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TWN Info Service on UN Sustainable Development (Apr14/02)
22 April 2014
Third World Network  

Dear friends and colleagues,

At the 10th session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (31 March - 4 April) poverty eradication and the promotion of equality were major topics for discussion. These are 2 of the 19 "focus areas" identified by the OWG Co-chairs from the input phase of the intergovernmental process.

After a first round of discussion at OWG 9, the Co-chairs expanded on the focus areas, and for OWG 10 they proposed further discussion of the 19 focus areas that they had then grouped into 8 clusters: Cluster 1 is on Poverty eradication, Promote equality; Cluster 2 is on Gender equality and women's empowerment, Education, Employment and decent work for all, Health and population dynamics; Cluster 3 is on Water and sanitation, Sustainable agriculture, food security, and nutrition; Cluster 4 is on Economic growth, Industrialization, Infrastructure, Energy; Cluster 5 is on Sustainable cities and human settlements, Promote Sustainable Consumption and Production, Climate; Cluster 6 - Conservation and sustainable use of marine resources, oceans and seas, Ecosystems and biodiversity; Cluster 7 is on Means of implementation/Global partnership for sustainable development; and Cluster 8 is on Peaceful and non-violent societies, rule of law and capable institutions.

However, on 31 March during their inputs on methodology to formulate the SDGs, Member States made it clear that though they agreed to the clustering for the purposes of organizing the discussions during the session, those discussions are, as stressed by the Group of 77 and China, “without prejudice to or prejudge the nature and shape of the final goals and targets”. This sentiment was repeated in most statements, including that of the African Group, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), Least Developed Countries (LDCs), the Caribbean Community countries (CARICOM), the Pacific Troika and Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDs), Brazil, the United States of America (USA), the European Union (EU), the China-Indonesia-Kazakhstan troika, the Italy-Spain-Turkey troika, and India.

We are pleased to share with you the following TWN reports on the OWG 10 discussion related to methodology, poverty eradication and the promotion of equality:

Item 1: South reiterates Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Means of Implementation

Item 2: Recognise global realities to tackle poverty eradication and promote equality, South urges

Item 3: G77/China reiterate principles, address poverty eradication and equality

Meanwhile the further revised focus areas document (3rd version) has just been released:  http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/3686Workingdoc.pdf

A first reading of the document shows that many key issues and proposals from developing countries are still not reflected by the Co-chairs.

With best wishes,
Third World Network


ITEM 1

SDGs: South reiterates Common but Differentiated Responsibilities, and Means of Implementation
By Ranja Sengupta and Mirza Alas (New York)

Common but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR), an agreed principle in the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development that was reaffirmed in the Rio+20 Outcome Document in 2012, was central again at the 10th Session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals.

Means of Implementation was another recurring concern with the Member States during the session that took place on 31 March to 4 April in New York.

The Open Working Group (OWG) provided feedback and inputs to a 19 March revised document prepared by the Co-Chairs, Ambassadors Macharia Kamau (Kenya) and Csaba Korosi of Hungary, on 19 Focus Areas culled from the “input phase” of the OWG’s work and comments at the 9th Session. The current second phase is to negotiate the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Three more sessions are scheduled for May, June and July. Based on these discussions, the Co-Chairs will give a report for the UN General Assembly to consider in September 2014.

The first day’s discussion covered methodology-related discussion as well as an extensive discussion on Focus Areas 1 and 12, namely, “Poverty Eradication” and “Promoting Equality”.  (This Article covers the methodology-related discussions, while the next article one is on Focus areas 1 and 12.)

Right at the beginning Ambassador Kamau reminded Member States that the Co-Chairs wanted to know three things from them. First, where focus areas are duplicated and can be clustered; second, goals that are the primary drivers of sustainable development; and third the targets that are actions and deliverables which will affect sustainability.

The Co-Chairs had divided the 19 focus areas into 8 clusters. However, during their inputs on methodology, the Member States made it clear that though they agreed to the clustering for the purposes of organizing the discussions during the session, the discussions on clusters are, as stressed by the Group of 77 and China, “without prejudice to or prejudge the nature and shape of the final goals and targets”. This sentiment was repeated in most statements, including that of the African Group, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), Least Developed Countries (LDCs), the Caribbean Community countries (CARICOM), the Pacific Troika and Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDs), Brazil, the United States of America (USA), the European Union (EU), the China-Indonesia-Kazakhstan troika, the Italy-Spain-Turkey troika, and India.

(Cluster 1 is on Poverty eradication, Promote equality; Cluster 2 is on Gender equality and women's empowerment, Education, Employment and decent work for all, Health and population dynamics; Cluster 3 is on Water and sanitation, Sustainable agriculture, food security, and nutrition; Cluster 4 is on Economic growth, Industrialization, Infrastructure, Energy; Cluster 5 is on Sustainable cities and human settlements, Promote Sustainable Consumption and Production, Climate; Cluster 6 - Conservation and sustainable use of marine resources, oceans and seas, Ecosystems and biodiversity; Cluster 7 is on Means of implementation/Global partnership for sustainable development; and Cluster 8 is on Peaceful and non-violent societies, rule of law and capable institutions.)

