Setting the post-2015 development compass

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Last Tuesday, CAFOD launched its new report at the Commonwealth Foundation in London. The report presents the findings and implications of a uniquely participatory research grounded in CAFOD’s work with people who are marginalised or living in poverty. It addresses key issues in the post-2015 policy discussion. 1,420 people in 56 poor communities across Bolivia, Philippines, Uganda and Zimbabwe participated.

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CAFOD lead post-MDG policy analyst, Ms. Neva Frecheville, and lead Ugandan community researcher, Mr. Ben Boham Okiror, presented the research. Ms. Gunilla Carlsson, Minister for International Development Cooperation, Sweden and member of the UN High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda commented the report. Mr. Paul Ladd from UNDP also presented his observations, with astute analysis of the political process (and pitfalls!) ahead. The event was chaired by Mr Vijay Krishnarayan, Director of the Commonwealth Foundation and co-organised by the Foundation, CAFOD and Participate.

The report, Setting the post-2015 development compass: voices from the ground, explores people’s experiences over the last 15 years. It aims to identify the priorities, challenges, visions and aspirations of poor or marginalised people. As the rate of global change accelerates, this report provides an updated understanding and fresh perspectives and insights from participants. It challenges assumptions about what policies work, and for whom.

Over the last 15 years, despite progress made by the MDGs, the report found the wellbeing of many people living in poverty has worsened as a result of processes beyond their control that have damaged their ability to make a decent living. These processes include environmental degradation, violent conflict, forced displacement, rapid changes in the prices paid to farmers, resource depletion, natural disasters, and political and economic crises.

Minister Gunilla Carlsson explained how the MDGs aimed at targeting half of those living in poverty and we are now left with the objective to reach those who are most marginalised and excluded. CAFOD’s report demonstrates that targeting these poorest people, particularly in remote areas, is costly, time-consuming and requires political will. Governments competing to achieve targets and demonstrate ‘effective’ use of resources target people who are cheaper and easier to reach, resulting in exclusion of very poor and marginalised people.

Moreover, despite progress in MDG education targets, the focus on numbers over quality means the poorest children receive poor education with minimal impact. Quantity over quality was also highlighted as a key factor affecting education with governments concentrating on activities that tick boxes while offering no significant improvements in people’s lives. In Uganda, rural communities described large overcrowded classes without teachers, furniture and teaching materials. People living in poverty make considerable efforts to send their children to school rather than work in the fields and expect this investment to be worthwhile.

Being secure and prepared emerged as a priority with participants emphasising the great loss caused by natural disasters and conflicts. Even when small-scale, disasters and conflicts can destroy years of progress and undermine wellbeing for years to come. The report also found that the main concern from people living in poverty is for employment or access to productive assets that allow them to rebuild viable and sustainable livelihoods.

The event was an opportunity to discuss the next steps of the post-2015 process. The panel agreed that the UN have undertaken an unprecedented process of consultations on the post-2015 agenda over the past year, but concerns were raised about the possibility that these new spaces would close as the negotiations move towards the intergovernmental phase.

We invite you to read the report and post your views below or send your comments to the Research Coordinator, Dr. Andrea Rigon (arigon@cafod.org.uk).

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