Leave No One Behind

Putting marginalised people into the centre of SDG implementation /


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 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), were thus created in the spirit of "leaving no one behind". This means that the SDGs will only be considered fulfilled if all goals are reached, for everyone – especially those who live at the margins of society.

The UN 2016 SDG report emphasises that the data needed to identify and address vulnerable groups and their needs is often unavailable ­­– keeping them invisible and unheard. International civil society organisations (ICSOs) command a wealth of data and evidence 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 and each organisation deals with specific clienteles and topics that are of key relevance in the context of "leaving no one behind". For ICSOs to maximise their impact in implementing the “leave no one behind” agenda, they need to join up forces and bring together their individual strengths and knowledge.

Launch of the project in Sep 2017

In summer 2017 a project preparatory meeting was held in Berlin, bringing together ICSO experts on programmes, advocacy, MEL, and strategic use of data. They discussed how the ICSO sector can make a meaningful contribution to the successful implementation of the SDGs, making joint use of their evidence and data on marginalised and vulnerable groups. Together they developed a framework concept for a multi-year project, Leave No One Behind.

The project aims to establish an evidence-driven process to identify vulnerable groups and their needs in the context of SDG implementation worldwide. These insights should be used to offer improved support and empower these groups. The joint evidence generated through this project should be brought to use in a dual approach of: 1) improving offered services and programmes by aligning them more with the identified needs of vulnerable people, and 2) conducting joint advocacy on the national and global levels to give the groups in focus a voice that will be heard.

A key element of this evidence-driven process will be to "raise the voices of the people": target groups in focus should be able to describe their situation in their own words and make own suggestions for solutions. Parts of the evidence gathered will hence come directly from the vulnerable groups in focus of the research.

Leave No One Behind strives for collaboration with any project, initiative or institution sharing similar objectives, both at the national and global levels, with the goal of mutually reinforcing
each other and achieve greater impact in terms of ensuring a successful delivery of the SDGs, having the most vulnerable and marginalised in focus.

12 ICSOs have signed up as of 1 September to joint this project and support it with capacities both on global and national level. These ICSOs are:

  • Actionaid Denmark (on behalf of ActionAid International)
  • Amnesty International
  • BRAC
  • Care International
  • CBM International
  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
  • Plan International
  • Save the Children International
  • SOS Children’s Villages International
  • VSO International
  • World Vision International
  • WWF International

Next steps

A global Steering Group has been formed consisting of a representative of each participating ICSO. The Steering Group gives direction for the overall project development and oversees the project implementation at large. Mid-November the Steering Committee agreed to four action countries for the pilot year of the project: Bangladesh, Kenya, Nepal and Vietnam.

In each country, an in-country team will be established, consisting of the ICSO country offices. The in-country teams serve as national-level steering committees and decide on details of the project implementation on the ground. Each in-country team will be chaired by a "national lead agency" that will coordinate this overall process. Our lead Agencies are: BRAC Bangladesh, ActionAid Kenya, VSO Nepal and ActionAid Vietnam.

Simultaneously, the Centre works with global and national-level ICSO experts and (external) data strategists on setting up key references for the analytic aspects of the project, and on the production of a methodological framework, connecting the dots between our global and national-level activities.

At country level, the immediate next steps are:
- Determination of a national research focus for Bangladesh, Nepal, Vietnam and Kenya
- Taking stock of available evidence and data within the ICSO community
- Identification of other relevant stakeholders to support national researches with additional data/evidence
- Reviewing the results of the evidence mapping to identify knowledge gaps and overlaps
- Make conclusions for next steps


If you are interested in learning more about this project, please contact Peter Koblowsky (pkoblowsky@icscentre.org).

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