A statement on Supporting a Stand-alone Goal on Equality towards the United Nations Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals

A message from Deborah Rogers, President, IfE (Initiative for Equality).

We urgently need your organization’s signature on a joint civil society statement to the UN, urging them not to delete the goal on equality from the new Sustainable Development Goals that are being drafted.

As you may know, after the Rio+20 Summit, the UN’s Open Working Group (OWG) was tasked with drafting a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to replace the Millennium Development Goals. The OWG released a zero draft of the new SDGs in early June, which included a “Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries.” However, despite this apparent victory, under pressure from certain nations the OWG has now proposed to drop this goal.

Representatives of many organizations developed a joint civil society statement to the UN’s OWG, explaining why it is critically important to retain this goal. You can see the statement and a list of the current signatories here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1duVzFvyGOLUIVgSm3KLyi5XYMX1lOwGMgjRwjxOzOC8/edit?usp=sharing

Please read the short statement, and then, if you have not already done so, please indicate your organization’s formal support (if agreed) by adding its name to the bottom of the list here:


This statement was presented to the OWG on Friday 20 June 2014. However, we plan to remind them of the strength of our support by emailing them with updated list of signatories as the list grows.

[end of message] […]

See more about the work of the United Nations Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals here: http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/owg.html

[…] [Text of the Statement Supporting a Stand-alone Goal on Equality:]

A Stand-Alone Goal on Equality is Essential (submitted 20 June 2014)

We, the undersigned Civil Society Organizations representing constituencies from all corners of the globe, are deeply alarmed by the proposal to combine the Goal 10 on Equality with other listed goals. We urge your careful consideration of the following compelling reasons. As the Post 2015 agenda is meant to guide development efforts over the next 15 years, it must recognize inequalities as one of the most vital issues of our time by having a clear goal to tackle inequality and by including equality-related targets into other goals. These two approaches are mutually supportive. However, without a stand-alone goal on equality to deliver this clear message, the agenda risks losing the support of individuals, organizations and communities around the world.

1. A stand-alone goal on equality communicates a fundamental value underlying the Post-2015 development agenda. While we recognize that all goals under discussion are interdependent and mutually reinforcing, the decision to have a stand-alone goal on equality reflects the degree of importance that has been accorded to the problem of inequalities by the peoples of the world. Global consultations, civil society networks, Member States and the United Nations have firmly and repeatedly asserted that inequality is at the heart of many social, economic and environmental ills, including barriers to development, economic instability, mismanagement of natural resources, discrimination, lack of social unity, crime and conflict.

2. The Post-2015 agenda will be about the headlines. The visibility, potency, and support for implementation of the goals will be rooted, in part, in the manner in which they are articulated. By only mainstreaming equality throughout the goals, it will lose its visibility and recognition as an independent driver of many of the ills facing society.

3. The support of civil society highly depends on the articulation of equality as a stand-alone goal. Global Consultations consistently asserted the need for the eradication of inequality as a crucial element in any development agenda. Our trust in the legitimacy and success of the new Sustainable Development Goals will be undermined if this goal is removed.

4. Equality is an overarching value, far broader than economics. It addresses dimensions of social, educational, health, political, and many other forms of inequality. Unequal treatment of, and opportunities for, women and vulnerable groups of all kinds is an independent issue that cannot be subsumed within other goals. Equality, if combined with the goal on ‘poverty eradication,’ risks losing its multidimensionality – including challenges related to access, discrimination, voice, and many other non-fiscal concerns. Moreover, the SDGs must consider inequalities between nations.

5. A goal on equality exemplifies the universality of the goals.  Equality as a global goal implies a responsibility on the part of every nation, including the richest, as it is a social ill from which no nation is immune. As a universal concept, it has the potential to encourage unified action across borders. A goal on equality can be a powerful force for global solidarity, but not if it is buried in other goals.

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