Urgent Action Needed to Combat Climate Change and Its Impact

1-wPL2RJQ6h6a_uvvpe4DhmQAuthor of the given Essay is the student of Caucasus University Mariam Geliashvili. The Essay was prepared specifically for the contest on “Sustainable Development Goals and Georgia” organized by IDFI in cooperation with UNDP Georgia and with the financial support from the Government of Sweden.

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Climate change is one of the most important challenges of the modern world. Global warming was noticed in 1970’s, when the world was faced with rising annual average temperatures and frequent natural disasters.

Today, it is scientifically proven that climate change is happing throughout the world. The impact of climate change, such as glaciers and ice caps melting, the so called “heat waves”, droughts, heavy rains, rise of the sea level, flooding, landslides, tsunamis, avalanches and storms are becoming stronger and more frequent.

Climate change also alters nature and ecosystems, and increases the risk of epidemics. The intensity of negative consequences of greenhouse effects grows every year. All this makes the need to come up with a solution more urgent. The global discussion on this issue has been going on for quite long.

Like many other countries, Georgia is faced with acute environmental problems. What is the cause of air pollution? In Georgia, transportation, factories and power plants are the main causes.  Vehicles are the main polluter in urban areas, with 62%-75% share of total emissions.

Such large emissions from the transport sector in Georgia can be explained with several reasons. First, the number of light motor vehicles doubled in the last decade. Nowadays, in Georgia there are 12 cars per 100 persons. Second, the overwhelming majority of vehicles are old. Third, the quality of petroleum is so low that the car exhaust filters do not function properly. Fourth, many cities in Georgia cannot regulate traffic, which results in frequent traffic jams, during which cars emit more pollution.

In Georgia, the highest rate of air pollution is in Tbilisi. The main pollutant is smog, which is a mixture of dust, fog and smoke, emitted by factories and vehicles. The main reason is overcrowded streets with cars and other vehicles. In 2015, a study by the National Environmental Agency found that the most polluted area in Tbilisi were around Isani Metro Station and Rustaveli Avenue.

What is the impact of pollution on human health? According to WHO, 92% of earth’s population lives in places where air pollution exceeds standards set by WHO. Vox reported that every year 6.5 million people die due to bad air quality. The majority of them develop cancer and heart diseases.

What is the Georgian state policy to solve this problem? The first time members of Parliament looked at the problem was in 2000. That year, the President of Georgia adopted a 4-year plan which defined air pollution in urban areas as a priority in environmental problems. However, due to financial problems, the previous government did not implement activities under this first national program. Only in January 2012 did the Government adopt the second Environmental Protection National Program.

The program covers a period of 4 years and aims to provide clean air on the entire territory of Georgia. However, the Georgian Government has so far failed to fully implement the Plan. For instance, according to 2016 WHO study, Georgia is a world leader in terms of deaths related to air pollution, with 292 deaths per 100,000.

Finally, the Association Agreement with EU also places great emphasize on ecological standards. As a result of this agreement, mandatory technical evaluation of cars will be introduced until the end of 2017, and emissions will be subjected to EU standards. These actions will certainly improve road safety and ecological situation.

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Education – SDG 4

E_SDG-goals_Goal-04Author of the given Essay is the student of Tbilisi State University Salome Gobejishvili.. The Essay was prepared specifically for the contest on “Sustainable Development Goals and Georgia” organized by IDFI in cooperation with UNDP Georgia and with the financial support from the Government of Sweden.

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Sustainable development means achievement of short, medium and, most importantly, long-term economic prosperity via use of natural resources in an optimal way. For this, it is necessary to raise productivity, which is determined mostly by human capital. In the age of technology and innovation, an educated society is the best human capital. Therefore, I think the most important Sustainable Development Goal is ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all, because fulfilment of all other goals depends on achieving this one. According to Chekhov, “more clever and educated persons are needed, because humanity strives for better life; consequently, their number will increase until they reach a majority.” Having a quality education system is necessary for the development of any country, including Georgia, which will allow it to contribute to world progress.

