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Sustainable Development Goals for all ages, please!

06 May 2014

At the UN. I am at the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals' eleventh session this week, working closely with our colleagues in the Stakeholder Group on Ageing to ensure that our key messages are heard.

Today the focus is on lifelong learning and health and population dynamics. The room is completely packed!

Civil society is here in force and at last ageing is being included in the work of Major Groups. Our issues were for instance taken into account in the statement of the NGO Major Group yesterday to the OWG 11.

Tomorrow, we expect the statement of the Stakeholder Group on Ageing to be given.

The co-chairs are giving lots of encouragement to civil society to come up with targets and they are asking Member States to listen to us. You can watch the OWG sessions live or recorded here.

Universality must stay

The consensus being looked for is a universally applicable framework that is relevant for all counties and for all people.

This opens up all sorts of issues between countries and regional groups. For example, it came up yesterday that some countries want to substitute references to marginalised people to the "poor and vulnerable". This is not a universal agenda, and we are not alone in not liking this potential change.

We will meet with co-chairs later in the week to discuss this.

I've already had several encouraging conversations with representatives from UN Member States who appreciate our specific recommendations on language and targets.

It's clear that personal contact with our friends and colleagues in countries really helps as well as conversations in New York.

We have to be vigilant

As the Stakeholder Group on Ageing we keep reminding UN missions and institutions that in order to leave no one behind, language such as "for all ages" must be included throughout the new framework.

The Sustainable Development Goals must be universal and must have targets that can measure impact across the life course. Otherwise, the risk is high for another framework which, like the MDGs, will neglect certain groups including older people.

What next?

  • Send the response of the Stakeholder Group on Ageing to the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals Co-chairs Working Document for the 5-9 May session of the Open Working Group to your post-2015 focal point in Government.
  • Keep us informed of any action you take.
  • Read more about our work on the post-2015 process.

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Author profile


Sylvia Beales
Country: UK
Job title: Head of Strategic Alliances

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.