The Kenyan Co-chair, Mr. Kamau, opened the recent session of the Open Working Group (OWG) on SDGs taking place in New York from 17-19 April urging delegates to ‘get serious and get on with the business’. This is great news since the OWG has been a long time coming. Initially expected in September 2012, it only came into being at the beginning of this year. The delay was caused by tough negotiations on modalities that resulted in 70 countries sitting in 30 seats.
While Member States were still busy refining the modalities during the first session in March, the second session in April addressed a couple of central issues head on: What do universality and differentiated targets for country context look like in practice? How should poverty eradication be addressed in the framework – as overarching target or as a goal (or both)?
Poverty eradication as top priority?
I presume the fact that poverty is on the top of the agenda is a sign that it is a top priority, or even outcome number one. In that case there is a risk that this focus on poverty eradication might be lost further down the line during the sessions scheduled over the next ten months, which cover a wide range of topics related to human development, inclusive growth and environmental sustainability. After all, the purpose of the framework should be keeping poverty eradication on the international agenda, focusing on the poorest and most marginalized, while ensuring that all countries take action to keep development within our planet’s natural thresholds.