A pivotal year for Canada’s engagement with global social justice

Friday, February 20, 2015

Julia Sánchez, President-CEO, Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC)

February 20th is World Day of Social Justice, as recognized by the United Nations since 2007. The day is a call to observe social justice by supporting “efforts of the international community in poverty eradication, the promotion of full employment and decent work, gender equity and access to social well-being and justice for all”.  

Three events make 2015 a pivotal year for global social justice: first, there is the 20th anniversary and review of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action on women’s rights and gender equality; second, world leaders will meet in Paris in December to hammer out a legally binding agreement to avert catastrophic climate change; finally, the successor goals to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expire in 2015, will be agreed to in September at the UN’s General Assembly. Coinciding with these important developments, a federal election here at home means that we Canadians have a unique opportunity to elect parliamentarians that will prioritize these social justice issues and support greater leadership for Canada on the global stage.

CICC’s campaign, We Can Do Better 2015, is a response to this important national moment and a call for Canadian leadership on the MDGs’ successors, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially as they address inequality, women’s rights, and climate change. We Can Do Better 2015 uses social media tools like Twitter and Facebook to provide Canadians with a platform for self-expression, collaboration and idea-generation. In March, we will be launching a social media kit and policy backgrounders, to be followed by an election kit later in the year. Through these outreach tools, we hope to rally the Canadian government, international development organizations, scholars, researchers and the public to show enhanced commitment to and engagement with questions of global social justice.

The SDGs, as they stand today at the beginning of the formal negotiation process, are well positioned for a higher level of Canadian attention and engagement than their predecessors. The SDGs tackle structural, or root, causes of poverty, such as inequality and climate change, something the MDGs were not set up to do. As such, the SDGs are meant to be universal in nature. They move away from the old paradigm of seeing poverty as a problem happening over there with the role of countries like Canada confined to supporting them to solve their problems. The universal character of the new goals presses us to make connections between injustice issues at home and abroad.

To meet this challenge will require efforts from all parts of Canadian society—including scholars and researchers. High-quality social science research and analysis of development problems is indispensible for generating innovative solutions that engage communities. Collaboration between the international development community, researchers and the public already exists in projects like the joint CCIC and CASID conference entitled “Thinking outside the MDG Box: Taking Stock of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Looking Ahead to the Post-2015 Era, but we could do much better in 2015.

You, too, can join our campaign by becoming part of the ongoing conversation on Twitter using the hashtags #DoBetter2015 and #FaireMieux2015. We want to hear your ideas—please share!

The Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC) is a national coalition that seeks to end global poverty and to promote social justice and human dignity for all.


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