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Regions Refocus 2015 Urges For Structural Shifts to Achieve Sustainable Development

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 29 2015 (IPS) - The new initiative Regions Refocus 2015, housed at the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, draws attention to the systemic and structural shifts required to achieve sustainable development.

The launch of the initiative, which aims to foster regional and feminist solidarities for justice through policy dialogue among civil society, governments, sub-regional alliances and the United Nations, took place on January 26 at the Ford Foundation’s New York headquarters.

The event brought together civil society, policy makers, United Nations’ officials and academics from each region of the world.

In 2015, the world’s governments will define a global agenda for sustainable development, amidst global trends of rising inequality, declining economic growth rates, and mega public-private partnerships that accelerate the scramble for resources, assets, and markets.

The Region Refocus 2015 report presents analysis and key initiatives emerging from nine regional workshops convened in eight regions to address regionally-defined progressive policies such as sexuality in South Asia, inequalities in the Arab States, illicit financial flows in Latin America, extractive industries in West Africa, climate finance and gender in the Pacific.

“Progressive governments and civil society organisations point to global-level situations – the undemocratic and North-biased international financial architecture, the global lack of application of human rights norms and standards, the bias of the global trade and taxation regimes towards big business – glossed over or left out of the U.N.-led conversation,” Anita Nayar, Director of Regions Refocus 2015, told IPS.

Daisy Alik-Momotaro, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry for Internal Affairs, Marshall Islands gave an insight view on how women have been affected by the sea level rise: “People have been dislocated from their homes. Most of them were women who were not prepared for a radical climate change.”

Speaking on sexing and gendering development Tonya Haynes, CatchAFyah Caribbean Feminist Network stated that sexuality issues should not only be developed in relation to crisis, health or LGBT rights, but also to work: “We should not divorce the macroeconomic from the social.”

“A Pacific working group of civil society, regional development agencies and government has been created to to gather substantive inputs from civil society and support governments to put forward progressive policy positions in multilateral negotiations,” said Noelene Nabulivou of Diverse Voices and Action for Equality, Fiji.

“Recommendations that emerged from the Arab States regional workshop will inform the upcoming economic and social summit of the League of Arab States and the regional high level forum on sustainable development,” said Ziad Abdel Samad of the Arab non-governmental organisation (NGO) Network for Development, Lebanon.

Nayar told IPS about the initiative’s upcoming plans to strengthen sub-regional solidarities between civil society and government: “Next steps include releasing an expanded report with complementary video teach-in style presentations based on the Regions Refocus cross regional discussions and engaging in the Regional preparatory meetings toward Financing for Development (FfD3), including partnering with the U.N. regional commissions.”

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