General Comments on the Finalized Text for Adoption, “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”
Youth LEAD (Asia Pacific Network of Young Key Populations)
Youth LEAD, the Asia Pacific Network of Young Key Populations, welcomes the finalized text for adoption of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals as well as the post-2015 development agenda. We believe that the document reflects good outputs from the intense intergovernmental negotiations that have happened globally, taking into consideration inputs from civil society and communities. However, we feel that to be able to achieve these really ambitious goals and targets towards sustainable development where no one gets left behind, this finalized text, in its adoption at the regional and county level, needs more thorough inclusion and integration, particularly from youth-led organizations working on HIV and AIDS and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).
GENERAL COMMENTS ON THE FINALIZED TEXT
We acknowledge the recognition of children and young people as the ‘future generation’ but this should be ensured today by providing capacities and spaces for children, adolescents, and young people to participate meaningfully in decision-making and in programming. We must be provided with opportunities towards exercising our potential and exercising our right to decide independently, without force, harassment or abuse.
Generally, the targets and indicators need omnibus disaggregation should always include disaggregation of adolescents (10-19) and young people (15-24) based on UN definition so that this will reflect the situation of those who are considered minors in their respective countries and identify the challenges that they face despite the recognition of adolescents’ evolving capacity as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The new Agenda calls for interlinkage and integrated nature of the Sustainable Development Goals as crucial to ensuring that the purpose of this new Agenda is realized. This must apply to HIV and AIDS component of this new Agenda, which was unfortunately, has been left out as a health priority of many Member States. HIV and AIDS continue to heavily affect adolescents and young people in all countries, accounting for 39% of all new infections in 2012, according to the UNAIDS Global Report in 2013. In order to curb this increasing if not recurring epidemic among adolescents and young people, we must ensure that the spirit of intersectionality be reflected in the implementation of this New Agenda. We appreciate that recognizes that young people are mentioned twice in this finalized text. However, apart from sports and employment, ensuring the health of children and young people must be a top priority.
Furthermore, if the new Agenda aims to encompass all human rights and will promote dignity for all human beings it must include ALL people and incorporate sexual orientation and gender identity and HIV as well as health and other status on its list of intersectionalities.
GENERAL COMMENTS ON THE SUSTAINABLE GOALS AND TARGETS
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Targets must carefully reflect the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These goals and targets must build on the achievements as well as on the weak points of countries, particularly least developed and developing countries from achieving these targets. Otherwise, we will be left with another set of ambitious goals that are unreachable in the next 15 years.
Specifically, we feel that Goal 3, does not reflect the impending HIV epidemic that continue to increase very rapidly in at least 10 countries in Asia Pacific, particularly among younger populations. Not putting this as a priority will discontinue the successes of the regional and global AIDS response, and will only pave way to greater spikes and recurrence of the epidemic globally. Goal 3 also does not reflect strong HIV-related stigma and discrimination indicators that continue to impede sexual and reproductive health and rights of and overall well-being of populations infected and affected by HIV, including young men who have sex with men, young people who sell sex, young transgender people, and young people who use drugs. We need stronger indicators that addresses discrimination based on age, HIV and other health status, and sexual orientation and gender identity.
Ending HIV and AIDS requires the recognition of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE) to ensure that gender equality frameworks, as they apply in this document, particularly on ending AIDS, are comprehensive, inclusive, and responsive.
On Target 3.3, we need to specifically ensure sustainability of antiretroviral (ARV) drug supplies and other life-saving drugs.
On Target 3.7, we need to ensure that accessing sexual and reproductive-care services, particularly for young people entails removing barriers in terms of policies and practices that limit access like age limitations and parental consent requirements.
On Target 3.b, these flexibilities should ensure that production of quality and affordable antiretroviral drugs and other life-saving medicines are unhampered by trade-related agreements.
For Goal 5, gender equality should include language on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) who also experience a lot of gender-based discrimination and marginalization. Gender is not just about women anymore. Although we recognize the vulnerabilities of women and girls, there is a need to also recognize and include the role of men in gender equality. Equally, there is also a need to make sure that the most marginalized among women and girls are not left behind: women sex workers and young women who sell sex, women and girls who use drugs, women and girls living with HIV, and transgender people, among others.
For Target 17.6, we need to ensure the meaningful participation of young people in the operationalization of these goals at all levels.
For Target 17.18, we need to ensure participation of communities, young people, marginalized people in the development and implementation of the monitoring and accountability mechanism for this document.
GENERAL COMMENTS ON MEANS OF IMPLEMENTATION AND GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP
We acknowledge the importance of global partnership for the success of the implementation of the SDGs. We feel, however, that it is important to urge directing of investments and activities that contribute to sustainable development but more importantly address critical enablers towards enabling meaningful participation of communities and civil society in the implementation of the SDGs. This includes putting more core funding to civil societies, including youth-led organizations, as well as leadership and capacity-building opportunities.
Paragraph 3.b, Page 14 details the need to support countries’ development of vaccines and medicines in accordance with the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health. This is a welcoming opportunity, but this must not be limited to developing countries. Many middle income countries (MICs) lack technical support towards research and development of these medicines, including antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, which are necessary for people living with HIV. However, many of these MICs have wide access gap to medicines, which make people infected and affected with HIV living in poverty not able to access treatment. We have to ensure that MICs are able to access support to develop their own medicines in accordance with the TRIPS flexibilities.
We in Youth LEAD will continue to support and work with Member States in order to ensure that the rights of adolescents and young people, particularly those who are infected and most affected with HIV, are not left behind.
(Download the statement here)