Viewpoint by Wajiha Ibrahim*

BOSTON (IDN) – What peaked in 2011 as a series of political protests sweeping the Middle East and North Africa is today an opportunity to celebrate and evaluate how various regimes mould their path towards democracy. A noteworthy component of these transitions includes the shifting role of the informal sector.

While many countries have increased political participation, achieved macroeconomic stabilisation and restored growth, millions of people remain excluded from political and economic systems.

- Photo: 2021

Sustainable Development Observer – A Promotional Blog

BERLIN | SYDNEY (IDN) — The ‘Sustainable Development Observer’ (SDO) is an associated publication of IDN-InDepthNews, with a selection of articles from SDGsforAll.Net, a joint media project with the Soka Gakkai International. IDN is flagship agency of the non-profit International Press Syndicate. SDO will be a monthly e-magazine published towards the end of each month.

With the world slowly recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic—a ‘once in a century’ global health crisis—the realization of the SDGs by 2030 for much of the global population is currently in serious doubt.

The achievements of the past decade, first with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and now the SDGs, are being reversed in many parts of the Global South, and small island nations face the added burden of climatic change and rising sea levels. The Observer—produced with a lot of passion and commitment with no funding—aims to bring the diversity of issues associated with the SDGs into focus.

“The Sustainable Development Observer is designed mainly for young journalism and development communication practitioners and students to guide them to SDG issues that may not be covered by the mainstream corporate media, especially from the perspectives we offer in this publication,” says Dr Kalinga Seneviratne, Editor of the publication. He is also IDN’s SDG Coordinator. “We will bring you the perspectives from the Global South with all of its diversities,” he adds.

The “normal”, the western media talks about often is not the ideal we need to go back to. These “normal” systems have been exposed for injustices, and shortcomings that have been laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic. The vulnerabilities of migrant labour, casual worker systems across the world, the great social and economic disparities, lack of investments in healthcare, and many other social evils have been exposed in the “normal lives” that existed before.

“We face the greatest cascade of crises in our lifetimes. The COVID-19 pandemic has supersized glaring inequalities. The climate crisis is pummeling the planet. Upheaval from Afghanistan to Ethiopia to Yemen and beyond has thwarted peace. A surge of mistrust and misinformation is polarizing people and paralyzing societies,” the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said at the start of his address to 76th sessions of the UN General Assembly on 21 September 2021.

“Economic lifelines for the most vulnerable are coming too little and too late—if they come at all. Solidarity is missing in action—just when we need it most,” he warned. He thus put in a nutshell the challenge humanity faces today.

While most of humanity suffered, the world’s billionaires, big pharmaceutical companies and tech giants have prospered from the pandemic. To achieve the SDGs by 2030 these inequities have to be at the top of the global agenda.

“We cannot expect the corporate global media to do this. We need networking among niche stakeholders reflecting voices from the grassroots to achieve the SDGs by 2030 which is just 8 years away. The SDGs provide a roadmap to save the planet and humanity from greater disasters in the future. The final article in this first issue of Sustainable Development Observer is titled “9/11 killed it, Global Justice Movements are poised to Reincarnate” that draws attention to what is needed, notes Dr Seneviratne.

This project is one small contribution towards such a social movement and in coming months added to this emagazine would be a series of “Journalism Training Resources” booklet that would include stories disseminated by IDN-InDepthNews on various aspects of the SDGs and how it is applicable on the ground.

“The SDO project currently has 8 universites associated with us, where we would run SDG reporting training workshops online and encourage students to write stories relevant to SDGs. Two such stories are published in the first issue of SDO,” says Dr Seneviratne.

A separate website linked to IDN’s main site would be set up soon that will focus on the SDO project and its associated components that would include a bloging feature for young ‘communicators’ (journalists) and if or when funds are available we plan to add podcasting and video reporting/discussion components to the project. [IDN-InDepthNews — 28 September 2021]

Download SDO inaugural issue:

Photo: Collage of Dr Seneviratne on the road and SDO.

IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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