PanelThe United Nations in New York was the venue for the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, July 10-19, 2017.  Marianne Sennick, csj (Brentwood) and Barbara Bozak, csj (Chambéry/West Hartford), representatives of the Congregations of St. Joseph, were among the more than 2400 participants, without counting the representatives of member states. 

The theme of this year’s meeting was “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world.” Six of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals were the focus of statements and reports from experts, NGOs and government representatives.  Among the issues addressed were (1) ending hunger and achieving food security, (2) ensuring healthy lives which includes universal health coverage and (3) achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. NGO presents how they are implementing the SDGs

Many of the issues facing US citizens are part of the SDGs which every country has agreed to address. These include accessible and adequate healthcare, access to inclusive and equitable quality education and reducing economic inequality which is exacerbated by the US tax system.   At this challenging time when the USA is pulling back from SDG implementation it becomes ever more important to engage with other entities to examine successful strategies and learn from others’ successes. Such connections can be very helpful as we challenge the USA and its commitment to both its own citizens and the international community to eliminate poverty, improve health and improve education.

Womens Major Group organize their efforts

Barbara Bozak commented: “During the High Level Political Forum in New York, I participated in three learning/training sessions which gave me tools for more effective advocacy on both the national and international levels. Beyond the valuable information I received, I feel better able to engage with the national delegations at the UN to forward our justice agenda.”

The CSJ-NGO at the UN can play an important role in working for a more just society by raising significant questions about economic, political, social, and environmental issues. Our staff of Justine Senepati (Annecy, India), Barbara Bozak (Chambéry/West Hartford, USA) and Marianne Sennick, (Brentwood, USA) actively engages through interaction with other NGOs, UN entities and government representatives.  They can join their concerns with those of like-minded individuals and groups and help shape the UN agenda and discussions.

Women sharing ideas at Advocacy SeminarIn the words of Marianne Sennick: “The issues of the US domestic agenda are parallel to those of the SDGs.  Through our interactions at UN headquarters, we are able to interact with other NGOs, ambassadors and government representatives and gain insight on how to deal with the issues that confront us nationally and internationally.”

Learning SessionAfter more than twenty years at the UN headquarters in New York, the Congregations of St. Joseph have extended their NGO presence to Geneva, thanks to two sisters, representatives from the French and Italian federations.  This gives us the opportunity to be more actively involved in the Human Rights Council which is based in Geneva and thus to coordinate testimony at the Human Rights Treaty bodies in Geneva with the policy processes for UN policies at UN Headquarters in New York.