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Leaving no one behind

“As we embark on this great collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind. Recognizing that 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.” (2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development)

By adopting the 2030 Agenda, Member States have committed to leave no one behind in their implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  This means that the specific needs of vulnerable countries, including African countries, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries,small island developing states, countries in situations of conflict and post-conflict countries, need to be addressed, so that each of them can enjoy sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth and social progress.

Within countries, all people, regardless of their backgrounds, have rights and responsibilities to fulfill their potential in life, and lead decent, dignified and rewarding lives in a healthy environment. This means that goals and targets need to be met for all segments of society. Those often left behind are people living in poverty and other vulnerable situations, including children, youth, persons with disabilities, people living with HIV/AIDS, older persons, indigenous peoples, refugees and internally displaced persons and migrants. Their voices must be heard, and their active participation as agents of change needs to be promoted.

Despite progress in reducing poverty and inequalities, and improving health and education in relatively short periods of time, significant disparities remain across regions and within countries. If the current global trends persist, humanity miss out on its 2030 deadline for eradicating poverty. Universal access to quality primary and secondary education and universal health coverage is also unlikely to be achieved at the current rate of progress. Not only are people and countries being left behind, but they risk being pushed further behind by a variety of forces, including globalization, technological advances, the negative impacts of climate change and other forms of environmental degradation.

To achieve the objectives of the 2030 Agenda, we need  holistic and coherent cross-sectoral policies supported by disaggregated data and evidence-based policymaking. We need to identify those who are left behind and the circumstances that prevent their full participation in the benefits of development.

To achieve that, we will need, among others, integrated social policy frameworks that aim to progressively achieve universal coverage, while addressing the specific needs of vulnerable people through targeted policies and programmes; macroeconomic and fiscal instruments that promote inclusive growth, decent work for all, and the reduction of inequalities.

Ultimately, leaving no one behind requires the transformation of deeply rooted systems — economic, social and political, governance structures and business models at all levels, from local to global.

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