CBDR reverberated in several statements by Member States including the G77 and China, LDCs, landlocked developing countries (LLDCs), the African Group, CARICOM and several developing countries such as Brazil (and Nicaragua), China (and Indonesia, Kazakhstan), India, Pakistan, South Korea, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and others. Benin on behalf of the LDCs, supported by Bangladesh among others, went further to highlight the need for Differential and Preferential Treatment for LDCs. The PSIDS and LLDCs highlighted the special need of countries in special situations. Among the developed countries, Austria, Croatia and Bulgaria (and the UK on 3 March) said categorically that CBDR should not apply to the SDGs as a whole.

Developing countries also pointed to the need to have goals that also apply to developed country Members and not just to them. This could span areas such as sustainable production and consumption, poverty and inequality, and means of implementation. Currently the commitments are sought only from the developing countries and this needs to change, pointed out the G77 and China, Brazil, Nicaragua, India among others. Brazil (with Nicaragua) said that the text places “disproportionate burden” on developing countries. Not only do they have to commit to goals, they also have to find the means to do it, according to Brazil.

Means of Implementation (MOI) as a stand-alone goal as well as under each goal was also brought up again and again. The G77 and China, in their statement pointed out that it is “important that developed countries take on concrete deliverables under the SDGs and also provide enhanced and measurable financial and technological support to the developing countries under a strengthened global partnership for development.” The LDCs (represented by Benin), the LLDCs (represented by Zambia), AOSIS (represented by Nauru), CARICOM (represented by Trinidad & Tobago), the African Group (represented by Guinea Bissau), and Pacific Troika and the PSIDS all argued strongly for the necessary MOI without which the pursuit of the SDGs will be impossible, they suggested. Several developing countries, speaking as Troika or in their individual capacity including Brazil, Nicaragua, India, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, Belarus, Bangladesh, Iran supported this position.

The European Union, later supported by Austria, however made it clear that they did not support means of implementation with each goal. However over the course of the next days, it became clear that several countries and groups were already articulating very specific ideas about what MOI with each goal should contain.

Another issue was whether or not to include a narrative with the SDGs that references the Rio principles and CBDR. During the 9th Session of the OWG, this had been an area of contention. The 10th Session saw a continuation of that debate. While Colombia and Sweden argued that no separate narrative is required for the SDGs, the G77 and China, Brazil and Nicaragua, the Pacific SIDS, the China, Indonesia and Kazakhstan troika articulated a clear demand for such a narrative.

Bolivia, on behalf of the G-77 and China, suggested that the “outcome should fully respect the Rio outcome document and all principles including the CBDR. This aspect must be captured in the narrative that will accompany the proposal for goals and targets in the report of the OWG.” China (with Indonesia and Kazakhstan) said that it is clear that some focus areas are not “goalable”, so it is practical to include the narrative to include areas which are not goalable. Brazil said that a short narrative referencing the Rio+20 Outcome document and the CBDR principle is needed.

Focus Area 19 on “peaceful and non-violent societies, rule of law, capable institutions” saw divergence. The EU said that this needs to be separated into two different goals, and was supported by some other countries including the USA and Romania. On the other hand, India said it did not see these issues as a separate cluster, much less a separate goal, and that these are “enablers of development and need to be treated as such.”

Brazil and Nicaragua noted that this was the only focus area left unclustered, reflecting its being a “point outside the curve”, or “the odd man out” in relation to the mandate of Rio+20. Brazil said that “We found no grounds for dealing with it in the Rio consensus, and insisting on this divisive issue might prove to be a costly distraction, keeping us from making good progress on the core social, economic and environmental challenges facing us in the 21st century.”

Brazil point out that issues of organized crime, violence, corruption and conflict already have appropriate venues in the UN, and that issues including “rule of law (to the extent that it means things like access to justice or the legal empowerment of the poor), could perhaps find acceptable formulation under other existing areas such as means of implementation”.

Below are highlights of some of the Member States/groups statements.

The G77 and China statement, which was supported by AOSIS, LDCs, LLDCs, CARICOM, SIDs, and Colombia and Guatemala, China, Indonesia and Kazakhstan, India, Vietnam, Bhutan and Thailand, Timor Leste, Ethiopia, Ecuador, Argentina and Bolivia in their troika/national capacities, also asked the OWG to respect the mandate of paragraph 247 of the Rio+20 Outcome Document which underlines that the SDGs must be global in nature and universally applicable to all countries. “To achieve this international cooperation for the eradication of poverty and inequality between developed and developing countries are critical. It is also important that developed countries take on concrete deliverables under the SDGs and also provide enhanced and measurable financial and technological support to the developing countries under a strengthened global partnership for development,” the Group stressed.

(See separate detailed report on the G77 and China statement.)

Brazil with Nicaragua said that while the acceptance of the clusters as a basis for streamlining the 19 focus areas will be decided by the OWG Members in due course, essentially they must meet the test of the Rio+20 outcome document. The clustering “should not overstate issues that are not central to the Rio consensus, or attempt to introduce elements that may alienate us from the essential goal of devising an agenda on growth social inclusion and environmental sustainability.” 

The statement emphasized that “We need to work on the transformational nature of the SDG, their global scope, universal applicability and the CBDR.”  Leadership from the developed countries is warranted on key issues, Brazil argued, such as promoting more sustainable consumption patters and committing to means of implementation commensurate with the ambition of the goals.”

