When dealing with intersectionality, we have to take into consideration the different social categorizations like race, gender and even class.  It is important to understand how each category interacts with one another. The different intersections each create a form of framework that impact different people around the world. Among the multi-stakeholders of the major framework groups of sustainable development, intersectionality is not a widely discussed topic. Even worse, a number of people are not aware that the SDGs and MDGs were created to enhance development projects across the world in both developed and developing countries.

As discussed previously in class, sustainable development is an on going project that seeks to better the engagement of nation leaders and community leaders within every country. We all face multiple threats. The Major Framework Groups all face discrimination and threats that halter their development possibilities. Discrimination overlaps so even if the international community is dealing with different development strategies to enhance separate aspects of it, denying the overlap can leave a number of groups, if not all, vulnerable. Using intersectionality entails valuing a certain type of approach to analysis, research and planning.

Intersectionality can be a tool for studying, understanding and responding to the ways in which gender intersects with other identities and how they can contribute to sustainable development. It is a theory used in the different groups to expose the different obstacles that each face. The different solutions that can being to arise can lead to there being a more inclusive and sustainable approach to addressing the number of intersections that each framework seeks to impact. Sustainability is at the intersection of almost every aspect of development. Each sector has a prominent role of enabling sustainable production, consumption, environmental and wildlife conservation, as stated in the “Side event to the Eighth Session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals.” Because many people are not aware of the MDGs and the SDGs, a strategy that could be done to disseminate the targets of these goals is for a clear link to be established so that specific mechanisms can be put into place so that the intersectionality that exists between many of the groups can diminish, leaving behind their oppression, threats and even misappropriations (Side event to the Eighth Session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals).

Inclusive Education

Education is necessary for every nation to thrive and prosper. However, there are times where it becomes difficult for every single child/person to receive the education they deserve and have the right to receive. Inclusive education is one of the fundamental priorities of the SDGs: universal primary education. There are a number of countries that, even though they claim to abide by inclusive education for all, students with disabilities or disadvantages are marginalized and are not given a second route to receive education. As the report “Opportunities for Students with Disabilities” mentions, we must be able to “build a bridge between the worlds of higher education policy and disability policy.” Accommodating each and every single student can be a hard process, especially if the school, or center, does not have the necessary tools, or professors, to manage the students’ needs accordingly. These barriers take away the numerous opportunities that these children can achieve.

Each student should be taught according to their individual preferences to make sure that their long-term inclusion into society can continue. Even though students with disabilities are protected by legal frameworks and policies there isn’t any legal guarantee that they will be given their appropriate education. Many of these students require certain transition services to be able to advance on to the next level of their education, whether it be elementary, primary, secondary and even tertiary education. It is unfortunate to know that in some occasions, students with disabilities who document their impediments, are looked over by faculty attitudes. This can be a great barrier within the academic field. Some faculty members are very ignorant about this type of situation and ultimately decide that they do not need to take into consideration any recommendations or suggestions from the number of administrators that help and manage the needs of students with disabilities.

Progressive inclusion is a supposed significant thread in American history. As of recently, persons with disabilities are staring to become “official” members of society who are becoming less marginalized and stigmatized. They are starting to be given a number or opportunities and chances that they did not have before and are excelling in ways that the international community praises. Although they might not have the intellectual capacity to fully participate in higher education, students with disabilities and their community take the responsibility to reduce as much as possible the educational gap that exists within the academic community.

Students with disabilities have as much of an opportunity to succeed in life and in their academic career as people with the capacity to excel academically without any impediments.

Efficacy of Global Frameworks

Many internationally agreed upon frameworks, projects, and development goals all went through a process of evaluation to determine whether or not they were efficient and capable to follow through on on their implementation tactics. High-level meetings are an example of how these developed ideas can be assured an opportunity to prove their efficacy. In this case, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and issues/strategies dealing with Persons with Disability were at the focal point of developing actions to improve the international community, both developing and developed countries. It is unfortunate that persons with disabilities still have to face obstacles in different aspects of their life.

The MDGs focus on a wide range of goals, from poverty rates, to health and education, and much more. However, a number of relevant stakeholders have not ensured that developing policies take into consideration the needs and benefits of all persons with disabilities. These people can include: women, children, indigenous people and the elderly. It is important to develop plans that are relevant to the changes that must occur by 2015 and beyond, but all of this should also take into consideration the numerous inhabitants that are around the world who suffer from certain disadvantages.

