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CESR Highlights Economic Alternatives At UN Forum on Sustainable Development

During July 2021, CESR undertook a number of advocacy activities as part of the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). The HLPF is the annual intergovernmental convening designed to assess progress towards the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals. In 2021, it took place virtually for the second year in a row, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the HLPF has not proven to be a space for effective accountability or real critical self-reflection on the part of governments (see here for CESR’s assessments of previous years), it is still a helpful advocacy moment for civil society and activists to raise their voices, strengthen solidarity and propose alternatives to the failing policies currently being pursued in most countries.

  • On July 6th, CESR co-organized an official HLPF side-event called “Visions for Just and Transformative Recovery” with Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Bread for the World and APWLD. Speakers shared their critiques of the dominant neoliberal economic model, and its inadequacy to tackle the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has presented. Kate Donald of CESR presented CESR’s “rights-based economy” vision. More information and a video of the event are available here.
  • On July 8th, CESR’s Executive Director Ignacio Saiz chaired “Building Back Fairer: Equality in a post-COVID world”, a webinar organized by UN Women and the Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Speakers including Jayati Ghosh (ICRICT and UMass Amherst), Isabel Ortiz (Initiative for Policy Dialogue) and Max Lawson (Oxfam) spoke about the necessary measures to tackle inequality, at the national and global levels. The speakers also voiced their support for the idea of a Rights-Based Economy, saying it was the type of ambitious vision needed at this moment. A video of the event is available here and further background information is here.
  • On July 12th, CESR’s Kate Donald delivered a statement as part of the official HLPF intergovernmental session “Investing in the SDGs”, chaired by Homi Kharas of the Brookings Institute. She reminded Member States that the 2030 Agenda is anchored in human rights, and human rights norms and principles need to guide how States finance the agenda as well as the way they implement it. She emphasized that “we need major reforms and shifts in power to ensure all countries have the fiscal space to resource the 2030 Agenda and their human rights obligations”. The statement, delivered on behalf of the NGO Major Group, is available here.
  • On July 14th, CESR co-hosted an official side-event with our partner Minority Rights Group International, focusing on discrimination as a major obstacle to sustainable development. Speakers examined the ways in which discriminatory laws, policies and practices have exacerbated the impacts of COVID-19 for certain groups and communities, especially those who endure discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, caste, descent and gender. The UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery shared the findings of his 2020 report and further recent work on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted – and in many cases worsened - modern slavery and slavery-like practices.

                              - Rasha Al Saba of Minority Rights Group shared some of the findings and proposals from their recently-published Trends Report, a compelling portrait of the ways in which indigenous peoples and minority groups have borne the disproportionate burden of the pandemic in almost every sphere of life.
                              - Belen Rodriguez de Alba of OHCHR presented the impacts that the UN Human Rights office is seeing especially on indigenous communities, and the tools governments and the UN should look to to “build back fairer”, including more comprehensive disaggregated data, meaningful participation for affected communities and more expansive social protection policies.
                              - Mary James Gill of the Center for Law and Justice in Pakistan shared insights into how one particularly marginalized group - sanitation workers – have been impacted by the pandemic, even as their work is even more essential than ever.
                              - Sherif Gamal from the Centre for Egyptian Women Legal Assistance (CEWLA) presented findings from the Egypt Social Progress Indicators (an initiative that CESR partners on) about how discriminatory laws and practices in Egypt have disadvantaged women in the labor force and in terms of healthcare.
                              - The event was chaired by CESR’s Kate Donald and co-sponsored by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Center for Law & Justice (Pakistan) and Keele University.