Europe and Central Asia Recommend Addressing Inequalities in Post-2015 Agenda
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Participants called for ending increasing inequalities in Europe and Central Asia at a High-level conference, titled ‘Inclusive and Sustainable Development: Perspectives from Europe and Central Asia on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.'

UNECE8 November 2013: Participants called for ending increasing inequalities in Europe and Central Asia at a High-level conference, titled ‘Inclusive and Sustainable Development: Perspectives from Europe and Central Asia on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.’ The conference represented the culmination of a series of national consultations on the post-2015 development agenda across the region and brought stakeholders together to review regional experiences from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), identify regional priorities, and agree on a regional perspective for the post-2015 agenda.

Over 350 participants from UN agencies, governments, civil society, the private sector and academia discussed Europe and Central Asia’s contribution to the post-2015 agenda through thematic panels on: education and decent jobs; good governance, human rights, participation and local governments; health and social protection; monitoring progress; natural resource management (NRM) and green cities; population dynamics and migration; and sustainable consumption and production (SCP). On the environment, participants recognized sustainable NRM as key in realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and supported shifting from a brown to a green economy. Participants discussed the role of citizen participation, governance, technology and urban planning in moving towards green, resilient smart cities.

Participants agreed population dynamics should be considered as a cross-cutting issues, rather than a stand-alone goal, and supported a more constructive, holistic approach that integrates human rights and recognizes opportunities. Participants agreed inclusion and equality must be at the center of sustainable development, noting persistent or increasing inequalities and exclusion in accountability, education, employment, environment, gender equality and health.

Sven Alkalaj, UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Executive Secretary, highlighted decent job creation, investments in quality education and health services, social protection and gender equality as key in addressing inequalities. Cevdet Yilmaz, Minister of Development of the Republic of Turkey, said justice should be the fourth element of sustainable development because of its role in establishing a peaceful world. Cihan Sultanoğlu, UN Development Group Chair for Europe and Central Asia, said two important messages have emerged from the global conversation on the post-2015 agenda: finishing the job and being more ambitious.

MDG progress in Europe and Central Asia “is at a standstill or even being reversed, even in the wealthier countries,” according to a conference document, ‘Building more inclusive, sustainable and prosperous societies in Europe and Central Asia.’ The brief identifies challenges related to: uneven progress; education quality; women’s participation in the labor market and political and economic decision-making, health MDGs; energy efficiency; and water and sanitation. It describes two MDG shortcomings: the lack of universality and missing dimensions and issues, including data gaps, good governance, human rights, natural capital, SCP. It recommends economic and social policies focused on improving the living standards of disadvantaged groups to accelerate MDG progress.

UNECE organized the event with UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), International Labour Organization (ILO), World Health Organization (WHO), UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The High-level segment took place from 7-8 November in Istanbul, Turkey, preceded by a civil society consultation on 6 November with 80 representatives. A conference background document, titled ‘Building more inclusive, sustainable and prosperous societies in Europe and Central Asia,’ includes 14 issue briefs and is available on the World We Want platform. A meeting report will be posted. [UNECE Press Release 1] [UNECE Press Release 2] [World We Want Website on Conference] [IISD RS Sources] [Key Messages from the Discussions]

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