Child-sensitive accountability and the post-2015 agenda

May 2015

Last month a group of eight international organisations published an advocacy paper stressing the need for children and young people to be involved in holding governments to account for the commitments they are about to make in the new Sustainable Development agenda. Unicef, Plan International, WorldVision, Children International, Save the Children, SOS Children’s Villages, ChildFund and Child to Child joined forces to call on governments ensure the development of child-friendly accountability mechanisms so that children and young people can play an active role.

Child sensitive accountability

In September – just three months away – at the United Nations in New York, governments will commit to the post-2015 development framework: the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs goals succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Consulting children for the SDGs

While the MDGs were mostly decided behind closed doors, the UN ensured that the development of the SDGs would be the result of a much more participatory process. For the last two years, numerous consultations with civil society, at the local, national and regional levels, have been organised. These consultations have included children and young people, recognising that their insight on issues affecting them is invaluable and critical if we are to design effective solutions to the challenges the world faces.

The consultations informed subsequent high-level negotiations and meetings of the Open Working Group (OWG, a group of experts who have regularly met since 2013 to devise the SDGs). The OWG has now identified 17 goals for the post-2015 agenda, related to education, health, agriculture, climate change, etc. These goals will guide the work of governments and regional bodies for the next 15 years.

Involving children in the accountability mechanisms

Beyond establishing the goals themselves, children’s rights organisations ask that children and young people are involved in the implementation and evaluation of the SDGs. In the advocacy paper the eight NGOs make a series of recommendations for governments, UN agencies and international institutions, and civil society, to ensure child-sensitive accountability.

People should have the capacity and opportunity to hold governments into account. This means they “need access to public information; scope for free exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly; and formal opportunities to participate in governance.”

Children and young people are too often forgotten as key stakeholders but it is now time to ensure that they too have the opportunity to hold governments and those charged with implementing the SDGs to account. For this to happen, adults and others working with children must receive training on how to listen to children and take them seriously.

Another suggestion is to “include mechanisms like child-led reporting on public services and community or school hearings to identify key issues that nurture collective action.”

The paper also stresses that data must be collected on children and young people in order to better understand their situation, and thus what must be done to improve it – and it must be collected through child-friendly, age-appropriate mechanisms.

Children and young people must be allowed to play a key role in the implementation and accountability of the post-2015 development framework, because without the whole society’s involvement, it is unlikely we will reach the SDGs.


You can read the advocacy paper here.