Posts Tagged ‘Post-MDGs’

What if? Scenario planning for post-2015

April 21, 2015

CAFOD has written a discussion paper on potential scenarios for 2015. Download it here and share your thinking in the comments section below >> What if Scenario Planning discussion paper

Negotiations across three processes at the UN are now in full swing. 2015 was always going to be a busy year for multilateralism, with the Financing for Development conference in July, the Post-2015 Summit in September, and the UNFCCC COP 21 in December. Big outstanding questions remain on how this year is going to deliver ambition across multiple fronts.

Which scenario do you think is most likely?

Which scenario do you think is most likely?


Inequality matters. The post-2015 agenda must matter too.

November 25, 2014

Next year, governments will come to the end of a long process to agree a new development agenda to replace the MDGs. A key demand from civil society from the earliest days of this process is that the growing problem of global inequalities should be centre stage of this new vision; many governments have joined this call. The MDGs concentrated on averages, so it was easy to hide large and growing gaps. The post-2015 agenda has the opportunity to set that right.

Growing inequalities are a problem because they undermine the very fabric of society. As Pope Francis tweeted, “inequality is the root of social evil.” Inequalities make it more difficult to break the cycles of poverty and exclusion, and move us away from a world of dignity and inclusion. Inequality is not sustainable; exclusion leads to conflict.

The richest 85 people now have the same amount of wealth as half the world's population

The richest 85 people now have the same amount of wealth as half the world’s population


Welcome to the Data Revolution Advisory Group – but will it be a revolution driven by people?

September 10, 2014

A warm welcome to Ban Ki-Moon’s new independent expert advisory group on the data revolution. While the data revolution conversation has been bubbling away over the last year, it’s been difficult to see how it will be brought into the official post-2015 process. With the announcement of the expert group, that missing piece of the puzzle has become clearer. The group will be tasked to input to the UN SG’s much anticipated Synthesis Report, providing input into the fourth chapter on the accountability framework (the other three covering the background, goals and targets proposed by the OWG, and financing).

Benita, 4 years old, from Ruyenzi, Rwanda uses a phone

Benita, 4 years old, from Ruyenzi, Rwanda using a mobile. How will her voice be heard in the data revolution?

So far, so good. But looking at the press release, a couple of questions occurred to me. As I’ve previously pointed out, the data revolution is in danger of missing out on the key constituency who are meant to benefit most from the collective endeavour to create a global development agenda: the very people who on a daily-basis experience poverty, injustice, discrimination and exclusion. Yet reading through the list I failed to spot anyone who would obviously champion this perspective. When the Secretary General High Level Panel was formed in 2012, Graҫa Machel, among others, supported the perspectives of people living in poverty, and many Panellists reached out to engage with different groups.


Where does the COMPASS point on climate change and poverty reduction?

August 23, 2013

Woman farmer in Bolivia

The environment has changed. Now stronger rains come, the land collapses, and just stones are left behind. It is now three years that we have had this bad weather. Before there were just showers and the rain did not destroy the crops. Now it comes with hailstones and it takes the land away. It brings all kinds of diseases for the plants and does not let them produce well. There are more thunderstorms now and that kills sheep, men… before, this was not happening’ (Source: Artisan workshops, Yamparáez, Bolivia, COMPASS).


 COMPASS puts a human face on the intensifying costs of climate change and environmental degradation. The participants’ experience reinforces the view that climate change is a ‘threat multiplier’ amplifying existing stresses, and offers important insights for would-be planners of “climate smart” development paths.

Its – depressing – key finding is that for most of the 1,420 people taking part, things have got worse in the last 15 years.  This is down to a combination of different factors, but among the most significant are resource stress, natural disasters and conflicts.

Changing climatic conditions and weather impacts – such as the increased droughts and flooding described by people in Bolivia, Uganda and the Philippines – often play their part. Communities in Kormatan, Philippines give us a glimpse into how conflict and environmental degradation can be mutually reinforcing. Farmers with livelihoods impacted by disputes between armed groups turned to illegal logging – which leads to further environmental stress. 


 ‘We make some progress but then, every 10 years, something happens that brings us back to where we were or worse than before. All the work done, the efforts and sacrifices are lost. This could be due to violent conflict or a severe drought.’ (Vicar General, Diocese of Soroti, Uganda).


Communities also describe the devastating and long-lasting impacts of conflict and natural disasters, resulting in emotional and cultural as well as material loss. This echoes the experience of poor people globally, who are bearing the brunt of global warming caused by the rich world.  In fact, climate change is the poster child for COMPASS participants’ awareness of ‘increased interconnectedness [and] how decisions and actions in one country have global implications’.

All this points to a shared responsibility to limit global warming and increasing environmental degradation – with the onus for action on rich countries, whose unsustainable economic paths are its root cause.  Otherwise the deterioration in poor people’s well-being so eloquently articulated by COMPASS participants will continue, and their ability to build viable livelihoods – their central demand – will be further undermined.

