Tag Archive for Development Goals

“I don’t understand”


Club de Madrid is partnering with Partnership for Change for the 2015 General Assembly/Annual conference, and they have adopted the Shared Societies Approach as a framing concept for its work.

In their last conference in Oslo on 15th May this year they devoted one stream throughout the day to Shared Societies.  Participants from Club de Madrid, the UN agencies, Search for Common Ground, the business community and Norwegian civil society explored what this concept really means.

The discussions spend some time considering the distinction between, on the one hand, tolerating people different from our selves but trying to mould them to be just like us, and on the other hand really being open to the other, welcoming them, respecting their dignity, and valuing them in their own identity.  The latter of course builds a Shared Society and helps the other person to feel at home and confident to take their share of the responsibility for the community.

One person told a nice story which captured the distinction.

An immigrant came into a library in Oslo and asked the librarian “What height am I?”  The librarian told him and he went away.  The next day a number of other immigrants came in and asked the same question “What height am I?”

It turned out that they had been registering with a doctor and had been asked this question.  They did not know the answer or even what the question meant, but they did not feel confident enough to ask for an explanation.  But they knew the library was a place to get information and that the staff would be understanding and accepting.  The librarian had conveyed their respect for the dignity of the other person, which the health centre had not been able to convey.  I am sure that the health service staff were kind and caring and that the individual would receive good treatment.  But if they are to use the services of the health centre there needs to be this extra dimensions which is harder to define and harder to apply.  At its root it means connecting to the person as a person, not a client or number, and showing we are willing to listen even in the midst of our busy routine.

There is a message in this for the drafters of the new Sustainable Development Goals. It is not simply identifying targets for the desirable level of service: the number of schools or health clinics or the access to jobs.  The actual provision is important but it only achieves the goal when people can use the services in a confident self-defining way.  We know too many stories of new health centres which were established in remote areas, but were not used because the planners had not listened to the local community and take into account their culture and values and provided the service in a culturally sensitive way.

This is why the Members of the Club de Madrid are advocating the importance of including a goal on good governance and, within that, the importance of the participation of those affected in planning and implementing policies.  Such a goal is not a means to judge states on their current standards of governance but to ensure that they provide the services they themselves want to provide for their citizens in ways that make them effective.  And that no one walks away because they do not feel able to say “I do not understand” or “I do not feel comfortable”.

Photo Credit: Hatford Public Library

Enhancing a new set of development goals


During the two days of the discussions in Baku (Azerbaiajn) of the II Global Shared Societies Forum, both speakers and participants shared their perspectives, best practices and recommendations to promote Shared Societies as a pillar for development, taking into account the economic, sustainability, governance and institutional aspects of social inclusion.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.


A basic proposition of the Shared Societies Approach of the Club de Madrid is that all these aspects are interdependent so that progress on one can lead to progress on the others, creating a benign cycle of development.The President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, opened the forum stressing the relevance of the concept of Shared Societies. World leaders including Vaira Vike-Freiberga (former President of Latvia, Club de Madrid President and NGIC Co-Chair); Jorge Quiroga (former President of Bolivia and Club de Madrid vice-president); Abdul Kareem Al-Eryani (former Prime Minister of Yemen and Club de Madrid Member) and Tarja Halonen (former President of Finland, Club de Madrid and NGIC Member) among others lead the discussions in the “Second Global Shared Societies Forum” held from 28th to 29th of April in Baku, Azerbaijan.

We have been promoting Shared Societies since 2007; however, after these two days of debate, we will do it more forcefully, recognizing the support of the participants in the forum, with more than 30 world leaders and many international experts. The Forum has reaffirmed throughout the meeting two key recommendations of the Post 2015 Position Paper of the Club de Madrid to encourage governments to implement social inclusion policies:

  1. It has stressed the importance of data and particularly disaggregated data, and also, it recommends to move beyond traditional hard data and to collect information on measures of the quality of life.
  2. The Forum has reinforced the importance of participation and active citizens, not just as valuable in itself but as a protection of good governance and democracy. People will support governments that listen to them and respond to their needs and expectations.

When speaking about social inclusion, education was a common area of concern. At present the discussion of education in the Sustainable Development Goals focuses on basic numeracy and literacy skills and education for work. However, after the deliberations, we have been reminded that it is equally important, if not more, that education prepares people for life. Meaning that it must assist the development of citizenship and responsibility, flexibility to respond to new situations, resilience to respond to setbacks, empathy to understand the circumstances, needs and concerns of other sections of society different from themselves, in sum humanity.

The Forum was organized by the Nizami Ganjavi International Center with Club de Madrid as knowledge partner. Click here for more information about the Forum.

Photo Album of the II Global Shared Societies Forum


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: