According to a joint report from the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), one in four of the world’s health care facilities does not have adequate access to clean water and sanitation services, including sewer access. This means that about 2 billion people face a lack of clean water in their communities globally. Luckily, UNICEF’s WASH Program is in place to help remedy this.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

In 17 out of 69 impoverished countries, at least 20 percent of medical facilities had no water service at all in 2016. Therefore, by going to these facilities, there is a risk of further infection. Ironically, the condition the facility is attempting to remedy could worsen. In developing countries, people often have a concern that they could become sicker after visiting a hospital. UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program aims to bring water and means of sanitation to these at-risk health care facilities to create immediate benefits and establish an element of trust between medical facilities and the general population of impoverished countries. By doing so, projections determine that poor communities should increasingly report to medical professionals when they have a health concern, and many poverty-linked, poor-sanitation-caused diseases will receive better treatment and be better controlled.

UNICEF’s WASH program promotes education, fixing systemic issues and training. However, it mainly goes about achieving these goals by addressing issues on the ground level. Simply put, impoverished communities typically do not have easy access to sanitation measures and fresh water. Therefore, WASH has set out to directly fix the issue by installing facilities that can directly bring free, clean water to people in need. In certain areas that especially need better sanitation and water access, the program goes so far as to build physical water facilities.

How it Works

The facilities consist of a solar-powered borehole well that pumps clean groundwater from within the earth into 24-liter storage tanks above ground. These tanks keep the water clean and usable for whenever communities need it. There are no restrictions on the use of WASH facilities. Those who need it can use it to wash their hands, fill up bathtubs and draw water from their households, etc. In addition to supplying usable water to these communities, the WASH program also installs latrines. The latrines make use of the newly-supplied groundwater to reduce the amount of open defecation in impoverished communities.

WASH in Nigeria

A WASH facility in north-central Nigeria has seen exceptional progress after its installation. Like many poor Nigerian communities, there was little to no health care coverage. Further, the water was dirty and soil-transmitted helminths infected the area due to unsanitary defecation. Even the schools were a breeding ground for disease. Just by bringing clean water, WASH brought the rural community from an unsanitary village to an “open defecation-free” location. In doing so, they also slashed the prevalence of poverty-linked diseases.

UNICEF’s WASH program operates in coordination with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. Two out of the 17 SDGs directly apply to WASH’s mission. First, ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. Second, ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. By making direct, measurable progress towards these goals, the U.N. can garner further support. Therefore, the world will be able to meet more SDGs, making the world a better place for everyone in the very near future.

Graham Gordon
Photo: Flickr

terminating child marriage
Child marriage and its confining consequences affect 650 million women across the world and violate human rights. Some of these are access to health care and economic opportunity. While UNICEF databases indicate that the prevalence of child marriage has considerably decreased by at least 6 percent since 1995, child marriage rates remain urgent and concerning; 12 million girls under 18 enter a marriage or early union globally each year.

The persistence of child marriage in a globalized age remains a barrier that obstructs the world from achieving international social justice. Aims to discover the key to terminating child marriage is only a modern development, as child marriage had been the norm virtually everywhere up until the 20th century. In the 21st century, the practice conflicts with a number of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the U.N. in 2015, such as gender equality, no poverty and decent work and economic growth.

The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals

  1. Gender equality: Women make up the vast majority of child marriage victims, largely lacking the necessary empowerment from their communities to escape such conditions. Often feeling as though they lack any other choice, they enter the immobilizing hands of long-held social norms and thus continuing gender inequalities. Subsequently, they are unable to escape their impoverished conditions.
  2. No poverty: Just as poverty is a consequence of child marriage, it too serves as a driving cause. In rural regions where large family sizes and poverty commonly go hand in hand, families send off young daughters in arranged marriages as an attempt to reduce their financial burden. The attempt largely fails, however, and the cycle of poverty for these families and girls continues.
  3. Decent work and economic growth: Barred from freedom and choice in major life decisions, it is no surprise that these 15 million child victims entering marriage each year lack economic independence. Not only do these conditions mean the disabling of girls from unlocking their potential, but according to Economic Impacts of Child Marriage research, it also restrains countries, where child marriage is most prominent, from achieving significant and otherwise attainable economic growth.

Other SDGs that clash with child marriage include quality education and reduced inequalities. Given the prevalence and urgency of this human rights issue, to make true progress within the variety of goals, the U.N. set Target 5.3 of the SDGs to “eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.”

