Aim higher to end extreme poverty and hunger by 2030

A reflection from the Addis Ababa Action Agenda

RycZN6juHELPAGE INTERNATIONAL | 23 July 2015 – Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa was busy hosting the Third UN Financing for Development Conference (FFD3) from 13 to 16 July 2015. Main streets were blocked to shuttle heads of states and over 5,000 delegates from some 193 countries around the world.

Alongside the main conference, topics of discussion were expanded through over 200 side events, which were instrumental to cover critical global matters in a more settled and focused environment. It was great to see representatives from governments, the private sector and civic society work together to set the global course for ensuring sustainable development be taken forward over the next 15 years.

Older people on the agenda

The Ethiopian Elderly and Pensioners National Association representatives and HelpAge International staff were among the delegates attending. We had the specific objective of ensuring the visibility of age in the agenda and the inclusion of older people’s voices and priorities in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Special Adviser, Amina Mohammed, with Yeshiamebet Negash at FFD3. Photo: HelpAge

Special Adviser, Amina Mohammed, with Yeshiamebet Negash at FFD3. Photo: HelpAge

Our delegates shook hands with the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and had a meeting with one of his most prominent officials, Dr Amina J Mohammed, who showed commitment to ensure not only that older people have visibility and a voice in the SDG/FFD process, but also that there are concrete programme frameworks and plans of action in place to ensure their voices are heard and their rights and needs are addressed. This is integral to ensure no one is left behind.

If successfully implemented, all the 17 SDGs agreed for 2015-30 will contribute directly or indirectly to improve the lives of older people.

Goal one focuses on ending poverty in all forms everywhere, while goal two aims to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. Goal three is implicit in its involvement of older people by guaranteeing the wellbeing of individuals of all ages and ensuring they lead healthy lives. Goal five is aimed at eliminating violence against all women. Each one is directly relevant and justifies the critical development pathways.

Zero hunger

We took the opportunity to attend a side event titled Achieving Zero Hunger: The Critical Role of Investments in Social Protection and Agriculture. As many older women and men in Africa live below the poverty line, the event was very important to our focus. Having such an ambitious goal of reaching “zero hunger” is important for millions of older people living in poverty, and I believe it is possible to achieve this aim given the abundance of global resources. But what is required is a genuine commitment, the reprioritisation of resource allocation and the courage to deliver the stated goals.

In order to hit the ground running, having such specific global goals are fundamental. For example, to deliver goal two, which aims to eliminate hunger, pro-poor investments are required in all sectors. Most importantly, delivery of this goal necessitates increased investment and support to small holders’ agriculture, rural development infrastructure, decent work and social protection. Many older people are farmers and small holders who struggle with lack of investment and the absence of a basic pension.

Read the full article – including on Making social protection a priority and Where the money will come from, at HelpAge.org.