A new global partnership for a people-centred and planet-sensitive post-2015 agenda

Development Policy08 Apr 2014Amina Mohammed

Since their adoption in 2000, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been the most successful global anti-poverty push in history. They have helped in achieving tremendous progress, including halving extreme poverty, improving the lives of 200 million slum dwellers, increasing access to safe drinking water and attaining gender parity in primary education.

As we approach the MDGs target date of 2015, accelerated efforts are being made, focusing on those goals that are the most off-track. Where there is political will, results follow. For example, attended deliveries have increased in Kenya as a result of eradicating fees for birth deliveries in public health facilities, contributing to lowering maternal and neonatal mortality rates. Also in the financial sector, policy reforms by the government have spurred innovations, dramatically improving the access to financial services. Such examples of leadership can be found in many countries.

However, more than 1 billion people still live in extreme poverty and far too many continue to face serious deprivations of basic human needs, with progress hampered by deep inequalities linked to income, gender, ethnicity, disability, location and age. The global economic downturn and increasing conflicts of recent years have worsened poverty and inequality, while climate change threatens to reverse achievements and undermine future gains. The devastating effects of typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines reminded us of the interconnected nature of what is happening to our planet and human well-being; droughts afflicting several African countries, earthquakes in Pakistan, hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, and numerous other examples highlight the need for an integrated approach to development.

The post-2015 development agenda is our opportunity to realize our quest to end extreme poverty and put our planet on a sustainable path before it is too late. A business-as-usual approach will not deliver the transformative changes required.

In his report ‘A Life of Dignity for All’ (August 2013), the UN Secretary-General provided the broad contours of his vision for the post-2015 development agenda. The report highlights a growing consensus on a single, ambitious and universal agenda – one applicable to all countries and leaving no one behind – with the three interconnected dimensions of sustainable development (economic, social and environmental) at its core. It also stresses the need to consider from the outset clear means of implementation and developing a new global partnership.

Indeed, in today’s increasingly integrated world, the most important transformative shift is perhaps towards a new spirit of solidarity, cooperation, and mutual accountability. The post-2015 development agenda must be conceived as a truly global agenda with shared interests and responsibilities for all countries, supported by a renewed global partnership with collective actions and commitments from all (governments, as well as business, civil society organizations, philanthropy, academia and international organizations) to sustainable development. All countries and actors should contribute to development outcomes – nationally and globally – including through mobilizing domestic and external resources and through policy coherence for development.

While reinforcing aid commitments (including Official Development Assistance), this renewed global partnership should go beyond MDG 8 and the traditional North-South aid-based paradigm to achieve mutual accountability and transparency for sustainable development. It will need to address the global enabling environment including ODA, trade, financing climate change and sustainable development, capacity building and technology. It will also be crucial for the future framework to link explicitly the local, national, regional and global accountability mechanisms.

Discussions on the post-2015 development agenda will be intense during the next 12 months. Now that the consultation and stocktaking phases are over, member states have moved on to the next step for prioritizing issues, which should lead to a set of Sustainable Development Goals by the beginning of the 69th session of the UN General Assembly in September 2014. A parallel process, the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing Strategy should also complete its work by September 2014. This Committee assesses financing needs and reviews the effectiveness, consistency and synergies of existing instruments as well as new initiatives. A process of intergovernmental negotiations will begin subsequently, which should lead to the adoption of a post-2015 sustainable development agenda during a High-Level Summit in September 2015.

Defining the post-2015 development agenda is a daunting yet inspiring and historic task for the United Nations and its member states. Business as usual will not work for achieving the future we want and leaving no one behind. Now is the time for the international community to go beyond existing geo-political and ideological divides and together shape a bold and ambitious agenda. This can be the first generation to end extreme poverty and put our planet on a course for sustainable development.