The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by the international community in September 2015, took over where the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) left off. Expanded from 8 to 17 goals, the SDGs will guide the international development agenda and its major actors for the next 15 years as they seek to end global poverty in all its forms. Focused on four main areas of people, planet, prosperity and peace, the 17 goals range from health, to gender inequality, to energy, to climate, to education as they seek to encourage governments, CSOs and NGOs to ‘leave no one behind’.
While it can be easy to dismiss such global initiatives as being irrelevant to the day-to-day work happening in minority communities, a brief glance through the SDGs should show the different ways that they connect with and support your work or that of your partners. As part of LEAD Asia's role to connect global issues with local responses, a LEAD Community of Practice event was held to specifically explore what the SDGs might mean for language, education and development activities with minority communities.
The event aimed to:
- Introduce participants to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
- Explore how the SDGs might fit with an identity-based approach to community development
- Highlight some key ways that the language and education work we do with minority communities can support progress towards the SDGs
- Investigate how the SDGs might impact alternative funding opportunities for language, education and development projects.
Wednesday 18th May: The SDGs’ Content
09:00-09:30 - 1/Welcome & Introductions
09:30-1045 - 2/The World We Want - exploring what development means to you.
10:45-11:15 - Break
11:15-12:30 - 3/From the MDGs to the SDGs - understanding how the SDGs came about.
12:30-14:00 - Lunch
14:00-17:00 - 4/The SDGs in practice - in-depth review of the 17 SDGs and what they mean in day-to-day life.
17:00-17:15 - Closing reflections
Thursday 19th May: The SDGs’ Connections
09:00-10:15 - 5/The SDGs and me - exploring how your language, education and development activities connect with the SDGs.
10:15-10:45 - Break
10:45-12:30 - 6/The SDGs and Complexity - how the different SDGs interact with each other.
12:30-14:00 - Lunch
14:00-15:00 - 7/SDG4 Quality Education, the foundation for progress - a deeper look at the education SDG and its importance for the other SDGs.
15:00-15:30 - Break
15:30-17:00 - 8/Tracking our contribution - a chance to evaluate how our work contributes to the SDGs.
17:00-17:15 - Closing reflections
Friday 20th May: The SDGs’ Change
09:00-10:30 - 9/Transformational Development & the SDGs - more than the sum of it's parts. How can our work with the SDGs make a lasting difference in people's lives?
10:30-11:00 - Break
11:00-12:30 - 10/The SDGs and funding - consider the opportunities for alternative funding options around the SDGs.
12:30-14:00 - Lunch
14:00-15:15 - 11/Communicating about our work: advocacy, networking and the SDG movement - communicating effectively about our engagement with the SDGs and planning for engaging in local and regional networks that support that.
15:15-15:45 - 12/Closing reflections
Welcome to the LEAD CoP Event on the Sustainable Development Goals
Exploring how language, education, and development work with non-dominant communities integrates with and supports progress towards the SDGs. Follow along with us in Bangkok from May 18-20, 2016!
- A quick look at the 17 SDGs: "As we embark on this collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets which we are announcing today demonstrate the scale and ambition of this new universal Agenda. They seek to build on the Millennium Development Goals and complete what these did not achieve."
- DAY 1 - WEDNESDAY
- Matt Wisbey, LEAD Community of Practice Coordinator: "The SDGs, at their core, are just a view of what people want the world to look like in 15 years--they are a picture of a 'preferred future'."
- What do our communities want in the future? "Quality education, human connectivity, 'a lot of green and blue' in the form of water and forests, equal opportunities, people working together in partnership"...among other things!
- What is in our visions for the future that is not in the SDGs? "People living together culturally and linguistically." "Freedom of speech and a space for expressing creativity." "Religious respect." "Inter-generational harmony." One participant working in the Philippines commented, "There isn't a Department of Hope."
- Which SDGs are not readily apparent in our visions for the future? "Clean energy" and "Industry, innovation & infrastructure."
- Kimmo Kosonen, SIL MLE Consultant, shared thoughts on being involved in the development of SDG4 and its related targets at the World Education Forum in Incheon, Korea in 2015. (Notice that Kimmo is contributing to SDG12: Responsible Consumption and Production with his low-fi recycling of a toothpaste box as notepaper.)
- How do the SDGs relate to the MDGs? One key difference: The MDGs focused primarily on social issues; the SDGs focus also on environmental, economic, and justice issues. Read more about the changes:
- We closed the day's sessions with a 'World Cafe' to discuss how we envision the 17 SDGs being achieved in our contexts. One story that was shared was of a community leader with two sons: one in a government school, and one in an MTB-MLE school. Though one son is older than the other in terms of age, in terms of learning, the father described him as being "younger"--a reminder of the role of MTB-MLE in driving quality education.
