Info Service on UN Sustainable Development (Oct13/02)
Dear friends and colleagues,
To facilitate the perspectives and recommendations from civil society networks in six regions as a contribution to the United Nations formulation of the post-2015 Development Agenda, beyond the Millennium Development Goals, and to the work of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) conducted 14 teleconference consultations from 31 May to 12 July 2013. The regional consultation was conducted at the request of the Post-2015 Development Planning Team/Executive Office of the Secretary-General.
The resulting report titled Advancing Regional Recommendations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda was presented to the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2013 at the Special Event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The report emphasizes that the post-¬2015 agenda must focus not only on goals, but also on structural and root causes of rising inequality, impoverishment, social exclusion, environmental degradation and conflict.
On 22 September, over 1,000 representatives from civil society, governments and the UN gathered at the UN Headquarters in New York for an open dialogue on the report's critical regional issues and policy recommendations looking forward to the next global development agenda. This was organized by the UN-NGLS in partnership with the Post-2015 Development Planning Team of the Executive Office of the Secretary-General. According to UN-NGLS, this is the largest single gathering of civil society in the post-2015 process to date.
Speakers at the opening of the dialogue were the President of the 68th Session of the General Assembly John Ashe, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, and ministers from Ireland and South Africa, the co-chairs of the 25 September General Assembly Special Event on the MDGs. This was followed by 2 panels of speakers who participated in the UN-NGLS regional consultations and they shared recommendations and analysis emerging from all the regions: Africa; Arab States; Asia and the Pacific; Europe and North America; and Latin America and the Caribbean. The event concluded with remarks from Assistant Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed, Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning; Permanent Representative of Hungary to the United Nations and co-chair of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, Csaba Kőrösi; and Debapriya Bhattacharya of the Centre for Policy Dialogue.
The outcome report of this event which was also presented to the General Assembly Special Event on 25 September 2013, is reproduced below in Item 1. We are also pleased to share with you the report by UN-NGLS of the 22 September dialogue (Item 2).
Organized by the United Nations Non-¬Governmental Liaison Service (UN-¬NGLS) in partnership with
the Post-¬2015 Development Planning Team of the Executive Office of the Secretary-¬General
22 September 2013
This event launched the report of the post-¬‐2015 regional civil society consultations carried out by the United Nations Non-¬‐Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) in partnership with the Post-¬2015 Development Planning Team of the Executive Office of the Secretary-¬General. More than a thousand civil society representatives, governments and UN staff at UN Headquarters attended the event, which stands as the largest gathering of civil society representatives to date in the UN post-¬2015 process. Based on the consultation report, civil society participants conveyed concrete recommendations to be taken forward during the intergovernmental negotiations to define the post-¬‐2015 development agenda.
The regional consultations gathered critical analysis from regional civil society networks in four languages (Arabic, English, French, and Spanish), and involved 120 regional networks and social movements that collectively collaborate with over 3,000 national and community‐based organizations. Regional consultations were carried out in Asia and the Pacific; Latin America and the Caribbean; Europe and North America; Africa; and Arab States.
The report of these regional consultations serves as an input into the General Assembly Special Event on progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, held on 25 September 2013, as well as to the Secretary¬‐General and the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals.
The President of the 68th Session of the General Assembly, H.E. John Ashe, opened this 22 September dialogue by highlighting the necessity of participation of civil society and regional perspectives, throughout the 68th session of the General Assembly and the deliberations towards the post¬‐2015 agenda, wherein he stated that multistakeholder collaboration will be particularly important. Referring to the UN‐NGLS regional consultation report, he noted, “The concerns and proposals contained in these reports must now be reflected in our current discussions here in New York and I will invite and urge Member States to give them serious consideration.... It is essential that this new agenda should be shaped by and respond to what people are experiencing on the ground.”
Repeating the opening words of the UN Charter, “We the Peoples,” Deputy Secretary-¬General Jan Eliasson referred to this event as a starting point and an example of meaningful civil society engagement with the UN. Mr. Eliasson affirmed that both he and the Secretary-¬General understand the great value of expanding space for meaningful civil society participation throughout the UN system.
