Sustainable development

In the late 1980s the world leaders were made aware that the actions of the rich Global North countries was having a very negative impact on the world’s environment, climate and social inequalities. This was an eye-opener for many. The Brundland report “Our Common Future” provided the scientific data and launched the vision that the world needed ‘Sustainable Development’, ensuring a balance between social, environmental and economic interests.

Herstory of women's rights

At the UNCED “Earth Summit Rio1992” all Heads of State agreed to work together towards sustainable development, even if the US President of that time, Bush senior, warned that the ‘American way of life was not up for criticism’. The Agenda21 for Sustainable Development was agreed in Rio, in which there are over 100 references to women’s priorities, roles and rights, as well as a full chapter dedicated to women and sustainable development. Since then, the ‘Women’s Major Group’ is a recognized space for feminist organisations in this global policy process.

Sustainable development goal 5

At the Rio+20 Summit in 2012, all countries decided to merge global processes on Environment and Cooperation (Millennium Development Goals) and started negotiations. Through the Women’s Major Group we gave substantial input into the negotiations, which were taking place almost every month in New York between 2012 and 2015. In September 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was unanimously adopted. The 2030 Agenda requires all countries, also the global North, to change their economic, trade and environmental policies to reduce their negative impacts on human rights, climate and social inclusion.

Even though we did not get all the demands of the feminist organisations added into the 2030 Agenda, we do have a much stronger, and human-rights based targets then in the previous global goals. There are now clear links to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in the targets under Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality. The need to better balance the unequal burden of unpaid care and domestic work is mentioned for the first time in such a global plan. Women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights are addressed and many of the goals, targets and indicators have a reference to women’s role and/or gender equality. We use the 2030 Agenda as a framework to for all our actions and to hold governments accountable, in particular through our Women2030 program.

Photo credit: Photos by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth (top photo)

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