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.
Against this background, the Leave No One Behind project aims to create an evidence-based collaboration of ICSOs and other relevant stakeholders to identify, support, and empower marginalised and vulnerable groups worldwide.
On 12-14 June 2017 the International Civil Society Centre brought together 14 ICSOs in Berlin to discuss how they can best collaborate to ensure that the principle to “leave no one behind” is the baseline of SDG implementation.
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 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, Leave No One Behind,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 in the context of the SDG implementation.
The Leave No One Behind project will include the following steps:
- In a limited number of countries (initially 3-5), launch an ICSO evidence collaboration initiative to support the leave no one behind agenda; establish a national level steering group consisting of ICSOs with local presence, relevant partners such as local and national CSOs, government, National Statistical Offices, academia, UN, etc. The countries will be identified with a special focus on the annual list of countries reporting to the High Level Political Forum (HLPF). Relevant partners such as e.g. UNSD, Paris21, or the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data will be invited to support setting up collaboration with relevant authorities and other partners on the ground.
- Establish a joint evidence base of the marginalised by combining data among partner organisations, and using it to identify current gaps and overlaps.
- Implement a joint plan of action to design, monitor and evaluate our programmes to better reach and support people that are being left behind
- Increase our understanding of people that are being left behind by capturing and presenting their voices, including their experiences, their understanding of the reasons for their marginalisation and their proposals what should be done to address these.
- Create a joint Leave No One Behind report for each of the (initially 3-5) countries. Involve additional ICSOs (campaigns/advocacy-based) to build an effective political narrative that will raise the voices of marginalised people within national level advocacy and towards the HLPF. Representatives of marginalised communities should be included into these discussions to share their points of view.
The Centre is currently developing a proposal for this project as a concrete collaboration basis. ICSOs will be formally invited to commit to and lead the implementation of this project. Additional steps will follow once a minimum number of ICSOs officially committed to join the project.
If you are interested in learning more about this project, please contact Peter Koblowsky (firstname.lastname@example.org).