How will the world be held accountable for achieving its new goals?

Representatives from non-governmental organisations discuss accountability for achieving the new global goals for development.

On 26 September, representatives from a number of non-governmental organisations met to discuss accountability for achieving the new sustainable development goals.

The meeting was a fringe event at the UN General Assembly, at which member states signed up to the new global goals for development. Panelists discussed what kind of framework should be put in place to monitor the goals, and who should be involved.

Thomas Gass, from the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs, said: “The sustainable development goals are a social contract between governments and citizens. There is need to strengthen the relationship between governments and citizens to have a very inclusive accountability model. We should ask who is left behind and identify who is vulnerable, and why, in order to get everyone on board.”

Involving communities

Cedric Nininahazwe, executive director of the Burundian National Network of Young People living with HIV and AIDS, and a youth representative in the session, stressed the importance of integrating different types of health services, such as HIV with reproductive and sexual health services, to help ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages (global goal number three). He added: “HIV is not the only reason why we lost our friends to AIDS. Other issues included lack of access to health services and sanitation facilities. Our response needs an inclusive and cross-sectoral approach for our common goal: humanity.”

Another panelist, Robin Gorna, executive director at the Partnership for Maternal and Newborn Health, also argued that communities need to be more involved. “Civil society organisations are often left out from global discussions,” she said. “There is a need to engage people and communities.”

This is particularly true of young people, who had little involvement in the new global goals’ predecessor the millennium development goals (MDG). Despite significant progress made in almost all age groups towards the MDG target to halt and spread the reverse of HIV around the world, for adolescents the epidemic remains the second leading cause of death (UNAIDS). To ensure adolescents do not remain underserved by the new global goal to ensure healthy lives for all, it will be vital that they play an active role in holding governments and service providers to account.

Working together

The panelists acknowledged that different organisations, communities and sectors need to work together more effectively. In the past, organisations have tended to only monitor their own projects. Several panelists talked about the need for greater collaboration across organisational, community and sectoral boundaries.

“There is a need to create links across the different sectors and areas. There is strong imperative to create integrated accountability framework,” said Katie Dain, executive director at the NCD Alliance.

Panelist Michele Moloney-Kitts, director of Together for Girls, also called for greater integration and for organisations to build around each other’s experiences. She added that communities have to work together outside their own silos. For example gender-based violence and child-protection communities could work effectively together.

Panelists also discussed the role of the private sector in monitoring the goals. Radha Muthiah, CEO of the Global Alliance for Clean Cook Stoves, said: “We need to put together the right kind of approaches to engaging the private sector in delivering the sustainable development goals.”

Gorna added: “An intra-sectoral approach has been a challenge for implementation of the millennium development goals. A cross-sectoral approach is a requirement, not an option, for the success of the new goals.”

Though the new development agenda will be launched in January 2016, the indicators for the sustainable development goals are still under development. They should be in place by March 2016.

Watch a short interview with Cedric Nininahazwe:

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