Unfortunately, the situation in Georgia is dire. An international study on literacy found out that Georgian results are below average. According to a study by the National Statistics Office of Georgia, conducted in the same year, 26.7% of the population had high education, and 36. 7% had full secondary education. This data points to a problem in Georgia, especially, when, for example, South Korea has a literacy level of 100%, and Finland and South Korea have a student graduation rate of 93%. These countries are in top 10 countries with best education systems. At the same time, many unclear issues remain in the Georgian education system. Is education accessible for all? The problem is not only accessibility, but quality and usability of received education as well.

In Georgian reality, the biggest problem is lack of information in the regions. In many cases, the youth has to go to another village to receive secondary education. The kilometers they have to walk in spring and winter alike is not only the distance between two villages but between reality and perspective future as well. A famous 19th century Georgian writer Iacob Gogebashvili once said that: “school is a double edged sword; if properly ordered, it improves and purifies people, if not – it makes them dumb and wild”. From more than 2000 schools in Georgia only 10-15% comply with standards, the rest are in terrible condition. How can we care about proper education when sometimes the lives of students are in danger?

Inclusive education means quality education for everyone. The jobs should be available to use this education. Not only supply of education should be taken care of, but demand for work as well. American economist Gregory Mankiw provides a simple explanation: In order to survive, the much beloved Robinson Crusoe needs to obtain food, in his case – fish; however, to catch fish, a fishing rod alone is not enough, the bay needs to be full with fish. In other words, a there has to be a place where it is possible to employ the fishing rod and one’s abilities. In order to catch fish, we should think about the bay and the fishing rod simultaneously.

To support the implementation of inclusive education, in addition to creating equal conditions in cities and rural areas, the quality of school books should also be improved. One online article talks about the examples of Vekua and Komarov schools to exemplify the effectiveness of old and new schoolbooks. According to the Chair of the Georgian League of Education, “new textbooks fail to meet standards”. But do we have a better situation at the university level? Everyone should have the right to education; however, not everyone is ready or self-disciplined to pursue high education. Our country devotes less attention to professional education and due to the nation’s mentality we get a lot of university graduates without real education. The most important thing is that the socio-economic situation of a country must also be taken into account when defining the direction and methods of the education system. This means that achieving inclusive secondary education and higher education must be available to many students; however, the path to alternative decent professional education must also exist. As for the situation in higher education institutions, I recently read an interview with a student girl, who was told by her professor that he “did not understand” what a girl is doing on the faculty of Physics and Mathematics. This is also due to improper level of education.

These problems need to be solved not only for the purpose of achieving economic growth, but for ensuring the happiness of the nation as a whole, for self-realization of youth as well as older generations. Continued education is one of the most important factors in this. For this reason, state universities should offer courses in continued education, retraining, etc. Lifelong learning is key to long-term progress.

In short, the success of a country, like that of a civilization, depends on development of mental capacity. To finish on a positive note, a few days ago, passengers of the Tbilisi Metro were given books. The activity aimed to increase readership which is badly needed in Georgia (and not only) in order to return from a virtual world into the real one.

Achieve Gender Equality and Empower All Women & Girls

1-L5-hMV2mWtSnaY6wNghFdgAuthor of the given Essay is the student of Caucasus International University Khatia Chomakhashvili. The Essay was prepared specifically for the contest on “Sustainable Development Goals and Georgia” organized by IDFI in cooperation with UNDP Georgia and with the financial support from the Government of Sweden.

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The conditions of women have always been a topic of discussion. In history, philosophy, natural sciences etc. these problems were reflected differently with various conclusions being reached. Religion put special emphasize on the role of women in society and family, on their inherent traits, good and bad sides. For thousands of years, women were deprived the ability to fully express their intellect. Christianity always threatened women with anathema and reinforced their dependency. In the Middle Ages, this attitude was strengthened and relations with the “weaker sex” were declared to be sin.

It is entrenched in the consciousness of humans that socially and societally active women badly impact children, family relations, etc. Such perceptions create a sense of guilt in women and hider their professional development.

Achieving gender equality in Georgian regions turned out to be harder than imagined. What is meant under gender equality?! Gender balance means equal presence, rights, obligations and participation of men and women in every aspect of private and public life. Gender equality is an inseparable part of human rights; however, in our reality, we are faced with a situation where even discussion of gender equality is not allowed, where men violate the rights of women, and where we encounter many cases of violence against women.

