Statement at HLPF 11th Meeting
Good morning everyone, my name is Jolly Amatya, and I am speaking on behalf of the UNMGCY. We are the formal engagement mechanism created by the United Nations General Assembly for young people to engage in UN processes.
Allow us to first extend our gratitude to UN DESA, President of ECOSOC, and member of the UN for convening this dialogues with Major Groups and Other Stakeholders.
Our world is not as simple as we would like to think. Our world is filled with complex interdependent systems, with multiple development pathways. The good news is that we realize this and we’re all working towards a common goal. Our problem is that we’re often doing it independently. There is a need for holistic approaches designed by communities and stakeholders at all levels. And it can only happen when we’re all present, all talking, in the same room.
We’ve made the mistake of sectioning off our planet, ever dividing it by nation, fragmented by urban and rural areas, segmented into forest or agricultural areas. We have fractured ecosystems and inadvertently denied our communities the right to live in a natural harmony and fulfill livelihoods.
Twenty-five years after the outcome of Rio Earth Summit created the Major Groups mechanism, the UN Major Group for Children and Youth (UN MGCY) has been and remains committed to meaningfully engaging in the design, implementation, monitoring, follow-up, and review of the 2030 Agenda and the vision of the UN. With the enhancement of the stature of sustainable development as a system wide approach. it strives to enhance spaces both in breadth and depth for all rights holders and critical segments of society to engage at all levels and make effective use of the self-assembled, right-based spaces.
The term “transformative” has been thrown about quite often in the context of the 2030 Agenda. Still, the primary cross-cutting challenge so far has been acting on this term and actualizing this transformation. How do we do this? We would like to provide a concrete plan for moving forward:
One. Reorient the current “growth for the sake of growth” economic paradigm to one that internalizes social and environmental externalities.
It is simple. The economy is dependent on and exists within the environment and society. NOT the other way around. This includes, inter alia, cap share and trade of natural resources, operationalising the rights of nature, and planned degrowth. Additionally, measures like ratios of maximum to minimum income, scaling of UNEP’s Ecological Risk Integration into Sovereign Credit or E-RISC, and Ecological Tax Reform that discourage sectors, especially those that contribute most to resource extraction and pollution, should be seriously considered. The VNR guidelines need to further enhance this environmental dimension with the recognition of planetary boundaries, along with the social and economic ones.
Two. Make progress towards innovative and cross-cutting accountability frameworks for the SDGs that emphasize transparency.
Siloed accountability mechanisms and the voluntary nature of implementation, while allowing for contextualization, should not be an excuse for slow progress.
Three. Fix the systematic development finance problem.
The much talked about concept of partnerships is unsubstantiated hype in the current context of no agreed definition and governance framework for public-private-partnerships or PPP. These should not be the default option for partnerships. They are inadequate and unsuccessful for essential and critical services. They privatise profits and socialise risks. Moving forward, we should have a clear guideline and accountability mechanism. For example, in the context of water, any contributions of the private sector should be expressly defined in legally binding agreements with explicit reference to the human right to water and sanitation for all as the primary goal for any such agreement. We suggest convening a process at the global level, through ECOSOC, to take stock, evaluate, and define common standards on PPPs, as opposed to the exclusive non universal membership process led by the ECE.
Four. Overcome existing notions of spatial divisions where the 2030 Agenda is implemented.
The lack of new institutional frameworks to facilitate governance across territorial jurisdictions (e.g. urban, peri-urban, rural). And so we urge countries to implement vertical and horizontal models for distributing financial and administrative capacities to decrease inequalities across the urban-rural continuum, as well as between and within urban areas.
Last but not least, we cannot neglect the structural and systemic issues that many governments faces in advancing their progress.
While we talk about billions to trillions, let us realise a dark reality of our times: More wealth has been transferred from the poor to rich countries within our current development paradigm.
Global Financial Integrity (GFI) has reported that since 1980 developing countries lost US$16.3 trillion dollars through broad leakages in the balance of payments, trade misinvoicing, and recorded financial transfers. To tackle the financial resource gap, we have to seek new innovative and sustainable investments mechanisms. At one of the G20 meetings, Japan has suggested to use International Solidarity tax, such as Financial Transaction Tax. The European commission and parliaments have promoted Financial Transaction Tax as the future resources. Those resources should be tapped.
With a membership of over 6500 youth entities in over 170 countries and territories, the UN MGCY would like to highlight how we’ve approached effective implementation of the Agenda. This has been done through a four part strategy:
Policy and Advocacy to facilitate the collective and meaningful participation of young people in official and formal avenues of policy design, implementation, monitoring, follow-up and review at all levels.
Capacity-Building to facilitate activities for young people aimed at enhancing understanding, knowledge and skills in relation to sustainable development, meaningful engagement, and the UN system.
Knowledge: To provide a platform for young people to create an evidence-base through the assessment of existing knowledge, the generation of new knowledge, the identification of emerging issues and effective use and dissemination of knowledge to inform policy processes. It includes inputs from formal, informal, traditional and indigenous knowledge streams.
Youth Action: Action by providing a platform that encourages young people to lead, join, showcase, and share innovative and effective actions aimed at addressing the needs of people and the planet.
Having said that, we recognise that there is no single best way for promoting awareness of and facilitating effective implementation.
But there are certain universal truths.
1. Human rights are real.
2. Diversity includes many genders and sexual identities.
3. Fundamental planetary boundaries exist.
4. No person is illegal.
5. Resiliency is indispensable.
6. Technology is not neutral.
7. More growth does not always mean more well-being.
Additionally, in the context of the ongoing UN Reform private consultants cannot replace public servants, and states indeed are the primary duty bearers.
Finally, people and planet benefit from an ever-expanding room of empowered and well-resourced stakeholders in legally mandated spaces and an ever-expanding conversation of people fighting for change.