Brazil said that the focus areas document “does not translate the systemic dimensions of universality with the clarity that we are looking for” adding that “most areas are described in ways that seem to be addressing challenges of less developed countries only, not those of developed ones.”  The text places “disproportionate burden on developing countries” to commit to attaining the goals and also to be expected to find the means to do it, it said.

Brazil noted that the international dimension in the Rio+20 outcome, is absent from the Co-Chairs’ document. “Rule of law, internationally, means state and non-state actors fully respect legally binding treaties and commitments as well as engaging in the reform of existing global governance mechanisms with a view to increasing the voice and representation of developing countries, making them more democratic and accountable,” it said.

The statement further said that the concept of “policy space” also needs to be clearly recognized and reaffirmed, especially to safeguard national specificities, plurality and diversity; there is no “one size fits all” concept of the rule of law unless issues have been codified internationally and are binding for that state.

While noting the reference to MOI under each focus area, Brazil and Nicaragua “expect to incorporate concrete proposals and to further develop this issue, including on its systemic dimensions”.   They further stated the need to learn the lessons of MDG 8 which fell short of expectations in part due to a disconnect with the substantive and action oriented other (MDGs).

(MDG 8, which is to “Develop a Global Partnership for Development” is primarily about the obligations and commitments of the developed countries. However, unlike the other 7 MDGs that are primarily for developing countries to achieve, MDG 8 lacks quantification and target years for its realization. The targets themselves have been widely criticized as being so general that they are ineffectual.)

On CBDR, the Brazil and Nicaragua support a short narrative in the form of a Chapeau to the SDGs referencing key principles from the Rio+20 document, without reopening it, in particular the principle of CBDR.

They asked for a timeline with expected outcomes for the next meetings from the Co-Chairs and requested that UNDESA lead the UN Development System to contribute information for elaboration of targets and indicators.

Guinea Bissau on behalf of the African Group recognized the clusters as a good basis to identify concrete goals but not as meaning goals themselves. They asked that the inter-linkages be given importance more than the focus areas themselves. The statement highlighted the importance of CBDR in the light of different national realities, development and capacities.

Nauru on behalf of AOSIS argued that countries in special situations have special needs such as for the SIDs. The MOI for SIDS should include technology and know-how, human and institutional capacity building for them to transform their economies. They also highlighted time bound implementation and actionable measures, and not just indicators as the focus.

Nauru also drew attention to the fact that resilience is discussed only in reference to climate change but not to poverty. The need is for resilient economies, ecosystems and society. SDGs should be people-centered and should promote inclusivity and participation in decision making

Benin, on behalf of the LDCs, supported among others by Bangladesh, Nepal, Ethiopia, Timor Leste, suggested that many of the specific proposals by them have not found space in the focus area document and that they will reiterate their proposals. Under the MDGs there were numerical goals as opposed to the current discussion.

Benin argued for a realistic time frame to achieve the SDGs and to avoid making the SDGs “a wish list for everyone to reach at some point in the history of mankind” and to avoid “self denying prophecies”. It reiterated the concept of “Differential and Preferential Treatment for LDCs” based on paragraphs 36, 191 and 247 in the Rio+20 document.

Zambia on behalf of the 32 landlocked countries (LLDCs) reiterated the special needs and challenges for LLDCs and that this is recognized by the Rio process and is therefore an international obligation to address. The statement highlighted the needs for LLDCs to be integrated into the global economy through trade and development. The priority areas for the LLDCs include infrastructure, trade, and support measures.  Zambia also stressed the importance of sustainable production and consumption.

Trinidad and Tobago, speaking on behalf of CARICOM countries, argued that efforts to cluster areas is good but should not lead to over clustering and highlighted the importance of commonly agreed core issues and of national relevance in a universal framework. Placing particular emphasis on the economic dimension, CARICOM pointed out that the treatment of MOI needs greater clarity. How the matter of differentiation will be taken in the context of the enablers is important. The inter-linkages are key to effective clustering that can help decide core targets and additional targets which link to other goals.

Colombia (also on behalf of Guatemala) wanted only a few SDGs and a limited number of goals and targets. They warned against the over-clustering of goals, and urged for a focus on inter-linkages that can help address more than one goal. Colombia said that the universal agenda must be relevant to all even if application is national.

Peru (and Mexico) also representing the Friends of Culture Group, drew attention to culture and development. They also argued for disaster risk reduction. They argued that those goals with maximum inter-linkage should be chosen on the criteria that they address the three pillars of sustainable development, can deliver on a transformative agenda, are quantifiable and achievable, and must represent existing agreements.

China (also on behalf of Indonesia and Kazakhstan) said that CBDR which should be a foundational component to move the process forward, was not adequately reflected in the document. The troika reiterated its proposal that the next revised draft should include a narrative as a preamble part to reaffirm all the Rio principles, in particular CBDR, as a guiding principle of SDGs.

On methodology, China said that some of the focus areas and elements are “hardly goalable” reinforcing its previous point that it is “very practical and crucial” to have a preambular narrative to include those elements that are not goalable in SDGs.

India said that the Co-Chair’s clusters document was a useful tool for facilitating discussions even though it is not necessarily in agreement with the rationale behind some of the proposed clusters. It also “did not necessarily see the proposed clusters as prototype goals.” Emphasizing the importance of adhering scrupulously to the Rio+20 mandate on the OWG, India said the proposed clustering of focus areas must also reflect the agreed template of Rio+20. Accordingly, terms such as “industrialized societies and economies” in the Focus Area Document must be replaced with “developed countries”.

