The dialogue initiated in September at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is central to the ongoing debate around the construction of a future global development model and its impacts. In particular, discussions centred around the role that the current development model has in perpetuating global poverty and exclusion. In this vein, the UNGA was a space for identifying the existing opportunities as well as the difficulties for opening up a truthful dialogue amongst the diverse actors looking for alternatives.
The Participate initiative and the global campaign Beyond 2015 took the opportunity to engage more with these ongoing dialogues and to present the findings of the research carried out by the 18 partner organisations of Participate.
I believe that with these activities, we advanced towards the goal of bringing the voices of the poorest and most marginalised into the post-2015 global decision-making processes. However, this engagement also confronted us with the difficulties around the advocacy process, particularly the government representatives.
The concerns, ideas and proposals made by various organisations, including Participate’s findings, proved that there are converging issues being raised. However, I could observe notable divergences in the way the emerging problems and challenges are being understood. Worth giving a special mention is the concern around the poverty, exclusion, and lack of rights that a considerable part of the global population endure; as well as the recognition that until now the actions undertaken to eradicate these issues have been limited; to say the least.
The convergent issues
- Bring to an end the charitable approach to development and demand a focus on rights promotion and protection, and justice for the people living in poverty. Indeed many called for a ‘rights based approach to development’.
- Recognise that the participation of the poorest and most excluded in decision-making processes, from the local to the global level, constitutes an essential condition to overcome their hardship.
- Insist in not separating the problem of increasing poverty from increasing inequality, and a call for urgent structural changes to the global economic and financial systems. This was indeed, one of the most critical demands.
The discourse and proposals put forward by the global civil society largely coincide with those of some international organisations. In this sense, NGOs and civil society coalitions presented their proposals framed under side events organised by UN agencies such as UNDP, UNICEF, OHCHR; organisms that largely coincide with civil society’s discourse and some core proposals towards the definition of a post-2015 agenda. However, this was not the case for the vast majority of the governments. Their limited presence and lack of disposition for opening spaces for dialogue with civil society made evident the fact that the lack of success of many poverty reduction programmes are largely a result of intermingled politics rather than bad planning. Hence, envisaging substantial changes to the current governmental lens of what is needed from the new post-2015 development agenda seems like a huge challenge.
In this sense, Participate demonstrated the possibility and importance of bringing the voices, concerns and experiences of the most excluded to the global decision-making spaces. Through an interactive exhibition, the production of a documentary and a panel discussion around our synthesis report, we have shown the value of conducting and promoting participatory action research processes. Processes in which, through innovative and traditional techniques and methods, participants have been able to voice their ideas on how to tackle their problems and what they expect from decision makers. The diversity of materials and outputs have also raised the sensibility and conscience of what is needed in order to face one of the most important challenges for our society in the forthcoming years.
Let’s trust that we will be able to advance on the dialogue and the actions needed to end poverty and marginalisation. Let’s trust that governments, international organisations, the private sector, the civil society and all citizens work together to achieve change.
Carlos Cortez is a member of the Participate research group network from Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Xochimilco in Mexico.
Read other recent blogs about Participate:
- Post 2015 agenda: Listening to the voices of people living in poverty
- Participate: Response to High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda report
- What matters Most? Participate Initiative presents research to post 2015 High Level Panel
- ‘Share an idea so that you and I can change tomorrow’
- Post-2015 civil society consultations: our shared perspectives