Author Archive

Consultation or Conscription? Civil society input on the content of the post-2015 framework

November 13, 2012

By Amy Pollard (CAFOD) and Dominic Haslam (Sightsavers)

A civil society army – wouldn’t it be lovely.

It would be much more convenient for policymakers if civil society was like an army.  If only we would line up in rows and march neatly in one direction.  If only we would fall under the command of a single general, who could speak on our behalf and bark orders when we fall out of line. Why don’t we just pull ourselves together, elect a leader of the truly free world, give them gold epaulettes and stop making everyone’s lives difficult?

A Civil Society Army could deliver some lovely pithy messages to the High Level Panel on post-2015.  It would be very good at deciding what issues should be the priorities for a post-2015 framework, and explaining them to policymakers in a nice clear and coherent way.  It could even draw up logframes that stuck to a single side of A4.  If we had a disciplined structure telling us what to do and punishing us when we got out of line, life would be so simple.  How could it possibly go wrong? (more…)

“Participate”: Personal reflections on a new post-2015 initiative

September 27, 2012


Picture: View from plane window

Those of you who know me will know that there are lots about my job that I’m passionate about.  But there’s been one issue that I’ve found a particularly absorbing on a personal level – and that’s the challenge of trying to ensure that people living in poverty have real, meaningful engagement in the post-2015 policy process.

We agreed this as part of CAFOD’s advocacy strategy on post-2015 back in 2010, but I remember distinctly the moment when my thinking on it shifted.  I was on a plane coming back from Italy in June last year (having attended, ironically, one of the least legitimate and most elite meetings ever).  I wrote a rather breathless blog about it at the time.  The realization was that instead of simply doing advocacy to ask the UN or governments to take responsibility for engaging people living in poverty in post-2015, we had to make it happen ourselves.

What happened next is a long story – involving many, many people and a great number of ups and downs.  The last 15 months have seen a large number of wensleydale and pickle sandwiches eaten at Palace Street; an enormous amount of planning, writing, negotiating, coordinating and learning; and the occasional stroke of luck.  It has been the slow, uncertain process of building buy-in across several institutions and structures at once, combined with the challenge of steering a course through a rapidly moving and wide-ranging policy environment.

In the last couple of weeks, our challenge has entered a new phase.  We have been officially able to launch ‘Participate’ – an initiative to ensure that through participatory research knowledge from the margins shapes post-2015 policymaking, and that a future framework reflects the priorities of those directly affected by poverty and injustice.  Participate is jointly convened by Beyond 2015 and the Institute for Development Studies, with CAFOD coordinating Beyond 2015’s contribution.  See the blurb here.

It’s hard to know what lies in store for us next, and no doubt there will be many setbacks and challenges to come.  But being part of the effort to get us to this point has been a privilege.  Wherever we end up, this seems like a good moment to look out of the window and see how far we’ve come.



Beyond 2015’s VPPC paper Beyond2015_ContentStrategy_VPPC_final.

Conversation with Mwangi Waituru on North-South relationships

August 2, 2012

The below is a reply to my colleague Mwangi Waituru’s fascating post on how ‘North’ and ‘South’ can work together internationally, the cultural differences between our ways of working and how speech and writing have different significance for each group. 

Unfortunately my comment didn’t fit into the wordcount on his site, so I have posted it here instead..


Mwangi, what a very reflective and interesting piece.  I really enjoyed it – especially your colourful stories and metaphors.

I recognise a lot of what you say about the different modes of discourse in the North and South – with one preferring to write and the other to speak.  Of course we must remember that there is a lot of diversity both in what we call ‘North’ and ‘South’ (anyone who has worked in a shared office with Americans, French, British and Swedish people can tell you that the ‘North’ is full of its own differences).  But I think it is useful as a broad observation. (more…)

Post-2015 UN Task Team report: Pretty good, all in all

July 19, 2012

In the rapidly swelling sea of post-2015 publications that is ever lapping at my desk, one report that has been well worth reading properly is the UN System Task Team’s Report to the Secretary-General:  ‘Realising The Future We Want for All’. 

Considering it has been authored by a group of 60 (!) UN agencies plus the World Bank and various other international organisations it is remarkably, almost eerily coherent as a document.  This is not a text that has been track-changed to within an inch of its life.  At times it is hard to believe that such a large number of diverse agencies have generated a vision that is so consistent – but we must presume at the minimum they have signed off on it.  To have done so without turning the text into mush is cause for celebration indeed. (more…)

UN All Africa Parliamentarians Conference, Addis Ababa

June 1, 2012


The below is the text from Amy Pollard’s recent speech at the UN’s All Africa Parliamentarians Conference, in Addis Ababa, 21st-25th May 2012. 

“Honourable ladies and gentleman, it is a great privilege for me to address you today, and on behalf of my organisation, CAFOD, and the civil society campaign which I co-chair, Beyond 2015, I humbly thank you for the opportunity. 

There is a symmetry to my visit to Ethiopia, as it was almost exactly one year ago that my esteemed Ethiopian colleague, Ato Zegeye Afsaw, presented our work to parliamentarians in my own home country, the UK.  His visit was an important moment in our campaign, and it is an honour for me to continue the dialogue with you today in a spirit of partnership.