In stating that the Rio principles including in particular CBDR remain the basis of the OWG’s work, India expects these principles to be “unequivocally reaffirmed in the narrative that will accompany the goals and targets in the final report of the OWG.”

India also said that ‘universality’ is another key principle and unlike the MDGs, the SDGs need to be truly universal and therefore “must include specific commitments for developed countries” adding that, “In our view, universality is complementary to differentiation. Differentiation, as embodied in the principle of CBDR, would be the basis of crafting targets under the universally relevant goals.”

Vietnam speaking also for Bhutan and Thailand said that SDGs must be global in nature and universally applicable to all countries. Since the SDGs are time-bound, they should not be expected to solve all problems.  The troika asked that lessons be learnt from the experience of the MDGs, saying that though they helped to make unprecedented progress, “the world has not been able to achieve what we set out”.  Vietnam also said that the SDGs should be crafted as a framework that would allow countries, at different levels of development and varying capacity, to translate into their own national development strategy and policy.

Bangladesh asked for SDGs that are “ambitious but achievable” and transformative but nationally relevant. The statement highlighted the need for a balanced reflection of the 3 pillars of sustainable development, emphasizing that LDCs are the most vulnerable and need special treatment.

The Republic of Korea hoped for a consensus on MOI and CBDR. It suggested that “promoting equality” currently under cluster 1 should be under the social pillar of cluster 2. It highlighted the need for flexibility in the target level.

Pakistan in highlighting the principle of CBDR, asked for a full session on a discussion of CBDR, and on differentiation in universality. It also submitted specific targets on a selection of focus areas (http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/8202pakistan.pdf).

Saudi Arabia underscored the role of a fair and balanced international trading system.

The European Union (EU) rejected the need for MOI with each goal and said that the other UN process with regard to financing framework will also have to continue. It highlighted the role of human rights, gender equality, the importance of climate change, and the role of civil society and the private sector.  In particular, the EU said that Focus Area 19 on “peaceful and non-violent societies, rule of law, capable institutions” needs to be separated into two different goals, and was supported by some other countries including the USA and Romania. India, Brazil and Nicaragua had opposite views on this (see above).

Australia (with Netherlands and the United Kingdom) reaffirmed that SDGs should be based on the Millennium Declaration, the Rio+20 Outcome Document and the Outcome Documents of the MDG Special Event (September 2013). The goals are the “overarching statements that will define the world we want” and should be “simple, compelling and limited in number; people focused and ambitious, yet realistic; universal in scope.” The troika said that targets should be strategic, resonant and authoritative.

They said that the “new agenda should complement goals in other forums, respect current mandates and negotiations and take into account relevant international processes.” In addition all relevant issues must be included and do not omit issues because they appear “difficult or challenging” citing peaceful and non-violent societies, rule of law and capable institutions as an example. 

Australia also said that, “Key to the success of the new framework will be to move to a new global partnership for sustainable development that is inclusive of new actors and new avenues of cooperation, including between governments, international organisations, civil society and the private sector.”  It pointed to multi-stakeholder partnerships around the new goals.

[It is noteworthy that there has been considerable discontent among several Member States and civil society organizations on the increased push within the OWG to bring in the private sector and South-South cooperation as a substitute for North-South cooperation based on the agreed commitments of developed countries.]

The USA said the methodology must allow for intellectual flexibility and the need to identify areas that are transformative. It also suggested the need to ensure discussion and judgments are based on evidence.

The Co-Chairs were constantly urging the Member States to talk in terms of specific goals and targets so that the discussion could be narrowed down. However, many Member States, including Brazil and India, said that they need to get back to their capitals before putting forward specific proposals on goals and targets.+


ITEM 2

SDGs: Recognise global realities to tackle poverty eradication and promote equality, South urges
By Ranja Sengupta and Mirza Alas (New York)

Systemic issues and structural imbalances featured among the global realities raised in the cluster discussion on tackling poverty and promoting equality during the 10th Session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals in New York (31 March – 4 April).

Developing countries highlighted the need for more responsibility of developed countries in terms of causes of inequality between countries and the rise of relative poverty and inequalities within the developed world. They reiterated the need for appropriate means of implementation that also address global systemic issues for tackling these critical areas, especially in developing countries.

The first nine rounds of discussions at the Open Working Group (OWG) have already expressed a recurring concern with the persistent poverty and growing inequality around the world. These two issues were chosen as two out of the nineteen focus areas that the Co-Chairs have outlined in their document. While Poverty Eradication (Focus Area 1) clearly follows from the legacy of the MDGs, “Promoting Equality” (Focus Area 12) has emerged as a key outcome of the discussions so far. These two issues were discussed as Cluster 1 on the first day of the Tenth Session.

[The Co-chairs released a revised version of the Focus Areas Document on the 19 March 2014. This formed the basis of the “consultations” that took place between the OWG members during the recent 10th session and further revised versions are expected to be used in the forthcoming 3 sessions that will commence every month between May and July 2014.]

Bolivia, on behalf of the G77 and China (G77), reiterated the importance of the multiple dimensions of poverty and that the inter-linkages between the multi-dimensional aspects of poverty must take into account different national circumstances of countries.