In the village of Chantliskure and several other villages of Kvareli district, where Avars live, the tradition of female genital mutilation is still practiced, which includes clitoridectomy and sometimes the removal of labia minora. As a result, sexual desire significantly reduces or disappears. Why does it happen? The answer is in religion. Those who receive Islam should be circumcised. It is a symbol of initiation, purity, and a sign loyalty to the husband; by reducing women’s sexual desires, the risk of infidelity is also reduced; however, I think sexual productivity is as much necessary for women as for men.

In Muslim villages, cases of early marriage are common, when girls are forced to marry. Marriage is not an appropriate word for this, it is more an exchange, when a 14-year-old girl is exchanged for cattle, and told that “family is well-off, you won’t be in need, live without problems, have and take care of children”. The girl is deprived her right to education, self-determination, and to choose her own future.

In Georgian villages and cities, the tradition of virginity of girls before marriage is widely followed. While Christianity does not have a circumcision tradition, nor forceful early marriages, it does scorn premarital sex. , which is considered to be shameful, degrading. The word “used” is often used to denote a woman who is not a virgin outside marriage, as if she is a product. A woman who is not a virgin is subjected psychological pressure and abuse from society. As strange as it might sound, all this happens in the 21st century. If men have the right to premarital sex, so do woman. No human should be abused for sexual desires and free sex.

Could women be equal to men, hold high positions, have business relationships with intellectuals, and work on important political positions? In the modern world, almost no barriers exist, but women rarely decide to participate in politics or run businesses. Strong, determined, hardworking women can also be feminine, caring, and attractive. Women in politics are rare. The society slowly rethinks degrading stereotypes on women, particularly that politics is a domain of the strong, i.e. men. Words “woman and politics” cause severe reactions, people think woman’s place is not in politics, but in the kitchen. Women in politics is a great phenomenon. History remembers many great female rulers. To recall from our recent past: Margaret Thatcher – politician and first female prime minister of the United Kingdom. She did a lot from Britain and the world, and contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union.

What results will female empowerment bring in Georgia? I mentioned above the various forms of subjugation of women (political, sexual, and career). We live in the 21st century Georgia, where Christian ideology that asserts that women only should take care of the home still has strong roots, especially in the regions and rural areas, which hinders development of women.

First, I want to emphasize the Muslim community. Hard work is needed to eradicate the violation of women right’s. You cannot deprive humans of all tools of self-determination, especially education.

Sexual education is also necessary to empower women. Why? Because we need to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, which lead to abortions, which, in turn, damage the woman’s body. All religions ban abortion, because it is considered to be a murder of a child. That is why all women should know how to use contraceptives, to avoid unwanted pregnancies, especially unmarried women, who encounter even more problems in this situation.

If a woman becomes successful, if she has her own income, than she won’t be forced to live with an abusive husband. In many cases, women tolerate abuse from their husbands, because they have nowhere to go, and depend financially on their husbands. In families with constant violence, children become psychologically traumatized, which can have severe consequences in adulthood.

Obviously, there are good examples as well. In many Georgian families, women are self-realized, and men support their wife’s. Such families are full with love and joy, and the children grow more educated and better mental health. Many think that a child should be with their mother round the clock, but psychologists say that the quality of time spent with one’s child matters more than quantity. Children grow, and in adulthood they encounter many problems. If a person is not accustomed to dealing with problems since childhood, and constantly depends on parents, than they will have trouble overcoming life’s challenges.

 

I think that self-realization of women in Georgia will eliminate discrimination and bring well-being, healthy sexual life, good education, career development, and, most importantly, stable families and raising of good generations. Families without violence and self-realized women are the key to a better future.

Where Does Gender Equality Begin?

1-L5-hMV2mWtSnaY6wNghFdgAuthor of the given Essay is the student of Georgian National University Tamar Chkhaidze. The Essay was prepared specifically for the contest on “Sustainable Development Goals and Georgia” organized by IDFI in cooperation with UNDP Georgia and with the financial support from the Government of Sweden.

