Navigating the post-2015 debate – what to read and where?

Development Policy08 May 2013Bertil Videt

In its post-2015 dossier, The Broker guides you through the many discussions about development after the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire in 2015. The aim of the post-2015 dossier is to provide an overview of the debate, the major issues at stake, the many approaches to it and the web of actors and processes, within the UN system and beyond, who will all shape the future development agenda.

Updated on 16 July 2013.

To cover the various aspects of the post-2015 debate, The Broker’s editors have written a series of articles and a summary of reports on the topic. In his editorial History repeats itself. Or not?, editor-in-chief Frans Bieckmann argues that the post-2015 debate is important because it determines policies. Even if this process does not lead to the necessary systemic changes, critics should engage to push the agenda in that direction.

Unravelling the approaches

Many voices have put forward a number of approaches to the post-2015 targets and policies. Do we need to update and continue the MDGs, do we need more comprehensive approaches such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or do we need to go beyond general and measurable development goals and formulate a fundamental and transformative change in our understanding of development and global politics? In Business as usual or system change, project editor Davinia Gomez Sanchez gives an overview of the many overlapping and sometimes conflicting approaches.

The process of defining the agenda

The process of developing the post-2015 framework, with its many actors and meetings, seems to be taking a more inclusive path than the MDG process, which was criticized for being technocratic and opaque. In Lessons learned from the MDGs, research editor Saskia Hollander and project editor Cheshta Panday and provide a bird’s-eye view of the many of actors involved, the many processes and how it all feeds into the UN General Assembly, which will finalize the post-2015 framework next year.

For a quick overview of the major actors and how they feed into the UN processes, please see this visualization.

The High Level Panel report

After eight months of speculation about its content, the UN High Level Panel (HLP) on the Post-2015 Development Agenda launched its report in May. In Highly ambitious or empty rhetoric? research editor Saskia Hollander argues that despite its comprehensiveness in terms of aims, the report falls short in specifying the means necessary to achieve them. Moreover, with the highly political Open Working Group on sustainability still running, it remains uncertain which parts of the ambitious report will actually survive.

While the HLP discusses extensively how structural inequalities hamper development, it does not call for measures that address inequalities deriving from the global economy. In MDGs have ignored inequality, research editor Sara Murawski explains how inequality has increasingly become part of the development debate.

Food and water security

While halving hunger is one of the MDGs that is actually within reach, feeding a rapidly growing world population in an era of climate change and environmental degradation remains a major challenge. In Ending hunger within a generation, research editor Evert-jan Quak guides us through the discussions on food security in relation to the post-2015 development framework. The HLP has proposed a goal on universal access to water, which was absent in the MDGs. As this issue is highly controversial, it is not likely to be included in the future development agenda. In Water access crucial for development, Saskia Hollander and Karlijn Muiderman outline the interlinkages between water and other development issues.

Post-2015: shaping a global agenda

In addition to these editorial articles, The Broker has also launched an online debate on the future global development agenda. So far, the debate has mainly included reflections on the HLP report, which has been highly praised for its ambition. Nevertheless, contributors argue that the report falls short in terms of governance, especially when it comes to the proposed actions regarding universal and sustainable energy and water infrastructure. Other contributors reflect on the specific nature of the post-2015 process or focus on the role of specific countries and actors (i.e. China, Africa, Spain, the EU).

In the run-up to the UN event on the post-2015 agenda in September this year, we welcome more contributions to our debate, addressing the next crucial steps in the process of formulating the post-2015 development agenda. Contributions can be sent to:

In the coming period, we will update the post-2015 dossier regularly, highlighting the main events and key issues in the debate.