The UN’s Inter-Agency Program

Latin America and the Caribbean are regions with the highest prevalence of child marriage, following Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. As such, the U.N. made it a priority to target this region to accomplish SDG target 5.3. Specifically, it intended to accomplish this with an inter-agency program covering five countries.

  1. The Dominican Republic, where 36 percent of girls married before 18 in 2017.
  2. Guatemala, where 30 percent of girls married before 18.
  3. Colombia, where 23 percent of girls married before 18.
  4. El Salvador, where 26 percent of girls married before 18.
  5. Mexico, where 26 percent of girls married before 18.

This program involved the uniting of the UNPF, UNICEF and U.N. Women in October 2017 to discuss their shared experiences alongside Latin American inter-institutional actors. Moreover, it was “to identify common challenges and strategies and develop national and regional roadmaps to contribute to compliance with the SDGs” according to UNICEF’s official file.

Those involved included members of civil society and international organizations, government officials and even adolescent girls serving as the program’s youth network representatives. The U.N. uses the power of diversity to effectively analyze, evaluate and prescribe for the pressing matter at hand.

Four Main Program Outcomes

The program ultimately proved that communication and cooperation among these diverse parties are key to terminating child marriage. The first step to progress is to discover and discuss the root causes of the critical issue. Through mutual respect for one another and collective discussion, key causes that participants agreed upon during the program included poverty and inequalities, as well as gender-based violence. With their first-hand experiences, the adolescent representatives disclosed the majority of the drivers discussed. Key causes they shared included school dropout, social harassment and the lack of resources available for pregnant and/or married girls.

Four main outcomes came out of the program, agreed upon by all involved parties as key to terminating child marriage. They were as follows:

  1. Create legal reforms to raise the legal age of marriage in all countries with no exceptions. Participants thoroughly discussed challenges in doing so and in promoting awareness of such legal changes. Since the program, a legislation change that occurred was the Mexico Senate’s approval of a total ban on underage marriage.
  2. Promote policies and services in the areas of health, education and gender equality, among others, and make them far more accessible in all regions. Involved parties agreed that a key means of doing so would require working at the community level and from among civil society, such as teaching males the good of gender equality.
  3. Empower girls in all Latin American and Caribbean countries. This would be accomplished by teaching adolescent girls their sexual rights as well as using social networks to reach and further educate them. This method would be particularly effective since there is a rising amount of internet usage in Latin America.
  4. Create a multilateral platform to maximize efficiency in the fight against child marriage within Latin America and beyond. The collaboration innate to this program would optimistically enter the future with cooperative methods such as pooling resources and advocating for girls’ rights internationally.

Countries should consider each of the four outcomes when implementing future national and international developments and projects meant to end underage marriage. The evident prioritizing of international cooperation is key to terminating child marriage. While the battle in doing so is far from over, the future appears bright as endeavors for correspondence and correlating declines in child marriage rates represent the necessary effort— and potential— for change.

– Breana Stanski
Photo: Flickr

SDGs 2030: Will The Governments Of Developing Countries Deliver?Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs in developing countries have been viewed as ambitious. However, more efforts have been invested in the continuous realization of these development goals by international communities, nonprofit organizations, civil societies and, of course, domestic governments.

SDGs and Developing Countries

According to reports, to achieve one of the SDG targets, the “sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” will cost $27 billion per year by 2030 and the infrastructure will cost up to $290 billion. Is this too ambiguous for the national governments in the developing world? Or a pitiable reason to hide from actualizing these goals nationally.

Developing countries have been a major focus of the SDGs. With the idea that ‘no one will be left behind’, the U.N. and its partners have contributed immensely in solving a long list of issues faced by the developing world. Funds have been deposited and used for different projects. Expertise in creating sustainable solutions and commitments are being made to secure a better future. 

SDG Index

The SDG performance by countries is determined by the SDG Index and Dashboard on a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 represents the lowest level of performance and 100 is the highest level of performance. Countries like Sweden (84.5), Denmark (83.9), Norway (82.3) and Finland (81) rank high in achieving their SDGs.

Countries such as the Central African Republic (26.1), Liberia (30.5) and Niger (31.4) are not doing as well as the aforementioned countries. Evidently, these countries are some of the poorest in the world. A poor economy can be one of the causes for weak results.

Politics and SDGs in Developing Countries

One of the reasons slowing down the SDGs in developing countries is that development projects are usually abandoned by their governments. This normally happens in rival socio-political settings.

In Africa, most projects funded and managed by previous administrations are eventually stopped or replaced by the ruling administrations due to different political views, political parties or general lack of interest.

