Post-2015 Agenda? Only with us!
This self-conception joined all 17 participants of this year’s Summer School of the United Nations Youth Association Germany – UNYA (“Junges UNO-Netzwerk Deutschland”, “JUNON”). Under the motto „Post-2015 Agenda – Future Rethought“, the group met from 24-27.09.2014 in Bonn, not only to inform themselves about the process of the “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDG’s) but also to discuss the topic and become active themselves.
Bonn, the German City of the United Nations, and its UN-Campus “Langer Eugen” proved to be an appropriate location, because not only UN-institutions with environmental and development focus, but also the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung, BMZ), the German Society for International Cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, GIZ) and numerous other research institutions (German Development Institute, Global Policy Forum, German Investment and Development Association) are located here. Guest speakers of these institutions updated the participants on the current state of process of the post-2015 Agenda as well as on the draft for the sustainable development objectives. This took place in the first half of the summer school, to which the group gathered in the premises of the BMZ.
Sustainability at its best – critical and informative input by our guest speakers
Harriet Ludwig, from the special unit “Sustainable Development Goals”, gave the first input by presenting the process that brought the Open Working Group (OWG) to the draft of the SDG’s. Initially, all the acronyms and special terms were quite unfamiliar for the participants, but the following contribution by Matthias Böhning (board member of the United Nations Association of Germany and head of the working group “New Development agenda after 2015”), who placed the focus on the process in Germany, could clarify the terms on a long term.
This first introduction put across: the work of the OWG was quite fruitful and has achieved a result which has never been seen before. Sustainability is now viewed from a holistic approach and thus the ecological, the economical and social aspects of sustainability are combined. The 18 goals of the draft of the OWG are characterized by their universality and practicability, because all states – regardless of being part of the Global North or South- are addressed and several approaches are added to each goal. However, the critic points should not be left without attention, as Wolfgang Obenland of the Global Policy Forum made clear later on in the week. Because a real paradigm shift might only possible when human rights are given a greater role in the SDG’s, the growth term will be redefined and the general objectives are formulated more innovative, ambitious and specific (e.g. precise timing).
In order to see where the development goals have their origin, we visited the UN Campus “Langer Eugen” on Thursday. High up on the 27th floor of the former Parliament building we were introduced to the UN Volunteer program, which is dedicated specifically with volunteer work within the post-2015 development agenda (http://www.volunteeractioncounts.org/en /post-mdg.html). A special highlight of this visit was the greeting words of Richard Dictus. Speaking in his role as UN Volunteers Programme Executive Coordinator to us he stated: “It’s people that make a difference. Volunteerism is opening soon near you! Spread the word!”
Before we followed his message, the group discussed together with Steffen Bauer (German Development Institute) questions about environmental and climate issues on the sustainability agenda. It became clear, that the cross-section targets on climate and environmental issues are very useful. Because the SDGs make clear, that the need for actions or rather a modification of views is primarily in the responsibility of the industrialised countries!
Arne Molfenter, Head of the Regional Information Centre for Western Europe of the United Nations (UNRIC), who also received us at “Langer Eugen”, confirmed this. We received another overview of the work of the UN in Bonn by him, as well as a presentation of current challenges that are addressed in the international community – as we can only devote ourselves for a sustainable development of the world if we overcome crises such as in Syria or Ebola. One thing Molfenter gave us along the way, which we are happy to share with you, is that in his opinion “It’s the pupils and students who gain experiences in the Model United Nations today, which will in future put their visions in action”. So keep on going, folks!
Before we started a discussion in form of a BAR Camp, we were given an input on “Education in the Post-2015 Agenda” by Ulrike Wiegelmann from the competence centre for Education of the German Association for International Cooperation (GIZ). However, group discussions showed that we could not easily agree on how the path to a just and inclusive quality education as well as lifelong learning should look like.
From Theory into Practice
If the 17 participants of the summer school could not simply find a consensus, it is obvious that the work of the Open Working Group was marked by much greater challenges. The work of the Open Working Group and our own criticism of the results were discussed extensively in form of BAR Camps.
The discussions provided stimulus for the completion of the summer school, in which small groups developed specific projects and actions under the attempt “Future Rethought” making the post-2015 Agenda well known in Germany and among young people in general, as well as moving sustainability more into focus of society. An internet campaign called #smallsteps, a SDG project group at a school and a sustainability competition of the UNYA for MUN’s are some of the ideas, these incredible motivated and dedicated participants of the summer school developed. More information on these projects can be found later on our webside. For now, we can only thank all participants for their motivation, inspiration and critical discussions, making the JUNON Summer School 2014 an event everyone enjoyed and hopefully will remember in a sustainable way!
Authors: Nicole Bosquet and Ann-Christine Niepelt