The co-¬chairs of the General Assembly Special Event on the MDGs also provided opening remarks. Mr. Joe Costello, Minister for Trade and Development of the Republic of Ireland, and Ms. Bathabile Olive Dlamini, Minister for Social Development of the Republic of South Africa, referred to the recognition amongst Member States that civil society engagement and input from all stakeholders are absolutely essential to the process of analyzing the achievements of the MDGs and defining the post-¬2015 agenda.
With regard to civil society engagement in this process, discussion panel co-¬chair Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and Coordinator of the UN Regional Commissions, emphasized, “It’s crucial to ensure full access to information, the right to equal participation, and also to ensure sufficient resources because there are many people who would like to be here who cannot be here.” Ms. Bárcena proposed that the follow up to this event should include collaboration between regional civil society networks and the Regional Commissions, in partnership with UN-¬NGLS, based on the recommendations raised by the consultation as presented at this event.
Emphasizing that the post-¬2015 agenda must focus not only on goals, but also on structural and root causes of rising inequality, impoverishment, social exclusion, environmental degradation and conflict, civil society speakers who participated in the consultation presented key recommendations from each region. These were structured around four main objectives for the post-¬2015 development agenda emerging from the consultation:
Rebalance power relations for justice:
Fulfill human rights and overcome exclusion:
Ensure equitable distribution and safe use of natural resources:
Establish participatory governance, accountability and transparency:
Advancing Regional Recommendations on Post-2015 event brings together one thousand representatives of civil society, governments, and the UN
By United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service
Over 1,000 representatives from civil society, governments and the United Nations gathered on 22 September at UN Headquarters in New York for an open dialogue on critical regional issues and policy recommendations looking forward to the next global development agenda. Advancing Regional Recommendations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, organized by the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) in partnership with the Post-2015 Development Planning Team of the Executive Office of the Secretary-General (EOSG), convened the largest single gathering of civil society in the post-2015 process to date.
This dialogue included opening remarks from President of the 68th Session of the General Assembly John Ashe, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, and ministers from Ireland and South Africa, the co-chairs of the General Assembly Special Event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Through two panels, speakers who participated in the UN-NGLS regional consultations shared recommendations and analysis emerging from all regions: Africa; Arab States; Asia and the Pacific; Europe and North America; and Latin America and the Caribbean. The event concluded with remarks from Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) Amina J. Mohammed, Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning; Permanent Representative of Hungary to the United Nations and co-chair of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, Csaba Kőrösi; and Debapriya Bhattacharya of the Centre for Policy Dialogue. The outcome report of this event was presented to the General Assembly Special Event on Millennium Development Goals, on 25 September 2013.
Opening Session: Remarks from the PGA, DSG, Ireland, South Africa, and UN-NGLS
Addressing a completely full room at the Trusteeship Council Chamber, President of the 68th Session of the General Assembly John Ashe described the task of great magnitude ahead, emphasizing that the post-2015 development agenda must be shaped by and respond to what people are experiencing on the ground. “Dialogue among all stakeholders will be necessary if we are to reach convergence on a single development framework and a set of goals that adequately meet the needs and aspirations of the diverse members of the human family,” Mr. Ashe stated.
Referring to the opening words of the UN Charter, “We the Peoples,” Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson pointed to the day’s event as a starting point and an example of meaningful civil society engagement with the UN. Mr. Eliasson affirmed that both he and the Secretary-General understand the great value of expanding space for meaningful civil society participation throughout the UN system, and emphasized the role of the UN in ensuring that “the voices and ideas of people from all over the world are brought to the debate, making it a true ‘We the Peoples’ process.”
The co-chairs of the General Assembly Special Event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) also provided opening remarks. Mr. Joe Costello, Minister for Trade and Development of the Republic of Ireland, stressed the need to accelerate efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), emphasizing inclusivity and accessibility for all, with a focus on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. Ms. Bathabile Olive Dlamini, South African Minister for Social Development, reiterated that the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda has to happen through an open and transparent intergovernmental process that builds on past achievements, particularly those at the regional level.