Some farmers in Nigeria have criticized the replacement of the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme by the former president Goodluck Jonathan’s administration with the current president Muhammadu Buhari’s Agricultural Implements and Mechanisation Services (AIMS).

“There is always a policy somersault. This government will bring this one and when another person comes, they will bring another one whether it is good or not.”, said Daniel Okafor, Vice President of Root and Tubers of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN).

The farmers are upset with their government as it continues to create new programs without improving the old ones. More often, the development policies and programs are often aligned with the vision of developmental goals but may lack seriousness due to the ulterior motives.

In developing countries, parties struggle to own power and when they eventually do gain power, eliminating the projects of the previous administration becomes the primary goal.

The lack of bipartisanship in the polity environment brews enough hatred; shutting down any programs related to the opposition party no matter how promising they are.

Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the U.N. noted that bipartisanship can promote peace, unity and growth. Political parties should stand for a common goal regardless of their political views and hustle for power. Ideas can be shared and implemented with the help of the other parties.

Bipartisanship will ease congressional processes in changing, debating and making laws that can benefit the realization of SDGs.

Corruption and SDGs in Developing Countries

Corruption can also cause a lot of setbacks. Africa loses $50 billion every year due to corruption. The Sustainable Development Goal 16, Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, covers commitments to fight corruption and encourage transparency.

Corruption impedes national development, hinders economic growth, slows or shutdown developmental programs on education, labor, healthcare, water and sanitation and leads to more poverty.

Recently, the U.K. suspended funding to Zambia after a report that $4.3 million intended for the poor population had gone missing. 17 million people in Zambia, or half of its population, live below $1.90 a day. It is important to find out how much of the monetary aid is really getting lost to corruption and the best method to curb it.

Criminalization of corruption can serve as a major tool in curbing corruption. Ruling parties must not protect corrupt public servants, especially in Africa where previous corrupt officers collude with the ruling parties in order to be shielded from scrutiny and court cases.

Governments must encourage transparency and promote access to national financial data and budget spending.

SDGs and Subnational Conflicts

Another factor that may impede the success of SDGs in developing countries is tribal or subnational conflicts which are still rampant in Africa and Asia.

While Asia experiences economic growth in the midst of subnational conflicts, Africa’s economy has always been affected by violent conflicts due to terrorist groups, tribal wars and minorities unrest.

Poverty will decrease when inequalities between different groups reduce as also when there are inclusive growth and participation of minorities in resource control. Combating unemployment will also lessen the high rate of conflicts in developing countries.


Domestic policies in the areas of trade, human development, agriculture, economy and climate change can reduce poverty and hunger, improve health systems, create resilient methods toward climate shocks and breed peace in societies.

It is for the central, state and local governments to take up these responsibilities to achieve the SDGs in developing countries. Civil Societies and private sectors should also see this as an opportunity to make the world a better place.

It is possible for developing countries to achieve at least 80 percent of their SDGs: it all depends on good governance and passion for humanity.

Photo: Flickr


Wealth Inequality in India India is considered to be one of the foremost emerging economies in the world and has a rapidly growing Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Despite this, the annual Global Hunger Index (GHI) has put India at 100th place among 119 countries. This is a case where the GDP does not properly represent the country’s situation, as it is facing major wealth inequality. In India, the top 10 percent of the population control the country’s wealth, while the common people, more than a billion in number, fall along the lower end of the Hunger Index. The major causes of wealth inequality in India can be attributed to a large number of people in India being either unemployed or underemployed.

The country is experiencing poverty growth, as poverty will only increase with joblessness and lead to more hunger in the rural and semi-urban landscape. The hunger problem persists, despite the government spending to feed the people. In addition, this has prevented the country from allocating more fiscal resources toward infrastructure and other areas needed to develop the economy. Even with India having the world’s fastest-growing economy over the last three years, the problems persist.

It is not all negative though, as the undernourishment level and child mortality rate in the country has declined significantly since 1991, though the issues are still serious. The International Food Policy Research Institute said in a statement, “India was rated as ‘alarming’ in 2013 and has experienced an improvement in its GHI score over recent years. Since 2000, the country has reduced its GHI score by a quarter.” The statement continues on with, “India is making tremendous progress, but we have significant challenges ahead.”