Poor communities and vulnerable groups must be supported to build resilience to unavoidable climate impacts, which requires national and local governments integrating resilience and climate change adaptation into development planning, plus adequate financial and technical support from rich countries. As CAFOD’s DRR adviser Kate Crowley puts it, ‘fair, local-level and participatory’ planning, supported by the right international frameworks is critical. And as COMPASS has found, meaningful participation of poor people in such processes takes time, resources – and political will on the part of elites.

This brings me to the participants’ fundamental goal: control over their own well being and self-reliance.  To support them to achieve this, “climate smart” development must be built around the varying needs and wants of people living in poverty, and respond to their varied circumstances and local contexts. It cannot be top-down or “one size fits all”.

This is the bottom line for any truly “bottom up” approach. CAFOD and IIED are exploring how to apply this insight to designing sustainable energy services for people living in poverty.

‘In the community of Rogongon [in the Philippines], the school has a computer lab but the computers are falling into disrepair since the area has been without electricity for more than a year. Even if they had electricity, there are no other computers in the area, and so IT skills may not be very relevant to local life.’ (COMPASS)

 1.3 billion people still have no electricity and 2.7 billion cook over open fires so increasing access to modern energy is a hot topic in the post-MDGs debate. This is a potential “win-win” for poor people and tree huggers, since to reach universal access, 55% of new electricity must come from decentralized sources – 90% of them renewable.

However, energy needs must be understood holistically, within people’s broader development needs. For instance, more and better quality education is identified as a crucial need by COMPASS participants. This will not be met by providing electricity alone. It also requires books, computers that work, classrooms, well-trained teachers and so on.

CAFOD and IIED have developed an approach to designing energy delivery models that starts by building a holistic understanding of people’s energy needs and wants and the interests of other stakeholders, using a participatory process. It then analyses the local context in which a service will operate- which for us includes socio-cultural factors, such as local preferences, as well as the more formal enabling environment.

All these factors are built into the design with the aim of producing an “energy delivery model” with a greater chance of being financially, socially and environmentally sustainable. We have begun to test our approach with partners on the ground. Watch this space for more news, including a forthcoming paper.



Which way does the compass point on accountability and transparency?

August 9, 2013

COMPASS 2015 Research Session in the Philippines

The debate is raging (in some circles) about what should come after the MDGs in 2015 but amongst all this discussion the voices of those who really matter – those experiencing poverty or marginalisation – are not always present. To try and address this CAFOD has just finished an in-depth research project exploring people’s experiences of poverty and exclusion over the past 15 years, as part of the wider Participate initiative with the same aim. The COMPASS 2015 research project explored people’s experience of poverty and exclusion over the last 15 years involving 1,420 participants in Zimbabwe, Uganda, the Philippines and Bolivia. A central issue that emerged was how development projects and services are delivered and who benefits. Concerns about how governments and other actors involved, such as INGOs, were accountable and the transparency of the process were high on people’s agendas.

Poor governance structures which lead to political patronage, corruption or the disproportionate favouring of those in more privileged positions affect the poorest and marginalised the most. Those are the people who rely most on services or development programmes and  cannot afford to find alternatives

But how to reverse these trends and ensure greater accountability from those who are delivering services? Amongst many possible measures are feedback mechanisms, the participation of communities, freedom of information and protection for those who speak out are important steps to build a better system.


Setting the post-2015 development compass

August 2, 2013

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.


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.


Changing indicators to change the world: evidence from the ground.

April 5, 2013

Why the way we measure progress on education matters.

The building of a school next to an IDP camp in the Teso region. Research participants said they have the physical walls but not the teachers and teaching materials needed to provide their children with quality education.

The building of a school next to an IDP camp in the Teso sub-region. Research participants said they have the physical walls but not the teachers and teaching materials needed to provide their children with quality education.

A widely acknowledged success of the current MDG framework is the creation of strong incentives for the governments of developing countries to achieve progress on the agreed goals. Governments want to receive international praise and increased AID flows associated with the implementation of good pro-poor policies. Government performance is assessed on the achievement of the MDGs targets associated to the goals. If we take the example of the second goal “Achieve universal primary education”, the target is to “Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling”. The key indicator used is the Net enrolment rate in primary education, complemented by the number of pupils enrolled in grade 1 who reaches grade 5, and literacy rates. This post examines the implications of the incentives generated by the current MDGs indicators. It does so by considering the critical views of those living in poverty collected through the COMPASS 2015 research. (more…)

Movement towards Rio +20 – but more questions than answers…

March 8, 2012

Environment ministers from around the world met last week in Nairobi for the final time before the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June. As at Rio itself, the discussion focused on the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and the institutional framework for sustainable development. We now know the issues – but do we know what messages we’re taking to Rio+20, and what outcomes we want on the other side?

Overall, the proposal for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from Colombia has gained a lot of ground as a potential ‘successful’ outcome. This is good, as it means that discussion on the development framework beyond 2015 is happening, but we need to ensure it doesn’t detract from progress on other more ‘difficult’ areas where decisions need to be made now, such as ocean governance, fossil fuel subsidies, and biodiversity. (more…)