Anita Nayar, Chief of UN-NGLS in New York, elaborated on [the findings that emerged from the UN-NGLS consultation] with 120 regional civil society networks and social movements that represent over 3,000 national and community-based organizations. These perspectives and recommendations, Ms. Nayar explained, were contributed through 14 teleconference dialogues in four languages – Arabic, French, Spanish and English. In these regional dialogues, civil society called for the rebalancing of power for justice – in trade and investment rules, in reform of international financial institutions, and through demilitarization; the fulfillment of human rights for all and overcoming exclusion through a rights-based approach; ensuring the equitable distribution and safe use of natural resources, particularly regarding issues of extraction, land and resource grabs and in the context of the escalating realities of climate change; and implementing accountability mechanisms, transparency and ensuring the right to participate in decisions that affect people’s day-to-day lives.
Panel Discussion I: Regional Recommendations and Convergences
The first panel session was chaired by Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC). Ms. Bárcena emphasized the importance of regional perspectives in defining global processes as well as the importance of engaging civil society. “It’s not enough to be consulted,” she continued, “It’s crucial to ensure full access to information, the right to equal participation, and also to ensure sufficient resources because there are many people who would like to be here who cannot be here.” In addition, the MDGs are not enough for overcoming growing inequalities in the regions, particularly in a post-crisis context, she underscored, referring to the important role of the State in guaranteeing human rights.
The first speaker, Tetteh Hormeku of Africa Trade Network, asserted that in Africa, the central challenge for sustainable development is the transformation of the economy from primary commodity export-dependency towards enhanced productive capacity and high-value addition. This requires the application of technology, innovation, beneficiation, and better linkages between all economic sectors, Mr. Hormeku continued, “in short undertaking the twin-revolution of agrarian and rural transformation and industrialization.” He stressed that “only such fundamental economic transformation can form the basis for inclusive, equitable and sustainable growth for all the people of the continent. This is the accumulated lesson of the ravages of three decades of World Bank/IMF inspired structural adjustment policies on the continent […] that have failed to translate into any significant improvement in the living conditions of the vast majorities of Africa’s people; and the lessons of over a decade of uneven record in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.”
Therefore, Mr. Hormeku underscored the need to “establish a dynamic and qualitative goal for Africa’s structural economic transformation” in the post-2015 agenda, which is tracked through indices such as the enhanced productivity in small-holder agriculture and diversification of the rural economy; the development of manufacturing industry, and the rise of a modern service economy. Mr. Hormeku referred to two specific initiatives of the African Union - the African Mining Vision and the High-level Commission of Eminent Persons on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa (the Thabo Mbeki Commission) – as “welcome interventions by African governments aiming to ensure that Africa’s resources and wealth are not carted away from the continent, but are retained for the benefit of the people.”
“Clearly for Africa’s structural transformation, international policies must necessarily be complementary” to the efforts of national governments to secure policy space and resources for development, Mr. Hormeku concluded. Finally, he underscored, “All these things require the reconstitution in Africa of a democratic developmental State which is based on equity, and on the control and sovereignty of the people of their own decision-making processes.”
Mahinour El Badrawi of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights emphasized the role of economic and social injustices in sparking revolutions in the Arab region, stressing therefore the need to depart from the past “rentier economic model” which led to inequalities, a decrease in the productive capacity of the State and an increase in the levels of unemployment in the region. Instead, Ms. El Badrawi recommended a shift to a “democratic development State” model that revives the productive capacity of the State, can redress inequalities in wealth distribution, generates sustainable development, and redresses inequalities and wealth and wage depression, “for development that meets the rights and aspirations” of people in revolt.
The enabling of such a State model requires the reform of international architecture, including through revising bilateral investment treaties (BITs) and free trade agreements (FTAs) to remove obstacles go States’ “right to regulate” their trade and finance policies in the public interest, Ms. El Badrawi continued. The international financial institutions (IFIs) must commit and be accountable to a human rights-based approach and to refrain from making policy recommendations that are contrary to development purposes. Instead of proposing austerity measures to the Arab region, for example, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should be encouraging developed countries to respect their commitment to dedicate 0.7% of their gross national income to ODA. Financing for development is another point that should be revised when considering development for the Arab region, Ms. El Badrawi stressed, indicating that there was growing popular resistance to the burden of foreign debt.
