On End Poverty Day an Agenda 2030 Summit Calls on Presidential Candidates to produce a Leave No One Behind Statement

On Tuesday, October 16th, citizens, NGO activists and civil servants met at the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission in Dublin to discuss the United Nations’ promise to Leave No One Behind in national and international efforts to reach the targets for the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Leave No One Behind Summit was the final event of a grass-root consultation process facilitated by All Together in Dignity (ATD) Ireland and supported by Concern Worldwide. From April to September 2018, ATD ran a series of 15 “Leave No One Behind” conversation workshops in Dublin, Donegal, Longford and Kildare.

Summit attendees agreed on certain recommendations to be brought to the second SDG Stakeholder Forum held on Friday the 19th of October, facilitated by the Department of Communication, Climate Action and Environment.
It was also suggested, as away to mark the UN End Poverty Day, to call on presidential candidates to share a “Leave No One Behind” public statement before the second Irish SDG Stakeholder Forum.

Pierre Klein from ATD Ireland, who organised the Summit said: “We are now three years into the timeframe world leaders set for the implementation of the ambitious plan that should see the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and the delivery of the “Leave No One Behind” promise. Will the “furthest behind” inspire the actions and leadership of the next Irish President? The participants in the Summit yesterday agreed that each candidates should be asked to tell to the Irish citizens how they will act as champion of the UN Plan for a fair and sustainable future for our children. What is also needed is a clear statement about their approach to the transformative “Leave No One Behind” promise. As we are 10 days away from election day, it would be appropriate to have this public statement as soon as possible, preferably before the 2nd Irish SDG Stakeholder Forum taking place this Friday”.

Participants in the Summit, including members of NGOs such as ATD, Concern, Social Justice Ireland and the Dochas Network discussed the Leave No One Behind Conversations Working Paper presented by ATD Ireland.

The Summit took place on World Food Day, also named “Zero Hunger Day” and just before the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (www.17october.ie) also named UN End Poverty Day.

The patron of the Summit is the former Irish Ambassador to the United Nations’ David Donoghue who co-facilitated in 2015 the historic adoption of the plan to secure a better future to people and the planet: the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. This agenda adopted by Ireland and 192 other countries includes a “Leave No One Behind” promise: As we embark on this great collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind. Recognizing the dignity of the human person is fundamental, we wish to see the Goals and targets met for all nations and peoples and for all segments of society. And we will endeavour to reach the furthest behind first.” states the preamble of the Agenda.

Coalition 2030 calls for greater progress by Ireland on UN goals

Ireland continues to be “a profoundly unequal place” and must make greater effort to live up to its commitments on ending poverty and world hunger by adopting the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030. This was the call to action delivered to a large crowd that gathered on O’Connell Bridge to mark the third anniversary of the adaptation of the SDGs on the 25th September.

Coalition 2030, is an alliance of over 100 Irish civil society, environmental organisations and networks, including ATD Ireland that led a street march through the city centre as part of a global day of action on Tuesday, the third anniversary.

There was a large crowd in attendance including; members of the public, Government representatives, and ambassadors from Germany, Belgium, Mexico, Finland, Norway, Malta and Spain. Street actions on O’Connell Bridge invited members of the public to take a picture with their favourite goal and fill out a short survey about the SDGs and public awareness. A huge Sustainable Development Goals banner decorated the Rosie Hackett Bridge and highlighted the Leave No One Behind promise of the SDGs agenda 2030.

The “Leave No One Behind” promise aims to ensure the 17 goals can only be considered met if they are achieved by all nations, peoples and segments of society, and that the poorest, most deprived and marginalised are reached first.

The crowd then made the symbolic march to the Garden of Remembrance where a number of key figures from within the Coalition emphasised the message of the day. Spirited contributions were made by Niamh Garvy (Trocaire), Elaine Nevin (Eco Unesco), Paul Uzell (All Together in Dignity) and David Joyce (ICTU). Mr. Debauw, the Belgium Ambassador to Ireland shared a message from by Her Majesty Queen Mathilde of the Belgians.

We are all in development. You and me. All members of the community. No one alone can claim ownership of this dynamic. Every single one matters. Only your commitment, our commitment, the commitment of every citizen can bring us towards a fair globalisation. Each and every one of you can help.”

Valerie Duffy, National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) read a message of support for the event by President Michael D. Higgins in which he congratulated the Coalition on their continued work and emphasised the important steps that are needed to ensure each goal is achieved. The crowd was then gifted with some spoken word performed by two talented young woman who have been living in direct provision in Ireland for over 5 years.

Dr Sean Healy, CEO of Social Justice Ireland, said that with 800,000 people in poverty, 700,000 on healthcare waiting lists and 10,000 people homeless “Ireland is a profoundly unequal place”.

