Tanzania private sector: Open for business on the Sustainable Development Goals
BY Alvaro Rodriguez | June 17, 2016
We all know that the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals is an ambitious global plan, but if we are serious about it, building vibrant and systematic partnerships is a vital prerequisite for their successful implementation.
At the UN in Tanzania, we are busy building partnerships to support the new global agenda. So far we have engaged the executive branch of the government, to include the SDGs in the next five-year national development plan. We’ve also reached out to youth groups, with whom we launched the SDG Champions initiative. And the media fraternity is joining us to spread the word about the goals in Kiswahili language; and most recently, the private sector.
Testing the waters
Recently, the United Nations Tanzania partnered with the private sector to benchmark their readiness to support the implementation of the SDGs. We do this through the with the UN Global Compact, the Corporate Social Responsibility Group Africa Limited and the Africa Sustainable Business Magazine. Our first step was to get some information the private sector and their plans for engaging on Agenda 2030. We had a very group turnout - almost 280 of the 350 private sector companies responded to our survey.
This targeted research provided some interesting insights on the views of the SDGs by Tanzanian companies. The good news is that they are aware of the SDGs and interested in partnering with the UN to make them happen in Tanzania. According to the results, 60 percent of the people surveyed are aware of the SDGs, being the SDG 8 - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all - the one that resonated most among the participants. SDG 1 - End poverty in all its forms everywhere-, and SDG 3 -Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages - followed on the list of the most popular goals among this sector. The respondents also agreed that, potentially, they can have the biggest impact on SDG 8.
Beyond just knowing about them, we are also encouraged that the private sector is ready to partner with us to implement the SDGs, with 60 percent of the participants responding positively to a partnership opportunity to implement the Agenda 2030 in Tanzania.
We shared the findings of this survey at the 1st Africa Sustainable Business Summit held in Dar Es Salaam, attended by the Vice President of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu, who encouraged the private sector to actively raise awareness about the SDGs and to build partnerships to assist their implementation.
At this stage private sector companies are interested mainly in raising awareness on the new global agenda: Sharing information with their employees, especially on health-related issues, and sharing information on behalf of the UN about the SDGs.
Keeping it up
According to a UNIDO-commissioned report on engaging with the private sector, “building vibrant and systematic partnerships with the private sector is a vital prerequisite for the successful implementation of a transformative agenda to accelerate poverty reduction and sustainable development in the post-2015 era.”
In Tanzania, we will keep working in this direction, we believe the private sector should be taking a strong role in the development in Tanzania with the Global Goals being an integral part of their business proposition.
We know that in terms of protecting the environment, preventing corruption and strengthening employment the private sector is absolutely key and their commitment is therefore essential at this stage of Tanzania’s development. The UN will be there to support this effort. Anyone out there that can share their ideas and experiences?
The stories behind the numbers in Kivu
Results, results, results. The age old monitoring and evaluation question: how do you [actually] draw a connection between transformational changes in the lives of people and the development projects that aim to help them?
The hard part is that the traditional monitoring approach does not focus on measuring outcome indicators, a weakness corrected by a new monitoring method: SenseMaker Narrative Capture. This initiative focuses on transformational changes, and uses qualitative and quantitative methods and collects narratives shared by the beneficiary populations.
As head of the Monitoring and Evaluation unit in the UNDP Democratic Republic of Congo country office, I led the implementation of this new monitoring and evaluation approach in South Kivu. Overall, the project was designed to to support the stabilization of the South Kivu region, which has been part of a conflict since 1994 among several actors looking to expand their territories in the Great Lakes Region.
Overall we believe that strengthening community management of conflict resolution and social infrastructure will help reduce potential sources of tension, which will help displaced and refugee populations return and reintegration process.
Monitoring change with a participatory approach
Generally, we were interested to learn about the changes in the life of communities involved in this joint programme developed by UNDP, UNICEF and FAO and particularly, we wanted to capture people’s experiences and feelings around the Kivu conflict, peace-keeping efforts surrounding the conflict, and the reintegration experiences of displaced individuals.
For this purpose, we approached different organizations and community leaders involved in the peace process following the conflict in the region. Our idea was to seek for their support designing monitoring tools and instruments we were planning to use and, because they took part in this first phase of the process, the tools obtained added value to the project. This participatory approach ensured that the content of the tools and questionnaires was well aligned with the reality in the field. This reality check empowered us to move to the most challenging part of the process, the data collection.
Capturing the stories behind the data
During the the data collection process, more than a thousand community members shared with us their story about the conflict, the stabilization and the peace process.
On this process of capturing the stories, what mostly amazed us, beyond their content, was the storytellers’ feedback:
“By sharing this story I realize how was my life before, during and after the conflict, I realize how bad a conflict can be, why it is important to live as a community, to bring our children up with a new mindset. I realize how the different actors: the local authority, the church, the national army, the self-defense groups were interacting to either maintain crisis situation or to improve the situation of the communities”.
Some of the participants also shared their positive feedback on the way the data collection was done:
“The way you designed the questionnaire without asking me to share my opinion but to tell my story was fantastic. I used to give my opinion for surveys conducted by other organizations but I was never able to look back on the conflict and all the horror, the death, the tears, the food insecurity that we had to face everyday.”
Through this methodology, we realized that assessing the situation helps the storytellers focus not only on their opinion but also on their past experience. That is why we believe that Sense@Maker is an interesting and relevant addition to the M&E exercise as it is a realistic tool based on the commitment and strong participation from the beneficiaries and we plan to use it to influence future programme design and implementation.
Among the findings, one pointed out that education is a top concern for the communities. According to the results, communities find education a key component to promote skills, knowledge and new employment opportunities. So we are currently studying how education can be used to achieve a deeper impact in shaping attitudes towards conflict resolution and expanding access to social services. We will keep you in the loop!
El Salvador: Demonstrating ownership to implement the SDGs
On the initiative of the President of the Republic, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, El Salvador decided to give a special boost to the implementation of the new 2030 Agenda in the country. Since the President’s participation at the UN Sustainable Development Summit, the processes of adopting and implementing the 2030 Agenda have been guided from the highest level by the Presidency of the Republic, and operationally delegated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Technical and Planning Secretariat of the Presidency.
Adapting the SDGs to the national context
The current Five-Year Development Plan (2014–2019) has already been studied and analysed in relation to the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. Among several similarities found, it is of particular interest to note that SDGs 8 (decent work and economic growth), 4 (quality education) and 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) clearly embody the three main priorities defined in the Plan:
Productive employment generated through sustained economic growth
Inclusive and equitable education
Effective citizen security
In this context, on 15 December 2015, the Government of El Salvador and the UN signed a Memorandum of Understanding — the first of its kind — for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The first step identified in this process was to jointly develop comprehensive training on the 2030 Agenda for government officials, which involved 488 public servants from 71 national institutions.
Significant contributions from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Technical and Planning Secretariat of the Presidency enabled fruitful coordination with other national institutions and the successful provision of technical assistance.
Based on the UN’s MAPS approach and the SDGs Roadmap, devised by Salvadoran public institutions as a country-specific guide for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, further initiatives aimed at fostering national ownership of the 2030 Agenda are now under way.
Raising public awareness
Numerous SDG awareness-raising initiatives have been organized with the international community, CSOs and the public and private sectors, at both national and local levels. In particular, under the auspices of the Presidency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Technical and Planning Secretariat of the Presidency, together with the UNCT, organized a series of training workshops for Salvadoran public servants on each of the 17 SDGs. These workshops aimed to:
Develop, strengthen and complement public servants’ knowledge on the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs; (ii) promote a comprehensive understanding of the SDGs;
Analyse the links among the institutional strategic plans of the public institutions involved, the government’s Five-Year Development Plan (2014–2019) and the 2030 Agenda; and
Create a dialogue space to exchange expertise and answer questions or concerns.
The development of the first phase of SDG mainstreaming in El Salvador is guided by a commitment to ensure the highest possible level of inclusive participation. These efforts are feeding the enthusiasm for the new 2030 Agenda, building on the results already achieved through the consultation and localizing phases, in which more than 4,000 Salvadorans shared their perspectives and ideas about the ‘El Salvador We Want’ as part of the UN SDG Action Campaign.
In addition, the creation of an integral and comprehensive National Council for Sustainable Development has been called for within the government, to foster synergies among the variety of development stakeholders, at the national and subnational levels, for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
Monitoring and reporting
To overcome the monitoring and reporting challenges posed by the 2030 Agenda, the Technical and Planning Secretariat of the Presidency and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have been working with the UN to review the complete list of SDG indicators, as a first step towards defining national targets. This work includes the development of a second series of workshops with Salvadoran public institutions, aiming at fostering multilateral dialogues on the issue and generating the seed for the creation and implementation of a one-of-its-kind national development agenda for the SDGs.