Chee Yoke Ling of Third World Network underscored the need for fundamental change and reform of global economic policy, investment and trade rules and bilateral investment agreements, which have disproportionately benefited the corporate sector and eroded the necessary policy space for regulation and social policies that lift people out of poverty. Citing the specific recommendations that emerged out of UN-NGLS’s Asia and Pacific consultations, Ms. Chee affirmed that investment and trade rules that privilege the rights of corporations over those of people “must be reviewed and radically reformed.” Additionally, she outlined the proposal for specific goals on inequality and on full employment emerging from the consultation, emphasizing that “any goal must address the major structural obstacles in the current global economic order and enforce human rights (social, economic, cultural as well as civil and political).”
Concluding, Ms. Chee stated, “We would like to see ‘We the Peoples’ become a reality.” She illustrated the “deep concerns in the region on the promotion of public-private partnerships (PPPs) and the proposed new Partnership Facility in the Secretary-General’s report,” asking, “What is the implication for democratic governance, for the balance between public interests, the role of governments and parliaments, and also the increasing undue influence of the corporate private sector?” Stressing the importance of renewed multilateralism and the reaffirmation of equity and the principles agreed to in the UN conferences of the 1990s, Ms. Chee warned that the overreliance on corporate partnership “will institutionally weaken the State and the UN system,” and emphasized “the need to ensure that the Partnership Facility will be open, transparent and accountable.”
L. Hunter Lovins of Natural Capitalism Solutions emphasized the necessity of economic democracy and the feasibility of achieving a future of well-being for both humanity and the planet. Ms. Lovins indicated that in accordance with the Green Economy Initiative of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), national and sub-national governments alike are shifting investment flows from carbon intensive technologies to renewable power, and leading companies are finding that adopting more sustainable practices enables them financially to outperform their less responsible competitors. A global transition to sustainable energy, supplemented by a global Financial Transactions Tax, will be an important element of a “Regenerative Economy” that serves humanity and stewards the integrity of earth’s ecosystems, she continued.
Ms. Lovins illustrated the emergence of this “Regenerative Economy,” citing civil society organizing and the expansion of cooperatives, which now include more than a billion people worldwide. “Across the planet people are recognizing that conventional economies […] are not delivering what people really want: prosperity, regenerative economics and well-being,” she asserted. Therefore, the post-2015 agenda “must focus on answering what is it that people really want – human well-being and ecological integrity to ensure continued prosperity, and must then establish metrics to measure progress based on this, not on such inadequate measures as GDP,” Ms. Lovins concluded.
Roberto Bissio of Social Watch noted that thanks to an active policy of progressive taxation and redistribution, Latin America and the Caribbean is the only region in the world that reduced inequalities in the last decade, while inequalities are increasing all over the world in developing countries and in advanced economies. Further progress in this area, however, faces obstacles in obligations derived from the international trade and investment system that frequently contradict human rights-based policies. Mr. Bissio illustrated that “Free trade agreements, where signed, have not delivered on their promise of prosperity and the Caribbean region, for example, is heavily burdened by debt as a result.” An imbalance of power towards corporations in combination with international financial volatility, “derived from the inability of the advanced economies to properly regulate their financial markets, is negatively affecting the development prospects of the Latin American and Caribbean region and needs to be addressed,” he asserted.
Mr. Bissio cited the recent Montevideo Consensus on Population and Development adopted through a process of consultation and consensus building led by ECLAC, approved by 38 countries, and strongly welcomed by civil society, in particular women’s organizations. “This kind of rights-based approach and its capacity to build intergovernmental consensus and civil society support is precisely what we expect from the post-2015 debate,” Mr. Bissio stressed.
After the speakers’ initial remarks, civil society participants from the floor shared reflections and recommendations. Susan Angus from Commission on Voluntary Service and Action called attention to the effects of the financial crisis and to growing poverty worldwide, calling for analysis of systemic causes of increased deprivation and inequality also of systemic successes in eliminating poverty. International Presentation Association highlighted the need to include the ILO Recommendation 202 for a Social Protection Floor for all, where countries are requested to provide people with essential health care and benefits, as well as basic income security. HelpAge International advocated for the inclusion of the rights of the ageing population and for addressing population dynamics in the post-2015 development agenda. Paul Divakar of Wada Na Todo Abhiyan and the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights emphasized the need for a robust definition of inequality as necessary for State accountability, addressing extreme poverty, and ensuring the rights of traditionally excluded communities, specifically those affected by caste-based discrimination. Helen Hakena of Leitana Nehan Women’s Development Agency in Papua New Guinea called for transforming our approach to development, referring to the People’s General Assembly held the previous day. The China Foundation for Peace and Development recommended NGO-based research or partnership on meeting the objectives of the MDGs over the past few years, citing China’s successes in providing basic medical insurance to its population and significant poverty eradication.
