This public panel will discuss the multiple roles of rural women and girls for enhancing food sovereignty, preserving biodiversity, reducing inequalities, and combating climate change. The presentations will affirm the importance of engaging women in policy-making around more equitable and sustainable production and consumption.

Panelists will offer perspectives from the local level, addressing challenges such as intellectual property rights and land ownership for small-scale women farmers. We will also discuss the opportunities and shortcomings of a human rights approach and global advocacy efforts to increasing women's participation in decision-making to tackle poverty, malnutrition, and environmental degradation.

The  just released Canadian federal budget for 2018 takes some positive steps forward on gender equality and science funding, but comes up short on the bold policy moves that will make a real difference —universal child care, pharmacare, health care, and tax fairness.

The government promised their citizens a budget guided by gender analysis this year, and in many ways it delivered: pay equity legislation for the public sector, ‘use it or lose it’ second parent leave, a long-awaited increase in funding to women’s organizations, and additional investments for addressing workplace harassment and funding to rape crisis centres.

An interview with Barbara Adams, on the problem of private finance within the UN development system, and the need for civil society action in response to these growing trends.

Adams speaks about the United Nations' turn to the corporate sector and the trend for multi-stakeholder partnerships. This has been reinforced by the 2030 Agenda, and the push for its implementation and achievement of the SDGs. The accompanying policy influence, programme distortions, undermining of the 2030 Agenda and ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals have, however, not been adequately addressed.

The policy responses to the recent financial crisis have revealed a deep-seated structural neglect of human rights in economic policy formulation, insufficient protection of the most vulnerable and a lack of attention to participation, consultation, transparency and accountability, a United Nations human rights expert has said.

"That neglect is the driving force behind the development of guiding principles for assessing the human rights impact of economic reform programmes and the development of analytical and methodological tools to assess human rights impacts."

While real GDP growth for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) as a group is forecast to strengthen somewhat to 5 per cent in 2017 and 5.4 per cent in 2018, the modest improvements in the international context fall short of what would be needed to spur growth and structural transformation in the LDCs.

This is one of the main conclusions of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in a new report titled "Selected Sustainable Development Trends in the Least Developed Countries 2018".

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