In an attempt to address the causes of poverty and wealth inequality in India, among other countries, the United Nations declared a set of eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the start of the millennium, which they aimed to complete by 2015. After their inability to achieve this within the targeted date, the U.N. expanded and modified the goals to a total of 17 goals to be achieved by 2030, called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The first two of these goals, featured in both MDGs and SDGs, are the removal of hunger and poverty. Since becoming a quickly emerging economy, India has pledged to work toward these goals. It has been committed to achieving SDGs, focusing specifically on ending poverty. The Indian government believes that if poverty can be removed, hunger will go along with it. Malnourishment comes from the inability to procure food because of a lack of money, so India remains a country of constraints with its large wealth disparity.

If we hope to combat the causes of wealth inequality in India, we must improve the underemployment of India. The National Institutions for Transforming India claims that a “severe under-employment” is the main problem facing India. According to the Institutions, in order to combat underemployment, and thus reduce poverty, “what is needed is the creation of high-productivity, high-wage jobs.”

Drew Fox

Photo: Flickr

Climate Change and Water Scarcity
It seems nearly impossible to understate the global importance of water. In the age of climate change, water scarcity is rising at levels predicted to impede sustainable development and slow progress against poverty for years ahead. However, better preparing for climate change and water scarcity can redirect water to a source of development.

As a result of interconnected issues pertaining to climate change, the world is expected to experience a 66 percent decrease in water availability by 2050. Ultimately, climate change negatively impacts every facet of the water cycle as it creates drought, uncertain weather patterns, increased natural disasters and other phenomena. Climate change is predicted to send new areas into drought and exacerbate already vulnerable areas. The greatest losses in water availability are likely for the Middle East, East Asia and much of Africa.

Climate change’s impact on water availability impedes food production, as seventy percent of global water use is devoted to agriculture. Without enough water to meet the rising demand for food, expected to be 60 percent higher than today by 2030, this spikes food prices and worsens food scarcity. For Sub Saharan Africa, food prices are expected to rise by 77 percent by 2080 as a result of climate change, compared to a worldwide average increase of 17 percent.

Water scarcity caused by climate change also wreaks havoc on economies, especially ones that are still developing. This is largely due to the fact that water is vital to sustaining development for health, incomes, properties and agriculture. These factors have the potential to generate economic downturn. Many regions that were already water-insecure face a six percent decline in GDP by 2050 as a result of climate change and water scarcity.

Ultimately, these interconnected issues can bring about conflict between nations over resources and water allocation. Water scarcity also spurs increased waves of migration to water-abundant locations. Most conflicts are expected in places with large social inequities, especially in the developing world.

Despite the fact that all people require water security, climate change and water scarcity especially impact low-income populations. Not only are developing nations most at risk of climate change, but insufficient resources make it difficult to cope with climate stressors. Poor water availability also exacerbates improper sanitation and safety in drinking water. This disproportionately threatens health and equality for marginalized populations.

But what can be done to impede the impact of climate change on water availability? The World Bank explains that ensuring water is used most efficiently is crucial to fighting water shortages, especially in dominant sectors such as agriculture. Meaningful changes are possible by drastically investing in climate-smart equipment and infrastructure around the world. These changes work to sustainably end pollution cycles while conserving resources.

Maybe most impactfully, changes in governmental policies are crucial; these can act as insurance plans against worsening climate stressors. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim explains that “countries can enact policies now that will help them manage water sustainably for the years ahead.”

Ultimately, making use of the world of available tools redirects water back to a potential for prosperity.  Richard Damania, an economist for the World Bank, explains that “by allocating even 25 percent of water to more highly-valued uses, losses decline dramatically and for some regions may even vanish.” Instead of seeing negative growth from lessened water, some economies can predict a six percent increase in GDP if they sustainably develop water usage.

Water is a tool for lifting people out poverty and lessening the global impacts of climate change if the world makes sufficient use of proper tools. And although the drastic progress against water scarcity still needed today may be costly, the World Bank epitomizes that when it comes to water, “the costs of inaction are far higher.”

Cleo Krejci

Photo: Flickr

eradication of AIDS
Recently, the United Nations unveiled its plan to combat global health concerns. If earnestly implemented, the international community could see the eradication of AIDS by 2030. The plan is a part of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which identified 17 developmental goals and 169 sub-targets.

The SDGs were constructed on the successes of the recently concluded Millennium Development Goals, which addressed global development issues through “time-bound and quantified targets.” The eight U.N.-brokered goals have become synonymous with the “the most successful global anti-poverty push in history” as it has reduced HIV infections by 33% since 2001.

Despite the unprecedented developmental success, the United Nations General Assembly wanted to pursue a refined and more robust approach to the eradication of AIDS. Therefore, in 2015 as the Millennium Goal expired, the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development announced a program aimed at eradicating AIDS, particularly through United Nations General Assembly Resolutions.