Irish Minister for Trade and Development Joe Costello provided reflections after listening to the discussion, emphasizing the need for a solidarity approach to global development and the requirement of human rights as its basic pillar, as well as the need for a renewed commitment and spirit of multilateralism. Concluding the session, Ms. Bárcena proposed that the follow up to this event should include collaboration between the Regional Commissions and regional civil society networks, in partnership with UN-NGLS, based on the recommendations raised by the consultation as presented at this event.
Panel Discussion II: Sub-regional Dialogue
Chairing the second panel, Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Professor at The New School, acknowledged the specificity of the challenges in the regions, as well as the commonalities that emerged in the UN-NGLS consultation and its [four themes]. Regarding the call for a new economic model, she emphasized that there was a need for the “right economic model” within which policies are designed and guided by principles of human rights. “There is no tradeoff between economic growth, economic efficiency, commercial profitability, and fundamental human rights necessary for a life of dignity and freedom,” Professor Fukuda-Parr emphasized. She stressed the need for macroeconomic policy to incorporate and measure concerns of human rights, as well as the essential nature of achieving agreement on international means of implementation, particularly those that require joint action by governments – trade and investment policies, etc, as discussed within the consultation and the panels.
Noelene Nabulivou from Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN) began by indicating the importance of face-to-face meetings and inclusion of civil society from all regions in discussions towards sustainable development. Civil society and social movements should be considered as equal partners in sustainable development and toward the post-2015 agenda, Ms. Nabulivou continued. She drew attention to the persistent inequalities that affect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community; people with disabilities; rural dwellers, and others – and highlighted the need to address persistent inequalities at all levels, and to link sustainable development issues at all levels including individual, community, State, and within global economic governance
Tonya Haynes of CatchAFyah Caribbean Feminist Network emphasized the need for a paradigm shift in development that would address asymmetries of power, including by reforming the trade and investment architecture and agreements which currently “cannibalize” the policy space of national governments. She also asserted that the post-2015 agenda should attend to the special needs of Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States, and “reinstate the goal of solving the debt problem,” a particularly urgent reality in the Caribbean.
Ms. Haynes asserted that the post-2015 framework should promote human rights and the social inclusion of migrants, persons with disabilities and other groups, and at a minimum call for non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity expression. Illustrating support in the Caribbean region for the inclusion in the post-2015 agenda of full employment, rural development and food sovereignty, Ms. Haynes called for the recognition of women’s care work in the proposed gender equality goal. Ms. Haynes concluded by indicating that poverty eradication is a good goal, “but we must not create more poverty,” highlighting the need for more and better data.
Klaus Schilder of Misereor/CIDSE stressed that a holistic development approach is needed to enable governments to correct long-standing structural and systemic imbalances. He noted that the new paradigm must overcome traditional policy approaches and center on justice, equity, solidarity and the fair distribution of goods and services to all. Referring to the outcomes of the UN-NGLS European regional consultation, Mr. Schilder illustrated the negative effects of austerity measures implemented by European nations in response to the financial crisis. These have had brutal and far-reaching effects on social protection, pensions, wages, education, healthcare and social security and have led to rising social tension, Mr. Schilder stressed, and therefore European civil society has underscored the need to maintain policy space for countries in crisis, and to raise revenues through ending tax evasion and implementing innovative finance mechanisms, such as the Financial Transactions Tax currently agreed to by 11 European countries.
Mr. Schilder stressed the urgent need to “re-orient the financial sector to again serve the real economy in the interest of the people,” by redressing over-consumption and through redistribution. “We must move from ‘too big to fail’ to ‘too big to allow,’” Mr. Schilder continued, warning that framing the post-2015 discussion purely in terms of financial needs will lead to a business-driven policy framework and a resultant weakening of public institutions and marginalization of other actors. Citing civil society concern about the overemphasis on transnational corporations (TNCs) and PPPs in the UN discussions on the post-2015 agenda, Mr. Schilder concluded: “Potential risks and side-effects of this new ‘Partnership Euphoria’ must thus be considered in a careful analysis including the growing influence on political decision-making, reputational risk associated with choice of the wrong partner, the fragmentation of global governance, the risk of quick-fix solutions, unstable finance flows and the weakening of principles of representative democracy.”
