We at Mennonite Central Committee Canada (MCC Canada) applaud the Government of Canada for engaging in global and national consultations as the United Nations develops the Post-2015 Agenda: global goals and strategies that will succeed the Millennium Development Goals. We also applaud the
Government for making Canada’s priorities public, as well as inviting civil society organizations and individual Canadians to provide feedback and comments on these priorities.
We believe the feedback presented here, while not exhaustive, will lead to stronger results and more meaningful engagement for Canada with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The priorities outlined by the Canadian Government should fully reflect the change in approach between the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Unlike the
MDGs which focused primarily on addressing issues like poverty and access to education and health in the most extreme circumstances, the SDGs are universal goals that target all countries, including
Canada. For example, where the first MDG called for the eradication of extreme hunger and poverty, the first SDG calls on states to end poverty in all of its forms, everywhere, including at home.
Much of MCC Canada’s work is focused on international issues, working with partners in the areas of relief, development and peace. However, across Canada MCC is also working with partners and program to address similar areas, including poverty, refugee resettlement, Indigenous Peoples, education, and sustainable community development. We find that the distinctions and practices between development in Canada and development overseas are increasingly irrelevant. Poverty in Canada is in many cases as extreme as it is in many other parts of the world and needs to be addressed urgently.
This does not mean that the Canadian Government cannot and should not be addressing poverty, hunger and other key themes through international aid and relief programs. It does mean that there should be mechanisms in place to ensure that such issues are also addressed in Canada. As it stands,
Canada’s priorities laid out for the Post-2015 Agenda only directly address Canada’s international priorities and strategies.
We applaud the Canadian Government for identifying accountability as one of the core priorities in terms of the Post-2015 Agenda. Accountability in setting goals encourages member states and the UN as a whole to set realistic goals and targets that are both reasonably achievable and also measurable and analytical.
However, in the document prepared by the Canadian Government, the processes by which Canada plans to address the identified priorities are not made clear. In addition, the SDG approach, as earlier stated, is quite different than the original MDG agenda, with the process being more universal, holistic and focusing on overall sustainability. The Canadian core priorities are identified fairly clearly, but there is little indication of how the Canadian Government plans to adjust its development approach to reflect the new SDGs.
More specifically, we believe that accountability and monitoring of the SDGs should clearly reflect the voices, perspectives and priorities of marginalized communities. Therefore, the outline of priorities should focus less on the “what” (naming the priorities) and more on the “how,” the “who,” and the
“with whom.” In other words, the Government of Canada should be identifying how it will prioritize the perspectives of vulnerable and marginalized communities in its development agenda and with whom it will partner in pursuing its goals. Accountability and monitoring of the SDGs should clearly demonstrate that the needs, hopes and primary concerns of marginalized communities will be at the forefront.
As the MDGs come to an end this year, MCC and our coalition partners eagerly await the SDGs and the
Post-2015 Agenda. We look forward to continuing discussions and consultations in Canada and around the world.
Mennonite Central Committee Canada