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Note: This essay is not recommended for people with common sense. It can cause a sudden realization of a bitter reality.

I was lucky, because I was brought up in a family where gender equality was fully ensured. My parents treated each other with respect, which positively influenced our upbringing. The respect of my father towards my mother was mainly due to her character. My mother is an ideal example of a strong woman. Our grandfather always told us that my mother was a fighter since childhood, never gave up and did not allow her brothers to take advantage of her, although she encountered many problems. A scar on her forehead is a proof of how she helped a younger friend in school. Now she recalls it with a laugh; however, then she was scolded by her parents. She was a good student in both technical and humanitarian subjects. When the time came to choose a profession, her parents demanded she go into medicine, since every generation in her family had someone with a medical degree.

It is hard to imagine, how in the 90’s, a girl from the countryside went against her family, disregarded their financial support and got admitted to the faculty of law.  As soon as she received her first stipend, she sent money back home. My grandmother visited her in the dorm with sweets. Soon, my mother met a colleague, who would become her husband. Mother always worked hard, because she loved her job and cared about her family as well. Despite a busy work schedule, my sister and I never felt abandoned, we always knew that for her the family was most important. Till today, she is a successful lawyer and a mother. Moreover, she is a brilliant wife and a proud daughter.  She taught me to never be complacent, to be right with yourself, and never treat others unfairly. I think my mother would have been a fantastic person and would have significantly contributed to my development into a decent person, except for one fact – she was never born.

According to official statistics, Georgia is one of the leaders in gender selective abortions. In 2010, the right to life was taken from 25,000 girls. The 2015 United Nations Population Fund study found that for every 100 newborn girls there are 110 newborn boys. Often, while discussing gender inequality, the issue of education, social integration, and violation of other rights of women are mentioned. However, many of us omit one important fact: unborn baby girls, who do not know what ideas and stereotypes are in the world, are stripped from the right to life! Each of us, regardless of gender, should think how many good children and future mothers, and happiness has been lost; what the result will be if this continuous… (?!) To solve this problem, we must first recognize the tragic reality we live in.

Ensure Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education and Promote Lifelong Learning Opportunities for All

Author of the given Essay is the student of Tbilisi State University Mariam Bikashvili. The Essay was prepared specifically for the contest on “Sustainable Development Goals and Georgia” organized by IDFI in cooperation with UNDP Georgia and with the financial support from the Government of Sweden.

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Throughout the centuries, the concept of receiving and giving education has changed many times. Initially, education was the domain of families and churches. The very first educational institution was formed in Ancient Egypt. Studying in school was a privilege reserved for the elite; therefore, only highest social classes received formal education. The right to education becomes the concern for the society only after the Enlightenment.

Famous representatives of the Enlightenment: Rousseau, Voltaire, Locke, Diderot, etc. have discussed the social nature of education. They believed that education was foundational basis for social and spiritual emancipation of a human. For this reason, they started to spread knowledge via press and encyclopedias.

Impulses from French Enlighteners became a big wave in the XIX century Georgia and the Society for Spreading Literacy among Georgians was formed by the group of young thinkers called Tergdaleulebi. This Society tried to oppose the policy of Russification, opened Georgian schools, printed study books, collected old manuscripts and folklore.

The contemporary world is faced with big challenges and problems: nowadays, in the 21st century, almost one billion humans cannot read, this number is increasing and currently encompasses one sixth of the world’s population.

Thomas Hobbes wrote in Leviathan: “Nature hath made men so equal, in the faculties of body, and mind; as that though there be found one man sometimes manifestly stronger in body, or of quicker mind then another; yet when all is reckoned together, the difference between man, and man, is not so considerable, as that one man can thereupon claim to himself any benefit, to which another may not pretend, as well as he”.

This fundamental approach to equality is a starting point to solve problems in education. Education belongs to everyone equally, regardless of one’s psychosocial and inclusive needs.

An individual without basic education cannot be competitive in modern society, and cannot realize their other rights. They become a second rate citizen, because right to education is key to other political, cultural and social rights. To avoid this problem, more attention should be devoted to inclusive education. The society is divided on this issue. Some think persons with disabilities should study separately, in special schools; however, this idea contradicts fundamental goals of inclusive education – integration of persons with disabilities in the existing society.

