Ambitious and gender focussed: VSO’s response to first draft of Sustainable Development Goals

Ambitious and gender focussed: VSO’s response to first draft of Sustainable Development Goals

This week the UN released a ‘zero draft’ document outlining how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will look. VSO welcomes the high level of ambition in the draft SDGs. It’s essential that this ambition does not waiver over the next few months, as the details are finalised. 

VSO believes that the SDGs should be driven by people, not by governments or politics. The draft alludes to this, way down in paragraph 43, by stating that this is “an agenda by and for the people” but we call for these seven short but important words to be at the top of the agenda.

We are very encouraged to see that volunteering is mentioned twice in the draft. Every year, millions of people volunteer their time - making sure that the most vulnerable members of their communities are able to access information and do everyday tasks. We must use this opportunity to recognise and support these vital, yet often invisible individuals. VSO welcomes the draft’s acknowledgement of the critical role that volunteers can play in sustainable development:

“Successful implementation will also depend on the resources, knowledge and ingenuity of business, civil society, the scientific community, academia, research institutions, philanthropists and foundations, parliaments, local authorities, volunteers and other stakeholders.”

VSO is also pleased to see that the ambition to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” is up front in the preamble. For us it’s important that this draft has recognised gender equality and women’s empowerment as a basic human right first and foremost. 

“What really matters is how these words translate into action," said Dr. Philip Goodwin, CEO of VSO. "The zero draft has yet to nail the ‘how’ question: How will governments be held to account in a meaningful way? How will resources be directed? How do we ensure that people themselves, especially those experiencing poverty and marginalisation, have a say in assessing the progress of this agenda? Over the coming months we need inclusive open dialogue. We must produce implementation, accountability and measurement plans that match the ambition of these goals and targets," he added.

Editor's notes

For more information contact VSO Press Office via Ruby Wright on +44(0)7969983222