The first intergovernmental negotiations (IGN) took place on 19 – 21 January 2015, signalling the beginning of the final phase of the post-2015 process. The Irish and Kenyan co-facilitators have released an indicative roadmap which outlines a clear agenda until May, after which there are three final sessions to address outstanding issues.
- 19-21 January 2015 – Stocktaking
- 17-20 February 2015 – Declaration
- 23-27 March 2015 – Sustainable Development Goals and targets
- 20-24 April 2015 – Means of Implementation and Revitalised Global Partnership
- 18-22 May 2015 – Framework for monitoring and review of implementation
- 22-2S June 2015 – Declaration
- 20-24 July 2015 and 27-31 July 2015 – Finalization of the outcome document
It’s difficult to predict where negotiations will be come June and July, and what will (or won’t) be on the table at that point. Formal civil society participation is more or less guaranteed until the zero draft is released in May, with strong support from the co-facilitators and a successful Stakeholder Preparatory Forum, but after that it’s likely that spaces for official engagement will be restricted. One key lesson for civil society to be effective in influencing this final phase of the post-2015 process is that now is the time to move from advocacy to direct lobbying. Relationships with key people in both missions and capitals are vital, and global campaigns such as Beyond 2015 are effectively ensuring that the same messages are being heard in both locations. Now is the time to get involved!
The IGN was a stocktaking event intended to set the tone and allow member states to mark out their priorities and concerns. Bloc statements were followed by national interventions. One issue that immediately became highly politicised was the ‘technical review’ recommended in the SG’s synthesis report (para 137). While some such as the UK, Canada and Norway were supportive of a technical proofing exercise carried out by the Technical Support Team (TST), other member states, particularly within the G77, were pushing for the goals and targets proposed by the OWG to be accepted as a closed package. Many felt that the targets represented a delicate political balance and that reopening them would result in no progress over coming months. Confidentially, some recognised that the targets were not ‘perfect’ but felt that we stand to lose a lot more than we gain through reopening, and there are bigger issues to deal with, such as means of implementation, and monitoring and accountability. The UK’s position on slimming down the number of goals and targets remains much the same, in contrast with most governments who acknowledge that the 17 goals are a permanent feature and that it will be impossible to remove any goals whilst maintaining political consensus.
The EU had an ambiguous position on the technical review, with members moving in different directions. The French and German negotiators produced a non-paper outlining a set of criteria that would protect the OWG proposals whilst allowing for a technical proofing to take place. France are playing an interesting role in fostering consensus across all three of the FFD, post-2015 and UNFCCC processes, aware that their international reputation depends to a large extent on their ability to act as a bridge builder throughout the year.
Where next? Indicators
But back to what happened in the room in January. The solution put forwards by the co-facilitators was to ask the UN Statistical Commission to provide a draft set of indicative global indicators by March; this will necessarily involve looking at the targets and the UN Statistical Commission will feed back on targets from a technical perspective. This means all stakeholders – governments, UN agencies, civil society and more – are now piling into the discussion around indicators. If you have the perfect set of indicators up your sleeve to measure your all-important target, now is the time to whip them out. The next meeting of the UN Statistical Commission is from 3 – 6 March. If you want to find out more, look here. (An important addendum: The Friends of the Chair Group on broader measures of progress has recommended in this report that an Inter-Agency Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators is established, and should ‘actively seek input’ – timeline and details included.)
There is a lack of clarity on how the MOI discussions, which feature in both the FFD and the post-2015 processes, come together. A sensible division would be for financial MOI to be in the FFD process and non-financial MOI to be in the post-2015 process, but there is a spectacular lack of trust between developed and developing countries, particularly with developed countries’ lack of delivery on past commitments and unwillingness to challenge existing global structures which work in their favour. Overall, the FFD process must deliver something meaningful if the UN is to make progress this year.
Finally – what word from the Pope?
There is a high amount of interest in how and where the Catholic Church is positioning itself, in light of the Pope’s messages on climate change and poverty during his recent trip to the Philippines, the forthcoming encyclical, and the invitation to speak at the opening of the Post-2015 High Level Summit in September. It is likely that future pronouncements will build on the statement made by a global group of Catholic Bishops at the UNFCCC COP in Lima last December. And for many, there is no one else who can bring the moral leadership so often absent from the halls and corridors where decisions are made at the UN.