THE BLOG

Ending Extreme Poverty Will Require New Ways of Working

19/04/2016 11:56

Last September Governments from across the globe came together to sign up to the new Sustainable Development Goals. These Global Goals, as they have been popularly dubbed, are an ambitious roadmap to end extreme poverty over the next 15 years.

Civil society organisations from across the globe can be proud of the work that we undertook to persuade governments to generate this agreement. But having got the promises in place, our challenge now is to get them off the paper and turn them into a reality for the worlds' poorest.

The ambition of the Global Goals is even more significant for two reasons. Firstly, because of their commitment to reach the poorest and most marginalised and leave no-one behind. Secondly, because the Goals are universal - they apply equally to countries in the Global North as to countries in the Global South. Under the banner of the Global Goals, we are now all developing countries. These twin challenges mean we have not got to just redouble our efforts but also to rethink our ways of working.

Last week, the heads of 15 of some of the biggest international development and human rights organisations met in New York hosted by the International Civil Society Centre. Part of our discussion was how we can better work together and align our efforts around the Global Goals.

As individual organisations, we are proud of what our staff and partners have achieved. But if we're going to make a bigger difference going forward, we're going to have to get much better at collaboration. This means reaching out to new people.

We know that government is crucial to delivering services to the poorest and we need to work better with all levels of public administration. We also recognise the growing importance of business. Given its impact on people's lives, Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever has said that he sees his organisation as the biggest NGO in the world!

Civil society needs to find ways not just of challenging business to do better or to end bad practices but actively to work together in innovative ways to deliver sustainable development.

But strange as it might sound, two of the biggest challenges for civil society organisations are first, to collaborate better with each other and second, to engage more profoundly with ordinary people around the world.

This means sharing our learning and results across organisations. It means handing over intellectual property more readily. It means being quicker to share, learn and innovate with each other, helping to build on where we are having the most impact.

It also means ensuring that the voice of the poorest around the world is heard more clearly and that work harder to win public support for and engagement with our work. We need to make our poverty alleviation work and the Global Goals relevant wherever you live in the world.

So the challenge is clear: we have to collaborate more, and when and where required leave our organisational egos at the door. We need to be bolder and quicker in seeking out innovation that delivers the best results for the poorest and most marginalised. Ordinary people, not just in the global south but the global north, have to be better engaged and mobilised.

In terms of its ambition and scope, nothing quite like the Global Goals has ever been attempted. If successful, the impact on all our lives would be profound. It would be one of our defining accomplishments, but if we don't take these principles of cooperation on board, we may well be placing humanity's greatest endeavour out of our reach even before the ink has set on its agreement.

Comments

CONVERSATIONS