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Livelihood, Not Charity

By Mwangi Waituru

Civil society activists meeting in Monrovia ahead of a meeting of the U.N.' Secretary-General's High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda have sent a clear message of hope to world leaders:

“Our people are not waiting for charity! They want to claim their right to participate.”

The theme of the third High Level Panel (HLP) meeting -- set against the background of the African continent which for the past two decades has experienced a paradox of increased poverty, maternal death, hunger and malnutrition in the face of economic growth -- is "National Building Blocks for Sustained Prosperity".

In two days of of civil society meetings, speaker after speaker called for the HLP to lay down the foundation of a new framework that will explicitly focus on and ensure the meaningful participation of the invisible sectors of society.

Indeed, of the many words that the CSOs used to define their vision for the UN's post-2015 development agenda, "participation" and "human rights" were the most frequent.

Economically disenfranchised populations -- including youth, women, people living with disability, children and minority groups -- are demanding to be active agents of the generation and distribution of wealth.

Agitated that the current state of the global economy has created vulnerabilities amongst a diverse range of groups, the participants cautioned the HLP not to focus entirely on points of vulnerability but to rather recognise, tap and enhance peoples’ potential.

One word that was conspicuously absent from the forum, meanwhile, was "consumption". As ‘extraction driven growth’ stretches the planet beyond the breaking point -- causing untold suffering to millions whose livelihoods and health are taken away -- "consumption" has unfortunately become a key part of the current development discourse.

Speaking on the first day of the meeting, Beyond 2015 co-chair Neva Frecheville challenged the High Level Panel members to be bold, visionary and courageous in their proposals: "you need to be ambitious helping us develop a shared understanding of the vision, purpose, values and criteria for the new framework that will enable us move forward as a cohesive movement."

And I shared that GCAP and Beyond 2015 are calling for a radical paradigm shift in order for the world to able to remove the road blocks currently placed in the way of people's economic prosperity. We must tackle ecological degradation, climate change, social exclusion, insecurity and profit centered economic governance if we are to truly create the building blocks for prosperity.


Mwangi Waituru is the national coordinator of GCAP Kenya and co-chair of Beyond 2015.

Image courtesy of www.womendeliver.org.