It is our pleasure to introduce you the IFMSA delegation to the 4th open working group (OWG) on sustainable development goals (SDGs), to kick off at the United-Nations Headquarters in New York, on June 17th 2013. As we draw closer to the meeting, the IFMSA delegation makes final preparations to make sure our participation is valuable and meaningful as well as a good representation for IFMSA and youth everywhere.
Who we are
We are a bunch of enthusiastic IFMSA members from all over the world, with various backgrounds, ready to advocate for health and youth issues, and to ensure that the voice of medical students worldwide is well-heard by stakeholders.
Why a meeting on sustainable development goals
Last June, Rio de Janeiro welcomed the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio+20. In the outcome document The Future We Want, The present member states agreed on launching a process to develop a set of sustainable development goals (SDGs), while being pretty vague and only stating that those goals should be “limited in number, aspirational and easy to communicate”. Above all, those goals should balanced the three dimensions of sustainable development: society, environment and economy. On paper, sustainable development is pretty cool: it aims to meet the needs of the present, such as poverty reduction and economic growth, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, for example environmental protection and intergenerational equity (Brundtland, 1987). But it gets a bit more challenging when we try to put policies in place. To learn more on sustainable development, we suggest you to take a look at the UN Division for Sustainable Development (DSD) at : http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/.
So after this huge meeting in Rio where IFMSA sent a delegation, an open working group was mandated by the General Assembly to prepare a proposal on the SDGs that would be sensitive of the UN development agenda beyond 2015. After being officially established on January 22nd 2013, the open working group decided of its own innovative modalities to ensure the full involvement of relevant stakeholders and civil society, including the Major Group of Children and Youth (MGCY), with which IFMSA has collaborated many times in the past. So far, the group has met thrice and will meet for a fourth time between June 17th-19th to focus especially on health and population dynamics, social protection, youth, and education.
Why is this meeting important
The general idea of this meeting is that the contributions made in this forum will play a pivotal role in shaping the SDGs and what goes into them for the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons to review. The SDGs will be what we strive towards, tackling various issues in health, climate change, social protection, education, and youth among many others. We want to make sure that important issues we cherish are not missed within these broad topics. A lot has been brought up of concern with other groups also participating in the MGCY. With UNFPA and UNICEF amongst others sending big and strong delegations, this 4th OWG meeting is likely to be the biggest so far.
What we will do
Our group will be representing IFMSA at this meeting, where we are hoping to contribute on interventions regarding health and youth issues. We have also been working on drafting specific statements on different agenda items. We will be using IFMSA various policy statements including the last we adopted in March 2013 on future development goals. We will advocate for what we know best: universal health care, health in all policies, sexual and reproductive rights, non-communicable diseases including mental health, climate change and health co-benefits of sustainable development. Furthermore, we will also participate in MGCY Mini Youth Blast happening today (June 16th) where we will facilitate sessions, contribute to others, strategize for the meeting ahead, as well as in numerous side-events.
Overall, we hope that we will be able to trigger discussions, both within and outside of IFMSA, to play an active role in work on health beyond 2015 and to help shape the future we want. As Richard Horton from the Lancet recently wrote, we have about 30 months to get this right.
We will be sending regular updates on twitter, using the hashtag #IFMSASDG. And we want you to engage with us! Send us a tweet, comment on our IFMSA blog entries, and most of all make sure you get involved in the discussions on the future we want!
Until next time,
Claudel P-Desrosiers and Rispah Walumbe
On behalf of the delegation: Mike Kalmus-Eliasz, Anneleen Boel, Neil De La Plante, Gerald Makuka, and Kimberly Golding Williams.
For more on the meeting: http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org