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United Nations prepares the Development Agenda post-2015

Thursday, 06 September 2012 14:22
The United Nations is getting prepared for the Development Agenda post-2015, which will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). Thus it was created a panel of advisors and announced the possible conduction of a Summit on Sustainable Development in 2015.

The Development Agenda is shaping the larger UN process for the years to come. This is very positive, but many issues remain to be resolved. One such issue is the connection between this process and the follow-up of Rio + 20 Summit, which includes the establishment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Will the SDGs be the successors of the MDGs? How to make this interaction between SDGs and MDGs?


Following Rio +20 Summit on Sustainable Development held in June in Brazil, the United Nations is now laying the foundation of its next big step: the release of the UN Agenda for Development after 2015.


The content, events and expected practical outcomes of this agenda are still very unclear. However, there are growing expectations about it, which could galvanize the world to commit themselves again to demand developing countries to achieve economic and social development.


It is essential to redefine and strengthen the leading role of the UN in promoting new ideas and concrete programs for the benefit of developing countries.


A comprehensive UN Development Agenda is even more necessary today when developing countries (and not only them) are suffering from the rapid deterioration of the economic situation and facing huge uncertainties.


It is possible that the process of the UN Development Agenda will lead to an UN Summit on Sustainable Development in 2014 or 2015.


The need to start thinking about a future agenda for development is evidenced by the approaching date on which the Millennium Development Goals were to be achieved. In 2015 some goals should be reached on reducing poverty, improving education, gender equality, maternal and child health, environmental stability, reducing HIV/AIDS and creating a Global Partnership for Development.


Since 2015 is very close, it is necessary to evaluate the success in achieving the MDGs, and associated with this evaluation, to define what should be the big picture and the action plans to be established as a sequence of the MDGs after 2015.


In 2010, in the MDG Summit held at the UN, the Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, was requested to produce and present recommendations on the United Nations Development Agenda beyond 2015. The General Assembly, whose 68th session will be held in September 2013, was also asked to include a special event dedicated to the actions taken to achieve the MDGs in its reunion.


One of the expectations is that in this special event, the General Assembly will agree to hold a Summit on Development in 2014 or 2015 and set the terms of reference on what is going to be discussed in the summit and the goals it is going to pursue.


The UN secretariat is already moving around the development agenda and undertook three different ways. First, in the end of June, a task force composed of 50 departments and agencies of the United Nations produced a report about what the UN system believes it could be the new Development Agenda.


The report proposes three fundamental principles (human rights, equality and sustainability) and four central dimensions (inclusive social development, inclusive economic development, peace and security).


It also identified some factors that should be taken into account in the construction of the agenda. Among others, it advises the international community to pay attention to three hazards: overhead; not to be too prescriptive but also not too loose; not being "donor centric". It also advises that the overall aims and goals should be tailored to regional and national contexts and to their initial conditions and that the partnership must be truly global.


Second, UN organizations are organizing eight global workshops, each of them about a different topic. They will be complemented by consultations organized by the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) in 50 countries on what governments and civil societies want in an UN Development Agenda.


Third, Ban Ki-moon convened a high level panel to advise him on the development agenda. On July 31st, he announced that this panel will have a joint presidency shared by three leaders: the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, the President of Indonesia, Bambang Yudhoyono, and the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.


The remaining 23 members of the panel include ministers, experts and other relevant people from South Africa, Benin, Brazil, China, Colombia, South Korea, United States, France, Netherlands, Yemen, India, Japan, Jordan, Latvia, Mexico, Nigeria, Kenya, Russia, Sweden, Turkey and East Timor.


The UN Secretary General commissioned this panel to produce "a bold but practical vision of development" by the end of the first semester of 2013. It will be a key contribution to the report Ban Ki-moon will prepare for governments for the special event that will take place at the General Assembly expected to happen in September 2013.


This panel will present 'recommendations for a global agenda post-2015 that contains at its core the fight against poverty and sustainable development and includes shared responsibility of all countries'.


Taking into account the experience gained in implementing the MDGs both in terms of results achieved as areas to improve, this panel should also reflect new development challenges.


Moreover, the panel was asked to coordinate its work with the work of a group of experts from 30 countries which is being formed to create the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) following the Rio +20 Summit.


So, some work is already being done to define what is going to replace the MDGs, but some questions still remain:


» Will the Development Agenda be defined with just one set of objectives and goals as the MDGs or will it contain a much more comprehensive set with including principles, analytical framework, action plan and means for its implementation?


» Will this process be linked to the process of Rio +20? Will the SDGs be the successors of the MDGS? What should be the interaction between them?


» When will governments (UN Member States) engage in the conception and in the plan of action, objectives and goals of the UN Development Agenda? What will be the process? While the UN Secretariat and some of the UN agencies have already taken the first steps to prepare the development agenda, governments are only supposed to join this process in September 2013. It is too late given that the countries are supposed to own and lead the Development Agenda.


» And what about the civil societies, will they be involved in the process? When? How? Some non-governmental organizations have begun some consultation processes. Oikos will soon develop mechanisms to promote the participation of the Portuguese civil society in this process.


The Development Agenda, at the risk of not being considered relevant, has to be accurate in its content. It cannot only consider the current global economic crisis. It also has to take into account the large social and environmental crisis of today. Should consider structural factors that give rise to crisis and not just list new objectives and goals as was the case of the MDGs.


See the report on the Development Agenda post-2015 here.


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