It is possible to do as much as we can for others, but, like many things in the world, certain limitations don’t allow for progress to occur. For example, poor, developing countries might not have the voice or effective government to carry out the essential tools to implement development goals. The MDGs faced shortcomings as well. They were able to catch the popular imagination of national governments, a wide range of institutions, and the international community that sought to reduce the amount of poverty around the globe, which was the main focus of the MDGs. The CRPD came up as a result of the international community and national governments not taking accountability for those that did not have the means to be heard (poor countries/people). There was so little attention in regards to their development that policies had to be made and implemented to assure this community the rights they have and deserve.

Human development is a valuable purpose to focus on. As Deepak Nayyar stated in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: people are not just beneficiaries of development. They are the ones that can empower the people to facilitate the implementation of policies and goals. That is why it is necessary to rethink, redesign and reformulate everything that has to do with international development to maintain the efficacy that it deserves.

Multistakeholder Internet Governance

Internet governance, as learned throughout the class discussions, relates to the internet community and the number of stakeholders that make decisions about the development and use of the internet. It was in WSIS 2005 that the term was coined and put to use. The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was then created and has been able to provide valuable opportunities for thousands of representatives in a number of different stakeholder groups. All of these groups are all interconnected as they operate without a central governing body. The question that now arises is: how do we govern the internet? And if so, who governs it? The internet was created in the United States under ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) and different decisions were made and established to spread the internet around the world. Because of this, the internet became more valuable when more people were using it.

ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) oversees the majority of assignments within the internet such as: domain names, transport controls and even internet protocol addresses. ICANN is governed by the NTIA, which makes ICANN one of the few bodies with a global and centralized influence over the diverse number of groups that are on the internet. However, ICANN did have a number of controversial issues that did not make their decision-making process easy. This led to the creation of the IANA Transition Process on October 1st of 2016 to enhance ICANN’s accountability and to illustrate the affirmation of the principles that best addresses the challenges of governing the internet and fulfill the global requirements that it gives to all of the countries using it.

Because the creation and most of the development efforts of the internet came from the USA, it was believed by many that there should not be a core resource that is solely based there. This is where the legitimacy of the ITU (International telecommunication Union) was being challenged. The purpose of the ITU is to “coordinate telecommunication operations and services throughout the world” but the purpose of the internet was for it not to be state owned and it was hard to fully trust that the development and use of the internet was not being compromised to benefit just the USA and the groups that reside within it.

It is hard to imagine the internet being managed by just one country or stakeholder group. The importance of having multi-stakeholders is so that they take the initiative to allow all the different communities to engage. Once there is full transparency, it will be easier to organize and make decisions when dealing with the internet. NETmundial was a critical opportunity to reinforce the IGF so that it can be strengthened and improved to enhance the participation of a number of countries, including developing ones. This global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of internet governance was the mechanism needed to ensure the principles needed for a multilateral mechanism to work worldwide.

The Digital Divide

The internet has been playing a vital role throughout the years it’s been active. Technology has given every person, organization, and country the advantage of being able to communicate with an outside audience in the hopes of improving international standards and affairs. This form of universal communication has given people the access to explore beyond their front door. Of course, to be able to explore the digital world, every person needs to have access to a computer and, most importantly, internet connection. Unfortunately, even though many of us automatically believe that the majority of the world has access to both of these things, there are actually a number of people who do not have access to them.

The people that do and do not have access can be categorized into the “haves” and “have nots”. This digital divide has been an ongoing problem for many years and our digital society is one of the main reasons for why this gap has not closed. Technology has been gaining much more importance with the way businesses, governments and personal transactions are made and sent. The same way that there have been a number of social advancements, there have also been social setbacks especially with those people who are the “have nots” within the digital divide. A number of minority groups fall into this category based on education, race and gender, age, and location. This divide is quite large and not many people know about it. The question at hand is where do we go from here knowing all of this information and why is it that we are still battling this digital divide? It is not enough to just have basic access nowadays. The “basic” we all know requires having the latest form of technology, and the latest is at most two years old, so the “have nots” continue to lose their chances of having the opportunity to cross the divide and for the gap to slowly close.

The Missing Link has established that not much has been done in regards to the developing worlds. They are the ones with the biggest problems and they are being skipped over by many. Even though a number of discrepancies have been dealt with, many still continue to arise and there still has not been a way to deal with all of the issues and to stop them from arising. Every country has the right to develop and be able to achieve their full potential. As every nation begins to advance politically, economically and technologically, people will begin to gain the basic access they need to slowly close the digital divide that exists.

ICTs and Inclusive Sustainable Development

The role of technology and how information can be exchanged plays a crucial role on how interconnected are developing and developed nations to the rest of the world. When there is a missing link, this can cause the flow of information to barely occur or not occur at all. To take precaution, the Independent Commission for World-Wide Telecommunications Development was established under the ITU. By having this commission created, the members were able to identify any type of obstacle that hindered the expansions of telecommunications (Maitland Report). It is very important for nations to have available and accessible the necessary infrastructure and telecommunication services for there to be a chance for them to grow economically, politically and socially.