Viet Nam Engaging with International Human Rights Mechanisms to Achieve Universal Access to Education
The most important reason for us to support mother tongue-based bilingual education is to promote social equality in education by creating equal opportunities for ethnic minority children to have access to quality education. - Mr. ViVan Dieu, Director, Research Centre for Ethnic Minority Education, Viet Nam Institute of Educational Sciences.
As a direct result of Viet Nam undergoing the Universal Periodic Review in May 2009, the government invited six Special Procedures mandate holders of the United Nations Human Rights Council to visit Viet Nam. Four Special Procedures visited Viet Nam during 2010-2011, one of whom was the United Nations Independent Expert on minority issues in July 2010. During her visit, the Independent Expert on minority issues engaged closely with the United Nations country team, which contributed to ensuring that her recommendations reflected the realities, priorities and challenges in the country.
The recommendations from the Independent Expert proved a valuable tool for guiding and strengthening efforts to move forward on ensuring equitable and inclusive growth in Viet Nam. In particular, her engagement with UNICEF on the issue of bilingual education for children of ethnic minorities resulted in an explicit reference to UNICEF’s work in this area and a recommendation that this approach be supported and expanded in the country. These recommendations added significant weight and credibility to UNICEF’s work on bilingual education, providing UNICEF with an advocacy tool to raise attention and commitment to this approach. Bilingual education has since been recognized by the Ministry of Education as one of the solutions to reducing disparities in access to education.
The Socialist Republic of Viet Nam is a one-party state ruled by the Communist Party of Viet Nam. It has an estimated population of 87.8 million people, of which 14.3 percent belong to one of 53 minority ethnic groups.1 Many of these ethnic groups have their own distinct language, religion and cultural identity and live in remote parts of the country. The rest of the population belongs to the majority ethnic group, known as the Kinh.
Over the past two decades, Viet Nam has achieved rapid economic growth and has significantly reduced overall poverty rates from 58.1 percent in 1993 to 14.5 percent in 2008.2 As a result of this growth, Viet Nam attained the status of a middle income country in 2010.3 One of the biggest development challenges that Viet Nam faces in the process of transitioning to a middle income country is the widening gap between rich and poor and between different regions. The ‘feminization of poverty’4 is also a growing challenge. Local customs, patriarchal attitudes and traditions have led to gender inequality in the labour market and in political and public life.
Furthermore, ethnic minorities continue to be particularly vulnerable to high levels of poverty and inequality. While in 1990, only 18 percent of those living in poverty belonged to ethnic minorities, by 2008 ethnic minorities accounted for almost 56 percent of the poor.5 In 2012, the Committee on the Rights of the Child noted its concern over the lower level of development indicators among ethnic minorities, especially regarding access to health and education.6
Viet Nam faces significant human rights challenges in the area of civil and political rights, including freedom of expression, association and assembly. Space for expressing views on government policies and practices is also limited.7
Education for ethnic minorities
The official language used in schools in Viet Nam is Vietnamese. While the law recognizes that ethnic minorities have the right to use their mother tongue in schools in order to preserve and develop their ethnic and cultural identity, the lack of teaching capacity in minority languages has meant that in practice children are taught in Vietnamese only. As many minority communities have only a limited understanding and proficiency in Vietnamese, this has created a language barrier for many of these children.
Lack of access to education in their mother tongue, together with the use of Vietnamese, is considered one of the reasons why the net primary school completion rate among ethnic minority children (61 percent) is significantly lower than the rate for Kinh (86 percent). For minority women the problem of illiteracy is particularly acute; literacy rates for ethnic minority women are just 22 percent, as compared to 92 percent for ethnic Kinh women.8
Engaging with international human rights processes and mechanisms
Since 2008, UNDP has been implementing a capacity-building project on human rights treaty reporting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The project has provided an opportunity for the United Nations country team in Viet Nam to engage with and support the government in its interaction with international human rights mechanisms. Supporting engagement with the Universal Periodic Review, human rights treaty body reporting, sharing knowledge on processes and procedures, and supporting the government in organizing visits of Special Procedures mandate holders of the Human Rights Council proved a useful way to concretize human rights concepts and provide expertise to the government.
In May 2009, Viet Nam was assessed under the Universal Periodic Review. This afforded the government an important chance to present an overview of the main opportunities and challenges they faced in meeting their international obligations, as well as to demonstrate progress made toward achieving key commitments under human rights treaties. It also provided an opportunity for the United Nations to support the government to engage effectively with this process. At the government’s request, UNDP, in close coordination with the United Nations country team and with OHCHR Geneva support, facilitated training for government officials on the Universal Periodic Review. As part of this training, UNDP invited other countries from the region (Indonesia and Philippines) that had already undergone the process to share their experiences with Viet Nam. These activities helped build the government’s capacity and openness to engaging with international human rights mechanisms and, in doing so, strengthening the quality of Viet Nam’s engagement in the Universal Periodic Review. Viet Nam ensured representation at the highest level, which reflected the importance given to the Universal Periodic Review by the government.
The Universal Periodic Review experience, in turn, generated greater momentum to engage with other human rights mechanisms of the United Nations. One of the follow-up measures to the Universal Periodic Review process was the government’s invitation to six Special Procedures mandate holders of the Human Rights Council to visit Viet Nam.
United Nations Special Procedures: The Special Procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council are independent human rights experts with mandates to report and advise on human rights from a thematic or country-specific perspective. Special Procedures are either an individual (called Special Rapporteur or Independent Expert) or a working group, usually composed of five members. Mandate Holders serve in their personal capacities and do not receive salaries or other financial compensation for their work. They rely on government invitations and cooperation to carry out their work. Mandate holders are appointed by the Human Rights Council and their work is supported by Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
Viet Nam received four visits of United Nations Special Procedures mandate holders between 2010 and 2011: the Independent Expert on minority issues (July 2010); the Independent Expert on extreme poverty and human rights (August 2010); the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt (March 2011); and the Special Rapporteur on the right to health (November – December 2011). These visits provided significant occasions for Viet Nam to benefit from the expertise of Special Procedures in its efforts to follow up on the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review, and to address key human rights issues in the country.
The United Nations country team took a number of steps to maximize the value and impact of these visits and to optimize the benefits of the government’s engagement with the Special Procedures. As a first step, and in collaboration with OHCHR Geneva, the United Nations country team organized workshops for the government to provide guidance on the overall procedures of such visits and the mandates of the Special Procedures.
During the visits, the United Nations country team and technical experts from the agencies played an important role by providing the Special Procedures with technical expertise on issues falling within their mandates. This was particularly important in Viet Nam where civil society is developing its capacity to engage in these processes. In turn, being able to draw on this expertise ensured that the Special Procedures report and recommendations reflected the realities, opportunities and challenges in the country.
United Nations country team engagement with the Independent Expert on minority issues
In July 2010, the Independent Expert on minority issues, Gay McDougal, visited Viet Nam. The United Nations country team viewed the visit of the Independent Expert as an opportunity to strengthen and further reinforce government efforts to address widening inequalities and persistent poverty among minority ethnic groups. Supporting the government to achieve inclusive and equitable growth is a core part of the United Nations country team’s development agenda.
At the beginning of the visit, the United Nations country team organized a formal briefing with the Independent Expert to discuss key issues, challenges and opportunities. This was followed by in-depth briefings with technical experts from several United Nations agencies. The United Nation’s inter-agency approach proved extremely valuable in this process. Having all United Nations agencies around the same table provided the Independent Expert with a breadth of expertise and knowledge on a wide range of issues affecting her mandate – ethnic minority poverty, cultural diversity, sexual reproductive health for minorities and bi-lingual education. United Nations agencies’ expertise in the relevant areas enabled the Independent Expert to support the agencies’ work. It allowed the Independent Expert to draw on agency expertise to make concrete and useful recommendations that could assist the government to move forward.
According to the Independent Expert, her visit was, “a great opportunity to re-introduce Viet Nam to the international human rights mechanisms. It allowed Viet Nam to share its accomplishments and the obstacles it has had to surmount with the Human Rights Council and human rights mechanisms. The government took my mission very seriously. They learned a lot from the mission on what they can expect in engaging with human rights mechanisms.”
Engaging the United Nations Independent Expert on minority issues in support of bilingual education for ethnic minorities
Internationally there has been consistent recognition of the value of bilingual education in improving learning and reducing drop-out rates.9 To examine ways by which this concept can best work in Viet Nam, the Ministry of Education and Training worked together with UNICEF to pilot a project on bilingual education in three provinces (see Box 1). In addition, to generate support among government counterparts for this approach and to ensure the government would benefit from the expertise of international human rights mechanisms, UNICEF, in collaboration with the United Nations country team, strategically engaged with the Independent Expert on minority issues during her visit in July 2010.
