One of the key shortcomings of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was that the poorest and most vulnerable 20 percent of the global population were left behind in the race to improve statistical averages. The mechanism succeeding the MDGs, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), were created in the spirit of "leaving no one behind" in their implementation. This implies that the SDGs will only be considered fulfilled if all goals are reached, for everyone.
The UN 2016 SDG report emphasises that the data which is needed to identify and address vulnerable groups is often unavailable. International Civil Society Organisations (ICSOs) command a wealth of data that is crucial for delivering a better understanding of the problems of poor and marginalised groups worldwide. The operations of ICSOs cover nearly the entire world, reaching from global advocacy to national level cooperation with governments, and to supporting people at the grassroots level. Each of them has particular strengths and deals with specific clienteles that are of key relevance in the context of "leaving no one behind" - be it in the context of identifying vulnerable groups and offering them direct support, or be it in giving them a voice and make their needs heard in political processes both on national and global level.
Against this background, the Leave No One Behind project aims to conduct an evidence-based collaboration of ICSOs to identify, support and empower the most marginalised and vulnerable worldwide, and help them to raise their voices and make these voices heard.
The project was launched with a workshop in Berlin on 12-14 June 2017. The leading question of the meeting was: how ICSOs can best collaborate to bring the most vulnerable and marginalised into the forefront of SDG implementation, and which role could the joint use of data play in this context.
In this first meeting 14 ICSOs were represented through a strategic composition of participants, including both senior staff members responsible for the programme / advocacy work of their organisations, and staff dealing with the use and management of data and evidence. Their discussions were further substantiated by experts and innovators from institutions that support a more strategic use of data in civil society and the wider development sector: HumanityX, Development Initiatives, the Open Knowledge Foundation Germany and the Foundation Center.
The discussions made very clear that it is the joint will of ICSOs to empower the marginalised by giving them a voice and making that voice count. An evidence-based approach hence should not be carried out in a manner that merely focuses on identifying these groups and their needs to make them “appear on the development map”, and then turning them into beneficiaries of ICSOs' services – it must lead to their full inclusion and empowerment .
The meeting emphasised that:
- Supporting marginalised and excluded people with raising their own voices is critical in making sure no one is left behind;
- Data play an important role in identifying, servicing and empowering marginalised and excluded people;
- However, data can only be useful if collected, analysed and applied strategically to make sure no one is left behind.
The inability of some governments to deal effectively with drivers for exclusion and marginalisation in society, and their lacking capacities (or will) to produce relevant data in this context has been perceived as a major obstacle in the given context. A joint ICSO approach aiming for the empowerment of marginalised groups should therefore focus on:
- The joint delivery of data and evidence to identify the drivers for exclusion and marginalisation in local contexts, thereby creating a strong basis to develop target oriented and inclusive programmes and projects,
- Joint evidence-based advocacy both on global and national level to keep governments accountable and remind them of their duties in regard to the implementation of the Agenda 2030 with a focus on those who live at the fringes of society
Result of first deliberations
Based on the above considerations, the launch meeting recommended to conduct a multi-year project which collects evidence on marginalised and excluded people as the basis for joint projects and programmes, as well as advocacy on the national and international level (focus on High Level Political Forum) to give these groups a voice and make sure this voice will be heard.
The Leave No One Behind project will include the following steps:
- In a limited number of countries (initially 3-5), launch an ICSO data collaborative initiative to support the Leave No One Behind agenda; establish a national level steering group consisting of relevant partners as government, National Statistical Office, ICSOs, academia, UN, etc. --> The countries will be identified from the annual list of countries that will report to the High Level Political Forum (HLPF).
- Establish a joint evidence base of the marginalised by combining our collective data and identify current gaps and overlaps. --> To identify vulnerable groups and criteria adding to their marginalisation and exclusion, partners will conduct standardised consultations / surveys with locals to collect their voices and suggestions for solutions.
- Implement a joint plan of action to design, monitor and evaluate programmes to better reflect those that are being left behind and respond to the data gaps.
- Increase our understanding of those being left behind by capturing and presenting their voices, including their experiences, the reasons for their marginalisation and what should be done about these issues.
- Create a joint Leave No One Behind report for each of the (initially 3-5) countries to raise the voices of the marginalised within national level advocacy and for use in the HLPF.
The Centre will elaborate a comprehensive proposal based on the meeting's deliberations to create a concrete collaboration basis and to invite ICSOs for their formal commitment.
If you are interested in learning more about this project, please contact Peter Koblowsky (firstname.lastname@example.org).