SDGs will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of eight international development goals established in 2000 and set to expire at the end of 2015.
The intent of the MDGs was to:
- eradicate poverty and extreme hunger;
- provide universal primary education;
- achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment;
- improve maternal health;
- reduce child mortality;
- combat HIV/AIDS;
- promote environmental sustainability;
- establish global partnerships for development.
While the MDGs increased awareness of these critical issues, the goals themselves have not been achieved. At the current rate of inequality reduction, increasing the bottom billion’s share of world income to just ten percent would take eight and a half centuries to accomplish.
The Canadian Government sent a delegation led by MP Christian Paradis, Minister for International Cooperation and La Francophonie, to Addis Ababa. The decision to send Paradis, and the prominent role given to the private sector in the SDG negotiations, has left Canadian trade unions and civil society groups concerned that the FFD3 negotiations are being used as a means of legitimizing the expansion of corporate power under the guise of addressing the needs of the poor.
Paradis is Chair of the ReDesigning Development Finance Initiative (RDFI), a joint project of the World Economic Forum in collaboration with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation Development’s Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DCA) with the primary objective of supporting private sector financing in developing countries.
While most would agree with the intention of ensuring environmental sustainability and poverty eradication, many civil society organizations believe that this cannot be achieved through Public Private Partnerships and “blended finance” models that leave neoliberal globalization unchallenged.
The experience of millions of people living in poverty in developing countries has led to a distrust of the intentions of Global Financial Institutions and multinational corporations. Farmers’ groups at the conference have insisted that “the business and private sector should desist from considering the Sustainable Development Goals agenda as another arena for maximizing their insatiable profits, at the expense of people and sustainability of our Earth”
To counter this agenda, the trade union movement has been deeply engaged in negotiations, advocating a people’s agenda that includes redistributing wealth, limiting the power of transnational corporations, stopping the privatization of public services, mitigating the proliferation of trade and investment agreements, and regulating financial institutions.
For more information on Canada’s role in negotiating the Sustainable Development Goals and to pressure our government to take a leadership role in supporting a people’s agenda visit the We Can Do Better Website.