Paul Quintos of the Campaign for People’s Goals for Sustainable Development drew attention to the Asia-Pacific consultations’ “strong critique of the dominant paradigm of neoliberal globalization, particularly the export-oriented foreign investment-led growth strategy of many Asian countries.” Governments’ efforts to create an “FDI-friendly environment” have resulted in violation of workers’ rights and loss of lives, Mr. Quintos continued, citing the example of the recent collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh that killed over 1,000 women garment workers. He also raised the concerns of land and resource grabbing and extractivism in Asia, which have led to the displacement of people, loss of livelihoods, and degradation of water and land. Civil society in the region also called for adopting food sovereignty, the ecosystems approach – the primary framework for action under the Convention on Biological Diversity, and territorial management planning to promote conservation, Mr. Quintos illustrated.
Civil society in Asia is also advocating the reductions of carbon emissions and for new, adequate, predictable, and appropriate climate finance, “on the basis of historical responsibility for climate change and the polluters pay principle,” Mr. Quinto continued. The phase out of nuclear power and fossil fuel subsidies must be accompanied by “greater support for community-based decentralized renewable energy systems as the major component of a renewable energy transition programme,” he urged. Concluding by referring to the “particularly worrying trend” of the overreliance on PPPs and the resultant need for a stronger regulatory framework for the corporate sector, Mr. Quintos underscored that civil society is calling for a stronger role of the State towards development justice: “a transformative framework that would redistribute wealth, power and resources between countries, between rich and poor and between men and women,” towards the “full realization of human rights for all, and the individual and collective wellbeing of the people and the environment.”
Jane Nalunga of Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) stressed that the UN-NGLS Africa consultation emphasized the need for the post-2015 agenda to promote inclusive, people-centred pro-development policies and structural transformation of African economies. Currently, policies of international institutions including the World Bank, IMF and the World Trade Organization and FTAs “are limiting the policy space within which African countries can initiate and implement development policies, leading to increased poverty levels,” Ms. Nalunga explained, calling for an assessment of the efficacy of these policies and the reduction of the democratic deficit at the global level based on the human rights framework.
Though investment is necessary for development, Ms. Nalunga asserted that “Bilateral Investment Agreements promote investors’ rights and as such have led to many negative implications in Africa, for example the outflow of resources, crowding out of SMES, environmental degradation especially in the extractive sectors, and displacement of people due to land grabbing.” Ms. Nalunga highlighted the need for an international framework on foreign investment “that balances the rights and obligations of foreign investors and host countries,” and suggested that the UN Code of Conduct on Transnational Corporations be revived in reflection of the UN’s key role in regulating this situation. She also emphasized the need for domestic resource mobilization in Africa in recognition of dwindling ODA, including through taxation and addressing tax avoidance, which also has implications for accountability at the national level and should be included in the post-2015 discussion.
Turning her focus to climate change in Africa as increasingly related to development, Ms. Nalunga advocated “rethinking the current capitalist development model with its unsustainable production and consumption patterns.” She called on the UN to ensure that all countries agree to binding commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and that funds and technology transfer are made available for poor countries to adapt to climate change. Clear indicators for how to address climate change sustainably and as a global good should be included within the post-2015 development agenda, Ms. Nalunga concluded.
Daniel Tygel of Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of the Social Solidarity Economy (RIPESS) began by calling attention to the role of indicators and inequality, stating that the “concentration of wealth (in finances, land or properties) must be considered as what it is: an obstacle to development.” Mr. Tygel further indicated that the World Bank measure of US$1.25 is insufficient to measure poverty, and pointed to several non-monetary aspects that account for a healthy society, including care work; community bonds; collectives; local seeds preservation; sharing; diversity of gender, culture, and race; access to clean environment, water, land, and livelihoods; and public health and education, among others. Mr. Tygel illustrated that some of the indigenous nations in Latin America propose an integrated view of development that take these factors into account, called “Buen Vivir” (translated as “living well”), while in Asia there is the concept of Gross National Happiness Index: “These frameworks offer a set of qualitative and quantitative indicators that successfully address the evaluation of development and health of a nation,” which should “be considered as the reference to evaluate poverty, inequality and development in the MDGs,” he stressed.
