In the Czech Republic the most pressing social issue is the degree of household debt and the frequency of debt-related property seizures, which affects more than 8 percent of the population. Aggressive by private collection agencies, initiating actions for often minor sums have deprived hundreds of thousands of people of their property and often forced them to the edge of the society or even into homelessness.

Nevertheless, Ondřej Lánský and Tomáš Tožička report on behalf of Social Watch-Czech Republic that “the conservative and liberal political right that dominates the public discourse keeps repeating that we are living in the best of times and that everybody’s well-off. It therefore forgets a large part of the society that lost in the transformation towards a market economy. They lost in the sense of lacking economic securities that used to be in place, and as a result of direct social degradation. But the major part of academia and the cultural elites refused to pay attention to social issues. Most of the churches and NGOs focused on providing paternalist assistance to the most vulnerable while keeping with the logic of individualistic responsibility. ‘New politicians’ coming from oligarchic circles are preying on such sentiments, promising more dignity to the low and middle classes, often outside of the urban centres.”

The “Islas encendidas” meeting that will take place in Malaga, Spain 19-20-21 October will be an incredible opportunity to share knowledge and learn how to work together to built a sustainable and just society. We will address citizenship and the distribution of power: the challenges we face for a democracy truly governed by its people. We will ask ourselves about those who are entitled to have rights and address inequalities, discourses, borders and different forms of violence. We will discover new forms of citizen participation and political culture, social oversight practices and new forms of power. We will inspire each other to forge a new social contract combining diversity, sustainability and justice, incorporating the feminist approach.

Because of its importance to achieving gender equality, SDG 5 calls for recognition and value of unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate. Beyond this, care is a cross-cutting issue along all of the SDGs.

There is still a huge gender gap in terms of the time devoted to domestic and care activities. The massive burden of domestic and care work on women’s lives is the consequence of what we define as unfair social organization of care. This means an unequal distribution of responsibilities between, on the one hand, the State, market, households and communities, and, on the other hand, between men and women.

Angélica Beltrán, Karla Díaz and David Cruz, researchers from Asociación Ambiente y Sociedad of Colombia argue that “extractive industries and atmospheric pollution in the cities are a major source of socio-environmental conflicts”. The report states: “Environmental protection shows a progressive weakening…. Due to the lack of updated environmental information and the simplification of procedures in the granting of permits and licenses, the affected communities find it increasingly difficult to monitor the threats over their land and livelihoods.” Further, environmental control institutions do not have the capacity to oversee extractive activities adequately, which has allowed serious ecocides such as the outcropping of crude oil in the Lizama Block and the violation of environmental rules by Emerald Energy in the Ombu Block, located in the Amazon region.

Circumstances look promising in Cyprus, where the 2013 financial crisis seems over and NGOs work together with government and parliament to implement the SDGs, as reported by Charalambos Vrasidas and Sotiris Themistokleous, from CARDET. Yet, even when progress is observed in all SDGs and planning is in place, the official review acknowledges important challenges: “High public debt, high unemployment rate, the low contribution of the agricultural sector in the GDP, under-representation of women in political and public life, the need for a sustainable consumption policy, a high percentage of non-attainment in mathematics, science and reading and the need to increase ODA.”

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