Further, the statement emphasized that, “Genuine and supportive international cooperation is critical to the success of national governments strategies. A renewed and strengthened global partnership for development in the context of sustainable development, which builds on the strengths of the current global partnership for development”.  Stressing that “we must fully address international issues” the G77 highlighted, in particular, the importance of “an ambitious and expeditious reform of the International Financial Institutions, particularly in their governance structures, based on full and fair representation of developing countries.” The Group stated that, “The reforms must ensure full voice, representation and participation of developing countries in the decision making and norm-setting process of the BWIs”.

Debt relief, including debt cancellation and debt structuring; the importance of multilateral, regional and sub-regional development banks and development funds; the necessity for developed countries to honour their ODA goals and targets; and the necessity of timely conclusion for the Doha Round of multilateral trade negations, which must fully respect its development mandate; were among the issues raised by the G-77 and China.
On the issue of equality, “the OWG must place priority on the issue of international inequality between countries and not just within countries,” sad the G77.  It underscored the importance of international cooperation and sufficient policy space to developing countries “while taking into account their different national circumstances, priorities and capabilities”.


[The principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) had earlier been raised repeatedly by the G77 as well as other developing countries and LDCs during the methodology-related discussions in the morning of 31 March.]

The Group further stated: “In developing countries, inequality needs be tackled by pursuing policies of inclusive economic growth. This needs to be coupled with enhanced investments in socio-economic infrastructure and human resource development, in particular, education, health, housing and sanitation. Generating full and productive employment and providing access to all sections of the society to economic opportunities also needs to be prioritized. The SDG framework should encourage and support such objectives and policies. Also, this is clearly liked to poverty eradication, which is the central and overarching goal for the Group of 77 and China.”

[The full G77 statement is reported separately.]

Benin speaking on behalf of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) on poverty eradication and promoting equality, said that only 15% of global inequality comes from within-countries while most of it is between-countries and needs to be addressed. On specific goals, the LDCs stressed the need of ending extreme poverty, hunger, malnutrition; and ending multidimensional poverty including human deprivation addressing education, health etc. Benin also said the LDCS will support a target on social protection and the development of quality data.

On means of implementation (MOI), Benin stressed the need for ODA, access to nutritious food and ensuring employment for the poor which in turn involves access to finances and productive capacity building including economic growth which can be a major driver of productive capacity building. 

On equality, the LDCs supported paragraphs (d) and (f) of Focus Area 12 (Co-Chairs’ document) which highlight the equality of opportunity for all and promoting differentially high per capita income growth at the bottom of the income distribution. This was argued for on the ground that if global growth was distributed neutrally then it will not reduce inequality as proportion of income or output going to each group will be the same. So “we must ensure economic growth directed towards the LDCs”, the statement said, stressing the need for Differential and Preferential Treatment for LDCs. 

Benin also underlined the necessity of a multilateral, non-discriminatory trading system with Duty Free Quota Free access for LDCs and the participation of LDCs in global decision-making processes.

In terms of MOI, the LDC statement highlighted the need for employment growth, and therefore among other things, the access to finance, technology, capacity building, increasing share of ODA etc.

Guinea Bissau on behalf of the African Group argued that Cluster 1 should generate 2 goals. The first is to eradicate poverty in all its forms which should be the overriding goal stemming from the Rio +20 outcome document. This can be included as targets in other goals in addition to being a stand-alone goal. The second goal is to ensure social inclusion and protection. The Group also asked for a guarantee of minimum income and decent employment for all, especially the youth. Inequality, both between and within countries, and all 3 pillars of sustainable development need to be addressed, it said, reiterating that the goals and targets need to be underpinned by appropriate MOI.

Nauru, on behalf of he Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), said that the SDG framework “should be a people-centered and focused approach to poverty eradication, job creation, income equality, engendering equality, and achieving environmental sustainability” and agreed that progress on poverty eradication is linked to all other focus areas. Universal poverty eradication implies targeted approach to countries in particular situation, in particular SIDS, and acknowledgement of their unique characteristics, challenges and vulnerabilities and the ongoing impact of these on their ability to achieve sustainable development.

The Caribbean Community countries (CARICOM), highlighted the centrality of poverty eradication, and asked that poverty and equality be treated in the context of the global realities. CARICOM asked that poverty be addressed in different realities and situations and to go beyond income poverty. The statement asked that poverty eradication be made irreversible, a point stressed by other Member States in this discussion. CARICOM suggested poverty eradication and the promotion of equality be made cross cutting across other goals. This too was echoed by several Member States. CARICOM emphasized the importance of restructuring the architecture of global governance for these ends.

Papua New Guinea, representing the Pacific Troika and the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) highlighted the following points. First, “that sustained, inclusive, and equitable economic growth in developing countries, including the Pacific Small Island Developing States, is a key requirement for eradicating poverty.” Second they underscored “that the Rio +20 outcome … emphasized the need to accord the highest priority to poverty eradication within the UN development agenda. This must address the root causes and challenges of poverty through integrated, coordinated, and coherent strategies at all levels”. They further said that “the Rio +20 outcome also recognized that promoting universal access to social services can make an important contribution to consolidating and achieving development gains.” They also highlighted the importance of social protection systems for all people, the link between economic growth and equality, and challenges related to inequalities in income and wealth.