A second axis for change, Mr. Tygel indicated, is to shift the economic paradigm from a for-profit, market oriented and competitive economy to a fair social and solidarity economy (SSE). Mr. Tygel defined SSE as based on associative collective work that is inclusive and rooted in the community; generates active citizenship by its members; and promotes women’s economic emancipation and gender equality, diversity, and the preservation of indigenous and traditional cultures. These characteristics define SSE’s economic engagement, which includes the production of goods and services; trading; local circuits of value aggregation; consumers’ organizations; financial services; and natural resources management, among others, he continued. Mr. Tygel provided recommendations for transitioning to SSE, including through clear goals and indicators to positively value the creation of a favourable environment for the flourishing of SSE, agroecology and peasant agriculture; the local operations of international and national funds aimed at economic development; and a clear statement that “universal access to commons and basic services means public assets for all citizens which therefore cannot by any means be commodified or privatized.” Mr. Tygel concluded by citing the importance of changing mindsets towards analyzing and incorporating community-generated, practical solutions to economic crisis, like SSE, into global discussions.
Ziad Abdel Samad of Arab NGO Network on Development (ANND) indicated that the new development paradigm necessitates addressing the financial and trading systems as strongly recommended in the UNCTAD Report on Trade and Investment for 2013. “The systemic flaws leading to rising, crisis and social unrest need to be properly addressed, including establishing the development State, a human rights-based approach, the focus on enhancing and supporting productive sectors directed to the domestic and regional markets, adopting fair redistributive policies among and within the countries, besides many others measures,” he stressed. Mr. Abdel Samad illustrated that the UN-NGLS Arab regional consultation “focused on the need to allow developing countries and all stakeholders to have pro-active engagement at the same level as the industrialized countries, to ensure that their demands and those of civil society are addressed in a proper manner.”
Mr. Abdel Samad continued by emphasizing the importance of the human rights framework – not only within national borders, “but with the increasing impact of globalization on the national public policy making, [governments] should also comply to their extra-territorial activities, described in the Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial Obligations in the area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.” In addition, Mr. Abdel Samad advocated that the international community –particularly the UN and its Member States – “should be committed to drive the fundamental changes required to rebalance power relations at national and international levels,” adding that peace, security, militarization and occupation should be perceived in the context of human rights and fair distribution of natural resources in the region, as huge resources are being distorted from being used in development and social services to serve military purposes. “In this regard there is a need to address foreign occupation as main obstacle to development, which prevented people of our region not only in Palestine but also in the other countries that witnessed foreign occupation like in Iraq and Somalia from their right to self-determination, which is one of main principles rooted in the UN Charter, in all the human rights system and in the international law,” Mr. Abdel Samad concluded.
Ignacio Saíz of the Center for Economic and Social Rights shared the central message of the UN-NGLS North America consultations: “the post2015 framework must address the structural inequities in the global economic financial and trading system, which are fueling poverty inequality and environmental degradation worldwide, and that it must serve to hold wealthier states more accountable for their role in perpetuating these imbalances.” Continuing by referring to the role of the US in the global financial crisis of 2007-8 as well as the austerity measures implemented by European countries in the aftermath of the crisis, Mr. Saíz illustrated this combination as assaulting “the social and economic rights of ordinary people who are bearing the brunt of social spending cuts and massive declines in ODA,” with little accountability for those who fueled the crisis. In this context, he continued, “North American civil society groups envision a post-2015 development framework that will bring about truly structural transformation, involving more stringent regulation of financial markets, a departure from the dogma of austerity towards policies which are aimed at achieving productive employment and decent work for all, compliant with the core labour rights standards of the ILO, and the creation of universal social protection systems in line with States’ human rights obligations.”
