As Our Actions Transform Nature, We Begin to Transform Our Actions
Impacts we’ve made on the Earth are beginning to affect us.
The post 2015 Agenda is designed as a participatory agenda. WorldWeWant & Friends is one initiative designed to include the world’s youth.
Who gets to participate in the debate on a global agenda for post 2015? One of the agenda’s central goals is to be inclusive and guarantee that those who will inhabit the world of the future are being heard. Governments and politicians are not the only ones who should discuss the world they want to live in. As representatives of the next generation that will inhabit the world to come, young people should also be involved. One initiative to include opinions from young people in the agenda is “WorldWeWant & Friends” organized by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and UNICEF Germany. What started as an online survey with more than 500 participants has now been taken to the next level: Twenty young people from Colombia, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, India, the Philippines, Russia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Burundi and Germany were invited to participate in the debate process around the post 2015 Agenda. Along with other events, they took part in a workshop in Bonn, Germany and will also play an active role in the Charter for the Future wrap-up event on November 24, 2014. DDD has elicited two contributions from participants who shared their ideas about the post 2015 Agenda.
By Mark Mathew Operiano
According to the World Report on Disability, worldwide approximately one billion people live with disability. 80% of them live in developing countries like the Philippines, particularly in rural areas where education, employment and health services are often not readily accessible, not to mention the discrimination they face.
“I only realized that I have a disability when I started going to grade school where I have faced bullying and discrimination from other children.”
I was born with mild cerebral palsy in one of the poorest provinces of the Philippines. At the age of four, my mother enrolled me in a regular kindergarten despite my disability. That episode of my life made me think that there was nothing wrong with me - nothing different, nothing special compared to other children. I only realized that I have a disability when I started going to grade school where I have faced bullying and discrimination from other children. But since I was first introduced into an inclusive educational setting as a young child, I have learned that children with disabilities also have the right to an education and that they must be enrolled in an inclusive environment where they can fully maximize their potential together with other children without disabilities.
Based on the Global Campaign for Education report, children with disabilities (CWDs) in most low- and middle-income countries are more likely to be out of school than any other group of children. On top of that, CWDs have very low rates of initial enrolment. Even if they do attend school, CWDs are more likely to drop out and leave school early. The reasons CWDs are denied this basic right include: lack of proper training for the teachers, inaccessible schools, and prejudice from the people around them. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted in 2006 and now ratified by over 140 countries, guarantees, emphasises, and ensures that persons of all ages with disabilities are entitled to the same human rights, including access to education, health care, employment, the right to vote, the right to a family life and to participate fully in the societies in which they live. However, the specific needs and concerns of youths with disabilities, as a distinct and vulnerable group, are presumed but rarely explicitly mentioned. Historically, people with disabilities have been overlooked in development policy. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) represent one of the most significant missed opportunities. They were designed to address the needs of the world’s poorest citizens. Yet, extraordinarily, there is no mention of disability in any of the eight goals, though one addresses universal education.
To ensure the full, effective and equitable participation of children with disabilities at all levels of decision-making, we need an inclusive approach.
“Inclusive education recognizes that children with disabilities have the same needs as other children”
As a result of inclusive education, I strongly believe that we will achieve a more sustainable future for all sectors of society if we join hands to uplift everybody's status in society. Whether it is in a developing or an industrialized country: We need to start by ensuring quality and equitable education for all.
Inclusive education recognizes that children with disabilities have the same needs as other children in addition to their disability-specific needs, which are only a small part of their overall needs.
To achieve equality, national policies for including children with disabilities in education should be developed with specific time frames for implementation and clear accountability. Furthermore, ministries and departments of education in every country must develop an inclusive curriculum together with modules on disability and inclusive education for all teacher training programs. They should also ensure that data on school enrolment and retention is disaggregated by disability and gender, and use this data to put targeted inclusive education programs in place. Infrastructure and information must be accessible and universal, since children with disabilities are otherwise prevented from attending school. Measures must include: adjusting the physical environment, all facilities, the curriculum and educational system, and providing services, shelters, schools and health services. Finally, we need to provide alternative education for children who are beyond school age and disabled adults who have not had the benefit of formal education, allowing them to attain the skills they need.
Coming from a developing country, and as an advocate, I have realized that the post 2015 development agenda that will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) cannot be realized unless people with disabilities are included in all development policies and programs.
By Gina Lisselle Rosario Diaz
We, the young people of the world, represent not only the present, but also the future of our generation and those to come. We therefore need to engage and participate in determining our future. We must decide what is possible, and not just based on what has been possible so far. We need to decide what will be possible for us and how it will differ from what current decision-makers have deemed possible.
The post 2015 Development Agenda has been a more open process than its predecessor. It aims to include civil society and marginalized groups to a greater extent. In 2013, I had the opportunity to participate in the national consultations of my country, the Dominican Republic, which gave me an idea of the obstacles and needs that must be addressed in the post 2015 Agenda and the SDG discussion overall, and the role of youth in the process in particular. Later that year, I had an opportunity to participate in the WorldWeWant & Friends. Part of this initiative was a workshop that provided an opportunity for twenty young people from around the world to discuss the issues involved in drafting a new development agenda that young people deem most important in our respective countries.
According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), “today's adolescents and youth are 1.8 billion” which means that roughly every 4th person in the world is young. This huge segment of the global population should be guaranteed an active role in decision-making.
“I believe that environmental sustainability is of key importance to young people in the post 2015 context.”
Achieving sustainable development, especially in developing countries, is a complex task due to vulnerabilities such as economic crises, natural disasters, etc. It cannot be achieved without a common vision that relies on an intergenerational and inclusive dialogue and a strong solidarity among young people. More specifically, I believe that environmental sustainability is of key importance to young people in the post-2015 context: We live in a world that now has a population of seven billion people. Demographic shifts are taking place that are reflected in the consequences of the excessive exploitation of natural resources worldwide. The impact of humanity on the environment has risen rapidly as a result of this population increase, in addition to fast and growing technological development, industrialization and agricultural expansion.
This scenario is of major concern for the sustainable development of future generations because if this increase continues, the planet's ability to supply the world economies with sufficient water, energy and other basic resources will be limited. This will lead to substantial changes that will generate insecurity and instability worldwide, making the future of children and youth uncertain. In this context, governments have to commit to implementing measures aimed to counteract the continuing degradation of the environment and natural resources and ensure environmental sustainability for present and future generations.
“Youth are the main agents of change in this society and our participation and leadership is essential.”
We, the youth, are the generation that must trigger change towards the future we want. To quote UN Secretary General H.E. Ban Ki-moon: "leadership, again, is what will help us to strengthen our resilience and protect important achievements in development". So we must work hard and ensure that our efforts are recognized under the guidelines that result from the post 2015 agenda process. Youth are the main agents of change in this society and our participation and leadership is essential. We, the youth, can shape the world now; give us the chance and we will make change happen.
Photo: Copyright GIZ