UNICEF provided the Independent Expert with in-depth briefing notes on the legal framework for ethnic minority languages in education and their rights to use their mother tongue in school. UNICEF also held face to face meetings with the Independent Expert and organized her participation in a mother-tongue teacher training workshop. This participation enabled her to interact directly with teachers being trained.
Box 1: UNICEF’s Action Research on mother tongue-based bilingual education in Viet Nam
UNICEF has been supporting the Ministry of Education and Training to implement and monitor a pilot project on bilingual education since 2008. The pilot project is being carried out in three provinces – Lao Cai, Gia Lai and Tra Vinh – in the minority languages of H’mong, Jrai and Khmer, respectively. Students in each province will complete the pilot programme by 2015. Through the project, teachers are trained in bilingual education techniques and provided special teaching and learning materials developed in consultation with local communities. The project is being carefully monitored for evidence of improvements in the quality of education. The ultimate objective is to feed the research results into a national education strategy that supports bilingual education.10
In the Independent Expert on minority issues’ report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the issue of bilingual education for ethnic minorities featured prominently among the key recommendations. The Independent Expert explicitly referred to the example of UNICEF’s work in bilingual education and recommended that this approach be supported and expanded to other districts.
According to the Independent Expert’s report, “the importance of improving the education outcomes of minorities cannot be overstated. Access to quality and appropriate education is a fundamental gateway to development and poverty eradication for minorities in Viet Nam..."
The independent expert saw clear evidence that bilingual education ultimately serves to increase the potential of ethnic minority children and communities to learn and use Vietnamese…The government should permit and support bilingual education for ethnic minority children.”11
Her recommendations to Viet Nam were fully in line with the United Nations country team’s overall policy recommendations on minority issues outlined in the United Nations’ One Plan. This is an achievement realized through the engagement and cooperation of the United Nations country team with the Independent Expert during the course of her visit.
Most importantly, the visit of the Independent Expert provided a powerful advocacy opportunity for the United Nations’ efforts to promote bilingual education.
By validating the methodology that UNICEF and the Ministry of Education were piloting and encouraging its institutionalization, the recommendations provided authoritative inputs for UNICEF to draw upon in advocating for this approach.12 The recognition and support of the Independent Expert added weight and credibility to the methodology, providing a significant recommendation for its acceptance in the country. The Ministry of Education has now formally recognized that bilingual education is one of the solutions to strengthen ethnic minority children’s education.13
Moreover, early results from the UNICEF Action Research on mother tongue-based bilingual education are promising. As a whole, children enrolled in the programme are performing better than minority children not enrolled in the programme in language competency tests in both their mother tongue and Vietnamese. They also outperform ethnic minority students not in the programme in listening comprehension and mathematics.
As a result of the encouraging results from the Action Research, this approach is increasingly being recognized as a good practice, both nationally and in the region. One provincial department of education and training has opted to use its own funds to more than double the number of bilingual education classes; 344 Mong ethnic minority children are now enrolled in these classes. Three additional provinces, Dien Ben, An Giang and Ninh Thuan, have also expressed interest in the methodology and have committed to applying the approach. The Provincial Department of Education and Training is supporting these efforts and has scaled up mother tongue-based bilingual education so that each school year from 2011 to 2015, a new group of 210 children aged five will enter mother tongue-based bilingual education classes. Specific policy recommendations on the use of bilingual education have also since been promulgated by the National Assembly and Committee for Ethnic Minorities. In addition, delegations from Myanmar and China visited Viet Nam to learn from this experience.
Equally, the report from the Independent Expert raised the visibility and interest in the approach among donors and development partners in Viet Nam. These partners have expressed interest in supporting the follow-up to the Independent Expert’s recommendations. For example, the European Union delegation in Viet Nam welcomed the Independent Expert’s recommendations on the expansion of mother tongue-based instruction and requested UNICEF to prepare a concept note on how this approach could be expanded within the country.
The experience of Viet Nam also highlights the important role that the United Nations country team, through its long-term presence in the country, technical expertise and normative mandate, can play in supporting the government to follow up on recommendations of the Special Procedures mandate holders. As noted by the Independent Expert, “the United Nations country team is essential and may be the only possible mechanism for follow up, given the limited capacities of Special Procedures”
Since the visit of the Independent Expert on minority issues, Viet Nam’s growing engagement with other human rights mechanisms is leading to greater international exposure on the issue of bilingual education. The country recently reported to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (March 2012)14 and the Committee on the Rights of the Child (June 2012).15 Both Committees, in their Concluding Observations to Viet Nam, urged the country to increase the provision of bilingual education programmes for ethnic minority children, further supporting and validating Viet Nam’s efforts in this area.
The Universal Periodic Review presents an opportunity for government to strengthen its engagement with all international human rights mechanisms and for the United Nations country team to support government capacity in engaging with these mechanisms.
The United Nations country team can play an important role in maximizing the value and impact of the visits of Special Procedures mandate holders. Engaging with the United Nations country team during a country visit allows the Special Procedures to draw upon the expertise of development agencies to offer concrete and useful recommendations that can help the government move forward on human rights issues.
Access to quality and appropriate education is a gateway to development and poverty reduction for minorities. The introduction of bilingual education for minority children can help these children to make better early progress and creates strong and culturallyappropriate foundations for their future schooling.
The recommendations of international human rights mechanisms can provide valuable and authoritative inputs to integrate human rights into United Nations advocacy, policy and programming initiatives to further development outcomes.
The visits of Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council can ensure that government efforts to address human rights challenges and to mainstream human rights into development programmes benefit from internationally-recognized expertise.
UNICEF Action research brief
UNICEF, Vietnam and the Millennium Development Goals
United Nations in Viet Nam Website
United Nations compilation report to the Universal Periodic Review, OHCHR, March 2009, A/HRC/WG.6/5/VNM/2.
Viet Nam Millennium Development Goals National Report 2010, p. 114.
Concluding Observations by the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Viet Nam, June, 2012, CRC/C/VNM/CO/3-4.
Concerns over access to freedom of information, the independence of the media from the State, freedom of assembly, the ability of individuals, groups and civil society to express their opinions or dissent publicly were noted at the interactive dialogue of the Universal Periodic Review of Viet Nam by the Human Rights Council in May 2009: A/HRC/12/11.
Report of the Independent Expert on minority issues, Gay McDougall, January 2011, A/HRC/16/45/Add.2. Mission to Viet Nam (5-15 July 2010)
UNICEF Annual Report 2010, p. 23.
UNICEF Action research brief
Report of the United Nations Independent Expert on minority issues, Gay McDougall, 24 January 2011, A/HRC/16/45/Add.2 paras. 85, 87 and 89. Mission to Viet Nam (5-15 July 2010)
UNESCO has been a key partner with UNICEF in advocating for and promoting multilingual education in Viet Nam.
The 2011 “Management Document on Teaching Vietnamese to Ethnic Minority Students” of the Ministry of Education and Training, explicitly cites the Action Research on mother tongue-based bilingual education as one of the four solutions to improving education for children of ethnic minorities.
Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Viet Nam, March 2012: CERD/C/VNM/CO/10-14.
Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Viet Nam, June 2012: CRC/C/VNM/CO/3-4.
Brazil: Engaging multiple stakeholders to implement and track the progress of the 2030 Agenda
The Government of Brazil has been a long-standing champion of sustainable development as the host of the 1992 Earth Summit and the 2012 Rio+20 Conference. The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) has represented the Mercosur countries and Chile on the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Indicators and has been elected as the new Chair of the UN Statistical Commission, actively contributing to the task of developing the SDG indicators at the global level. Both IBGE and the Interministerial Working Group on the Post-2015 Development Agenda — encompassing 27 ministries and bodies of federal administration — have undertaken consultations with different stakeholders to reflect Brazil’s contribution to implementing the SDGs.
The UNDP World Centre for Sustainable Development (RIO+ Centre) relaunched the Rio Dialogues space in 2015 with a focus on an interactive SDG space for Brazilian youth to learn about the SDGs and how to get involved. There have been several outreach and live events to help support the effort, which has attracted considerable interest from universities and other groups. In 2016, for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, there has been intense work to design a new institutional arrangement at the national level, with the aim of involving different stakeholders in implementing and following up the 2030 Agenda, including the SDGs.