Inclusive education does not mean segregation. It means that individuals with special needs be perceived as an integral part of society.

Implementation of inclusive education in Georgian schools not only provides quality education and integration for person with disabilities, but it will also facilitate social progress, when typical students and their parents start to perceive person with disability as normal. This will create an environment where persons with disability are not victims of even positive discrimination, and different abilities and outlooks are balanced and normalized.

The right to education is guaranteed by many international and state legal acts; however, regarding inclusive education, the 1994 Declaration of Salamanca states that every child has right to study in an inclusive classroom, and participate in a children oriented education process, to satisfy individual needs. One of the delegates of the conference, Mr. Lindquist, who has no eye vison, stated that:

“Education systems should not separate children into categories, but rather should be reformed, in order to ensure the right to education for every child.”

On the one hand, providing inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities is a positive obligation of the state, on the other hand, it is a social responsibility of the society to help persons with disabilities in normal development, integration, elimination of any form of discrimination and segregation, and their active functioning in the state and society. This is the essence of the UN Sustainable Development Goal #4. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to give more information to the society and ensure more engagement of the public, for if we know the problem, the process of finding solutions to it becomes permanent, until the problem is overcome.

Inclusive, Safe, Sustainable Development of Cities and Georgia

Author of the given Essay is the student of Tbilisi State University Edisher Bagaturia. The Essay was prepared specifically for the contest on “Sustainable Development Goals and Georgia” organized by IDFI in cooperation with UNDP Georgia and with the financial support from the Government of Sweden.

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What is a City and what does its sustainable urban development mean? 

In his Dictionary, the famous 17th century Georgian lexicographer Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani defines a city as  a “plurality of cohabitating people, for if one person can be self-sufficient, a multitude of people can help each other and create greater benefit for everyone”.

Since ancient times, humanity has strived towards cities, which allowed them to achieve individual as well as common goals through coexistence. Cities have always served as a place of gathering ideas, knowledge and experience, which attracted people with different determination, interest, and socio-cultural background and created city-specific values, consciousness and behavioral norms.

The emergence of cities and simultaneous arising of ecological problems demanded the use of complex measures and technologies, which were directed at protecting the urban environment and mitigating human impact. With the rise of city populations, these measures also had to be increased.

Beginning in the Middle Ages, many architect theoreticians and engineers reflected on the subject of finding favorable natural environment for city development, effective planning, ecological safety, and proper urban management. However, the most important period in this regard began in 1920-30’s, when the main principles and approaches of urban management and development were formulated.

In 1987, after publishing of a report by the UN World Commission on Environment and Development, the term “Sustainable Development” received worldwide recognition. Sustainable development envisions creating cities that would satisfy the needs of the current generation, without ignoring the needs of future generations. Sustainability in city development is also an approach that guarantees safe and comfortable environment, housing and availability of employment for every citizen and guest equally.

In this context, the concept of an “inclusive city” is being developed and implemented in practice, which means that every citizen can use all of the resources a city can offer, and participate in city planning and important decision making. The ideas of a “green city”, “creative city” and “smart city” are also being promoted, which are oriented towards energy saving, creating a green and healthy environment, increasing the qualification and professionalism of the population, and supporting their creativity and innovation.

From this point of view, of interest is a large study conducted by Philips, which aimed to research how individuals perceive their health and well-being in their living environment, and how to make cities more livable with common effort. The study concluded that to achieve these aims – improving the environment and preventing crisis – an unprecedented cooperation is needed between the government and civil society.     

Inclusive, safe, sustainable development of cities and Georgia

Historically, the village was more important for Georgians than the city. However, since 1920’s, the population of cities started to grow rapidly and now, according to the latest census, equals 57% of the country’s population (and will likely grow even further).

