched in cities, this will naturally lead to the transformation of entire nations and regions, bringing us one large step closer to a sustainable world.

Learn more:

Elyssa Ludher is a Senior Assistant Director at the Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC), involved in research in urban governance, integrated planning, mobility and food security. She also manages the collaboration with UN Habitat on Capability Development. Prior to working at CLC, Ms Ludher worked in the rural development sector at the Cambodian Organisation for Research, Development and Education (CORDE).

Ms Ludher started her career in urban planning in Brisbane, Australia, first working with Brisbane City Council, and thereafter on major infrastructure projects in Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM) Consulting. She was recently published in Liveable and Sustainable Cities: a Framework, and has also published articles on urban governance and community inclusion. Outside of her professional commitments, Ms Ludher volunteers in youth mentoring, in particular through the Junior Youth Empowerment Programme.

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Set up in 2008 by the Ministry of National Development and the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, the Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC) has as its mission “to distil, create and share knowledge on liveable and sustainable cities”. CLC’s work spans three main areas – Research, Capability Development and Promotion. Through these activities, CLC hopes to provide urban leaders and practitioners with the knowledge and support needed to make our cities better.

Building on the Momentum of the MDGs

By Michel Anglade

13 Mar 2013 (1)

Since the adoption of the UN Millennium Development Goals in 2000, we have seen improvements to the lives of millions globally. About 600 million more people have been lifted out of poverty, 56 million more children are going to school and millions of households have access to clean water.

Indeed, these successes prove that political will and commitment to set goals can bring about real change. And as the 2015 deadline for these UN MDGs loom, the international community must start critically reviewing these goals and discuss what the next commitment period will bring.

That is why Save the Children, along with ONE (Singapore) and the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, held a panel discussion on February 15th, 2013 to discuss the opportunities and challenges in the Post-2015 MDG agenda. During this discussion, Save the Children presented its report ‘Ending Poverty in Our Generation’, which lays out our proposal for the post-2015 agenda. Beyond these suggestions, however, it is my belief that we should first lay down the key principles to which these goals should be written.

Firstly, are all children given a fair chance to survive and thrive? Despite huge reduction in absolute poverty numbers, inequality has been on the rise. Save the Children’s ‘Born Equal’ report, published last September, showed that the overall gap between rich and poor children, globally, has grown by 35% since 1990 – nearly double the gap between adults – meaning that in some countries more than twice the number of poor children die before the age of five than rich children. Progress needs to reach the poorest 20% before we can safely say that all children have been given a fair chance to survive and thrive.

Secondly, Post-2015 goals cannot be seen as separate targets for separate sectors because they are inextricably linked; instead, they need to be seen as parts of a whole. A hungry child is less likely to go to school and achieve good learning outcomes; he is more likely to fall ill; and as he are also more likely to be poor, he will have less access to health services, clean water, nutritious food for physical and mental development and the result is a vicious cycle of poverty for generations to come.

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During the panel discussion, Michael Switow pointed out – and quite rightly so – that perhaps indicators are not enough for development. A child that has US$1.26 (US$0.01 more than the agreed target) could be considered ‘lifted out of extreme poverty’, but 10% inflation means that they would just be as food insecure as they were before. Instead, a rights-based approach could be necessary to ensure that women and children have access to what they need in order to survive and thrive. This is very much in line with Save the Children’s vision of a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation. Every child must have access to schools, clinics, social protection, nutritious food and a voice.

Accountability should be at the core of the framework. In order to hold world leaders to their promises, we need a robust accountability mechanisms rooted in regular collection of disaggregated data in order to track progress, all of which require investment and resources from the state.

Lastly, environmental sustainability of development is crucial as human health, survival and activities are dependent on our earth’s natural resources. Increased environmental exploitation is often viewed as a necessary process in development as people require more fuel, food and other material goods like electronics. And little has been done to improve the sustainability of our world. Of the 20 countries most at risk from climate related disasters by 2015, 19 have large numbers of absolute poor. As such, development projects should at the core of it, be built around environmental sustainability and low-carbon development.

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development may not be limited to the environment. Investment in women, for instance, will go a long way in sustaining development. As Georgette Tan said: “Women need to be empowered: They need an education to start, they need access to a bank account, access to finances and credit. They need to be given access to technology and they need to understand that they have a role to play…It’s about giving them the leg up, not just about the hand out.” Indeed, the case for investing in women has been made many times over; 90% of women’s income is reinvested in her families as opposed to about 40% of men’s income. Women invest in their communities, which helps create many more opportunities for other women and children in those communities.

Millions have benefitted as a result of the Millennium Development Goals. Let us capitalise on this momentum so that 6.9 million children no longer die each year from preventable causes, 300,000 mothers do not die needlessly, and millions of hungry have access to the nutritious foods they deserve.

Save the Children’s report, ‘Ending Poverty in Our Generation’, can be downloaded here.

Michel Anglade is the Campaigns and Advocacy Director at Save the Children Asia