The Task Force on the Post-2015 Development Agenda (whose name was later changed to Task Force on the 2030 Agenda) was established in December 2014 to facilitate cooperation between the Brazilian federal government and UN entities on the issues of the new agenda. The Task Force is co-chaired by the Brazilian federal government, represented by the Ministry of External Relations, and brings together a full complement of UN entities including UNDP, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UNESCO, UNFPA, UN Women, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the PanAmerican Health Organization (PAHO)/WHO, UNODC, UNIDO, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), ILO, UN-Habitat, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR-CERRD), UNICEF, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), UNV, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG)/UNDP. In addition, the Brazilian Committee of the Global Compact Network is an observer member representing the private sector.
Monitoring and reporting
One of the main purposes of the Task Force is to contribute to identifying national social, economic and environmental indicators related to specific SDGs and their targets. In September 2015, the Task Force issued its publication ‘Following-up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Initial inputs from the United Nations System in Brazil on the identification of national indicators related to the Sustainable Development Goals’. Sixteen thematic groups covering SDGs 1–16 worked over nine months to produce the report, identifying around 570 indicators and highlighting data gaps regarding relevant information needed to follow up certain SDG targets. In 2016, the Task Force is planning to review its publication in light of the global indicator framework. This publication presented available national indicators as inputs for the follow-up process on the SDGs targets, which will be led by the Brazilian government.
The Task Force will also launch a set of glossaries containing key terms and expressions used in the formulation of the SDGs and their targets.
Uruguay: Applying a Human Rights Framework to Justice Sector Reform
It is not every day that a Government allows the United Nations — let alone the Secretary-General — to review its efforts to promote prison reform…I applaud your commitment to follow the recommendations of the United Nations human rights bodies, including Special Rapporteur Manfred Nowak. Reform of penitentiary systems is not an easy task…I commend your decision to stress inmates’ rehabilitation and reinsertion into society. This is an excellent example of the role that the United Nations can play in middle income countries, bringing specialized expertise to bear on complex topics and in areas where national resources and national political commitment are leading the way. - United Nations Secretary-General BanKi-moon , speech at the Montevideo Penitentiary Centre, Uruguay, June 2011*
The critical situation of the prison system dominated the political agenda in Uruguay for many years, but efforts to make changes were slow and ineffective. In 2009, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment visited Uruguay and concluded that only a complete overhaul of the criminal justice system, based on international human rights norms, could improve the situation. His visit provided an objective evaluation that galvanized public interest and political will to tackle the problem. The government turned to the United Nations system for support. The United Nation’s impartiality, normative role and ability to leverage experiences from around the world were viewed as critical for addressing such a complex issue. The United Nations elaborated a Joint Programme that facilitated an inter-institutional and inter-agency approach to penal reform and aimed to foster changes across the entire justice system as well as the grounding of all policies and programmes in international human rights standards. Through the work of the Joint Programme, significant advances have been made. These include a large increase in resources for prison reform, better infrastructure, officials trained on legal norms and standards regarding prisons, improvement of health care services in prisons, specific services for vulnerable groups in prison, as well as a substantial shift in favour of the social reintegration of prisoners and alternative sentences.
Uruguay is a constitutional republic with a multi-party democracy. With a Gross National Income per capita of US$ 14,640 (2011), the World Bank classifies Uruguay as an upper-middle-income country.1 Positive human development indicators include high literacy rates, an educated workforce, low levels of unemployment and high levels of social spending in relation to Gross Domestic Product. As an upper-middle-income country, official development assistance flows have not played a significant role in Uruguay’s development.
The challenge has been to define Uruguay’s needs as an upper-middle income country and the international cooperation strategy that is required to meet them. In this context, the United Nations’ normative role with regard to the protection of human rights, promotion of universal values and pursuit of global dialogue, has been highly valued by national stakeholders.2
Uruguay is one of eight pilot countries for the United Nations Delivering as One initiative for system-wide coherence.
Human rights situation
While Uruguay has ratified core United Nations human rights treaties, the challenge remains to implement these obligations. In recent years, progress has been made in creating institutions to promote and protect human rights, such as the Institución Nacional de Derechos Humanos y Defensoría del Pueblo (National Human Rights Institution and Ombudsman), formed in 2012.
The most pressing human rights concerns in Uruguay include violence against women, trafficking in women and children, discrimination against persons of African descent and the poor conditions and severe overcrowding in prisons. The issue of prison conditions and related human rights abuses have dominated the public and political agenda for many years.
The situation of prisons
In 2005, the deteriorating situation in prisons prompted the country’s president to declare a State of Humanitarian Emergency within the prison system. However, despite the political priority placed on prison reform, change remained slow and ineffective.
DELIVERING AS ONE
When the United Nations Secretary-General launched Delivering as One in 2007, the governments of eight countries—Albania, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Pakistan, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uruguay, and Viet Nam—volunteered to become “Delivering as One” pilots. The pilot countries agreed to work with the United Nations system to capitalize on the strengths and comparative advantages of the different members of the United Nations family. Since then, Delivering as One has been adopted by a total of 32 countries.3 Together they are seeking innovative ways to increase the United Nations system’s impact through more coherent programmes, reduced transaction costs for governments, and lower overhead costs for the United Nations system. As called for by the UN General Assembly in the 2012 resolution on the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review of UN operational activities for development (QCPR), the UN Development Group is currently developing the second generation of Delivering as One based on Standard Operating Procedures and a firm focus on results, monitoring and evaluation, and accountability.4
By 2009, the penitentiary system was in a state of virtual collapse. The magnitude of the penitentiary crisis, and the risk that it could lead to a highly volatile social and political situation, prompted the government to invite the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Novak, to visit Uruguay in March 2009. To prepare and support his visit, the United Nations convened working groups on the issue of prisons, and coordinated meetings with civil society and government to ensure all perspectives were brought to his attention.5
In his report to the Human Rights Council of December 20096 , the Special Rapporteur expressed deep concern about a series of issues related to his mandate. The report included the following major human rights concerns:
Major overcrowding, with some prisons housing five times more prisoners than their capacity;
Excessive use of pre-trial detention (65 percent of prisoners are pre-trial detainees);
Torture, excessive use of force and ill-treatment in police stations, prisons and juvenile detention facilities, as well as a culture of impunity for the perpetrators;
Lack of water, sanitation and access to medical treatment in certain detention centres;
High rates of inter-prisoner violence and housing of pre-trial detainees with convicted prisoners;
Inadequate accommodation for female prisoners with children and those in late stages of pregnancy and lack of implementation of a national action plan on domestic violence;
Beatings and ill-treatment of juveniles in detention, poor conditions and lack of opportunities for education or vocational training; and
Few, if any, opportunities for education or vocational training to facilitate rehabilitation.
The Special Rapporteur concluded that nothing less than a complete overhaul of the criminal justice system, based on international human rights standards, could improve the situation.
The Special Rapporteur’s visit proved to be instrumental in galvanizing political will and momentum to tackle the issue of prison reform. It provided an external, independent and expert perspective, as well as an objective evaluation of prison conditions in Uruguay. The extensive media attention his visit received helped raise public awareness on the issue. In doing so, the Special Rapporteur’s visit catalyzed action on the part of all national counterparts, making it possible to come to a political agreement that cut across political party lines. The incoming government (2010) attached great importance to the report and to following up on the recommendations. The issue was particularly poignant as many government ministers, including the president himself, had been political prisoners under a former military dictatorship.
The recommendations of the Special Rapporteur called for an integrated approach that could make improvements across the entire criminal justice system. They also underlined the need to address the structural and root causes that lay behind the grave situation. These included the societal mindset that favoured criminalizing and punishing detainees over their rehabilitation.
In addressing such a complex and sensitive issue, the government turned to the United Nations as a trusted partner. The United Nations’ impartiality, absence of a political agenda and ability to leverage experiences from around the world was highly valued. In response to the government’s request for support, the United Nations elaborated the United Nations Joint Programme: Support to the Reform of the Institutions of People Deprived of Liberty (2010-2012). The Joint Programme was designed to facilitate an inter-institutional approach to penal reform. It was designed within the context of Delivering as One. As such, the programme is implemented through an inter-agency coordination mechanism, the Management Committee, which includes the following United Nations partners: The office of the UN Resident Coordinator, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UN-Women. The work of the Joint Programme is based on two key principles: an integrated approach to penal reform and human rights.
Integrated approach: The report of the Special Rapporteur had shown the need for a broader vision on the issue of penal reform; one that “moved away from a punitive penal system to one aiming to reintegrate prisoners in society” (Special Rapporteur). To do so, it was necessary to explore and strengthen links within different parts of the penal system: the police, judiciary and correction facilities, as well as between the penal system and other relevant sectors, such as health and education. The Joint Programme, therefore, works with a broad range of sectors, in addition to the justice sector. These include social workers and education and health services.