I want to tell you a little about our work, and then outline 3 key dangers that are currently emerging around the post-2015 agenda. (more…)

Post-2015 report in French and Spanish

May 10, 2012

By popular request, CAFOD’s recent policy paper: Post-2015 policymaking: What is being planned, what might actually happen, and CAFOD’s current policy lines is now available in French and Spanish.  The report includes a map of the 2015 policy process.

Por petición popular, reciente trabajo de CAFOD: Formulación de políticas para el periodo post-2015: Qué se está programando, qué puede pasar en realidad, y la política actual de CAFOD ha sido traducido al español.  El informe incluye un mapa del proceso político de 2015.

Suite à une demande imprévu, la publication CAFOD Élaboration de la politique post-2015: Ce qui est prévu, ce qui pourrait arriver en réalité, et les orientations politiques actuelles de CAFOD est maintenant traduit en français.  Le rapport comprend une plan du processus de la politique 2015.

Post-2015 updates, notes and intell.

April 26, 2012

Post-2015 paper of the week is undoubtedly from Jan Vandemoortele, one of the original architects of the MDGs.  Downloadable here.  The paper corrects several of the key misunderstandings of the original MDGs and makes a series of practical recommendations going forward.  Don’t be mislead by the familiarity of the headings.  There’s a lot of new material in here and a lot of the juicy stuff is in footnotes.  Skim-readers will miss out.

Interesting discussions at a UK parliamentary event yesterday organised by the Beyond 2015 UK hub, and chaired by CAFOD’s very own Joanne Green.  The Shadow Secretary of State, Ivan Lewis, is clearly energised by the idea of a ‘Global Covenant’ after 2015 – which would be for developed, developing and middle income countries.  Calling for this to be about more than charity and philanthropy, but also human rights and social justice.  Malcolm Bruce, Chairman of the parliamentary International Development Committee, also seeing a lot of opportunity in the agenda.  Possibilities of an IDC inquiry on post-MDGs later in the year.

Other scraps:

– Rumours of 8 people to be appointed on the UN’s High Level Panel.  Talk also of 3 co-chairs (quite a heavy chiefs to indians ratio?)

– Apparently UN has now got 75% of the cash it is trying to raise for the 50 country consultations and thematic consultations.  Starting in earnest after Rio, we’re told (slipped back from April/May).

Post-2015 policymaking: What is being planned, what might actually happen, and CAFOD’s current policy lines

March 21, 2012


We’re very pleased today to release a major new paper:  “Post-2015 policymaking: What is being planned, what might actually happen, and CAFOD’s current policy lines“. 

Drawing on the dozens of meetings, reading and engagement CAFOD have had in recent months, the first part of the paper synthesises our understanding of what is currently being planned on post-2015 policymaking, focusing particularly on the official UN process.  This is represented as a one-page map of the post-2015 process.

The second part of the paper gives our analysis of what might actually happen – offering three stylised scenarios:  “last minute rush”, “all things to all people” and “the bell curve”.  We argue that the ideal scenario is the bell curve – representing an open and inclusive process with a focused and clear outcome in time for the end of 2015.  Looking at the situation as it stands, we argue that whilst it is possible, a lot of work is necessary to bring the bell curve scenario about.

The final section examines what this means in advocacy terms.  Given the political economy and policy landscape of post-2015 as we find it in spring 2012, we lay out CAFOD’s current policy lines on the question of what should come after the Millennium Development Goals.  This includes our current thinking on what the purpose of a post-2015 framework should be; a venn diagram showing criterion we suggest for assessing which issues should be included, and our answers to the key questions on content.

A strong and legitimate post-2015 framework can come about if we take urgent action to make it happen.  We propose a series of recommendations targeted at specific groups:  The United Nations; donors and charitable foundations; national governments; and civil society. 

0.7 is arbitrary? Well, there’s a random accusation

February 22, 2012

Today, we’re launching a new policy brief “0.7 – An Accepted Number”.  It’s a finger-licking three pages long, has lots of pictures and even (brace yourselves) an Olympic tie-in. 

The paper challenges one of the pet arguments used by aid skeptics who want the UK government to renege on their promise to spend 0.7% of national income on aid:  the argument that 0.7 is an arbitrary number.

Is it really fair to single out 0.7 as a number that is ‘arbitrary’?  Is it any more arbitrary than the other numbers that we use to set goals, establish rules and guide behaviour?

Using examples from the worlds of sport, public health and education, the paper describes numbers which, like 0.7, have a long-established, historic basis.  The reasons these numbers were originally decided upon have now eclipsed by the fact that they have achieved such wide acceptance.  The meaning of these numbers is bolstered by the depth of their establishment and long-standing.  In this context, the paper argues that 0.7 is not arbitrary but an accepted number.  


Friday afternoon aid game

February 10, 2012

Everyone knows it’s fun to talk about aid on a Friday afternoon.  But can you guess which famous policy document this quote on aid comes from?

“Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos. Its purpose should be the revival of working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist. Such assistance, I am convinced, must not be on a piecemeal basis as various crises develop. Any assistance that this Government may render in the future should provide a cure rather than a mere palliative.” 

The Busan Outcome Document of 2011?  No.

Clare Short’s 2000 White Paper?  No.

I’ll put you out of your misery.  It was the Marshall Plan of 1947, when The United States gave $20 billion to rebuild Europe after the war.  We may be in a very different world of aid today, but many, many of the themes are issues that have come around time and again.