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1. Leave no one behind

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide an agenda for inclusive sustainable development over the next 15 years. On 25 September 2015, the SDGs were formally adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit. ODI had a strong presence throughout the summit, having already established itself as a source of highly-valued, relevant evidence and analysis. ODI’s team delivered a number of high-level events, spoke on a range of panel discussions and arranged a number of bilateral meetings with key partners, both current and potential.

Without increased effort to reach all sections of society, including the most marginalised groups, none of the SDGs will be met.

On the day of the summit, we published Projecting progress: reaching the SDGs by 2030. The report offered the first systematic attempt to show how far countries will get in achieving the SDGs in 15 years’ time if current trends continue.

The report found that, without increased effort to reach all sections of society, including the most marginalised groups, none of the SDGs will be met. It was launched at a public event in New York, where over 150 people discussed the first steps for the SDGs and how to move beyond standard approaches to development. Our work was referenced in 200 different publications and led to members of the ODI team being interviewed on BBC World Service and BBC One News.

We also supported the UK Government’s official ‘leave no one behind’ side-event. Speakers at the high-level event included UK Prime Minister David Cameron, US Secretary of State John Kerry, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. At the event we presented Stories from Ghana, a new short film showing the human face of those being left behind and who must be included in progress towards the SDGs.

The SDGs must leave no one behind: stories from Ghana

The findings have since been shared at Australia National University’s Development Policy Centre; the World Bank and IMF autumn meetings; the first Swedish development day; in the UK Parliament; and with business leaders. We advised governments, including the British and Dutch, as they considered how to implement and build global support for the commitment to ‘leave no one behind’. 

Support for the data revolution

The data on which governments base key development policies are often inadequate. To meet the SDGs, they need to be able to measure progress better. In April 2015, ODI organised the Cartagena Data Festival in partnership with Africa Gathering, Colombian think tank CEPEI, Data-Pop Alliance, Paris21, UNDP and UNFPA. More than 450 experts and opinion-formers discussed ways to close the gaps in global data gathering. The festival included a transforming data into art session and a data visualisation competition, and was one of the catalysts for the launch of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data. ODI played a key role in the Partnership launch in New York in September.

Alongside the festival, ODI launched a new report, The data revolution: finding the missing millions, which revealed that up to 350 million people worldwide could be missing from poverty data. The report showed how better data gathering could pay for itself by allowing governments to target services more effectively. It was featured in over 40 news outlets and blog sites, and generated more than 5,750 page views and over 2,000 downloads.

We carried out research into child marriage to help the Ethiopian government end this widespread practice. We used national census data paired with in-depth community-level work in 22 districts across seven regional states to better understand the patterns and drivers of child marriage.

The research team presented its preliminary findings to the National Girls Summit in Ethiopia in June 2015 and followed this with a report, Surprising trends in child marriage in Ethiopia, in March 2016. One key finding in the report was that instances of child marriage cut across all religions, ethnicities and regions.

In October 2015, Professor Hans Rosling, co-founder of Gapminder, delivered the keynote speech to a packed audience as part of ODI’s special #DataDay lecture. Professor Rosling reminded his audience that to be effective, data must be not only be collected but also used and understood. 

Social protection to reduce inequality

As countries work to meet the SDGs, social protection is crucial to ensuring that no one is left behind. In 2015, we produced a range of publications to improve the effectiveness of social protection and reduce inequality.

Social protection is crucial to ensuring that no one is left behind.

We worked with partners to develop the Inter-Agency Social Protection Assessment tools which will help governments and development actors assess and improve their social protection systems, and produced a new toolkit to analyse the net effect of social protection and taxation. We published research on how social protection can support rural smallholders to engage in livelihood and agricultural activities and are continuing our work on how social protection can effectively respond to poor communities’ needs in the face of shocks and disasters.

Empowering women and girls

Women have more presence than ever in developing country parliaments, judiciaries, employment and education, but that doesn’t mean that they have real influence. ODI continues to explore what helps and hinders their influence over key decisions. On 8 March 2016 – International Women’s Day – ODI held its first Gender Day. We brought together global thinkers, experts and practitioners, with speakers including the Rt. Hon. Justine Greening MP, Secretary of State for International Development and Helle Thorning Schmidt, former Danish Prime Minister and new Save the Children International CEO.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt speaking at #GenderDay

To coincide with the event we launched ODI’s flagship report on childcare, Women’s work: mothers, children and the global childcare crisis, outlining how 35 million young children are being regularly left at home unsupervised, due to a lack of quality affordable childcare. We published the results of a two-year research project on women’s voice and leadership in decision-making, which set out to understand the factors that help and hinder women’s access to and influence in decision-making processes in developing countries.

In autumn 2015, the inception phase of the Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) programme began, with ODI leading a global consortium of university and NGO partners undertaking research focused on advancing the wellbeing of adolescent girls and young women.

The GAGE programme will follow the lives of girls over at least 10 years and will undertake programme impact evaluations and participatory action research in Asia, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. The GAGE programme positions ODI at the heart of debates on adolescence and youth demographics, as well as on social-norm change processes. The programme emphasises the importance of considering both changing contexts and the multiple, interrelated facets of young people’s lives, including education and sexual and reproductive health, economic empowerment, freedom from violence and psycho-social wellbeing.

ODI and the Sustainable Development Goals: from negotiation to implementation

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by Heads of State from around the world in September 2015. The focus is now on implementation.

From the beginning of the SDG process, ODI has generated agend-setting research and delivered high level public events and behind-the-scenes convening to oil the wheels of the negotiations. In 2015 we focused on how to ensure that the SDGs leave no one behind, fast-tracking progress for the poorest and most marginalised people.

Our analysis helped to maintain political support for language within early versions of the SDGs which emphasised that no goal would be considered met unless it was met for everyone. ODI proposed that all countries should count their people being left behind and demonstrate how they would reach them with appropriate policies within three years. We tried a version of this exercise ourselves in Bangladesh, Benin, Brazil, Guatemala, Nigeria and Viet Nam, generating a new methodology to identify the characteristics of marginalised groups using existing data.

The findings were launched in February at a #GlobalChallenges even where Lilianne Ploumen, the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperatio, made a passionate case for leaving no one behind. 

Leaving no one behind: keynote speech by Lilianne Ploumen and panel debate