The Joint Programme also provides a space for information exchange, bringing together over 400 stakeholders from different ministerial bodies, the police, social and health workers, education, the media, the private sector, civil society and the development community. This space provided a platform to enhance dialogue and coordination between line ministries that would not typically work together on penal issues, such as the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Education and Culture. Owing to the impartiality and legitimacy with which the United Nations was viewed, the Joint Programme provided a safe and neutral space to discuss sensitive issues, for example the issue of women with children in prisons and guidelines for the treatment of detainees with drug addictions.
Through the Joint Programme, the United Nations was also able to reach out to civil society to include them in the penal reform efforts. Having a space convened by the United Nations also gave civil society direct access to governmental actors, an opportunity for dialogue not always easy to achieve.
A human rights framework for penal reform: Underlying the penal reform strategy was the acknowledgement that though prisoners may be deprived of their liberty, they should not be deprived of their liberties.
Basing penal reform on human rights standards meant:
A change of mindset: from one of punishing and criminalizing the detainees to one where they are viewed as rights-holders. Hence it meant reframing education, health and training services in prisons as being a right, not an act of good will.
Seeking alternatives to incarceration and focusing on reintegrating the detainees into society;
Ensuring that policies, programmes and advocacy strategies are informed by international human rights obligations, such as the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and its Optional Protocol, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as recommendations of United Nations human rights mechanisms, including those from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture.
With this in mind, the United Nations supported the establishment of a penitentiary school that provided training to the entire prison system, including police officers, prison security guards and civil servants. The aim of the school was to improve the treatment of prisoners, by sensitizing prison officials on the rights of prisoners and on the need to reintegrate convicts into society rather than focusing on punishment. Part of the training, which was provided by experts from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Regional Office for South America, focused on human rights standards related to prisoners and the human rights commitments undertaken by Uruguay, including as a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture. Other United Nations agencies also contributed to the training, including UN-Women on gender issues, ILO on labour issues and UNODC on drug prevention and health issues.
To promote the public’s understanding of and support for social reintegration, the Joint Programme, with the support of the United Nations country team and working with civil society actors, held open workshops throughout the country with neighbourhood associations and communities. These initiatives helped raise awareness of the rights of prisoners to access labour opportunities, education and vocational training, as well as drug rehabilitation programmes. The Resident Coordinator played an important role in raising these issues; at public events and in interviews with the media, the Resident Coordinator underlined that prisoners have rights and that a prosperous Uruguayan society is one in which prisoners are reintegrated into society.
The Joint Programme also worked with the media, conducting seminars that stressed the reasons why prison reform was so important and helping them better understand why the government was spending considerable sums of money in that area. Journalists were also trained on how to report on prison issues. For example, they were sensitized to the fact that if an image of a prisoner is used, they should request the prisoner’s permission first.
The expertise of the United Nations agencies was critical in taking forward the various initiatives of the Joint Programme, ensuring that these initiatives were informed by relevant human rights standards. UNICEF led advocacy on the age of penal responsibility and the need for a separate and autonomous judicial system for juveniles.7 UN-Women undertook an analysis of the specific vulnerabilities of women in prisons, including female prisoners who were pregnant, breastfeeding or with their children. ILO prepared a draft bill on labour rights in prisons with a view to facilitate social reintegration of inmates.
Such a comprehensive overhaul of a penal system requires time. It requires a cultural change, time to train people, to develop institutional capacity and to make changes in policies and legal and administrative systems that have been in place for decades. It will only be in the medium and long term that the impact of reform can be assessed. Nevertheless, the activities of and the approach promoted by the Joint Programme have already shown results in the following areas:
On 15 July 2010, the government passed an emergency budget allowing for the construction of additional prison facilities. The initiative, intended to ease the chronic overcrowding in prisons, resulted in 2,000 new places within the prison capacity. It also enabled the refurbishment, where possible, or closing of facilities with severe infrastructural damage.
In 2011, the emergency budget also enabled the increase and restructuring of personnel in prisons, in line with a more integrated approach to prison services. 1,178 civil penitentiary educators were hired to replace the police guards, as well as 100 administrative posts and 184 technical specialists, such as physicians and social workers.
In June 2010, the government created the Oficina de Supervisión de Libertad Asistida (Office to Supervise Assisted Liberty), a bureau within the National Directorate of Prisons. Under this programme, 100 prisoners have received alternative sentences to perform community service work, under surveillance. The programme will be assessed and if successful, scaled up in the future.
The government has carried out a review of labour laws in order to provide inmates with legal work opportunities and facilitate social reintegration. ILO helped prepare the draft bill on labour rights in prisons, which was recently approved by the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Interior. It is now before parliament for discussion.
Specific guidelines have been prepared and submitted to the government on education and vocational training policies, and other productive activities to facilitate rehabilitation.
As a result of a comprehensive review on the conditions of women and their children in prisons, alternative procedures to deal with this highly vulnerable population have been designed; for example, an alternative sentencing programme has been developed which enables mothers with young children to expend their prison period at home, allowing them to care for their children.
Measures to improve health services in prisons have been introduced, including the creation of drug rehabilitation programs. These measures have created a new partnership between the Ministry of Public Health and the National Drug Commission. For the first time in more than 20 years, some of Uruguay’s biggest prisons have a 24-hour health and emergency service in-house. These include mental health support services. The presence of psychologists and health teams has decreased the high pressure felt in many prison centres and reduced incidences of violence and vulnerability in the centres.
A series of human rights training sessions have been implemented, reaching 10 percent of penitentiary personnel at supervisor level within prisons and juvenile detention centres. As a result, the penitentiary system has, for the first time, a team of mid-ranking officials and supervisors trained on the legal norms and standards regarding prisons. They are aware of the rights of inmates and the corresponding obligations of state officials.
A full revision of the penal and penal procedure codes to bring them in line with human rights standards has been submitted by the government to parliament. The report, prepared by a highly regarded jurist, is providing the basis for parliamentary discussions on the penal codes.
As a result of multi-stakeholder engagement in the penal reform process, civil society is playing an increasingly active role. They have been undertaking studies and diagnoses on the reform issue and participating in programmes relating to prison conditions and other reforms.
The government has carried out a comprehensive situation analysis of various demographic groups, such as women, within the prison system and has been consulting with these groups in the process. This has facilitated the creation of a model that responded more accurately to the interests and needs of detainees.
Three key factors have contributed to the success of the Joint Programme in achieving the above results: i) the inter-agency and inter-institutional approach; no agency on its own – at the national or international level – could have undertaken such an ambitious reform process; ii) the neutral space that the Joint Programme provided, which enabled open dialogue among all the relevant actors; iii) the focus on human rights norms, which galvanized action and attention across party lines and provided a new model for penal reform.
As an indicator of the success of the Joint Programme, the government has asked the United Nations to take the Joint Programme forward into a second phase. In phase two, the Joint Programme will focus on designing a new and improved institutional framework for the National Rehabilitation Institute (the body now in charge of managing prisons nationwide); supporting the implementation of labour policies in the penitentiary system; developing guidelines on the treatment of drug abusers; and continuing training for penitentiary directors and supervisors on human rights and prison management. At this stage, the United Nations financial contribution is no longer the significant factor.
The visit of a Special Procedure’s mandate holder of the United Nations Human Rights Council can serve as a powerful catalyst for reform on complex issues, while providing valuable expertise on how to carry out reforms, based on international human rights standards.
The United Nations’ normative mandate, convening role and political leadership can help bring diverse actors together to work jointly on complex and sensitive issues and ensure that reform efforts are guided by human rights standards and principles.
An inter-agency approach enables the United Nations to bring the different expertise of the agencies to bear on complex issues and promote an efficient and integrated process.
National leadership and ownership is critical in moving forward an ambitious rights-based reform agenda.
United Nations Development Assistance Framework in Uruguay: 2011-2015, p.14.
UNDG Website: www.undg.org/index.cfm?P=7.
UNDG Website: www.undg.org/index.cfm?P=7.
In preparation for the Special Rapporteur’s visit, the United Nations country team in Uruguay convened a United Nations Working Group and coordinated with government and civil society organizations to ensure that: (i) all relevant perspectives were brought to the Special Rapporteur’s attention; and (ii) that the Special Rapporteur was granted complete and unimpeded access to all places of detention, interviews with detainees and access to relevant documentation.
Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowak, Mission to Uruguay, United Nations Human Rights Council, 21 December 2009, A/HRC/13/39/Add.1.
These activities were undertaken in line with recommendations from the Committee on the Rights of the Child. See: CRC/C/URY/CO/2, paragraph 68.