Unfortunately, there is a gap through which many nations are falling through when dealing with digital inclusion. A variety of factors create the disparities that developing nations have to face, from their geography up to whether or not they have a service provider that gives them sufficient amount of data to be able to be included within the digital world. The lack of access to electronic services suggests that governments have not incentivize the use of internet access or even that the private sector has not taken any initiatives, especially since they play an important role in addressing discrepancies. We must be able to empower those that are disadvantaged, and sadly, the developing worlds are the ones that face the most of these disadvantages.

The creation of WSIS gave developing and developed nations the opportunity to bridge the digital divide that existed globally. This established goals and targets, that should be met and implemented, so that Internet access could spread around the globe. WSIS is the first two-part conference that I have heard about. Within each of them working groups were created to make sure that any obstacles they would come across on would be dealt with to continue bridging the gap with the digital divide. Most of these working groups still exist today and play a crucial role in making sure that developing countries are not being left behind in regards to technological advances. It is difficult for every person in every country to have access to the Internet, especially because each community faces obstacles which make it impossible for them to gain access.

This global initiative for inclusive information and communication technologies is a big step in bridging any gaps that countries fall through. Being able to communicate internationally with various nations will establish the path to take to make sure the missing link is found and implemented.


Smart Cities, Habitat III and New Urban Agenda

What is a Smart City? This part of the class discussion gave us the opportunity to realize what makes a city “smart” in regards to how they treat their community and what they do to be as inclusive as possible. A smart city should be one that is able to support its entire community and be able to supply all of the necessities that every member should have. I was never aware about the previous Habitats that were created. It is interesting to know how Habitat III is doing as much as it can to stimulate its commitment towards the sustainable development of different types of housings. The goals that Habitat III have established give those involved in it the opportunity to play an important role in the implementation of the different goals and targets. Even though the conference will be expansive, this gives the multi-stakeholders, including local-government authorities, the opportunity to strengthen their roles in furthering the new urban agenda.

Our interaction with the environment and our surroundings help us better understand and conceptualize the “spectrum of capabilities and functions” that can help us recognize the “enabling or disabling powers of physical space” (Pineda). Pineda’s article, Enabling Justice: Spatializing Disability in the Built Environment, sheds light on how people with disabilities are not part of the “inclusive city” lifestyle. Sustainable urban development should include every single person and all of their needs. If the cities give people with disabilities the opportunities they need to be able to thrive independently, that makes them one step closer in total inclusiveness. Everyone needs the necessary space to thrive in.

A number of cities have taken steps to eliminate and eradicate any areas that can hinder the abilities for the place to develop. The Asian Development Bank article gave a great example of how taking part of the elimination process of unnecessary areas can actually cause more “disruption than anything else” (ADB). Forcing people to relocate from their homes can make them feel hopeless, especially if they are in a foreign environment. This creates problems for the number of people that wish to improve their lifestyles. To be a smart city, it should take the initiative of including every single one of their inhabitants without negatively affecting their lives and lifestyle. This urban development vision, if worked on properly, can positively impact a number of different communities that will give every person the chance they deserve to thrive.

Embracing the urbanization at all levels of human settlements can bridge the gap between the inclusiveness of developed and developing countries. Granted, not all developed countries have smart/inclusive cities to enhance inclusiveness, but they are much closer than developing countries. That is why it is very important that developed countries set the standards of inclusive cities for developing countries. To achieve sustainable development, we all must pay attention to the quality of outcomes that are dependent on the set of rules and regulations that will allow them to be implemented. It is crucial that local systems are effective in managing and keeping up with the maintenance of all the different aspects that together create an inclusive city and a new outlook on housing and urban development.

SDGs and the HLPF

The SDGs, as discussed in class, are a framework to continue sustainable development goals that were put in place by the MDGs. By countries adhering to these targets and projects, it enables them to compare how well each country is implementing and enforcing the targets and indicators. Measuring the impact(s) of the goals is important in knowing how well the countries are adapting to the enforced/implemented targets. Compared to the MDGs, the SDGs are more focused in the disability inclusion (Class lecture). Because it is an international goal, there must be an organization overseeing that all the targets are being ratified and implemented. This is where the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) steps in. As an organization that is said to be inclusive, they are the most exclusive organization (Class lecture). The requirements for someone to be a part of the HLPF discussions limit a large number of people who would benefit in being a part of the discussion, including those that are part of the Major Groups. This goes against Sen’s view of how democracy is an important part of developing and strengthening development (Sen). It is true that people have to acknowledge the fact that many institutions cannot be viewed as a “mechanical device for development” (Sen), but as an organization that specifically deals in overseeing the implementation of sustainable development, they should be democratic in the way they manage discussions and who can participate in them.

