I am writing to share with you a new report that I believe is relevant to the search for alternatives for a socially-responsive crisis recovery. ATD Fourth World has long been concerned that the MDGs have, in some ways, left many of the most impoverished communities and individuals behind. We therefore embarked on worldwide participatory research project entitled "Challenge 2015 - Towards Sustainable Development the Leaves No One Behind", with the aim of ensuring that the voices of people living in poverty could be brought to the fore of the global discussion on Post-2015 development goals. Project involved 2000 people in 22 countries worldwide, with research seminars in La Paz, Paris, Brussels, Ouagadougou, New York, Beau Bassin (Mauritius) and Antananarivo. The final report is available here: http://www.atd-fourthworld.org/Challenge-2015
The overall aims of the project, which involved were twofold:
1. To establish a clear picture of how the Millennium Development Goals, and the projects and policies they have inspired, are seen and experienced by people living in poverty and extreme poverty, and to convey the problems that impoverished communities have identified with current development models.
2. To generate a series of recommendations based on the experiences of people living in extreme poverty, aimed at creating a more sustainable and inclusive development framework.
Core to this work was the idea that, rather being than just sources of information people living in poverty can offer a meaningful analysis of their situation and the political, economic and social forces affecting them. As one participant in the research said: "Even in extreme poverty, a person has ideas. If these ideas aren't recognized, people fall even deeper into poverty.” During the 7 international seminars organised to feed into the project, it became clear that current policies and programmes aimed at assuring sustainable development and economic recovery have had little positive impact on the lives of some of the most impoverished communities. Participants from Manila noted that "development projects end up displacing thousands of families... [they] aim to rehabilitate railwaysor develop a business, a shopping centre or something else... But their primary goal is never the wellbeing of the affected people. This is what has to change first."
To counteract these tendencies, participants made several key recommendations, one of which, the need to promote an economy that respects people and the environment, is particularly relevant to the search for alternatives for a socially-responsive crisis recovery. As part of this recommendation, participants in the project underlined the need to:
- On the ground, invest private and public funds to create decent jobs that meet people’s essential needs. Providing legal identities, quality education and healthcare services, social housing, drinking water and sanitation for all could help create millions of decent jobs. The transition towards a green economy should be used to create decent jobs accessible to people trapped in poverty. Supporting small agricultural producers and informal economy workers would increase food security and stimulate economic development. The social and solidarity economy should be supported and expanded, whilst procedures should be established in every country so that skills gained on the job can be officially recognised. Labour laws must be improved and implemented, with better access to labour rights for those living in poverty.
- Implement ILO Recommendation n° 202, concerning national social protection floors (SPFs). Ensuring that all individuals, including the most vulnerable, receive a basic level of social protection, will enable them to better cope with unemployment, underemployment and shocks in labour markets. SPFs must be adapted to each country and not jeopardise traditional means of mutual assistance and solidarity. Trade unions, civil society and those living in extreme poverty must be able to participate in their design, monitoring and implementation.
- Create new sources of funding to finance SPFs and development, and new tax national and international systems that foster social and environmental justice. This implies better regulation of global finance and the application of taxes on financial transactions. A Global Fund should support the establishment of SPFs where available resources are not sufficient. Developed countries must reverse the current contraction of official development assistance, whilst all stakeholders must follow through on commitments to crack down on illicit capital flows, return stolen assets and stem tax avoidance and evasion.
- Align development targets and their implementation with human rights norms and standards. The UN Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights provide an excellent guide for policy makers seeking to do this. Doing so would help create an environment conducive to eradicating extreme poverty and implementing human rights for all, and counter the tendency for the rights of people living in poverty being undermined by other laws to which governments give precedence, or by the influence of more powerful members of society.
- Develop greater policy coherence at the international level, within and among development, financial and trade organisations (IMF, World Bank, WTO, EU, etc.). This could be achieved by explicitly linking their policies and programmes to internationally agreed human rights principles and standards. Much work has to be done at intergovernmental and governmental levels in matters relating to bilateral and multilateral trade, investment, taxation, finance, environmental protection and development cooperation.
The implications of these conclusions for those who wish to encourage alternatives that lead to a socially-responsive crisis recovery are significant. They require the adoption of a coherent, human-rights based approach to crisis recovery, as outlined in the UN Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights. They also suggest the need for a new conception of the multi-dimensional nature poverty and extreme poverty, which must be built with those who have experienced these phenomena first-hand. Finally, they suggest that, whilst initiatives such as ILO Recommendation n° 202 are very important, there is a need to fundamentally change the way policies are created, put into place and assessed, and the way international institutions, governments and international CSOs think about people living in poverty. This requires a shift in which impoverished communities are not just seen as beneficiaries or sources of information, but as genuine partners in decision making, analysis and policy formulation.
International Policy and Advocacy Officer
International Movement ATD Fourth World
Tel: +33 (0)130362211
Address: ATD Quart Monde, 8 route de Vaux à Epluches,
95540 Méry sur Oise, France