Egypt: Aligning the nation’s plans with the 2030 Agenda and the African Union’s Agenda 2063
Egypt has endorsed both the global 2030 Agenda and the regional African Union Agenda 2063, which strives to enable Africa to remain focused and committed to the ideals envisaged in the context of a rapidly changing world. The year 2016 marked a convergence of strategic planning for Egypt. At the national level, Egypt’s Vision 2030 was endorsed by the newly elected parliament as the nation’s sustainable development strategy. It aims to promote a competitive, balanced and diversified economy based on justice, social integrity and participation. The next 15 years will thus certainly place many important strategic demands on the country, including overcoming structural challenges, mobilizing resources and coordinating efforts to fulfil its national Vision 2030 and its commitments to the regional and global agendas.
Egypt has shown early signs of commitment to implementing the 2030 Agenda, and has already taken a number of important steps. In December 2015, the Prime Minister issued a decree to form a national committee, composed of key ministries and state institutions, to follow up on the implementation of the SDGs and to effectively report on progress. The Minister of International Cooperation was appointed as its Rapporteur.
Reviewing national plans and adapting the SDGs to the national context
With support from the UN, the Government of Egypt is conducting a rapid review of its existing strategies, including Egypt Vision 2030 and other relevant sectoral plans. The objective is to assess the level of alignment with the SDGs, identify possible gaps between existing national priority goals and targets and global targets, and highlight areas for change.
Raising public awareness
There has been a significant focus on systematically promoting public understanding of the SDGs. For instance, the UN in Egypt held an ‘Open Code for Sustainable Development’ camp in September 2015 as part of the Social Good Summit to launch the SDGs in the country. More than 100 children and youth took part in the camp and learned about new web programming and management technologies to develop solutions to help achieve the SDGs. Similarly, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Youth, together with the UN, used the occasion of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace in May 2016 — which brought together more than 300 sports celebrities, diplomats, the general public and the media — to support and raise awareness of the SDGs.
The government has initiated a multi-stakeholder consultation process with CSOs, major groups from academia, the private sector, special interest groups, children and youth to raise awareness of the SDGs and seek their views and feedback on the SDG implementation. This process builds on the consultative process that Egypt undertook in partnership with the UN and development partners to prepare the post-2015 consultation The World We Want, during which over 17,000 Egyptians participated in shaping the 2030 Agenda.
Monitoring and reporting
The national statistical agency, the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), has established an SDG Coordination Unit to build capacity and contextualize and set out the national indicator framework necessary to monitor and track Egypt’s progress towards achieving the SDGs. With the support of the UN, it is conducting a comprehensive assessment of its capacities and data systems.
Egypt is also one of the African countries taking part in the 2016 Africa Data Report initiative11 to assess what is needed to fully realize the data revolution. The report will feed into other SDG initiatives and studies by providing concrete analysis of data issues at national and regional levels.
With the support of the UN and other development partners, the government is looking into evaluating impact and building national capacity to assess the long-term effects of policies on specific SDGs, notably poverty alleviation, food security, child protection, employment and climate change, with the objective of fostering a knowledge base for policy dialogue and evidence-based decision-making.
Morocco: Multi-stakeholder forums to adapt the SDGs to national and local contexts
The constitutional pathway
Morocco’s national priorities are derived from its 2011 constitutional reforms with a focus to: complete the democratic transition and strengthen human rights; improve its economic viability, environmental sustainability and social stability; scale up climate change adaptation and energy transition; and consolidate its strategic leadership regionally and globally. For Morocco, the transition from the MDGs to the SDGs has enabled a strategic focus on inclusive development and the environment. As a further testament to the country’s commitment to sustainable development, in 2016 Morocco will host the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP22) in Marrakech.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the High Commission for Planning in Morocco, together with a national interministerial committee and the UNCT, organized a national consultation in May 2016 under the theme ‘Contextualization of the 2030 Agenda in Morocco: Leave No One Behind’. During the consultations, approximately 500 stakeholders had the opportunity to collectively examine the 2030 Agenda, learn about the country’s engagement at the international level and explore their roles and responsibilities to achieve the goals. It was also the first opportunity for high-level public officials to take stock collectively on key national policies and sectoral strategies related to the SDGs.
Raising public awareness
Close to 200 non-state participants, mainly digital entrepreneurs, children and young people, civil society activists, celebrities, journalists and activists joined the national consultation. The UN also engaged the Royal Institute of the Amazigh Culture to translate the SDGs into the Amazigh language, which in 2011 became an official language of Morocco, alongside Arabic. Social media (#MarocODD) was used to inform stakeholders about the issues to be discussed at the national consultation workshop.
Also, as part of the ‘Project Everyone’ campaign during the week preceding the UN Sustainable Development Summit, Hit Radio, a leading radio station with approximately 1.8 million listeners per day, partnered with the UN to translate SDG messages into Moroccan Arabic and broadcast them to reach young people.
Reviewing the SDGs and the national context
Thirty-five high-level panellists from the Moroccan parliament, administration, the Ministry of Justice, the Human Rights Council and the Confederation of Business Enterprises gave presentations on the status of the SDGs related to their sectors during the national consultations. The discussions and exchanges among participants collectively examined the work in progress and implementation and monitoring challenges. It also delved into the need for public policy coherence, adequate financing, and monitoring and evaluation systems.
The Planning Commission shared the national framework which addresses the main targets and indicators. An initial analysis by the government revealed that the national statistical system can produce data on about 63 percent of the global SDG indicators. The missing data relate mainly to the SDGs on governance and the environment.
The Economic and Social Council, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UN system brought together CSOs and national institutions in the consultations. Discussions included how to support local authorities in the development, implementation and monitoring of the SDGs, and how to effectively engage children and youth and foster awareness and ownership of the 2030 Agenda. The role of CSOs in maintaining the public debate was also highlighted. UN entities such as UNDP, the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), UNESCO, UNV and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) proposed areas of policy support and tools at regional, national and subnational levels in support of contextualizing and accelerating the SDGs in Morocco. With a particular focus on children and youth, UNICEF and UNV organized sessions during and after the national consultations, leading to positive feedback that those sessions helped enhance the civic engagement of young people at the local level.
Dominican Republic: Establishing a multi-stakeholder coordination mechanism and assessing data capacity
In February 2016, the Government of the Dominican Republic issued a Presidential Decree to enact a High-Level Inter-institutional Sustainable Development Commission with the mandate to oversee and implement the 2030 Agenda. The goal of the Commission is to integrate the SDGs into all planning instruments, particularly the National Development Strategy 2012–2030.
The Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development (MEPyD) is the line ministry in charge of implementing the 2030 Agenda. Recognizing the integrated nature of the Agenda, the UNCT has created an inter-agency coordination mechanism, led by UNDP, to monitor and provide support to national counterparts for the SDG mainstreaming process as well as strengthening the government’s capacity to analyse the new development agenda.
The High-Level Inter-institutional Sustainable Development Commission is made up of government ministers, the private sector and NGO representatives engaged in work in all three pillars of the Agenda: social, economic and environmental. Two important institutions are part of the Commission: the National Council for the Elderly (CONAPE) and the National Council for HIV/AIDS, which represent populations that have traditionally received insufficient attention in public policy. The goal is to ensure that all sectors participate and put forward the main challenges they face. As such, there is a need to ensure that all groups in society have a space in the process of aligning, designing and implementing the SDGs as well as in the mechanisms developed to monitor and measure progress.
Raising public awareness
The government is committed to systematic action to improve public awareness about the 2030 Agenda. In January 2016, the second edition of the Dominican Diplomacy Forum focused on the SDGs and the promotion of mainstreaming the sustainable development agenda into diplomatic exchanges and cooperation. In June, during the General Assembly of the Organization of American States in Santo Domingo, the UNCT supported the government to raise awareness of SDG challenges, in collaboration with PAHO-WHO, UNDP and UNICEF. Similarly, the Latin America and Caribbean Social Development Forum (Santo Domingo, November 2016) will feature discussions about the SDGs and the related challenges and opportunities for social development.
Reviewing existing plans and adapting the SDGs to the national context
As part of the UN support to the High-Level Inter-institutional Sustainable Development Commission, the UNCT has started a Rapid Integrated Assessment to determine the country’s level of preparedness to implement the 2030 Agenda. The results will inform the Commission’s work and guide high-level recommendations.
Monitoring and reporting
The government launched an online platform to monitor the MDG indicators in 2013, just two years before the 2015 deadline. In contrast, for the SDGs the National Office of Statistics and MEPyD already have a proposal for the new SDG online platform, with plans to launch it in 2017 to ensure an early start to the monitoring process.
The National Office of Statistics has assessed national capacities for the production of statistics to monitor and report on the SDGs. It indicates that the government has full capacity to report on 27 percent of the global SDG indicators. For 34 percent of the indicators, there is little national information gathered for their calculation or the information available is deficient. For the remaining 39 percent of indicators, there is no national information available; therefore, complex methodological changes and substantial investments are required.