Notably, Resolution A/69/856 identifies that the eradication of AIDS and prevention must go beyond providing sufficient doses of anti-retroviral treatments. In addition to medicine, it is necessary for governments alike, the international community and civil society to advocate for safe-sex practices.

The task of implementing treatments towards pursuing a world free of global health concerns should not disproportionately fall on the United Nations, however. Moreover, other actors have provided significantly to health movements such as the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). PEPFAR is a bipartisan policy that supports HIV testing and counseling for more than 14.2 million pregnant women; HIV testing and counseling for more than 56.7 million people as well as training for more than 140,000 health care workers.

Other efforts are being made by NGOs and nonprofits such as The Global Fund, which has given $22.9 billion to over 1,000 initiatives in 151 countries.

Adam George

Photo: Flickr

Fight Poverty in Asia
The Standing Committee of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly (APA) on Economic and Sustainable Development Affairs met in Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan, from July 26 to 28. During the inaugural session, Raza Rabbani, Chairman of the Senate of Pakistan and the third most powerful official in the country, asked members to work together in eradicating poverty in Asia as a whole.

The APA replaced the Association of Asian Parliaments for Peace in 2006. The organization consists of members elected by their national legislatures and seeks to encourage cooperation among Asian countries.

In total, 14 countries sent delegations to the APA meeting in Islamabad. Among the ranks were representatives from Turkey, Russia, Iran, Thailand and Indonesia.

On the final day of the meeting, the Committee adopted a resolution on poverty eradication which aims to improve living conditions for the poor and encourage their participation in making policy. An amendment proposed by the Iranian delegation urges the removal of gender wage discrimination as part of this goal.

Tjatur Sapto Edy, a member of the energy and natural mineral resources commission in the Indonesian People’s Representative Council, expressed support for the resolution. “We acknowledge that poverty continues to be the biggest challenge of our time,” he said.

The Indonesian delegation also asked member countries to cooperate in promoting peace throughout the continent and formulate national strategies which contribute to the goal of ending poverty in Asia. Lastly, the country called for more investment in renewable energy.

The meeting also featured a resolution on providing clean water and sanitation for all, one of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). An approved amendment from Palestine and Lebanon would see the formation of a committee to research and combat water scarcity.

The APA meeting in Islamabad demonstrated the resolve of Asian countries in bringing about an end to poverty in Asia and promoting regional development. As Rabbani noted at the conference, they “are in an effort to bring economic stability and peace, which can only be achieved through unity.”

Philip Katz

Photo: Flickr

Tobacco Control Reduces Poverty
Tobacco and global poverty have an often overlooked connection. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Many studies have shown that in the poorest households in many low-income countries, spending on tobacco products often represent more than 10 percent of total household expenditure.”

The WHO, the U.N. and other international organizations have recognized and researched this link to decrease tobacco use and poverty rates. Here are five ways tobacco control reduces poverty globally:

1. Tobacco control will relieve financial hardships.

Tobacco addictions exacerbate an already stressful financial situation for those living in poverty.

Families, as a result, have less to spend on food, education, healthcare and other necessities. Bangladesh, for example, spends 10 times the amount on tobacco than on education. Tobacco control reduces poverty by helping families spend less on tobacco, freeing up more income to spend on necessities.

2. Tobacco control will save lives.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports 6 million tobacco-related deaths worldwide per year. Tobacco users die 10 years earlier than non-users. Smoking also causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Tobacco control is known as one of the most effective ways to reduce consumption. Its implementation would reduce the amount of smoking-related illnesses, keeping more workers in the labor force and ease health care expenditures for families.

3. Tobacco control will reduce exploitation.

Tobacco also affects those who produce it. Farmers who produce tobacco on a small-scale in developing countries depend heavily on the tobacco industry. Although large corporations provide credit for farmers, including seeds, fertilizer, pesticides and technological support, they expect the farmers to forgo profits and sell at the company’s contract price. This is further evidence that tobacco control reduces poverty.

Furthermore, farmers’ children have saved the tobacco industry an estimated $1.2 billion in production costs through unpaid child labor. The industry employs 63 percent of children in tobacco-farming families, preventing 10-14 percent from attending school for work’s sake.

The lack of education drives individuals deeper into poverty. Tobacco control reduces poverty not only by giving farmers better opportunities to provide for themselves, but also eliminating the need for children to sacrifice school for work, ultimately granting them the chance to move up social classes in the future.