Dr Healy said that to see real progress towards the SDGs robust policy coherence is needed to ensure Ireland’s actions in all areas of government do not exacerbate inequality and exclusion. “Policymakers must acknowledge that a thriving economy is not a goal in itself, but a means to social development and well being for all. A concerted all-of-government and all-of-society approach is essential to achieve the SDGs and reduce inequality,” he added.

Environmental Pillar coordinator Michael Ewing said ensuring meaningful participation across Irish society was crucial to combating exclusion and achieving the SDGs “for all people, everywhere”.

In New York, Tánaiste Simon Coveney joined the annual global Central Park concert to mark the anniversary.





“Sure, it’s their own fault!” Our Misconceptions of Poverty and the Poor

An essay conceived to bust some of the most commonly held myths about poverty and the poor.

The ‘Leave No One Behind essays’ will be a series of short publications prepared by volunteers and friends of All Together in Dignity in order to trigger and inspire debates and actions on ways to “reach the further behind first”, the key challenge of the 2030 Agenda promise to “Leave No One Behind”.

“Sure, it’s their own fault!” Our Misconceptions of Poverty and the Poor focuses on some of the most commonly held myths about poverty and the poor, and provides the information we need to push back against them.

By choosing to believe “comfortable myths” about poverty and the poor, we negate the culpability of our society and economic system; we attribute the cause of destitution to individual failings. The misconceptions lead to prejudices; and prejudices lead to both conscious and unconscious discrimination. Unfortunately, we are fully equipped to leave people behind.

In Ireland, as in all other countries around the world, we are surrounded by poverty myths. These are misconceptions about poverty and people living in it, which prevent real progress in the fight to end poverty and the building of a genuine inclusive society. Whether it is that people on benefits don’t want to work; or that poverty is one’s own fault – many of our ideas about poverty fly in the face of countless studies and reports done on the subject.

By shining a light on our poverty myths and misconceptions, we may prepare ourselves to meet the 2030 promise: to be equipped to Leave No One Behind.

A Month of Leave No One Behind Conversations

One month ago, ATD and Concern launched their Leave No One Behind Coversations initiative at the Sustainable Ireland conference in Croke Park. A few short weeks later, four stimulating and fruitful workshops have taken place in Dublin and further afield.

The inaugural workshop took place with friends at HQ in Mountjoy Square. Elaine, who is a long-term friend of ATD, celebrated her birthday and the group learned how Leave No One Behind is translated into Estonian and Uzbek.

The discussion focused on the idea of Leave No One Behind within Irish society. Many ideas were exchanged and some interesting thoughts emerged.

Leave No One Behind.” People that are living in poverty, or are homeless or really really hungry… All those goals, the 17 goals… people who are gay, lesbians, bisexual, people in low places, people in high places… No matter what they’re going through, what their struggle is, that you offer your services. We’re all equal. Even if its just listening to someone when they’re talking, that’s helping people, that’s what I feel. I was just thinking, 17 goals. There’s people out there and they look at people on the ground and they’re laughing but we all came from the one place, everyone.

Our next Conversation took place in the Civic Centre in Ballymun. In this workshop, we discussed the language used in the promise. We also discussed what can happen when efforts to Leave No One Behind drive families apart rather than bringing people together. Is it possible to lose yourself in putting all your efforts into leaving no one behind?

Our third conversation took place in the heart of Dublin’s North Inner city with a group of men with experience of poverty and addiction. The many contexts in which the ideals of Leave No One Behind can be applied were discussed. It was agreed that to ensure your ideas are represented, one has to ensure that  one votes. It also became clear that everyone wants to participate in society but when it feels like there are so many hurdles in the way,  one can feel inclined to give up when overcoming the first seems impossible in itself.

Our most recent conversation was held in NUI Maynooth with academics and members from the development sector in Ireland. There was a lively debate on what global priorities should be and on whether Ireland focuses too much on overseas development while turning a blind eye to domestic problems.

Four successful Conversations to date and many more to come, we hope. Thank you to all participants!

Young People Want Government Action on Sustainability, says New Report

Here’s an article from University Times, by Dominic McGrath, on the launch of the Youth Spotlight Report  on the SDGs

Young People Want Government Action on Sustainability, says New Report

Young people want action on poverty, hunger and homelessness, according to a new report launched today and compiled by Ireland’s UN youth delegates.

Tying the views of young people into the UN’s Sustainable Development goals, the 71-page report captures the priorities of hundreds of young people across the country. The report was launched today in the Department of Foreign Affairs by the Minister for European Affairs, Helen McEntee, and University of Dublin Senator Lynn Ruane.

Ending poverty, in Ireland and internationally, was one of the most important goal for young people. In the report, one young person said: “It astounds me how there can be so much wealth in such a small percentage of the world’s population, and yet there is still such poverty for the people living in developing countries.”

The report, compiled by Ireland’s youth delegates to the UN Lauren Flanagan and Paul Dockery, surveyed 600 people people and included data from consultations at 22 events across the country.

