Will the 2030 development agenda really leave no one behind?

Will the 2030 development agenda really leave no one behind?

December 2015

Simone Troller, Programme Officer Conflict & Human Rights, SDC

Now that the global buzz has quieted down and the 2030 agenda has been adopted, the focus of attention is inevitably shifting to the not so minor task of the agenda’s implementation, and with that to its central promise of “leaving no one behind.”

A new report by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) pays a closer look at that promise. It identifies groups most at risk of being left behind, both in developing and developed countries (since the 2030 agenda is universal and implemented by all countries). Thereby, it exhibits reduced levels of human development for groups that tend to face one or multiple forms of discrimination or exclusion based on gender, ethnicity, caste, race, religion, language, age, place of residence, social status, sexual orientation, etc.

That evidence confirms the centrality of human rights, and specifically the importance of overcoming discrimination and exclusion in implementing the 2030 development agenda. The report pointedly reveals that the most common data collection methods that inform national development policies fail by design to capture marginalized groups such as nomadic and pastoralist communities, people in institutions, older persons, the homeless, or common characteristics such as ethnicity.

ODI proposes two main ways of overcoming the past failures of taking into account excluded groups. It calls for much better understanding, data collection and monitoring of marginalized and discriminated groups by governments, and in parallel, for more targeted policies including affirmative actions.

Far from being naive, though, the report correctly acknowledges that some forms of exclusions are the deliberate result of laws and policies designed against certain groups. Delivering on the 2030 agenda’s promise will therefore inevitably require tackling highly political and sensitive policy issues. In short, delivering on this critical promise will be everything but business as usual.

ODI Report September 2015 “Leave no one behind, the real bottom million” by Tanvi Bhatkat, Emma Samman and Elizabeth Stuart

Photo: ODI, http://www.odi.org/programmes/growth-poverty-inequality. Salamatu, Ghana (video still)