The big day
The ‘Secretary-General’s High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post 2015 Development Agenda’ (or HLP for short) held its first meeting on Tuesday 25 September from 4-6pm in New York as part of the opening proceedings of the UN General Assembly. The meeting was opened by the UN Secretary-General (UNSG), Ban Ki-Moon, who asked the panellist to be bold but also to be practical and to deliver a ‘clear post-2015 development agenda, an agenda with shared responsibilities for all countries with the fight against poverty at the fore and sustainable development at the core’.
Nearly all of the 26 Eminent Persons that make up the HLP together with the UN SG’s Special Adviser on post-2015, Amina J Mohammed, followed the call to New York. Unfortunately some couldn’t attend, for example Graca Machel, one of Beyond 2015’s recommended nominees to the HLP. There was also a new face at the table: Izabella Teixeira, the Brazilian Environment Minister, replaced Vanessa Petrelli Correa.
One point on the agenda of this inaugural and introductory gathering was to arrange the following three substantive meetings hosted by each of the co-chairs:
- 1/2 November 2012 in London, UK
- January 2013 in Monrovia, Liberia
- March 2013 in Jakarta, Indonesia
The final meeting and probably the launch event for the HLP report is expected to take place in New York in May 2013. The HLP report will feed into the UN SG’s recommendations for the UN General Assembly’s Special Event on post-2105 in September 2013.
At the meetings ahead the HLP will tackle tricky questions such as a new set-up of the global partnership for development that will hopefully go beyond the outdated view that the world is divided into aid donor and aid recipient countries. The HLP members also tasked themselves to investigate how to ensure the three dimensions of sustainable development are appropriately addressed and will probably start out with looking at household poverty, including safety nets, education, health and other related issues at the next meeting in November.
The fact that this first meeting was very short was probably a good thing. It fulfilled its purpose to meet-and-greet and left plenty of time for the essential pre-meetings, closed briefing, side events, bilaterals and open dialogues which took place from 24 to 26 September. A round up of the most relevant fringe meetings can be found on Beyond 2015’s website.
Meetings in the margins
Among a flurry of events that provided opportunity to get to know the HLP members, there were two dedicated dialogues with civil society, one organized by the UN and civil society on 24 September and one held by the Japanese government as a General Assembly side event on 25 September.
Beyond 2015’s co-chair CAFOD, represented by Bernadette Fischler, had the opportunity to address the HLP at both events. The dialogues were live streamed and can be watched again on-line:
A surprisingly high number of High-level Panellist attended the dialogues, including Queen Rania, John Podesta, Betty Maina, Jean-Michel Severino, Gunilla Svensson, Kadir Topas, Fulbert Gero Amoussouga, Andris Piebalgs, Tawakel Karman and Horst Koehler. And those who could not attend, such as the co-chairs Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and David Cameron, sent their special advisers to observe.
As can be expected at this early stage, the statements by the HLP members did not offer big surprises. Queen Rania of Jordan emphasised the importance of education, especially for girls and young women; Kadir Topas as the Mayor of Istanbul spoke about the importance of local governments to implement policies that make a difference; Betty Maina who comes from a business background pointed at opportunities to work with the private sector and Tawakel Karman opened with ‘I am one of you’ to show her strong association with civil society.
Noteworthy is also the commitment by Amina J Mohammed to respond to Beyond 2015/GCAP analysis of the HLP Terms of References that comments on the set-up of the panel, their ways of work and the issues they could and should tackle.
Many acknowledged the important role of stakeholders in this process and their openness to receive substantive input from civil society as well as the intention to conduct a wide variety of consultations. Given that Homi Kharas, the lead author for the HLP report and head of the HLP secretariat, aims to have a first draft ready for the January meeting, this might become a bit of a rushed exercise with many CSOs scrambling to get their points to the HLP as soon as possible. The team is currently still looking for an outreach person for his secretariat who could bring maybe some structure into the HLP/CSO interactions. The ideal candidate would be from the Global South with good connections within civil society, experience in liaising with high-profile decision makers and sound understanding of the topic.
Consultations and more consultations
Some interesting news transpired on the several strands of the UNDG-led consultations:
Two further thematic consultations are under way – one on energy and one on water and sanitation which brings together a total number of 11 thematic consultations. The modalities are still being arranged but organizations that are focussing on either issue should start watching this space.
The national UN-led consultations are also getting under way. Nearly 50% of the initial 50 countries have submitted their plans for the consultations to the UN team accompanying the national consultations. It is good to know, that of the criteria for the team to approve the country plans is that they include civil society involvement in the consultations. Updates on additional countries, probably up to 100, will be published on www.worldwewant2015.org.
The Global Conversation is also getting chatty. The supporting web platform www.worldwewant2015.org was officially launched last week. The platform will host several thematic online consultations, provide updates on the process and opportunities for social media interaction.
Beyond 2015 adds perspectives of people in poverty
Beyond 2015 as one of the major CSO networks working on the post-2015 agenda used the first HLP meeting to launch ‘Participate: Knowledge from the Margins for Post-2015’. The Participate initiative will draw together an extensive body of participatory research undertaken with those in the greatest poverty to help ensure that the most marginalised communities have an opportunity to shape post-2015 policymaking.
Participate will work with a set of community-based organisations and NGOs across Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe who are involved in participatory research. The research will fill a critical gap in the current post 2015 policy context and provide more accurate insight into the realities of how people experience poverty and how they think change is possible.
For more information please visit the Participate section on www.beyond2015.org
The missing link
What was missing last week at the opening of the UN General Assembly was the announcement of the intergovernmental Open Working Group (OWG) on sustainable development goals. The establishment of the OWG had been decided at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, last June. However, it hasn’t been set up yet because the regions cannot come to an agreement how many of the 30 seats in total should be allocated to each region.
Once the OWG is in place, they will set out to agree on their modalities and it will be interesting to see if and how they create a space for interaction and consultations with stakeholders, including civil society, and how they will link up with the HLP which has already declared its willingness to collaborate.
The close coordination between HLP and OWG will be a vital step towards genuinely integrating environmental and development issues into the post-2015 global development framework. Civil society is in this respect already one step ahead. Last week Beyond 2015 and CAN-international hosted in NY an informal meeting to discuss, among other issues, how development and environment organizations could coordinate advocacy efforts related to the post-2015 agenda, especially the OWG once it comes into existence.