4. Tobacco control will improve economies.

Tobacco takes away 1-2 percent of the world’s GDP annually. A 2011 WHO report found that governments can introduce effective tobacco control measures for as little as $0.11 per person per year. If governments allocated the extra revenue from such taxes to their health budgets, WHO found this year in a report that “public expenditure on health would increase by four percent globally.”

Currently, the costs of tobacco production outweigh the profits. For example, although Tanzania earns $50 million from tobacco sales annually, the African country spends $40 million on health care for tobacco-related cancers.

Tobacco control in the form of taxes would increase government revenue and funds for the poor.

5. Tobacco control will help the achieve the SDGs.

The U.N.’s Division for Sustainable Development seeks to reduce poverty and coordinate the 17 internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The aforementioned effects of tobacco control directly align themselves with the SDGs, as they include no poverty or hunger, good health and well-being, quality education and economic growth worldwide by 2030.

Because of its negative byproducts, tobacco use is considered a hindrance to global development.

However, with proper tobacco control, individuals, governments and organizations believe it can provide sustainable benefits.

Ashley Leon

Photo: Pixabay

Sustainable DevelopmentThe High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) will meet in July 2017 at the U.N. Headquarters in New York to discuss the U.N. 2030 Agenda, which was adopted on September 25, 2015 at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit. The theme of the forum is “Leaving No One Behind,” and it will meet from July 11 to 20.

The HLFP replaced the Commission on Sustainable Development in 2013 and meets every four years under the U.N. General Assembly and under the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) during other years.

According to the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, the goals of the Forum include to guide the execution of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), give suggestions about the 2030 Agenda, incorporate and apply science and international experiences and track the SDG.

The President of the ECOSOC, Oh Joon, stated that the Forum also aims to focus on the national ownership of the SDGS and incorporating the Goals into development plans.

Among its many objectives, the Forum will review the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs with help from reviewers from 22 countries across the world. The President of ECOSOC stated that the reviews are part of the new ways that the Forum works to secure that the world achieves the 2030 Agenda amidst changing global conditions.

The Forum will also take into account the inaugural report entitled “Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals” presented by Wu Hongbo, U.N. Under-Secretary-General for ECOSOC. The document is the first real report of the progress of the 17 SDGs.

As Wu said in an interview, eliminating poverty is both “the greatest global challenge” and a “requirement for sustainable development” that the Forum aims to address with improved methodology.

Although the HLPF is just one event among the many that it will take to create a sustainable, poverty-free world, the deliberations of the Forum are a crucial first step to continual progress.

Addie Pazzynski

Photo: Flickr.


The 4th annual Women Deliver Conference, the largest conference in the world discussing women’s rights and issues, was held on May 16-19 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Women Deliver is an organization that advocates for women’s and girls’ health and well-being. The organization holds conferences and focuses on building partnerships, gaining new allies, and developing and sharing advocacy tools to help others participate in the cause.

Building on the success three previous Women Deliver Conferences, the Conference focuses this year on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) laid out by the United Nations. Specifically, the focus will be on women’s health issues and women’s and girls’ education and economic empowerment.

5,700 policymakers, researchers and advocates participated in what is being called the largest convention to discuss female rights in a decade. People from 2,000 organizations and 169 countries all convened in an effort to bring women and girls to the forefront of the SDGs. Among the participants were journalists, young people and representatives from both the private sector and UN agencies.

This is an important time to bring attention to the SDGs and make progress towards those goals.

In a blog for the Council on Foreign Relations, Dr. Daniela Ligiero, Vice President of the Girls and Women Strategy at the United Nations Foundation, explains why now is such an important time to take a real look at female rights.

One of these reasons is that it is important to revitalize the community’s energy in addressing women’s rights. As Dr. Ligiero points out in her blog, the biggest threat to the SDGs is the loss of momentum driving the impetus to find real strategies and solutions for approaching the very real problem of gender inequality around the world.

Additionally, the discussion of women’s rights cannot be limited to Goal 5 of the SDGs, which pertains to gender equality alone. Other goals of the SDGs that focus on education and on health issues must be included in the big picture in order to make real advances for women and girls as a whole.

The Conference provides scholarships for participants to travel to the event and has inspired a lot of participation, with over 5,000 applicants.

The biggest hope for the Women Deliver conference is to take the ambitious goals set forth for improving women’s and girls’ rights and create concrete strategies for accomplishing them.

Katherine Hamblen

Photo: Flickr