The issues of city planning, ecology and independent self-government gained their prominence in Georgia in the 19th century thanks to Ilia Chavchavadze and Niko Nikoladze. It might sound strange, but Soviet city planning policy in many cases was humane and oriented on the needs of individuals. For example, socialist city planning aimed to improve city infrastructure and create rationally located functional zones, without which normal planning is impossible during rapid growth. The 1934 General Development Plan of Tbilisi devoted considerable attention to the ecologic component. Moreover, Tbilisi was the first city in the Soviet Union the development plan of which included impact on microclimate. Apart from Tbilisi, development plans were created for Kutaisi, Batumi, Gori and Tskhinvali.

After 1990’s, Georgian cities (including all components of the Sustainable Development Agenda) faced significant challenges. The problems were/are closely interconnected with the dire social and economic conditions of the country.

Radicalism and extremism became part of the Georgian political life, which also expressed in city planning. Namely, if city development was characterized by strict planning and systemic regulations from state institutions during the Communists’ rule, starting in the 90’s it became chaotic, unplanned and unrestricted. Typical for the unprepared transition to a new system was the development of the city without a general plan of land use, illegal and unregulated land sale by municipal governments, issuance of unlawful building permits, privatization of public spaces, irresponsible attitude towards cultural heritage, etc. Tbilisi, together with other Georgian cities, found itself threated by the marginalization of social space, which  took the form of “folk architecture” – illegal attachments to residential apartments and outdoor trade, which was allowed by the government and is now difficult to uproot.

Georgian cities also  face deteriorated ecologic conditions. Tbilisi’s main river Mtkvari is heavily contaminated, the air is polluted and green spaces have been critically reduced. According to recent data, Tbilisi has 3 m2 per person, while WHO standards recommend having at least 9 m2 of green space per person.

Regrettably, in the last decade the artistic side of city development has also been forgotten. This is the most original part where imagination and creativity play a significant part in establishing the environment. If previously nonmaterial values were being taken into account while forming the urban environment, today urban environment is determined by price alone, i.e. financial interest is dominant in urban management instead of the interests of citizens. The result is the formation of  a technocratic, the so called “bulldozer” approach to city planning, which is not based on humanitarian or academic ideas.

The fact that in recent years the number of individuals and organizations interested in city problems and urban issues has increased gives reason for hope. However, the number of professional urbanists and city planners is still small in Georgia. Apart from the ineffectiveness of decision-makers and governing circles, healthy city development is also hindered by the indifference of its population.

In this context, the phenomena of NIMBYism (Not in My Back Yard) should be discussed. The Georgian philosopher Merab Mamardashvili spoke about it in the 90’s. He thought that Georgia was not ready for self-organization and management of public spaces: “…everyone tries to save only themselves in a separated boat full with relatives and friends. Separated from whom? Separated from the republic, from ‘respublica’ – meaningpublic affairs, and public space…”. Contrary to this attitude, the active civil engagement and participation of the population may be the most significant factor in stimulating sustainable, safe and inclusive development of Georgian cities, especially Tbilisi.

Why are Sustainable Development Goals Important?

marina_gumbo

Author: Marina Gurbo – Independent Consultant, Supporting the Implemention of UN Sustainable Development Goals in Georgia project

 

One of the frequent questions about the SDGs – why we need one more framework when there are international conventions, national level policies and strategies that address issues targeted in the 2030 Agenda. Despite the continuous dispute around the preceding Millennium Development Goals and whether they were feasible and relevant for all countries (not just poorest), the important lesson learned derived from their implementation is that having time-bound, universal goals result in greater mobiliza­tion of the global community, strengthen collaboration and networking of stakeholders across the sectors, countries and regions, and promote innovation and sharing of expertise and best practices. Examples of impact of such mobilization of resources may include achievements in the health sector, such as reduction of child mortality and universal access to healthcare.

Another important argument for the SDGs is that they promote a long-term approach to addressing global challenges that are not typical just for some countries but are faced by most and require joint actions. Most governmental programmes have a rather short life spanof about 4-5 years and sustainability of these programmes is often challenged by changes (sometimes, too frequent) in the government and political agenda. The SDGs set targets for the next 15 years meaning that most governments that are in power now will not be there in 2030. Having a long-term agenda and targets that has been agreed upon by 193 countries, promotes sustainability of actions and reinforces commitment of the states regardless of changes in the national political context.

How are Sustainable Development Goals different from Millennium Development Goals? 

