SDG 18: Combating ethnic and racial discrimination must be a key element among the G20 priorities

G20 Brasil

Mar 21, 2024
G20 Brasil
Divulgação/ site
The G20 discussions about the elimination of ethnic and racial discrimination for development aim to foster the debate among the Group’s members, drawing upon Brasil’s experience in implementing racial equality policies. The goal is to mainstream this theme into initiatives targeting poverty reduction, addressing inequalities, and facilitating a just energy transition. 
The catalyst for advancing the global discourse stems from Brasil's voluntary proposition for an 18th Sustainable Development Goal focused on promoting ethnic-racial equality, unveiled at the 78th United Nations General Assembly in 2023. At the occasion, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva highlighted that inequality is the root cause of racism, intolerance, and xenophobia, and stated the urgency of facing them. 
“If we had to summarize these challenges in a single word, it would be inequality. In Brasil, we are committed to implementing all 17 Sustainable Development Goals in an integrated and indivisible manner. We want to achieve racial equality in Brazilian society through an eighteenth goal, which we will voluntarily adopt”, Lula declared. 
Roberta Eugênio, the Executive Secretary of Brasil's Ministry of Racial Equality (MIR), emphasizes that integrating anti-racism dimensions into the G20 agenda reflects the Brazilian Presidency's recognition of the interconnectedness between development and racial equality. This is particularly crucial for the advancement of black and indigenous communities, serving as a pivotal strategy for sustainable development.
“Taking steps to dismantle the structures upholding exclusion and oppression for historically marginalized groups is a courageous initiative. It not only reaffirms Brasil's leadership on the international stage but also signals a strong commitment to addressing these issues domestically," highlighted Eugênio.
“Racism affects indigenous populations in multiple dimensions. It entails prejudiced views about the diversity of cultures and ways of life, preventing the realization of right to ancestral territories,” explained Juma Xipaia, National Secretary for the articulation and Promotion of Indigenous Rights from the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples (MPI). Juma celebrated the creation of an SDG dedicated to combating racism that incorporates the indigenous perspective, and defended the importance of the debate in the process of designing a different development model. 
Racial inequality statistics
To steer the discussions, official statistical data broken down by race and ethnicity were presented, adding substance to the link between racial inequalities and discrimination in the country. According to Luciana Servo, president of the Brazilian Institute of Applied Economic Research (Instituto de Pesquisas Econômicas Aplicadas - IPEA), these markers assign the black and indigenous populations the lowest social and economic indicators, which significantly impacts the country's economy.
Servo explained that the debate on racial discrimination holds a central position among the priorities of the G20, as it intersects with discussions on global governance reform, sustainable development, and the fight against hunger. “We are a racist and misogynist country. We need public policies that will face these inequalities, and we are taking this discussion to the global level,” highlighted Servo.
André Baniwa, General Coordinator for Indigenous Citizenship Promotion and Combating Racism against Indigenous Peoples at the MPI, stated that the creation of the Ministry gave the Brazilian government the opportunity to have a closer look over the reality of the indigenous communities and to generate some initiatives that can contribute to overcoming racism against them. Baniwa emphasized the importance of disaggregating data to identify the diverse ways of life among the various indigenous communities in the country, especially regarding education, health, and employment. This will facilitate the alignment of public policies with the urgent needs of these individuals.
“Alongside indigenous epistemicide — a concept referring to the death of knowledge construction within certain cultures — comes the invisibility of labor, which is not the same in our culture. The everyday work within our community is not going to appear in official data. It is a completely different reality. And we are perceived as people who do not work”, exemplified Baniwa. 
SDG 18 - Global advancements in the fight against racism
SDG 18 - Combating Racism and Promoting Racial Equality is a voluntary initiative adopted by Brasil aiming to include the fight against racial discrimination as a key element for achieving sustainable development in the global agenda. Through the National Committee for the Sustainable Development Goals and the implementation of the Agenda 2030 (CNDOS) of the General Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic, the Brazilian government has been working on the construction of indicators for the Goal. The initiative counts with the active support of other governmental areas, as well as of the Brazilian Black Movement, the Brazilian National Development Bank (Banco Nacional do Desenvolvimento - BNDES), and IPEA.  
Sérgio Godoy, Secretary of CNDOS, outlined the committee's agenda and emphasized the pressing need to develop SDG 18 with active social involvement. He announced government preparations to formulate indicators and establish progress monitoring mechanisms, highlighting the vital role of civil society support in propelling public policy forward.
“In this government, social participation is a method. Civil society is present in the elaboration, fiscalization and evaluation of public policy throughout its various stages. We need this to also occur in the context of the SDG 18. Policies to promote racial equality cannot thrive or tackle structural issues without the engagement of civil society,” asserted Godoy.
“We must publicize the proposal of the SDG 18: the Brazilian government’s effort, together with civil society, to develop this initiative and promote this element as a central issue for the development strategy. And that we want to learn together with the other countries about other strategies and possible ways in which we can foster collaboration in this direction,” reflected Tatiana Dias, director of Evaluation and Monitoring program of the MIR.
Combating ethnic and racial discrimination for development
Members of the Brazilian government, international organizations, and representatives from the forum of the world’s largest economies participated in a discussion on this issue within the Development Working Group. Celeste Badaró, the coordinator of the Working Group, emphasized the significance of presenting the Brazilian perspective on the inclusion of black, indigenous, and other minority groups during G20 discussions in order to solidifying the group's priorities for reducing inequalities.
“Brasil really wanted to bring the issue of ethnic and racial diversity to the center of the debate. Bringing the Brazilian perspective on the importance of including the black population, indigenous communities, and other minorities in general is crucial”, explained Badaró.