Speaking at the launch, McEntee praised Ireland’s “pivotal” role in the development of the UN Sustainability Goals, which were agreed in 2015 and commit countries to creating a more sustainable world through eradicating poverty, gender equality and developing clean energy.

“My engagement with young people showed me the power of young people: your voices, your determination”, she said.

Closer to home, young people raised concerns about their own ability to cope with financial pressures on the wages and social welfare payments they receive. Unpaid internships, many said, contribute to this financial strain.

Many students also cited food poverty as a major issue in Ireland. “The expense of being a young person living in Ireland just keeps growing and the ability to buy a house, a car or even food for during the week is becoming increasingly difficult”, one young person said.

Ruane said it was staggering that in Ireland eradicating hunger is still an issue, stressing the importance of supporting people from disadvantaged backgrounds. “Engaging and empowering them will not only allow them to improve their own communities, but our communities as well”, she said.

“The key message this morning is: leaving no one behind”, she said.

In a press statement, Flanagan said: “This report provides a snapshot of some of the main issues that young people in Ireland face; the issues they are most concerned about globally; and how the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development may offer a road map to tackling some of these key concerns.”

Young People Want Government Action on Sustainability, Says New Report

No One Left Behind in Sustainable Development Goals National Implementation Plan 2018-2020

Today on the 26/04/17, All Together in Dignity Ireland welcomes the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals National Implementation Plan 2018-2020 by Minister Naughten and the Department of Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

It is particularly encouraging to see a foreword from the Taoiseach in the document. We value his commitment to lead Ireland in our pursuit of the targets and ideals of the Sustainable Development Goals and his recognition of the importance of the promise to Leave No One Behind in the process.

The Taoiseach writes Having proudly facilitated the international negotiations leading to the Goals, this National Implementation Plan represents a further important step in Ireland’s efforts to honour the vision underpinning the Goals, and to ensure no one is left behind 

Indeed the Plan’s commitment to the Leave No One Behind Promise on top of working towards achieving the 17 Goals of Agenda 2030 is quite happily a recurring theme. The promise is highlighted not only by an Taoiseach, but crucially in the Vision Statement as well as the section outlining Ireland’s National Approach to reaching the targets of the 17 Goals.

We look forward to seeing action on public engagement and awareness of the Goals and the Promise. At grassroots level, here in ATD Ireland we are spreading awareness of the Leave No One Behind Promise with our Leave No One Behind Conversations campaign which consists of thought-provoking workshops imploring people to examine the necessity for a Leave No One Behind Promise as well as the challenges which are inevitable in delivering on such a transformative statement.

The creation of a National Stakeholder Forum is a critical next step in the implementation of the Irish Plan.

Pierre Klein, National Coordinator of ATD Ireland said: “We believe that it is crucial that of the Forum delegates representing communities, delegates from the most marginalised communities be invited and their participation supported, thus ensuring that we fulfill the commitment to “Reach the furthest behind first” and listen to the needs of and interests of those who are too often silenced or voiceless. The Agenda 2030 has to deliver for them.”

ATD Ireland is member of the Coalition 2030: www.ireland2030.org

Extracts from David Donoghue’s Speech at the Launch

As the Leave No One Behind Patron, David Donoghue formally launched the initiative at the National Conference for the Sustainable Development Goals, Human Development and Inequalities in Croke Park on the 17th of April.
Considering the array of airline troubles, including cancellations and diversions, encountered in making his way over from America, we are particularly grateful to David for persevering and making it to the event for the launch.
Here’s a summary of his speech on the day:

I am launching the Leave No One Behind initiative which ATD have been developing. Let me just say, by way of brief introduction, that this has become emblematic of the entire 2030 Agenda – the phrase “leave no one behind” and to endeavor to “reach the furthest behind first”. 

Those phrases really crystallised the overriding goal of poverty eradication and tackling inequality. Those phrases really bring the ideas together. In that sense, they act as a symbol for the entire agenda.

What lies behind this phrase was a concern that the 2030 Agenda should address poverty eradication but in a very comprehensive, integrated way.

193 member states of the UN have formally made this commitment that they will Leave No One Behind. 

Leaving Nobody Behind, I regard as a top priority in relation to implementation of the SDGs because the world leaders have taken on a commitment that they will, in effect, give this set of issues top priority and that, to my mind, means taking preemptive action in the first few years of the Agenda which would enable them to demonstrate that they are actually addressing the needs of the furthest behind first. With that term, we mean of course, the poorest, the most disadvantaged, the most marginalised communities worldwide.

The challenge is to get governments, as they begin to implement the agenda, to show that they are taking that particular part of it seriously.

Its my pleasure, therefore, to launch the Leaving No One Behind initiative which will consist of a series of conversations over the next few months. They will culminate in an event on the 16th of October at which conclusions will be drawn, from these conversations, and I presume recommendations, on a way forward. So with my best wishes and congratulations, the initiative is hereby formally launched.”