It would not be correct to think that the SDGs replace the MDGs. There are many dimensions of poverty and inequality taken over from the MDGs such as low incomes, gender inequality, lack of schooling and education, lack of access to health care, deprivation of clean water and sanita­tion, and others. The major difference is in the emphasis on sustainable development; the defini­tion of sustainable development [1] has evolved to capture a more holistic approach, linking the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic development, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability.

Moreover, Sustainable Development Goals address not only the measurable changes in the well-being of people, economic development of countries and better environment on the planet, but also the means of how these changes shall be induced. If we look at the SDG 16 and SDG 17, [2] these are all about enabling environment of peace and security and rule of law and conditions for inclusion and participation, i.e. inclusive institutions and decision making. In this sense, the SDGs are going beyond the MDGs by addressing the root causes of poverty and inequality, such as weak rule of law, corruption and traditions and norms that enforce discrimination whether by sex, cultural identify, or social status.

Without addressing these root causes, it is impossible to achieve all other Goals, since they are all interconnected. For example, as the experience of the MDGs demonstrated, economic growth by itself does not ensure social justice and inclusion for all; but justice and inclusion, meaning equal access to means of production and participatory decision making, are contributing to more cohesive societies, human capital development and economic growth.

Finally, the SDGs are focusing on people who were “left behind” and their inclusion. Participatory processes will allow stakeholders to give voice to the needs and interests of the people they represent, enabling better-planned and better-informed initiatives. No one is left behind or left out, as “governments, international organizations, the busi­ness sector and other non-state actors and individuals must contribute.” [3] Most developed, developing countries, poorest countries – all have some work to do to improve inclusion of disadvantages or marginalized groups (in their contexts) and promote social cohesion which is a pre-requisite for stable and prosperous societies.

What will change for the World and for Georgia if the targets are achieved?

Achievement of the quantitative targets set in the 2030 Agenda is important but not the ultimate objective why the Agenda was proposed. The SDGs put strong emphasis on the process of collaboration – globally, nationally and locally – that is to be fostered during the next 15 years and with everyone expected to contribute to the achievement of the targets. And this is the most exciting change to be a part of.

Building understanding and capacity of governments, private enterprises and civil society about SDGs will be a challenging but, in many ways, enriching experience. Over the last couple of years, civil society organizations operating in Georgia are more and more encouraged to think about the contribution they make to the SDGs and the ways how they monitor what has changed for their beneficiaries in relation to achievement of SDG  targets.

The “data revolution”, as proclaimed in the 2030 Agenda, will dramatically change how we think about the data and statistics and its use for monitoring and decision-making. This is already happening and many countries are testing new ways i.e. mobile technology, GIS, and other tools, to collect “real time data” and involve people into participatory monitoring of the SDGs and make their voice count when taking decisions that affect all, including those “left behind”.

[1] The phrase “sustainable development” was adopted and popularized in 1987, in the report of the United Nations Commission on Environment and Development. This report provided a definition of sustainable development that was used for the next 25 years: “development that meets the needs of the present without compromisingthe abilityof future generations to meet their own needs”. This definition evolved linking the threedimensions of sustainabledevelopment: economic development, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability. This three-part vision of sustainable development was emphasized at the 2012 Rio+20 Conference.

[2] 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 revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

[3] The United Nations. (2015). Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Available at https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/transformingourworld

Public Lecture in Telavi

IDFI held a public lecture in Telavi titled UN Sustainable Development Goals: Global And National Agenda. The event was organized in cooperation with the Administration of the Government of Georgia and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and with the support from the Government of Sweden and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The lecture aimed to increase public awareness about UN SDGs. The event was held in Iakob Gogebashvili Telavi State University. Students, members of the academia, representatives of NGO’s and local government attended the meeting.

During the lecture, IDFI analyst Mariam Tutberidze spoke about the 17 goals of sustainable development, and the role each person must fulfill in order to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. Ana Kvernadze from the Administration of the Government of Georgia informed the attendees about the objectives the government plans to achieve as part of this initiative..

“The fulfilment of SDGs is not only the responsibility of the government. Participation of every member of society is required for the success of this process”, – Mariam Tutberidze.

