Intersectionality in Sustainable Development

Intersectionality is at the crux of human identity and plays a large role in societal inequalities. Grand challenges such as digital inclusion, adequate access to healthcare, and achieving universal primary education which are the focus of today’s global frameworks, are essentially intersectional. It is this intersectionality and inextricability  that introduces added layers of nuance and complexity to these grand challenges in international development. Issues of international development affect all sectors of the population, and thus require frameworks such as the Major Groups Framework, that incorporate and support diverse groups of the international community.

The United Nations Sustainable Knowledge Platform explains how since the first United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992, it was recognized that achieving sustainable development would require the active participation of all sectors of society and all types of people. Following this conference, the Major Groups Framework took shape and now currently consists of nine groups  including Women, Children and Youth, Indigenous Peoples, Non-Governmental Organizations, Local Authorities, Workers and Trade Unions, Business and Industry, Scientific and Technological Community and Farmers.  In addition, governments expanded participation and invited other stakeholders, including local communities, volunteer groups and foundations, migrants and families, as well as older persons and persons with disabilities, to participate in United Nations processes related to sustainable development. The Major Groups framework recognizes that each of these multi-stakeholder groupings are able to  provide new ideas, challenges and information in regards to how the world’s grand challenges affect their specific communities, thus utilizing the intersectionality of these global issues to  enrich the  debate.

Acknowledging the inherent links between grand challenges leads to more effect policy frameworks and  overall progress. For example, the  WSIS-SDG Matrix draws direct linkages of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Action Lines with the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to continue strengthening the impact of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for sustainable development. The matrix reflects the connections and relations of respective Action Line with the proposed SDGs and their targets. The goal of the matrix is to create a clear and direct link and an explicit connection between the key aim of the WSIS and the post 2015 development agenda, so as to contribute to the realization of the latter. When the inherent intersectionality of  global frameworks is utilized in the  design and execution of solutions for global goals, the potential for greater gains is multiplied, and duplicated efforts minimized.