Philippines: Applying a Human Rights-Based Approach to Local Water and Sanitation Development Planning
The children who have no clean water to drink, the women who fear for their safety, the young people who have no chance to receive a decent education have a right to better, and we have a responsibility to do better. All people have the right to safe drinking water, sanitation, shelter and basic services. - Ban Ki - moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations *
For the first time, the Philippines national development plan for 2011-2016 has been elaborated using a human rights-based approach to development. In 2010 - guided by this national development plan and with strong support from the United Nations system - the government created a tool box that can help improve the capacity of communities and water supply service providers to apply a human rights-based approach to the provision of water and sanitation services at the local level.
By applying a human rights-based approach to water and sanitation, the government aims to improve access to water and sanitation services for those communities in which access to water and sanitation are poorest.
The human right to water provides the overarching framework for the toolbox. The framework outlines the responsibilities of water service providers and the standards that need to be met for ensuring that the right to water and sanitation are realized. A human rights framework emphasizes the importance of participation and non-discrimination in the planning and management of these services.
Initial results from the piloting of the toolbox found that the communities are now involved in the planning and budgeting of facilities, with a notable increase in the participation of indigenous groups and women. This has helped draw a more accurate picture of the priorities and specific needs of these groups in regard to water and sanitation services. By establishing a social contract between the providers and users of services, formal accountability measurements are created that ensure that local service providers abide by their duties and that human rights standards for water and sanitation are met.
The Philippines is a multi-party, democratic republic with a population of close to 95 million. In 2009, the Philippines gained the status of a middle-income country. It has since shown resilience to recent external shocks, such as food and fuel price hikes, the global financial crisis and recession and the impact of natural disasters.
While the Philippines has experienced unprecedented economic growth over the past ten years, achieving inclusive growth that benefits the poor has been a continuing challenge. Poverty has remained at about the same level during the last decade, with a little over a quarter of the population below the poverty line.1 Ensuring that social services reach the poor remains a major challenge. Corruption and political patronage have contributed to a worsening gap between the rich and the poor. Moreover, the Philippines’ rapid population growth, which is one of the highest in Asia, has exacerbated poverty and fueled rapid urban population growth, overseas labour migration and unprecedented environmental degradation.2
To respond to these challenges, the Government of the Philippines has made inclusive growth the primary objective of its national development plan – the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan – for the next six years (2011-2016).
Through the national development plan, the government has made a significant effort to strengthen the nexus between human rights and development. For the first time, a human rights-based approach was applied in elaborating the national development plan, which resulted in specific attention to those groups most marginalized and excluded in the Philippines, such as women, indigenous peoples, children, persons living with HIV/AIDS, the homeless and agricultural workers. Emphasis has also been placed on participatory approaches, with the plan strongly promoting community-driven social development. In addition, the accountability of the government for ensuring that services are provided features prominently in the plan.
Lastly, human rights standards, such as the quality/safety, acceptability, accessibility and affordability3 of public services has guided the planning of development strategies and goals.
For example, in regard to health, the plan aims to “ensure equitable access to essential medicines, health services and technologies of good quality, availability and safety.” In terms of population strategies, the plan aims to “work for universal access (accessibility, availability and affordability) of all medically, ethically and legally approved family planning methods and services.” In education, the plan “reaffirms the highest priority for basic education as a right that should be enjoyed by all Filipinos.”4
Human rights situation
The Philippine Government has ratified eight of the nine core international United Nations human rights instruments, including the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The Philippine Constitution firmly recognizes the centrality of human rights and “guarantees full respect for human rights.” Among the rights enshrined in the Constitution are the rights to life, liberty, property, health, education, healthy environment, land, privacy and housing. The Philippines has created a Commission on Human Rights that is responsible for monitoring the situation of human rights in the country. Moreover, the country has a dynamic civil society and a vibrant media that help articulate the voice of the public on urgent human rights issues.
In terms of economic, social and cultural rights, one of the main challenges is meeting the basic needs of the poor and other vulnerable groups.5
Indigenous peoples, who represent 15-20 percent of the population, in particular face high poverty rates and lack access to basic social services.6
The lack of access to sufficient, acceptable, accessible and affordable water and sanitation is deeply rooted in poverty, weak governance, power imbalance and discrimination that directly impact the lives of persons living in poverty and the most vulnerable, effectively denying them a most basic human right: the right to water. - Karapatan, Kakayananat Kaalamansa Katubigan (The Human Rights-based Local Water and Sanitation Governance Toolbox)
Access to water and sanitation
Despite the Philippines having met the MDG target for water, the water supply and sanitation situation in the Philippines remains a major challenge. A 2010 UNICEF and WHO Joint Monitoring Programme report found that 7.4 million Filipinos are still without access to any type of improved water source7, while 24.2 million Filipinos lack access to sanitary toilets. In addition, national data sources indicate significant inequalities in coverage, particularly in the case of poor and rural households.
Certain provinces also have very low service coverage. These issues were raised as a major concern by the Committee on the Rights of the Child in October 2009, which expressed concern at the regional disparities in access to safe drinking water and sanitation.8
In April 2011, the National Anti-Poverty Commission identified 455 municipalities (out of 1,494) as being ‘waterless’. Waterless municipalities in this context were defined as municipalities (or baranguays) 9 where more than 50 percent of households have no access to safe water and where there is a particularly high incidence of water-borne and sanitation-related diseases and high rates of poverty. In these municipalities, people are forced daily to walk long distances to fetch potable water, queue for long hours at communal faucets and are exposed to health risks when using unsafe water.
Strategy: applying a human rights-based approach to local water and sanitation governance
Guided by the national development plan’s prioritization of the poorest and most marginalized communities, in 2010 the government designed a programme that focuses on improving access to water and sanitation in waterless municipalities. The six-year programme (2011-2016), titled Sagana at Ligtas na Tubig sa Lahat (Abundance of Natural Water for All), aims to develop the capacity of local water supply service providers, e.g., Local Government Units10, and local communities to plan, operate and manage water and sanitary systems themselves.
The programme also contributes infrastructure to the municipalities. As part of this programme, the government created a ’toolbox’ that could be used as a guide for water supply service providers and local communities. The toolbox is entitled Karapatan, Kakayanan at Kaalaman sa Katubigan (The Human Rights-Based Local Water and Sanitation Governance Toolbox)11 . The United Nations provided technical and financial support for the development of this toolbox.
In particular, the United Nations supported the government’s efforts in introducing a human rights-based approach as the guiding framework for the toolbox and hence ensuring it was coherent and consistent with the rightsbased national development plan.
Applying a human rights-based approach to the toolbox broadened the way in which water and sanitation issues were viewed, going beyond an economic utility and infrastructure approach to understanding access to water and sanitation as a human right.
Using a human rights lens enabled the identification of multi-dimensional and deep-rooted obstacles underlying lack of access to water and sanitation, such as corruption, discrimination, inequality and lack of accountability, thereby ensuring that steps to address these obstacles were part of the water and sanitation strategies.
The United Nations agencies were involved in peer reviewing the toolkit for rights-based elements related to their specific mandates. For example, ILO reviewed the sections on the right to water and incorporated the ILO Conventions and tools into the toolbox, UN-Women incorporated material on gender analysis and the rights of women, UNICEF shared insights on the relationship between economics and human rights and suggested ways to translate the human rights principles of participation, non-discrimination and accountability into concrete programming interventions and UNFPA wrote the sections on sexual and reproductive health and the right to the highest attainable standard of health.
Water is much more than an economic good or a basic human need. Water is a human right: it is freedom, entitlement and a legally enforceable claim; it carries obligations and duties from which government and water service providers cannot escape. -Karapatan, Kakayananat Kaalamansa Katubigan (The Human Rights-based Local Water and Sanitation Governance Toolbox)
At the financial level, all members of the United Nations country team, under the leadership of UNDP, contributed to a common fund to cover the cost of developing the toolbox and rolling it out in 16 regions nationwide.12
At the national level, a number of actors were involved in developing the toolbox. Not only were water and sanitation experts consulted, but also civil society and other sectors, such as the Commission of Human Rights. The Commission had a specific role in peer reviewing the toolbox to ensure it met national and international human rights standards and principles.
The toolbox was first piloted in 36 of the waterless municipalities. It is now being rolled out in 455 waterless municipalities across the Philippine archipelago. To support the roll out process, regional water and sanitation learning networks are being established, composed of locally-based learning institutions and civil society organizations. These networks are being mobilized and trained on how to use the toolbox so that they can support capacity building processes at the local level.