Nicaragua and Brazil said that it is understood that economic growth in and of itself will not lead to poverty eradication, equality, inclusiveness, sustainability, citing Brazil, Latin America and many parts of the developing world as providing “eloquent examples of the failure of policies centred on economic growth alone in reducing poverty”.  They highlighted that evidence shows that “in the absence of social program, government incentives and public policies that contribute to correct market distortions the most likely outcome will be concentration of wealth and persisting poverty with deepening inequality.”  Hence, they said, “the paradigm shift which Rio+20 embodies, away from the so-called ‘Washington consensus’ – and its now better understood shortcomings – in favour of policies which promote greater equality and social inclusiveness.”

While welcoming the multi-dimensional approach to poverty in the Co-chairs’ document, they highlighted several issues: There should be a clear statement that extreme poverty must be eradicated from developing countries, which is where it occurs. Developed as well as developing countries should be the focus of reduction of relative poverty. The list of vulnerable groups in the item on social protection floors should also include women, the largest marginalized group of the planet. On MOI, the central role of ODA in the fight against poverty should be reinforced; eradicating extreme poverty in developing countries is a moral obligation of the international community. 

Nicaragua and Brazil welcomed the distinction between inequalities within and among countries, stressing that those are two very different aspects that require equally distinct types of actions. Pointing to evidence that the gap among countries is higher than the domestic level gap within almost every single country they emphasized that, “if we want to be universal in our aspirations and effective in reducing inequality among human beings such asymmetry and their root causes needed to be addressed.” They called for a follow-up revised text that would correct the insufficient focus and attention on tackling inequalities among nations.

They asked for a more specific reference to “ending subsidies in developed countries that distort international trade, particularly export subsidies and equivalent measures, by 2020.”  Further, they called for reforming international financing institutions to be addressed under a new item due to its systemic nature and relevance. The two countries said that “North-South asymmetries in the governing bodies of the (international financial institutions) is anti-democratic and detrimental to developing countries. They deny universality and equity of our actions at the international level.”

Finally, they stressed that “policy space” should be firmly rooted in the CBDR principle as a measurable target.

China, Indonesia and Kazakhstan said that poverty eradication should not only be a stand-alone goal but cut across all SDGs. On the narrative paragraph related to poverty eradication the troika suggested use of the UN agreed term of “extreme” poverty instead of “absolute” poverty and to define a corresponding poverty line.  On reducing relative poverty, the troika proposed the use of “national poverty line as reference to define relative poverty with base timeline 2015 in order for different countries to adapt in accordance with their national circumstances and development stage”.

They highlighted the essentiality of “all kinds of productive resources” for poverty eradication. Further, evaluation should be discussed separately by the intergovernmental process at the General Assembly after the goals and targets are formulated (as the OWG is mandated to develop SDGs for agreement at the Assembly).

Asking for strong MOI, the troika proposed inclusion of the following: ensuring predictable and adequate international financing for developing countries by fulfillment of commitment of ODA, technology and capacity building, the UN and its agencies and other international organizations to establish mechanisms to address poverty eradication through integrated, coordinated and coherent strategies at all levels, improving international economic governance with the objective of addressing the specific constrains faced by developing countries, etc.

On equality, the troika supported the G77 and China position and said that, “Promoting equality should mainly focus on the international level, addressing the inequality between countries and imbalance of global development. We support most of the elements concerning the measures addressing international level inequalities”. They further said that “internal efforts to reduce inequalities within countries is the responsibility of national governments in accordance with their national circumstances” and proposed a narrative paragraph to read “encourage national governments to reduce inequalities and work towards more inclusive societies.” Finally the troika suggested that promoting equality need not be a stand-alone goal but rather included under other goals such as poverty eradication and gender equality.

India highlighted the key principle of universality and argued that SDGs need to be truly universal and cannot be only for one set of countries. Therefore goals needed to be applied to the North as well.  For example, poverty eradication must be meaningfully applied to the North and relative poverty based on national poverty lines in developed countries need to be looked at. A recommitment on ODA and other MOI are important components of global commitments, India suggested. On production and consumption, developed countries should take their lead as they have historical responsibilities. India also reiterated that universality lends itself to differentiation and under the Rio+20 mandate, differentiation implies CBDR.

Bangladesh asked that the strong message from Rio+20 be reinstated that poverty eradication is the overarching objective of the SDGs. It expressed support for a target of “elimination of extreme poverty” saying that definitional issues should be resolved, calling for strong international commitment and global partnership to fight extreme poverty. Migration itself should be included under these two goals but all aspects of migration need to be addressed. In MOI, public development finance remains key and ODA remains below targets, Bangladesh pointed out. Rules based trade system, access to technology. FDI are all important areas under MOI. Under equality, social equality and equity, financial inclusion, universal social protection are important areas of focus and inequality between nations must not be forgotten, Bangladesh stressed.

The Republic of Korea highlighted the need for flexibility for setting the target level. It suggested 3 specific targets: eradicating absolute poverty, reducing the share of people living under the national poverty line, and enhancing safety nets.

Pakistan raised the importance of climate change in this development discourse. On poverty eradication, it highlighted 3 elements: proportion; intensity; and creating social protection floors to prevent falling back into poverty. It suggested 3 targets: eliminate extreme poverty; reduce by half the intensity of poverty by nationally determined indices; and establish by 2030 sustainable social protection floors against relative poverty.