Since the main goal of the SDGs is to continue promoting and implementing inclusive sustainable developments, reading the Universal Declaration of Human Rights made me realize that the HLPF is not abiding by the basic rights that humans have to make sure that sustainable developments can progress in their country. Countries must abide by the UDHR to make sure that any changes occurring within a developed/developing country do not hinder a person’s or community’s desire to progress with their sustainable development. The same way that this document lets all people have the basic rights and freedoms that they are entitled to, I believe the HLPF should give whomever wishes to participate in the discussion, the opportunity to view how they are managing an international dilemma (UDHR). In addition, every person/community has the right to education, health and social security (UDHR). The SDGs intend to continue implementing universal education and health so that developing nations and their Major Groups can continue to prosper.

Development Theory

There are different ways that people view development, different measures to go about it, and different definitions used to reach sustainable development goals. Many times people are faced with limitations and unfreedoms that block agendas and treaties from being implemented or pursued (Class Lecture). The class discussions and readings allowed me to better understand why it is that we are faced with obstacles when trying to further positive political, socio-economic and environment agendas.

Amartya Sen, who redefined development, mentions that there are no limitations to development; however, when closely viewing a society’s terms of living, there are a number of restrictions that hinder the community from being able to continue with its development. Participation is an important part of development, but it becomes difficult to do so when a community must conform to the established regulations and norms that take away the majority of their freedom. This form of unfreedom hinders many societies from being able to develop as a society (Sen). Why is it that it has been established that there aren’t any limitations on how to measure development but limitations on how to implement such measures so that a society can prosper?

Other than the concept of freedom to develop, I was aware that markets play a major role on how a country and its people can develop.  Inclusive economic institutions play a key role in encouraging development, but when countries decide to focus on a more “extractive economic institutions”, this can actually lead to poverty in the long-run even if this was used for short-term purposes (Why Nations Fail). Developed countries should continue to focus in creating inclusive economic institutions that underdeveloped countries should follow as well. This can then be able to create “increasing incentives for entrepreneurialism and economic growth in the long run (Why Nations Fail).

All the research that has been compiled is to be able to create a better understanding of development and its studies. In many different ways, we are all affected by developments and many researchers within the field of development theories are very much interested in making sure that their research turns into policy to aid in inclusive sustainable developments (Development Studies). Gaining more knowledge in this topic will help everyone better understand how to manage development and the different obstacles that come with it. Different disciplines should be used to advance the number of sustainable development ideas and goals.

Grand Challenges

There are a number of daunting problems that are plaguing different parts of our globe. Some are easier to handle than others, although they are not impossible to overcome. Through out the assigned readings, I noticed that there was a common focus to the Grand Challenges that we are faced with and that is that these challenges are able to encourage and push forward new innovations, technological advances and even “tackle important problems” that are related to different sectors of our world; such as “health, education, the environment, national security and global development” (White House and Grand Challenges). I always believed that grand challenges posed a threat to our daily lives and cultures rather than give us new ways of dealing with different sustainable tasks at hand. Khalil’s statement that “grand challenges capture the public’s imagination” proves that certain obstacles can bring different communities together to help create a better inclusive sustainable development. I do agree with the readings that if a Grand Challenge is “too narrowly defined” will need a “technical solution” that can also “reduce the opportunity for new approaches” (Khalil 2012).

When reading about MDGs, I was not aware of what they were or their concepts and targets in regards to an inclusive sustainable development. The Millennium Development Goals seemed to have much more weaknesses than strengths, and their strengths also were their weaknesses (Millennium Development Goals). They were silent on the means in which to purse grand challenges and lacked fundamental approaches on how to deal with the “process of change from one state to the other” (Millennium Development Goals). I highly disagree with their “one-size fits all” assumption. Each country and community have their own set of unique challenges that they face and, even though they can be similar, some have to be dealt with in a completely different manner and with different types of innovations and technologies. So I find it incorrect to generalize all grand challenges to be the same and be dealt with in the same manner.

Within the field of International Relations, there are many challenges to be dealt with that require different sets of skills, knowledge and technology, and with grand challenges, this field requires a set of minds that are able to find new and innovative ways to achieve the goals of the challenges at hand. It is essential to rethink the importance of what goes with the process of international development. This class will give me the tools necessary to better understand inclusive sustainable development and what are ways that I can contribute to creating a more inclusive environment.