Content of the Human Rights-Based Local Water and Sanitation Governance Toolbox
The Human Rights-Based Local Water and Sanitation Governance Toolbox proposes a framework to support the realization of the right to water and sanitation. The toolbox outlines both the human rights standards and the human rights principles that should guide policy and programming for water and sanitation services.
Human rights standards
For the right to water to be realized, specific standards need to be met.
These standards are outlined in General comment No. 15*, which defines the right to water as: “the right to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water and sanitation facilities and services for personal and domestic use.” The tool box uses these standards to set clear criteria and targets to guide local development actors in planning and monitoring water services.
For example, in order to respect the standard of ‘affordability’ of water and sanitation facilities, the toolbox suggests guidelines for ensuring fair and equitable tariffs.
Framing water and sanitation as a human right underlines the government’s obligations to ensure access to safe water and sanitation for personal and domestic uses. The toolbox outlines the duties that the Local Government Units hold in regard to facilitating the enjoyment of the right to water and sanitation by all. These responsibilities are broken down into three types of obligations: the need to respect, protect and fulfill. The obligation to respect includes ensuring that an individual’s access to water and sanitation is not arbitrarily interfered with, by, for example, removing traditional or indigenous rights to a water source or from unlawfully diminishing or polluting a water source. The obligation to protect includes preventing third parties from interfering with access to services, or polluting or inequitably extracting from a water source. The obligation to fulfill includes providing the legislative and policy framework to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, safe and acceptable water and sanitation services, and providing the water supplies and infrastructure when individuals or a group are unable for reasons beyond their control, to realize that right themselves by the means at their disposal.
Human rights principles
The toolbox mainstreams the human rights principles of non-discrimination, participation and accountability into local water governance processes.
Non-Discrimination and participation: the toolbox encourages local water governance to engage in non-discriminatory activities and to pay special attention to those who are marginalized and disadvantaged from enjoying their right to water, including women, children, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, older persons, persons living with HIV and persons living in poverty. For example, while the toolbox recognizes key performance indicators often used in the water sector, such as water supply coverage or per capita consumption, the toolbox notes that these indicators rarely distinguish between the most vulnerable and marginalized and the non-marginalized. Hence, to promote the human rights principles of non-discrimination and equality, the toolbox recommends that: (a) water supply coverage indicators are disaggregated by vulnerable groups/ households; and (b) average tariffs are used as an indicator for water affordability by multiplying average tariff by average consumption, then comparing whether the amount is equivalent to, or less than, five percent of the disposable income of households living in poverty.
Moreover, the toolbox provides guidelines on how, at the municipal level, Local Government Units can facilitate consultative processes with those groups most affected by lack of access to water and sanitation. In these consultations the Local Government Units and the marginalized groups jointly identify the challenges they face and realistic solutions to address them.
This consultation process ensures that water and sanitation facilities provided by the government are designed around the specific needs of the target groups. As a next step, local communities are trained to manage and maintain water services themselves.
Community participation during the planning and implementation stages of services and facilities instills a sense of ownership by local communities.
Accountability: Corruption and mismanagement are major challenges in the supply of water facilities. The toolbox recommends control and mitigation measures through which corruption can be minimized or eradicated. For example, risks of administrative corruption, such as fraud and kickbacks and bribery, can be addressed by ensuring the public availability of all important decisions, stricter implementation of procurement laws and active community monitoring.
While the project is at an early stage of implementation, some preliminary results are emerging. Changing perspectives on how to plan for water and sanitation utilities
Prior to the toolbox, decisions over water and sanitation services were supply driven. The national government was planning based on its perspective, which resulted in a lack of ownership by local communities for managing the facilities.
With the mainstreaming of a human rights-based approach, it became clear that users need to be involved in the planning stages, including the budgeting of facilities and identification of where facilities should be built. Now, for the first time, the national government is planning access to water from the perspective of the communities they serve.
By gathering information from residents themselves, a more accurate picture has been painted of the water and sanitation conditions in pilot areas.
The adoption of affordable tariffs that reflect the community’s willingness and ability to pay, the involvement of community members through newly-created local water associations and the upgrading to household connections (as requested by members of the water associations) has also paved the way for more efficient use of water.
This in turn has resulted in extended availability of supply and alleviation of pressure on water sources.
Localized Customer Service Code One of the most significant innovations of the toolbox has been the adoption of Localized Customer Service Codes in the 36 pilot waterless municipalities. The Customer Service Code is a social contract or mutual agreement forged between the users (the communities, represented through local water associations) and providers of water (Local Government Units). The Code establishes the standards and parameters for measuring the quantity and quality of water services (informed by the normative standards of the human right to water), outlines the respective responsibilities of both parties in operating and maintaining the water facilities, and sets tariff rates for water services agreed to by the community. Working through water associations, poor and marginalized groups were given the chance to say how much they could afford to pay for water which was then reflected in the tariff structure decreed in the Code. With the adoption of the Code, and an affordable tariff structure agreed to by the community, there has been an increase in pilot communities in the number of households covered by water supplies from 20 percent to 90 percent. Moreover, the quality of services and the level of customer satisfaction have also significantly increased. This is evident by a 10-15 percent increase in membership in local water associations, particularly among marginalized groups.
The adoption of the Code has been especially successful in the pilot communities in improving access to water and sanitation services for indigenous peoples and women.
Before introducing the human rights-based approach, indigenous peoples were not participating in decisions around water and sanitation services at the local level.
Without consultative mechanisms or any concrete documents protecting their interests or outlining water provider responsibilities, many indigenous peoples were intimidated to become members, did not trust those managing the system and feared that they would not be able to pay the fees imposed. With the toolbox, indigenous peoples were made aware of their right to be provided with safe and adequate potable water that meets the Philippine National Standards for Drinking Water. Most importantly, this right was affirmed in the Code, a legally binding document, and the responsibilities of the local water providers defined. This knowledge empowered indigenous peoples to demand better services from water providers. As a result of the social contract introduced by the Customer Service Code, and the training that accompanied it, there has been an increase in the number of indigenous peoples – from 0 to 141 – that participate as members of water associations. This participation has resulted in a greater understanding by the Local Government Units of indigenous peoples’ cultural norms and beliefs in regard to water and sanitation. The Local Government Units were subsequently better able to take these considerations into account in their education initiatives on water and sanitation practices.
Local Government Units have also become more aware of the high risks of conflict over the use of water sources when indigenous peoples consider the source as sacred. To address these sensitive issues, a specific memorandum of agreement was developed to recognize and protect the cultural practices of indigenous peoples.
Finally, in many of the associations women are playing an important role as board members, treasurers, tariff collectors and presidents. Through this involvement, women’s specific needs for water and sanitation services, such as the need to shorten the time to fetch water and to have potable drinking water consistently available for their families, are reflected in the water Service Codes.
A national development policy that incorporates a human rights-based approach can provide the framework and momentum needed to start applying this approach to various development sectors, such as water and sanitation.
The human right to water can provide a guiding framework for designing and implementing water and sanitation programs, ensuring that goals and targets focus on ensuring the right to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water and sanitation facilities, and that the process towards reaching those goals is informed by human rights principles.
Using a human rights lens broadens the analysis of water and sanitation matters, integrating, for example, issues of discrimination, corruption and weak governance. In doing so, it enables development practitioners to design more appropriate and informed policy and programmatic responses that specifically target these issues.
The World Bank, Philippines Overview:www.worldbank.org/en/country/philippines/overview.
Philippines UNDAF 2011-2016: www.undp.org.ph/Downloads/knowledge_products/UnitedNations/UNDAF%202012-2018.pdf.
These normative standards have been defined by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in their interpretation of the content of the rights enshrined in the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The Philippines, Universal Periodic Review, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review. The Philippines 23 May 2008 A/HRC/8/28.
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, Mr. Rodolfo Stavenhagen, Mission to the Philippines, March 2003: http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G03/115/21/PDF/G0311521.pdf?OpenElement.
Access to an “improved water source” refers to access through either a household connection, public standpipe, borehole, protected dug well, protected spring or rainwater collection.
Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations, The Philippines, October 2009, CRC/C/PHL/CO/3-4.
A barangay is the smallest administrative division in the Philippines and is the native Filipino term for a village, district or ward.
The Local Government Code of 1991 divided the Philippines into three administrative levels: provinces, municipalities and barangays. All three are called Local Government Units. The code devolved basic services to these units, including most health services and infrastructure provision, as well as the authority to create their own revenue sources and to enter into international aid agreements.
Human Rights Based Local Water and Sanitation Governance Water Toolbox: www.mdgf1919-salintubig.org.ph/lwg/.
United Nations funding assistances was received through the UNDP Spanish Achievement Fund MDGF 1919.