On equality, Pakistan stressed two dimensions: the importance of not just income but political, economic, social, religious, ethnicity based equality; and the need to address inequality at both national and international levels. In terms of targets, Pakistan suggested four. By 2030, half the gap between the income ratios of top 10% and bottom 40% of a country; by 2025, affirmative actions in law and policies to reduce ethnic, religious, gender and disability based discrimination; by 2030, increase migration flows by 10% particularly of skilled labour from lower income countries to higher income countries; reforming by 2020, the international rules on trade, business accounting and intellectual property to ensure consistency with the achievement of SDGs.

Zambia, representing the Southern African countries, suggested that poverty eradication in all its dimensions be regarded as the number one goal. It also said that economic growth does not necessarily drive poverty eradication. Increase in the number of people who are food secure, increased access to quality education and health care services were some of the other suggestions coming from the group.

Vietnam, speaking also for Bhutan and Thailand, raised concerns related to poverty reduction specifically in mountainous areas.

Belarus asked that inequality be addressed using the Gini indices.

Iran pointed towards inter-linkages between the targets and so the need to devise a formula and to design the poverty goal as a basket of welfare by having interlinked targets and not just one. The issue of poverty cannot be limited to income alone, Iran said. It also suggested the adherence to “agreed upon language”. Iran further said that like MOI, equality should also be cross cutting across all goals. It also called for cultural and national sovereignty to be respected. We are not here to ask national governments to do or not do something, but to reach international agreement and then to request national governments to adopt these, Iran suggested.

Saudi Arabia supported a stand-alone goal on poverty especially the eradication of absolute and extreme poverty. It also argued for the principle of universality but that is based on national poverty lines reflecting national circumstances. It underlined the importance of economic growth for poverty eradication and that economic growth is only possible under a fair and balanced international trading system.

Ecuador, also on behalf of Argentina and Bolivia, reiterated their support for an individual goal on poverty eradication. The troika wanted a differentiation between paragraphs (a) and (b) of Focus Area 1 on poverty eradication (Co-Chairs document) with regard to national poverty thresholds. Under the para. (c) on social protection, the inclusion of women was highlighted. On equality, the troika appreciated the reference to marginalized groups and wanted a reference to the conclusion of the Doha Round at the WTO, and addressing agricultural domestic and export subsidies in addition to fisheries subsidies. It also wanted sovereign debt problems of all countries including both developed and developing to be addressed in order to avoid a debt crisis. The troika also highlighted the importance of having distribution of votes in the IMF in a more balanced manner.

Colombia, also on behalf of Guatemala, stressed the need to avoid a minimalist agenda, but to have one that will bring in structural change and welcomed the suggestions by Pakistan and Netherlands of halving poverty by nationally determined indices. For preventing the falling back into poverty Colombia suggested increasing economic growth of the bottom 40% of the population by 2%. Inequality is also between countries and inter-generational so a target for that has to be found.  For addressing multidimensionality of poverty, the countries suggested similar targets under different goals such as job and skills increase, reduce burden of HIV/AIDs, tropical diseases, NCDs, food security and access to affordable, nutritious food.

Nepal proposed increasing productive capacity, industrial development, technology transfer, trade and finance as important parts of poverty eradication. It pointed out the phenomenon of melting of the Himalayan glaciers and rising sea level to underscore disaster risk management. It also said that migration and poverty are interlinked and also that LDCs should be given special priority under the Istanbul Programme of Action.

Uganda pointed out that while the Focus Area Document talks of inequality within and between countries, it would like to see an increase in the voice and vote of developing countries in international financial institutions.

Ethiopia argued for elimination of extreme poverty by 2030, social protection, reduction of vulnerabilities from natural disasters, need for infrastructure, rapid and sustained economic growth, resilient economies, financing and technical assistance and the needs of countries in special situations.

Paraguay and Nigeria both individually underscored the importance of addressing commodity prices and trade issues. Nigeria said that rules based trade should not be undermined and needs to be discussed. Examination of the real nature of trade barriers, examination of financial institutions; threats to fishing, minerals, forest resources and agricultural land also need to be examined, Nigeria added.

Mexico and Peru underlined the need to address multidimensional and not just income poverty and criticized the Focus Area Document for not specifically referring to poverty faced by indigenous peoples.

Several developed countries also put emphasis on systemic issues related to poverty and inequality.

Italy, Spain and Turkey said that poverty eradication must be the first priority in the search for policies to revert the trends of unequal globalization and unsustainable development. The troika stressed a multi-dimension approach to eradicate poverty that addresses not only the symptoms of poverty, but also its underlying causes, including systemic and institutional issues. They further called for tackling the different dimensions of inequalities with an integrated and transformative approach, noting the persistence of severe inequalities at global, regional and national levels and the risk and vulnerability of millions of people to fall back again into poverty.

France, Germany and Switzerland supported a target dedicated to extreme poverty eradication and another on reducing relative poverty and addressing inequalities at national and international levels. The troika also emphasized that “enhancing global cooperation and cooperation will be critical to reduce inequalities between countries and as a precondition for global sustainable development.” Accordingly they propose targets including those aimed at promoting an open, rules-based and development friendly multilateral trade system; ensuring a regulated, stable and efficient global financial system; encouraging responsible, stable, long-term private investment and inclusive finance; curbing illicit financial flows and eliminating tax havens.+



ITEM 3

SDGs: G77/China reiterate principles, address poverty eradication and equality
By Mirza Alas (New York)

The tenth session of the United Nations Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) took place on 31 March to 4 April at the UN headquarters in New York.