More equitable and taxation polices at international and domestic levels should be included in the post-2015 framework, Mr. Saíz continued, remarking on the need for more robust mechanisms for corporate accountability, drawing on UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights. The framing of global economic governance in the post-2015 agenda must be grounded in international human rights commitments, “not just as a moral obligation but as a matter of legal obligation grounded in international human rights standards,” he continued, adding that the [Declaration on the Right to Development] “speaks directly to the need for joint international action to address the human rights consequences of current global economic arrangements.” Mr. Saíz concluded by calling attention to the “responsibilities of all States to address deprivation and inequality in their own countries,” pointing to the example of recent “escalating levels of poverty and widening socioeconomic inequality” in North America and Europe and the need, therefore, for all for universal reporting as part of the post-2015 framework.
Responses to this second panel included Centro de Información sobre la Cooperación Internacional (CEPEI), which emphasized the importance of disaggregating indicators within the post-2015 agenda, of special relevance for middle-income countries facing high levels of inequality; the Pacific Islands Development Forum, which asked about the role of the private sector in development; [Participate Initiative], which pointed to the importance of participation to recognize and guarantee human rights for all, to build accountable governance, and to ensure services respond to the poorest and most marginalized in the world. Additionally, the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict pointed to the relationship between armed conflict, violence, and development as well as the role of regional organizations in promoting an enabling environment for development; Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law, and Development and Disabled Peoples International emphasized the strategic inclusion of disabled people’s organizations worldwide; Women Environmental Programme pointed to the critical nature of water and sanitation as a human rights priority for post-2015; and SOS Children’s Villages, which emphasized the importance of implementation in the MDGs and post-2015, particularly for children. Finally, CIVICUS shared the results of the Major Groups and Stakeholders briefings held earlier during the weekend, emphasizing multistakeholder participation in the post-2015 planning process.
The closing panel, chaired by ASG Amina J. Mohammed, Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning, included reflections from the Permanent Representative of Hungary to the United Nations and co-chair of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, Csaba Kőrösi. Mr. Kőrösi referred to the “remarkable convergence of many ideas across continents” shared during the dialogue, adding that “some of them would be the most powerful messages for our Member States.” He pointed to the strong demands for justice and equality within the sustainable development agenda, and asked civil society “to keep voicing your transformation vision both at the UN, in the Open Working Group, and back at home as well, because at the end of the day our goals are global but what really makes the difference are the national implementation programmes. Our governments will need to keep in mind what you find important,” Mr. Kőrösi stressed.
Debapriya Bhattacharya of the Centre for Policy Dialogue also provided closing remarks, reflecting on the MDGs and the need for a “final push” to achieve them, while analyzing their “fault lines.” Mr. Bhattacharya positioned the macroeconomic framework, issues of productive capacity and employment, the multidimensional nature of poverty, and the need to address inequalities as lessons which should be taken forward form the MDGs into the post-2015 agenda. He concluded by raising the question of how civil society will participate as the post-2015 sustainable development discussion is taken forward in the intergovernmental arena.
In closing the event, ASG Amina J. Mohammed referred to the importance of grounding the post-2015 agenda in the human rights framework, a concern raised “front and center” by civil society since the beginning of the process. In response to the concerns raised in the UN-NGLS consultation and in the dialogue about the role of the private sector, Ms. Mohammed agreed that the post-2015 agenda must address “the concerns people have that when we have a partnership between government and the private sector, that it doesn’t become an unholy alliance to the detriment of the people.” As the post-2015 deliberations continue, Ms. Mohammed emphasized that the end goal is to create “a partnership that is trusted and that we can hit the ground running with.”
Referring to the recent Secretary-General’s report on accelerating the MDGs, A Life of Dignity for All, Ms. Mohammed stressed the importance of defining means of implementation for the post-2015 agenda, including through “regulatory frameworks, tools beyond rhetoric, and the political will to unlock that.” Within the intergovernmental context of the [Expert Committee on Financing Sustainable Development] and the Open Working Group, Ms. Mohammed stated that the implementation discussion “demands of the UN system that we open up spaced outside of it, to bring those voices in,” and that genuine partnerships “will help everyone be equal at the table so we can get this agenda done.” Ms. Mohammed concluded by appealing to the co-chairs of the intergovernmental processes to open up space, and to civil society to continue their advocacy work with governments at the national level.
The outcome report of this event was presented to the General Assembly Special Event on Millennium Development Goals, on 25 September 2013. Please see http://www.un-ngls.org/spip.php?article4350 for more information and the link to the report Advancing Regional Recommendations for the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the synthesis of the UN-NGLS regional consultations presented during this event.
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