Now that the High Level Panel on post-2015 development has concluded with its report and the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals goes soon into its very long summer break until November, it is a good time to take a step back and look at what lies ahead. Let’s look at the map for the post-2015 process – what a scenic route through partly unknown territory it is!
There is hope that the UN General Assembly Special Event on MDGs and Post-2015 on 25 September will bring clarity once and for all on how we arrive at our final destination of a single set of goals that meaningfully addresses environment and poverty concerns. .
Achieving poverty eradication in the context of sustainable development is a difficult task. With no clear track ahead, it’s a train that could very easily be derailed.
While waiting for a clear view of the route ahead, there are a few conundrums that have been going round my head. I thought I’d put them out for debate and to see if we can collectively come down on one side or the other. So please share widely and comment wildly:
Bring the two processes – the SDGs and the post-MDGs – together into one process – let’s call it the post-2015 process –in September.
Pros: One process. No risk of duplication and/or divergence. The environment and development sectors need to come together, better sooner than later, and have time to practise collaboration which might bring a smoother ride once the ‘real’ intergovernmental process kicks in.
Cons: Some countries feel that there was not enough time for the SDG process and the environment carriage of the post-2015 train to prepare, discuss and come up with solutions. This risks the development carriage racing ahead, as they had the High Level Panel process to set up their agenda. The environment and development sector in some governments, regions, international bodies and civil society organisations also might need more time to coordinate collaboration.
Preliminary verdict: Still better to merge the two processes now. The effort needed to get them together will increase, the longer it is delayed.
Skip the UN Summit in 2015 and just negotiate a UN GA resolution instead
Pros: Less hubbub and less work for many, I guess. Smaller carbon footprint as less people will be flying to New York to show up at yet another UN jamboree.
Cons: Stakeholder engagement at the UNGA happens only at events. Without a Summit to launch the framework, it won’t get much attention of Member States and other stakeholders and therefore less political traction and ambition for implementation.
Preliminary verdict: This one is easy, right? There should definitely be a summit. Or has there ever been any global policy framework that was not an outcome of a summit but still had a lot of impact?
Hold the post-2015 summit in the first rather than the second half of 2015
Pros: A shorter intergovernmental negotiation period will bring faster results and give countries and institutions more time to prepare for implementation. The Summit is less likely to interfere with the Climate Change Summit in 2015, one of the other important events in the UN diary for that year.
Cons: The Heads of States will be in NY in September for the opening of the UNGA but not in spring (unless the Summit is linked with the spring meetings in Washington). A shorter intergovernmental negotiation period can also mean that Members States come into the negotiations with low ambitions and will agree on the lowest common denominator. Not all Member States are on the Open Working Group so those who only get on board at that stage might not have enough time to get into the matter.
Preliminary verdict: Hmmm. Tricky.
Have the High Level Political Forum (which succeeds the Commission on Sustainable Development) as the ‘home’ of the post-2015 framework
Pros: It is meant to be a high level space for political discussion about sustainable development. If it carries over the Major Group system from the Commission on Sustainable Development, stakeholders can take part through a well-established civil society engagement mechanism, with room for improvement in the future. It also seems to be a done deal among Member States that this is the best way forward.
Cons: We don’t know yet how high-level and how independent this body will be, and it’s also not clear whether the goals would then still be reported at the UN General Assembly (UNGA). Also not clear how this will fit with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), yet another body that is currently undergoing refurbishment.
Preliminary verdict: outstanding until we know more about the mandate, authority and resourcing of the High Level Political Forum and its relations to the UNGA and ECOSOC.
Once again, this one is for sharing, feel free to use the comment section below!