Discussion topics included:

– Necessity of SDGs and where they come from;

– How were the 17 goals selected;

– How the Georgian government chose its priority targets;

– Which of the SDGs is the most important for the public;

– How can the public participate, including NGO’s and local government;

– What are the future plans.

Participants were first introduced to the main components, activities, and future plans of IDFI’s project – Supporting the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals in Georgia. Afterwards, Mariam Tutberidze introduced SDGs, and Ana Kvernadze discussed priority targets for Georgia.

“The implementation of SDGs is a priority for the Georgian government and state institutions will be obligated to report their implementation progress”, – Ana Kvernadze.

The lecture was followed by a discussion, where participants spoke about the government’s resources for implementing SDGs, and the role of NGOs and the local government in their implementation process.

Participants also identified existing challenges, such as the need for improvement in legislation and policy, raising awareness regarding SDGs, defining social needs as main priorities and possible results of SDG implementation.

Working Meeting on UN Sustainable Development Goals

On May 20, 2017, the first working meeting on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was held between representatives of Georgian Ministries and Government Administration. The aim of the meeting was to discuss national targets, indicators and evaluation mechanisms suggested by experts on Goal 16.

The meeting was organized by IDFI, in cooperation with the Administration of the Government of Georgia and UNDP Georgia, and with the financial assistance of the Swedish Government and United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

What are Sustainable Development Goals?

On September 25, 2015, 193 UN member states agreed on the Sustainable Development Agenda document: “Transformation of our World – 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. The aim of Sustainable Development Goals is to continue the work started by Millennium Development Goals.

Georgia was one of the first states that supported the adoption of UN Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 and started to implement them into national political agenda. Sustainable Development Agenda contains 17 goals and 169 targets.

Goal 16: Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies, includes targets such as:

  • Substantially reduce corruption and bribery;
  • Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels;
  • Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere;
  • Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all.

Issues Discussed at the Working Meeting

The working meeting was attended by IDFI, Government Administration, and institutions responsible for implementing Goal 16; Namely, representatives from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Prisons, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, and Ministry of Sport .

Participants discussed the targets and indicators of Goal 16 that will apply to Georgia. Also discussed were additional, expert suggested indicators to be used for more effective monitoring of implementation. It was stated that responsible institutions will continue to work on selecting additional indicators.

The meeting was also devoted to analyzing indicator scorecards and metadata charts. IDFI and the Georgian government discussed the rules for filling out these documents and their final aim. The documents will allow interested parties to measure the quality of existing indicators and how effectively Goal 16 is being implemented.

After agreeing on targets and indicators of Goal 16, responsible institutions will fill out the above-mentioned documents, which will help them to analyze the current situation. Additionally, it is also planned to improve interagency coordination, which implies creation of an electronic platform for SDG monitoring.

Information Session: Sustainable Development Goals and Georgia

On May 2, 2017, in the conference room of the Club “Lolita”, the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), in cooperation with the Administration of the Government of Georgia and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and with the support from the Government of Sweden and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) hosted an information session ‘Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Georgia.’

The session brought together over 60 potential participants of the SDG visualization and students essay competitions that aim to promote Sustainable Development Goals in Georgia.

The information session opened with welcome remarks from Saba Buadze, IDFI’s Anticorruption Direction Lead. Shombi Sharp, Acting Head of UNDP in Georgia, and Nino Sarishvili, Head of Government Planning and Innovation Service at the Administration of Government of Georgia spoke about global and national importance of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Georgia’s role in the new global development agenda.

Meri Makharashvili, IDFI Communications Manager presented the terms and evaluation criteria of the competitions and facilitated the discussion with potential participants.

The contests were launched in April 2017 to raise public awareness about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Interested applicants are invited to send their works by May 21, 2017, in four categories – essays, photos, posters and graffiti (sketch). Applicants can submit several works each of them representing one of the 17 Global Goals.

Winners will be announced in October 2017 at the International SDG Forum in Tbilisi. Each of the four first-place winners will be awarded with a GEL 1,000 gift card. Best 20 visual images and best 10 essays will be published in social media of the organizers. The best graffiti sketch will be painted at the specially designated wall in Tbilisi.

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