Leaving no one behind in global development is an aspiration few could deny is worthy. But as we enter the second month of the Sustainable Development Goals, the pressure is truly on for governments, NGOs, and civil society organisations to set out how to move from lofty rhetoric to reality.
As part of our relaunch from post2015.org to deliver2030.org, we asked you to tell us:
If you had one billion dollars to spend on “leaving no one behind”, what would you spend it on?
The wide-ranging responses demonstrate the broad and intersecting nature of the inequalities which have caused people to be left behind by progress – a point summed up by ADD International Chief Executive Tim Wainwright’s response at the bottom of this page. Read on for a selection of the responses, edited for brevity:
Leaving no one behind means funding mental health initiatives in developing countries. These important initiatives, that make a difference to millions of lives (1 in 4 people), are otherwise are forgotten or sidelined – due to stigma, the long term nature of treatment, complexity of metrics and the unobservable nature of the problem.
It is an epidemic that is killing people, and yet it goes unsolved. The SDGs are a crucial point to address issues that are not sexy and need complex solutions. Please prioritise mental health funding.
Jessica Mackenzie, ODI, Research Fellow
If I was given one billion dollars to implement SDGs in Kenya I would spend it as follows:
a) 20% of the money would be allocated to building capacity by creating a knowledgeable leadership to deliver the SDGs in the rural villages. I would implement the Saemaul Undong Movement (SUM), a development model that was used by Korea to eradicate extreme poverty in less than 20 years.
b) I would allocate 60% as grants to the village SUM groups to implement projects of their own that are aimed at eradicating extreme poverty- for example in agroforestry to eradicate food and energy poverty, building improved shelters and infrastructure as well as water supply schemes. I would build into the grant scheme an incentive where the groups that demonstrate good progress would get more future grant allocations.
c) I would use 20% as project monitoring and evaluation costs.
Albert Kenyani Inima, Nairobi University Lecturer
I would spend the 1 billion dollars on fighting climate change since this is the only way to not leave anyone behind. Adverse changes in the global climate have the potential of affecting every single person on the planet, with an emphasis on the poorest and most vulnerable.
Climate change has an impact on exacerbating inequality, undoing development progress, adversely impacting human and ecosystem health, reducing agricultural productivity, thus leading to hunger, displacing millions of people from their homelands and leading to conflict over territory and resources, among other issues.
Thus, spending the amount on climate change mitigation and adaptation would result in multiple self-reinforcing gains. Priority should be given to investment in clean energy, reducing unsustainable consumption and reorienting the economic system towards a truly sustainable future.
Inna Amesheva, University of Hong Kong, PhD Candidate
I’d spend 50% of the 1 billion on start-up tech initiatives (like U-Report) that collect, analyse and project citizen data among marginalised groups in some of the world’s poorest countries, which can then be used to better direct government interest and investment.
I’d spend the other 50% of the 1 billion on just one of the groups being left behind but which has the potential to have a catalytic effect on the well-being of other marginalised groups – adolescent girls and young mums. Spend it on raising education levels (primary school is setting the bar too low), increasing reproductive rights, and giving young girls the confidence and opportunities to get into politics and direct their country’s future.
Katy Harris, Development Progress, ODI, Communications Manager
I would spend it to ensure effective monitoring systems that report at least every 3 years on health and education outcomes in countries. Adequate health and education is fundamental to human and economic development and better governance. $1 billion isn’t enough to transform global health and education directly, but it is enough to support effective health and education monitoring systems in all countries.
Having more up to date data on health and education outcomes will empower local communities and broader civil society to obtain better services, will assist governments to improve and better target services and will hold governments to account for SDGs 1 to 5, while also providing a model for accountability of the other 12 goals.
Garth Luke, Aid Campaigning Consultant
If I had one billion dollars, I would do systemic improvement so that no one is left behind:
a) $400M for building the capacity of National Statistical Offices in 40 low and middle-income countries to ensure reliable data disaggregated by sex, age, disability and the marginalized people
b) $200M for research, best practices, innovation and coordination.
c) $200M for piloting SDG project including all marginalized people in 5 countries that could be scaled in other countries.
d) $200M for the empowerment of marginalized people to ensure participation in the implementation of SDGs.
Mosharraf Hossain, ADD International, Director of Policy and Influencing
I would spend the $1 billion to create redistributory and sustainable growth through properly implemented and enforced competition and regulatory reforms.
Pradeep S Mehta, Cuts International, Secretary General
As a native of a third world country, leaving no one behind to me means equal opportunities for everyone including the: rich, poor, males, females, disabled, youth and orphans.
This will be attained by promoting: education in all forms, democracy, and sound social institutions. Further to that, constant monitoring and evaluation should take place and intervention measures reasonably applied when need be.
James Wallunya, Peace Chores
Leaving No One Behind requires compressive data, disaggregated across a wide range of social and economic groups – currently under threat in the indicator framework. In many countries the systems to regularly collect administrative data do not exist or lack the necessary degree of accuracy.
Health Poverty Action would invest in building the statistical capacity of countries to collect and analyse data, and develop the relevant safeguards including self-identification, data privacy, and the involvement of vulnerable and marginalised groups in data collection and analysis. This is the only way to safeguard the principle of Leave No One Behind.
Natalie Sharples, Health Poverty Action, Senior Policy Advisor
I would not support allocating a pot of $1 billion under a ‘leave no one behind’ banner, unless it was seen as part of a wider approach to the topic. It risks sending out the message that excluded groups need to be supported through separate programming rather than being included in the mainstream.
Yes, a certain amount of money should be spent on specialised work that focusses on highly excluded groups such as disabled people. And we should be increasingly looking to understand the impact of these issues on the household – for instance: What happens to children when a member of their household is disabled?
But what is really needed is for all development action to be inclusive of all these groups – leave no-one behind is not a minority topic, it encompasses the inclusion of really big groups of people. (For instance the WHO estimates there are 1 Billion disabled people of whom somewhere around 150 million have very high needs – and around 80% of disabled people live in developing countries.) This is not something that should be left solely to an inclusion team within an organisation – it is something that should be at the centre of any self-respecting poverty focussed organisation, company, government or multilateral.
So my answer is sorry – but don’t think about $1 billion – think about the entire global investment in pro poor development and how to ensure that it reaches the very poorest groups. If you want to invest $1 billion, invest it to leverage this far larger change by supporting the mainstreaming of key identity groups in non-specialist agencies and in building specialist agencies to support this.
Tim Wainwright, ADD International, Chief Executive