By Ingo Ritz, Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP)
On 25 September, a million people in 1,248 cities & communities in 143 countries came together in 1,666 actions across the world for the Global Day of Action 2018 – Act4SDGs to mark the anniversary of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Agenda 2030.
There were actions across Europe. In Brussels, SDG Watch Europe and a coalition of civil society organisations launched the Manifesto for a Sustainable Europe for its Citizens with core demands for the new political leadership of the EU and the candidates in the European Parliament Elections 2019. We believe the 2030 Agenda should be the compass for all European policies – and provides a positive vision for the people of Europe for a sustainable future.
In the past month, we’ve also mobilized together on 17 October 2018 – the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The number of people living in poverty remains very high – even while the percentage of people living in extreme poverty is decreasing. The latest numbers show that the target of SDG 1 to eradicate poverty by 2030 will not be achieved.
In the EU 23.5% or 118 million people are living at risk of poverty or social exclusion, according to the EAPN. The number of people suffering from hunger globally increased again in 2017 – to 821 million people says the FAO. The World Hunger Index notes that based on the current trends there will be hunger in 50 countries in 2030. All this represents a failure of our political and economic systems
The Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development is meant to reverse these trends and create the transformation to end poverty, hunger and inequalities within the planetary boundaries by 2030. The first target of SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities) states that the 40% poorest shall have a higher share of the growth than the national average. Yet 82% of the wealth created last year went to the richest 1%, where only 1% of wealth went to the poorest 20%. The gap is widening and not closing.
To create the needed just transition, governments must end the neoliberal policies of the last decades including the focus on economic growth rather than human well-being. This includes tax justice – by creating progressive tax systems including for wealth and closing the loopholes allowing tax avoidance, decent work – including a living wage as minimum wage and equal pay and labour rights for women, social protection, health and education for all – and the end of the use of fossil fuels, plastic as well as pesticides and harmful chemicals.
These policies are possible and successfully implemented in a number of countries – for example Spain just announced the closure of most coal mines by the end of the year agreed in a deal with the trade unions. Unfortunately the reality is different. While all governments have officially committed to the 2030 Agenda, and a number talk about them (at least), many are hesitant to implement these transformative policies. The European Commission hasn’t even developed an implementation plan for the Agenda 2030. This is a shame – three years after the adaption of the agenda.
Many decision makers are influenced by well financed and powerful private sector lobbyists, by decades of free markets and growth ideology as well as more recently by right-wing populism. In a number of countries, authoritarian rulers came into power pursuing policies for the rich and violating human rights of activists, trade unions, media and marginalised people. The results of the elections are Brazil are extremely worrying.
What can we do to change this trend? The call must come from the people – in communities and different constituency groups, such as women’s groups, youth, trade unions, environmental activists and intellectuals. We believe that only people’s power will create the needed pressure for transformative change.
The good news is: There are social movements of people fighting for their rights – from the Women’s Marches and the #metoo movement globally, to the fight against privatisation of water in El Salvador to the protests against coal mining in Germany. On 25 September 2018, we proved again with the Global Day of Action – Act4SDGs that many people around the world want to be part of the change to transform the world into the vision of the Agenda 2030.
Together, as part of the global movement for justice and rights, we can end poverty and achieve the Agenda 2030!
Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) is a network of over 11,000 civil society organisations (CSOs) organized in 58 National Coalitions and in constituency groups of women, youth and socially-excluded people, among others. GCAP supports people in their struggles for justice and brings individuals and organisations together to challenge the institutions and processes that perpetuate poverty and inequalities. Together, we defend and promote human rights, gender justice, social justice, climate justice and the security needed for the dignity and peace of all.