3 August 2015 - Intense negotiations between 193 countries have produced an agreement which will open a new era in the fight against poverty, inequality and environmental destruction, Christian Aid said today.
Speaking after negotiators in New York last night reached agreement on new Sustainable Development Goals, Christian Aid's Helen Dennis said the deal would put fresh momentum behind work to build a better world.
"These negotiations overran dramatically, because the questions at stake have been so controversial and important: from the rights of women, girls and minorities to addressing climate change, conflict and much more," she said.
"Inevitably, there are some disappointments in the final text but we now have in our hands a powerful vision of a better world, which will underpin and create momentum for the achievement of these new global goals.
"Once Heads of State sign up to the Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations General Assembly next month, communities around the world will be able to hold their governments accountable and demand they are doing all they can to achieve all goals and targets by 2030.
"Far from the new agreement marking the end of the process, the real work starts now."
Negotiators worked all weekend at the United Nations in New York to reach agreement. Their latest round of talks started on 20th July and was due to end on Friday 31st July.
Governments will start to implement the new goals from 1st January 2016, when the existing Millennium Development Goals come to an end. The new goals and targets will last until 2030.
Ms Dennis added that the new goals will apply across every country, from the richest to the poorest. "The goals are relevant to everyone, whether in Ireland, the UK, Brazil or Kenya,” she said.
“They mark a new era in thinking about international development - one which binds people together to address pressing global challenges such as gender injustice, increasing economic inequality and climate change.
"This was illustrated by Friday’s intervention from the US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power. She emphasised President Obama’s view that the new goals and targets will apply within the US, citing America's efforts to combat inequality and reduce its carbon emissions. We hope to see a similar commitment from Ireland and the UK."
This weekend's talks covered two issues of particular concern to Christian Aid - the idea that no goal or target can be met unless it is met across all groups in society ('Leave No One Behind') and the need to tackle climate change in order to end poverty, for current and future generations.
Ms Dennis added: "The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) promise to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030 and leave no one behind, yet some countries have resisted the idea that this must apply to ‘all social and economic groups'. Christian Aid fought strongly for this language and it is disappointed that it has not made it into the final agreement."
She continued: "Climate change was another sticking point. Some negotiators argued that this historic deal could pre-empt the pivotal climate talks in Paris at the end of the year. Christian Aid believes the goals and targets themselves must be low-carbon and climate-resilient and we are pleased that the final text recognised the need “for the widest possible international cooperation” to keep the global average temperature rise well below 2 degrees.
"While the process proposed for following up on commitments is weaker than we would have hoped, we are encouraged and excited by the energy of citizens and organisations around the world which are determined to hold their governments accountable and ensure these goals are delivered by 2030.”
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Notes to Editors:
1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 50 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.
2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, and sustainably. Our strategy document ‘From Inspiration to Impact’ outlines how we set about this task.
3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. Further details at http://actalliance.org
4. Follow Christian Aid Ireland on Twitter: twitter.com/christianaidirl
5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid, visit www.christianaid.ie