Guatemala should abandon the old patterns of ‘development’ based on the extraction of natural wealth, environmental predation and exploitation of cheap labour, and turn its gaze towards more creative and inclusive forms of production, promote democracy and make the distribution of wealth and political power more equitable, recommends the civil society report on the SDGs contributed by Helmer Velasquez and Arlyn Jimenez of the Coordination of NGOs and Cooperatives of Guatemala (CONGCOOP).

Bulgaria is the poorest EU member state, with almost half of its children living in low-income households and more than half of elderly people with pensions below poverty line. The Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation (BGRF) and Bulgarian Social Watch coalition report that policies shaped by EU priorities and advice provided by the IMF and the World Bank declare as their fundamental purpose “the struggle against poverty”, but "they keep on demanding economic reforms which have proved to be totally inefficient". The leading assumption is that only the free market and strictly restricted government intervention can guarantee prosperity. Once adopted, "no one measures whether the welfare of people has improved, but only to what extent the recommended neoliberal policies have been implemented".

The present and future of economic and social rights in the UK will depend considerably on the legal and policy consequences of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

In recent years, the UK has introduced significant changes to its welfare state with the Welfare Reform Act 2012 and the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016. The reforms were justified on two grounds: deficit reduction and ending welfare dependency by facilitating access to work.

In the first four months of 2017, severe floods isolated hundreds of Peruvian towns, leaving thousands of families homeless and destroying over 100 bridges. The waters have swept away bridges and roads. The Amazon, Marañón, Ucayali and Napo rivers, in the Amazon region, are under red alert because owing to a critical level of flow and danger of overflow. According to the World Bank, damage to the environment has an economic cost of 3.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), and mainly affects the poorest populations. In spite of te high vulnerability to human-made natural disasters, the national Social Watch report finds tenacious resistance to more sustainable practices by those who argue that environmental regulation is an obstacle to economic growth and corporate profits.

Photo: Agaron Adibekyan (Sociometr)

The Armenian government seeks to liberalize socioeconomic and political activities in a framework of respect for human rights and gender equality, acknowledges the national Social Watch report. Over the past 15 years, the poverty rate has fallen from 51 percent to 26.5 percent, but the unemployment rate is unchanged, which remains one of the main factors driving labor migration: almost one in four families (23%) in Armenia has members outside the country, of which 20 percent are in Russia and 3 percent in Europe.

The analysis of the Center for Development of Civil society concludes that despite a certain increase in per capita income, the current level allows families to cover only the costs of food and some utilities, since the state's minimum wage and various allowances do not take into account needs for medical care, education, vacation time or cultural activities.

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