- DAY 2 - THURSDAY
- In the morning session, participants wrote down activities they are currently engaged in relating to the different SDGs. Participants then read others' and voted for the ones they wanted to hear more about, and those teams shared with the whole group.
- Among them were stories from ECHO Asia of smallholder farmers getting out of debt, from SIL Bangladesh of learning circles on land rights, from Pakistan of strategies for preventing illegal logging, and from India of community-built roads for better education enabling access to other government services.
- The next session looked at the complexity of the SDGs and how attempts to achieve one SDG can have negative impacts on others. We watched a video with an emphasis on economic development and its impact on family relationships in China, available here:
- Then Kimmo shared about his experience in Incheon participating in discussions that led to the education goal in SDG4, and how a variety of different interests influenced the final agreement on the education goal.
- UNESCO Bangkok representative Malisa Santigul reminded us that SDG4 links to virtually every other SDG. According to Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, "All of the SDGs come down to education...."
- In the afternoon, John Eppele and Craig Clendinen from LEAD Asia facilitated an exercise where participants compared their existing program indicators to the targets on SDG4. Here's a sample of the SDG4 targets:
- Target 4.4: "By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs, and entrepreneurship."
- Target 4.c: "By 2030, substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing States."
- Read and download the recently-released full list of official SDG indicators, including those for SDG4, here:
- How can these indicators help us refine our own indicators?
- In the evening we watched "No Word for Worry" (also shown previously at the LEAD Environment CoP in 2014), a short film about a Moken fisherman who lives off the coast of Thailand. Watch his amazing talent and the toll that modernization has taken on his way of life, his people, and their future. Special thanks to Project Moken. Check out themokentree.org and visit their Facebook page.
- DAY 3 - FRIDAY
- Stories of Transformation
- In the morning, participant Alpona Kujur from SIL Bangladesh shared a story of transformation from the Koch community: through their discussions in a learning circle, a group of young boys learned about earning income from poultry rearing. One 15-year-old boy started with one hen, then eventually began rearing goats for income and helped his father save money by making their own compost.
- Pedro Walpole from the Philippines shared how there were limited job opportunities for young men in his community. He once explained to a group of young men the difference between a laborer and a manager, and soon the boys found ways to be their "own manager" by earning income through maintaining fences and building a nursery. The men had a vision for bringing the area back to life, an area with no viable water source. Pedro shared, "Hope is the basis of change, so somehow we need to build that hope. People transform schools, landscapes...."
- As a group, we returned to our community visions from Day 1 and drew out the transformational themes that were common to them.
- Tanvir Muntasim from ActionAid presented on how and by whom the SDGs will be financed.
- Some of the sobering trends ActionAid is observing:
- There is decreasing aid to education, with the financing gap for achieving EFA increasing. Domestic financing, not foreign aid, is the major source of financing for the MDGs and now the SDGs. Governments are gradually shifting from direct implementation to contracting out to the private sector. Financial allocation is not matching increased SDG commitments.
- The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is the only multi-lateral mechanism for financing education in developing countries, but governments sometimes do not follow through on pledged support (as governments will not sign binding commitments). Only 1.6% of the humanitarian/emergency aid raised in the last 10 years went to education, even though education improves life chances for crisis-affected children.
- The Education Cannot Wait Fund for Education in Emergencies will be launched during the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016 in Turkey. Find out more:
- Tanvir shared about the challenges many countries face around tax incentives: "Nigeria gives away $2.9 billion to foreign companies each year in the form of tax incentives. These companies have created only 7,000 jobs in a country where there are 30 million young people alone looking for work. Alternatively, that lost revenue could have doubled the education budget."
- What are our opportunities? We can "lobby the government to demonstrate that nonprofit providers are more efficient [than private sector providers] in reaching excluded children" and "initiate alliances with a combination of skill sets for larger bids." Some INGOs have merged together to increase their clout and reduce overhead (e.g. IBIS-Oxfam merger in 2015).
- During the last session of the day, we heard from participants about two regional networks: the Bangladesh MLE Forum Network (education and literacy) and ECHO Asia (an agriculture and community development network sharing seeds and best practices--www.echocommunity.org …).
- Closing Reflections
- Who will we share our learnings from the CoP event with, and what we will start to do?
- "I finished my degree and joined my organization ten months ago. I will share this with my professors and my juniors."
- "We will begin to think more holistically about our work, not so narrowly within our own domain...but who can we include in our network, what other activities can we do?"
- "We will have a learning/sharing session back in Bangladesh, and I will share my learning with my team."
- "We have scheduled our own CoP on the SDGs with 13 language communities in northern Pakistan."