Global March

Sustainable Development Goals – Q & A

On 25th September 2015, the world leaders adopted the famous Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the coming 15 years.

What are these goals and what do they mean for the world’s most vulnerable children-children in hazardous child labour, the ones trafficked, the ones in slavery and afflicted upon by violence? What do they mean for me? Read on to know more.

What are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and what is Global March Against Child Labour’s role in SDGs?

The Sustainable Development Goals are a set of 17 goals and 169 targets agreed by the world leaders and designed to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030. These goals replace the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted in the year 2000. Despite the overall success of the MDGs, they failed to include goals on ending child labour, slavery and trafficking, and many other goals that are now included.

With extensive advocacy for years by various child rights organisation across the globe, three major goals and targets have taken shape as part of SDGs, giving us a clear agenda for promoting children’s rights. Global March Against Child Labour network too, through years of lobbying and campaigning was finally able to get a dedicated Target – 8.7, on eradicating slavery, trafficking and child labour in all its forms. The three goals and targets relating to Global March’s work are as follows:

Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Target 8.7: Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers and by 2025, end child labour in all its forms.

Target 16.2: End abuse, exploitations, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children.

The United Nations adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals as follows:

Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere

Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation

Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries

Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reserve land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development

See detailed goals and targets on this UN page.

Global March Against Child Labour being one of the foremost voices of the unheard children, feels a greater responsibility for ending violence against children in the world and contribute effectively implementation of the SDGs. Out of the 17 goals and 169 targets, Goal 4, Target 8.7 and Target 16.2, especially form the central strategic framework and long term plans for the organisation.

Global March as a strong global network of NGOs, trade unions and teachers’ associations working to end child labour, trafficking and slavery and promote education, aims to support governments and other civil societies in the implementation of SDGs in the following ways:

  • Provide support to the governments to reflect the new global agenda in the national developmental plans, policies and legislations.
  • Build capacity of partners and other stakeholders.
  • Nurture and strengthen worldwide movement of stakeholders in realisation of mutual goals for sustainable development.
  • Foster meaningful and positive social change through awareness raising, outreach and social mobilisation.
  • Coordinate advocacy activities in partnerships on policies and programmes
  • Collate and develop knowledge based evidences.

We are deeply involved in the SDG roll out and are determined to implement the SDGs for making the world a better place for children.

Why the Sustainable Development Goals? 

The experience of forming goals at a global level in the year 2000, showed us that a global framework can yield results and bring a collective change in society. The proof was the reduction in extreme poverty rate by half in 2015.

Since the year 2000 the number of child labourers too got reduced from 246 million children to 168 million children by 2012, in spite of the fact that ‘child labour’ did not find a mention in the MDGs.

If the world could witness such a drastic decrease in the number of child labourers without a focussed global framework for curbing the issue, just imagine what all we can do and how greater impact we can make by achieving Target 8.7 and Target 16.2 of the SDGs.

It is also vital to understand that without eliminating child labour, slavery and trafficking, many development goals particularly the goal on universal primary education, poverty reduction, decent work and gender equality cannot be achieved, as there remains a complex nexus amongst all these issues. While poverty pushes children into work at an early age, the denial of opportunity to go to school and gain employable skills can further hamper development of the child, and trap them in the vicious cycle of poverty and vulnerability.

Since last few years, the world has seen some progress in reduction of children engaged in hazardous labour, but a staggering figure of 5.5 million children still remain in slavery, bonded labour and trafficking.  Moreover, what is worrisome is the slow pace of reduction in the number of out of school children that currently remains at 59 million children.  These out-of-school children are at risk of exploitation and are most likely to be engaged into child labour at the cost of their education, health, freedom, overall well-being and development, and thus increasing the chances of gruesome violence against children.

A good question to ask is why do we not see these children in our daily lives? The answer is because they are practically invisible and hidden. Child slaves are made to work in mines, factories, agricultural fields, farms, garment industry and prostitution, away from a layman’s sight.

Now that child labour, slavery and trafficking have found mention in the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development with a dedicated goal on education, there is hope that one day we will see an end to the misery of thousands of children in the world.

How are the SDGs different from MDGs?

The SDGs are different from MDGs in many ways:

  • While MDGs were formed to reach half-way in eliminating poverty and other socio-economic issues of the world, the SDGs aim to finish the job- to get a statistical ‘zero’ on targets of poverty, hunger, child labour, slavery and trafficking, and promote quality education for all.
  • SDGs are universal, meaning that all countries, businesses, aid agencies and civil societies are expected to implement this bold agenda for change.
  • SDGs are a set of much more comprehensive goals than the MDGs. In the year 2000, 8 goals were set for the global agenda, however this time round, 17 comprehensive goals have been chalked out for sustained global effort making it more inclusive and rights based.
  • SDGs were formed through a participatory approach wherein more than 100 countries participated in the worldwide consultation including civil societies and ordinary citizens. Global March Against Child Labour too participated in the consultation and was a party to some major recommendations on ending child labour, slavery and trafficking.
  • SDGs view economic development of countries as the central strategy to fund the implementation of the goals. MDGs on the other hand were mainly dependent on aid flows.
  • Monitoring, evaluation and accountability never found mention in the MDGs. SDGs lay great emphasis on the same for effective implementation of the goals.
  • While MDGs focussed on achieving increase in number of enrolments in school, SDGs talk about the importance of quality education in the overall development of a child.

How will the goals be funded?

According to UN estimates, for the new goals to be met will require as much as $11.5tn a year, $172.5tn over the 15-year timeframe.

The Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report team estimates that an annual funding gap of at least US$22 billion will be needed to achieve universal lower secondary education of good quality till 2030. And for universal upper secondary education, the gap extends to US$39 billion.

When will the goals come into force?

The member states of the UN agreed to the goals and targets on 25-27 September 2015 and these will come into force from January 2016. The deadline for the achievement of most of the goals and targets is 2030.

What does this mean for me?

It is important to note that SDGs are a voluntary global agreement and implementation of the goals across countries will largely be determined through decisions made by national governments.

This means that being the citizens of our countries and as global citizens, we all have an important responsibility in making sure that our governments invest, implement and make SDGs a success.

You can start today by urging your country leaders to reach the most vulnerable children, especially the ones engaged in child labour, slavery and trafficking. Join our campaign End Child Slavery Week  now to make a difference.

And please take a moment to sign up to our e-newsletter. You’ll get useful information and opportunities to use your voice to stand in solidarity with the world’s children and fight for their right to be free from exploitation and receive education. ​

– by Maina Sharma



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