Info Service on UN Sustainable Development (Oct13/01)
On 25 September 2013, the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Ambassador John Ashe of Antigua and Barbuda, hosted a Special Event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to follow up efforts made towards achieving the Goals. Below is an article on the outcome document that was adopted by Member States. The full text is available at: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/pdf/Outcome%20documentMDG.pdf
Prior to the special event, more than 1000 participants comprising representatives of civil society organisations, Member States and UN officials came together on 22 September for an open dialogue on critical regional issues and policy recommendations looking forward to the next global development agenda. Entitled "Advancing Regional Recommendations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda", this was organised by the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) in partnership with the Post-2015 Development Planning Team of the Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General. The report of the dialogue and the report of the six regional consultations conducted by UN-NGLS were presented to the UN General Assembly Special Event on 25 September. For details of the UN-NGLS event and consultation report, please see: http://www.un-ngls.org/spip.php?article4350
UN agrees on negotiations towards 2015 Development Summit
New York, 2 October (Bhumika Muchhala) – Heads of state and government gathered at the United Nations headquarters in New York for a ‘special event’ convened by the President of the United Nations General Assembly to review progress made towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The 25 September meeting adopted an outcome document which agreed to hold a Summit in September 2015 at heads of state and government level to adopt the post-2015 Development Agenda.
It also decided to launch a process of intergovernmental negotiations at the beginning of the 69th session of the UN General Assembly (in September 2014) which will lead to the Summit. (See http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/pdf/Outcome%20documentMDG.pdf for the text of the outcome document.)
The outcome document stated that “in arriving at an inclusive and people-centred post-2015 development agenda, we look forward to a transparent intergovernmental process which will include inputs from all stakeholders including civil society, scientific and knowledge institutions, parliaments, local authorities, and the private sector.”
The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, was also called upon to “synthesise the full range of inputs then available and to present a synthesis report before the end of 2014.”
Member States recognized the various processes mandated in the outcome document of the June 2012 Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) that are now underway, in particular the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, the inter-governmental committee of experts on Sustainable Development Financing, and the process to develop options for a technology facilitation mechanism. These three processes are directed by Member States to “complete their work in a comprehensive, balanced and expeditious manner by September 2014.”
Over the coming year (September 2013-September 2014), preparation of the post-2015 development agenda will benefit from General Assembly events to be convened by the President of the General Assembly under the theme “The Post-2015 Development Agenda – Setting the Stage.” Ambassador John Ashe of Antigua and Barbuda is the current President.
Concerns and Challenges
The outcome document expressed concern over the “unevenness and gaps in achievement and at the immense challenges that remain” in achieving the MDGs, stressing that among and within developing countries, those who have been left furthest behind require the most urgent attention and support.
particular, the “special challenges and needs of the least-developed
countries” was taken note of. Despite some impressive progress,
most African countries remain “off-track” in meeting the MDGs, and
“conflict and post conflict countries are the most challenged.”
Furthermore, recognition was given to “the specific challenges which many middle-income countries face.
The General Assembly reaffirmed a commitment to the outcome document of the high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly on the MDGs held in 2010, and resolved to target the most off-track MDGs and those where progress has stalled by scaling up proven interventions and fulfilling pledges already made. These include those relating to poverty and hunger, universal access to primary education, child mortality, universal access to reproductive health, including maternal health, environmental sustainability and access to water and sanitation.
Where efforts are broadly on track, and a momentum exists, all effort will be made to sustain and reinforce it. For example, in combating HIV/AIDS, Member States committed to step up efforts to meet the goal of universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services by 2015. The fight against malaria and tuberculosis will also be maintained.
Gender equality and empowerment of women and girls received special mention as that which underpins all goals.
Global Partnership for Development
The outcome document underlined the central role of a strengthened global partnership for development. The importance of national ownership was recognized, in that national efforts need to be assisted by international support and an enabling international environment. For implementation, the mobilisation and effective use of all resources, public and private, domestic and international, will be vital.
Member States reaffirmed the importance of human rights, good governance, the rule of law, transparency and accountability at all levels.
Developed countries were called upon in the outcome document “to urgently fulfil the ODA commitments they have made, individually and collectively.” The need to accelerate progress towards the target of 0.7% of GNI as ODA by 2015, including 0.15% to 0.20% for least developed countries, was given urgent attention.
Meanwhile, the business sector was urged to engage in responsible business practices.
Post-2015 Development Agenda
Member States affirmed their determination “to craft a strong post-2015 development agenda, which will build on the foundations laid by the MDGs, complete the unfinished business and respond to new challenges.”
The outcome document further stated: “As we take the work forward, we reaffirm our commitment to the Millennium Declaration, the outcome document of Rio+20, the Monterrey Consensus (on financing for development), the Doha Declaration on Financing for Development and the outcomes of all the major UN conferences and summits in the economic, social, and environmental fields. We will continue to be guided by the values and principles enshrined in these texts.”
In particular, there was reaffirmation of the principles of the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development including the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, as set out in principle 7.
(According to developing country sources, the inclusion of common but differentiated responsibilities was contentious, with objections from major developed countries. The insistence of the Group of 77 and China ensured that this was included in the final document.)
Recognising the intrinsic interlinkage between poverty eradication and promotion of sustainable development, the outcome document underlined the need for a coherent approach which integrates in a balanced manner the three dimensions of sustainable development, that of economic, social and environment.
The outcome document clarified that this “coherent approach involves working towards a single framework and set of Goals –universal in nature and applicable to all countries, while taking account of differing national circumstances and respecting national policies and priorities. It should also promote peace and security, democratic governance, the rule of law, gender equality and human rights for all.”
Statement of G77 and China
The G77 and China, comprised of 133 developing countries, in their statement at the special event, stressed that it is imperative for heads of state and government to “use this historical opportunity to reaffirm our collective political commitment and redouble our efforts ot accelerate the achievement of the MDGs with a sense of urgency and determination.”
The G77 statement highlighted that the “principle of common but differentiated responsibilities is of paramount importance as a guiding principle in crafting the future development agenda as it takes into account and respects the differing national circumstances and development priorities of developing countries.”
During the intergovernmental consultations prior to the event, through which the outcome document was constructed, the G77 had consistently emphasised the critical importance of a negotiated outcome document for the Post-2015 development agenda. Recognising the importance of a negotiated document for this event on the MDGs to ensure the primary role of the inter-governmental process in the formulation of the new global development agenda, the G77 and China pushed hard in the face of resistance from many developed countries.