The first session of the OWG was dedicated to a discussion on methodology and a debate on possible goals and targets for cluster one (poverty eradication and the promotion of equality) of the revised focus areas document prepared by the Co-chairs, Ambassadors Macharia Kamau of Kenya and Csaba Korosi of Hungary.

The opening statement of the Group of 77 and China (G77) reiterated some key principles and positions that, according to the Group, must be at the heart of the OWG efforts. (Subsequent specific interventions were made on different clusters of issues in the different cluster sessions of the OWG.)

First of all, the Group emphasized the need to have the process and the outcome of the OWG firmly based on the mandate of the Rio+20 Outcome Document and fully respect all the Rio principles, in particular the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. This must be captures in the narrative that will accompany the goals and targets in the OWG report.

The G77 highlighted the mandate of paragraph 247 of the Rio+20 document that the SDGs must be global in nature and universally applicable to all countries. To achieve this, international cooperation for the eradication of poverty and inequality between developed and developing countries are critical. It reiterated the importance of developed countries taking on concrete deliverables under the SDGs, and providing enhanced and measurable financial and technological support to developing countries under a strengthened global partnership for development.

The Group restated the importance of the SDGs reflecting the different national realities, capacities and development priorities of all members of the United Nations, and that they do not place additional restrictions or burdens on the national priorities and development plans of developing countries.

Therefore, developing countries should be supported by an enabling international environment, which includes a supportive and just international system where the rules are fair and pro-development, as well as a genuine global partnership to enable developing countries to achieve the SDGs. This should be done through the provision of new and additional financing resources, technology transfer with concessional and preferential terms, capacity building, pro-development trade policies, and effective means of implementation for developing countries.

According to the G77 the clustering made by the Co-chairs in the revised focus area document was only to facilitate the discussion on the SDGs, noting however that the discussions in the OWG on proposed clusters are without prejudice to and should not prejudge the nature and shape of the final goals and targets.

Poverty Eradication

The G77 underscored the importance of addressing the multiple dimensions of poverty. To ensure effective poverty eradication, the inter-linkages between the multi-dimensional aspects of poverty must take into account different national circumstances of countries.

The Group stressed the importance of international and national efforts, as well as partnerships in order to properly address and effectively eradicate poverty. Genuine and supportive international cooperation is critical to the success of national governments strategies. It noted the need for a renewed and strengthened global partnership for development, in the context of sustainable development, which builds on the strengths of the current global partnership for development, while going beyond and addressing the weakness of its present framework.

As part of efforts to eradicate poverty, international issues must be fully addressed. The Group stressed the need to undertake an ambitious and expeditious reform of the International Financial Institutions, particularly in their governance structures, based on full and fair representation of developing countries. The reforms must ensure full voice, representation and participation of developing countries in the decision making and norm-setting process of the Bretton Woods Institutions.

The G77 said that debt relief, including debt cancellation and debt structuring, must be included. The inability of States with heavy debt burdens to access affordable credit during the current crisis has revealed problems with the existing debt framework. This universal problem of unsustainable debt should be addressed by establishing an independent and fair public debt workout mechanism, with ex-ante rules for fair burden-sharing in order to promote responsible lending and prevent build up of unsustainable debt. The Group viewed the United Nations as well-placed to coordinate such a mechanism.

The G77 recalled that allocations of special drawing rights (at the International Monetary Fund) have contributed to increased global liquidity and encourage continued discussions on policy options to promote long-term stability and the proper functioning of the international monetary system, including the role of special drawing rights.

It also stressed that the multilateral, regional and sub-regional development banks and development funds should continue to play a vital role in serving the development needs of developing countries, including through coordinated action. Strengthened regional development banks and sub-regional financial institutions can add flexible financial support to national and regional development efforts, thus enhancing their ownership and overall efficiency.

The Group underscored the necessity of timely conclusion for the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations, which must fully respect its development mandate and take into account the needs and priorities of developing countries. It called for a balanced and pro-development outcome.

It further called for additional mechanisms to allow for the assessment of, and the response to systemic risk posed by unregulated, or less regulated financial sector segments, centers, instruments, and actors. There is a need for effective regulation and supervision of financial markets and capital flows.

Equality

The G77 said that in addressing equality, the OWG must place priority on the issue of international inequality between countries and not just within countries.

It emphasized the critical importance of international cooperation and sufficient policy space for developing countries, while taking into account their different national circumstances, priorities and capabilities. 

The Group reiterated that the objective of eliminating inequality could be pursued through various means in order to establish a level playing field between labor and capital, including greater international mobility of labor, regulation of international financial markets and capital movements, more equitable taxation of wage income and incomes from capital and financial assets, prevention of tax competition and a code of conduct for transnational corporations. No single country alone can do this; it should be pursued collectively at the global level.

The G77 also reiterated that inequality in developing countries needs to be tackled by pursuing policies of inclusive economic growth. These policies need to be coupled with enhanced investments in socio-economic infrastructure and human resource development, in particular, education, health, housing and sanitation. Generating full and productive employment and providing access to all sections of society to economic opportunities also needs to be prioritized. The SDG framework should encourage and support such objectives and policies. Also, this is clearly liked to poverty eradication, which is the central and overarching goal for the Group.

 


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