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The post-2015 development framework – An update on EU, Africa and UN proceedings

21-06-2013

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Much has happened since we last wrote about the EU emerging post-2015 position. The long awaited release at the end of May of the report by the UN High Level Panel (HLP)on the post-2015 development framework, A New Global Partnership. Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development”, has sparked a lot of discussion. The work of the HLP was also underpinned by extensive outreach/consultation processes which created a lot of buzz in the social media sphere and provided a rich amount of background information and insights on people’s priorities.  And the process is moving ahead quickly.  Before we add to the array of opinions on the way forward (in an upcoming post), the next 1,000 words provide a brief update on what has happened so far and what is still to come in this process.

What has happened?

  • The EU Commission published its post-2015 vision in the Communication ‘A decent life for all‘, which is currently being discussed in the EU Council. It has been endorsed by Development and Environment Ministers and is set to be formally adopted on 25 June.
  • The African Common position is currently being formed. The African Union is putting strong emphasis on economic transformation, growth and job creation. A Committee of Heads of States and Governments (lead by Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf) has been set up to synthesise priorities.
  • The African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group has formed an ad-hoc working group to define its position.
  • There have been discussions at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development on the post-2015 agenda. Japan is committed to collaborate with the African Union and support Africa in getting its voice heard in post-2015 discussions.
  • The UN High Level Panel on the post-2015 agenda (HLP) submitted their report to the Secretary General.
  • The report is comprehensive. It calls for transformation and includes governance and peace issues currently missing in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It integrates environmental, social and economic pillars and adopts zero-target goals for poverty-measures.
  • The report places a strong emphasis on the role of all actors and puts people at the center.
  • The ambition is to eradicate extreme poverty (1.25$/ other social indicators) once and for all. This coincides with the ambition voiced in the EU Commission proposal. There is a debate about whether some of the proposed zero-target goals are too ambitious and unrealistic or not ambitious enough (Why not going for higher poverty lines than the usual US$1.25?).
  • No specific (income) inequality goal is proposed other than for gender inequality. But the report argues that no one should be left behind. That means that goals/targets can only be considered met if every group (disaggregated by geography, income, gender, etc.) has met the goal.
  • To monitor if this is happening, a lot more data is needed. This is why the HLP calls for a Data Revolution, which will also help the call for strong accountability mechanisms and transparency.
  • Although the HLP report stresses international and global responsibility, the focus remains at national level. Clear global commitments are not included, except broader formulations on tax evasion, illicit financial flows, collaboration on technology transfer, a stable global financial system and Official Development Assistance commitments.

There have been a variety of reactions to the HLP-report. For a summary on some early reactions see here.

  • There are discussions ongoing amongst various stakeholders on whether the HLP proposals sufficiently tackle inequality or if a standalone goal needed (and specific measurements such as the Palma Index).
  • EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs (HLP-Member) is happy with the result of the HLP as it is largely congruent with the emerging EU position.
  • The ACP Civil Society Organisations Platform issued a statement with three main criticisms:
    • Lack of reference to other ongoing important processes, such as the outcomes of the Busan Aid Effectiveness High Level Forum.
    • The report is stretched too thin in order to ‘appeal to all’ and the recommendations are open to cherry picking in upcoming negotiations.
    • The definition of poverty is still patronising and philanthropic.

What’s next?

  • The HLP report feeds into the recommendations the UN Secretary-General will give in a report to the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly (GA) in September 2013. From June to September there are still a number of opportunities to engage in debate and give feedback to the report. The HLP will brief the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals (OWG on SDGs) on the report and will also include the feedback to the report received so far. The HLP is committed to not only make sure that their report’s recommendations are acknowledged by the UN Secretary-General’s input to the GA, but also that the discussions now taking place are taken into account. The HLP Secretariat will continue to work to ensure that the global conversation does not end.
  • The negotiations on the post-2015 framework will then move to the intergovernmental process and will largely happen in the Open Working Group on the SDGs over the next two years.
  • Most people realise that this is only the beginning of the process and that there is a big risk that the aspirations of tackling some ambitious issues, such as governance, peace, and gender will be watered down, or excluded, from a post-2015 framework.
  • The OWG process is not as inclusive as the HLP’s was. Despite the name of the ‘Open Working Group’ a lot of the negotiations will take place behind closed doors.  There is thus a need for all actors to stay involved and pressure national governments to include important issues. There will be some opportunities for civil society and other actors to be present at side events around the meeting schedule of the OWG and to provide inputs online.
  • The EU is committed to stay engaged and to ensure that a comprehensive set of issues, as proposed in its post-2015 position, will be included in a new set of post-2015 goals.
  • Coalitions for the ensuing negotiations are also being explored. For example, the Joint ACP-EU Council of Ministers (6-7 June 2013) discussed the post-2015 agenda and the EU and ACP are exploring a common position on post-2015.

The past few months have produced a great amount of background material, knowledge and ambitious positions for a post-2015 development framework. A look ahead shows that the task of finalising a post-2015 agenda should not be underestimated. More thinking will need to go into implementation issues and technical level details. At the same time, the rules of the game and the inclusiveness of the process are gradually changing and may become more challenging as actors are preparing for the political intergovernmental negotiation process. There are a some 500days left until 2015 – time that will need to be spent wisely to arrive at a coherent set of goals that address the world’s challenges and that pass the test of political feasibility.

Anna Knoll  is a Policy Officer at ECDPM’s EU External Action Programme. 

This blog post features the author’s personal view and does not represent the view of ECDPM.

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European external affairsPost-2015 Global Development AgendaEuropean Union (EU)Post 2015United Nations (UN)Africa