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Leave no one behind

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero Ballescas (The Freeman) - April 29, 2021 - 12:00am

“As we embark on this great collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind.” This, according to the Paragraph 4 of the United Nations Declaration on 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Just as the period for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) wrapped up in 2015, the United Nations issued a call for all to join hands, unite, and transform the world toward peace and prosperity for planet and people through partnership (5Ps) from 2016 to 2030.

The target by 2030 -- to bring everyone together to the world and future we all want, through the promotion and attainment of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which include: 1) no poverty, 2) zero hunger, 3) good health and well-being, 4) quality education, 5) gender equality, 6) clean water and sanitation, 7) affordable and clean energy, 8) decent work and economic growth, 9) industry, innovation and infrastructure, 10) reduced inequalities, 11) sustainable cities and communities, 12) responsible consumption and production, 13) climate action, 14) life below water, 15) life on land, 16) peace, justice and strong institutions, and 16) partnerships for the goals.

Leave no one behind” (LNOB) is the central, transformative promise of the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It represents the unequivocal commitment of all UN Member States (not only to reach the poorest of the poor but) to eradicate poverty in all its forms, end discrimination and exclusion, and reduce the inequalities and vulnerabilities that leave people behind and undermine the potential of individuals and of humanity as a whole.”

Who are the poorest of the poor? Early UN and national reviews of the implementation of SDGs have presented statistics about the poor, including the poorest, how many they are, and, where they are all throughout the world.

However, the poor and the poorest are presented as statistics. Those targeted not to be left behind by 2030 remain unidentified, nameless, faceless, invisible and silent!

Urgent priority should immediately focus on knowing the identities and the location of the poor and the poorest to ensure that they are genuinely reached and assisted to join all others to our better world and future by 2030!

In an article entitled “Voluntary Monitoring of SDGs Engagements of Cebu

CSOs: Insights for Moving Forward” which we at RCE-Cebu (Regional Center of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development) co-authored with Alvin Ray Yu, Nino Aldjenn Belocura, Felix Aca-ac Jr., Katrina Pestano and Zenaida Tabucanon and which will soon be published (in Japanese language), we wrote:

“Let all reports and reviews of the progress of SDGs from here on focus on real, identified persons in identified communities and locations.

From the experience of decades, despite centuries of development initiatives, our present world is still not the world we all want, with millions still left behind, unidentified, faceless, voiceless, unheard, unheeded, excluded, invisible.

The poor and excluded are known mostly or only in terms of statistics. Until now, in reports and reviews, the poor do not have real identified faces within specific communities and locations.

Who are or who have been those left behind through years of development initiatives? In each community and for the whole nation and the whole world, do we know enough about who the faceless, the unheard, the unheeded and excluded in specific locations are and more pressing, who among them have been benefitted or left behind in the pursuit of the SDGs since 2016 (or worse, since decades back)?

Prioritizing, putting/identifying people at the center of reports may be the crucial missing link in all prior development efforts that ironically aimed to improve people’s lives but missed out on identifying who these real people were in specific communities in genuine need for their lives to be better.”

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