The past week was the first leg of a two week gathering of the High Level Policy Forum on Sustainable Development, that was established to make up for the Rio+20 failure last year.
Under auspices of ECOSOC the forum (implementation of resolution 67/290) is to serve as a space where decision-makers could reflect on the results of another process that has been going on for some time now, delivering a post 2015 framework for sustainable development, replacing the current MDG framework that will only last till the end of 2015. A zero draft was on the table but not very much subject of discussion since the Open Working Group process, involving all stakeholders, has not been finalised yet. The second week will accomodate the Annual Ministerial Review of ECOSOC as well as the Development Cooperation Forum. Click here for the more details and an integrated program.
Much appreciation of the joint effort of the past week was expressed by ambassador Martin Sajdik (Austria), currently president of ECOSOC opening the ministerial dialogue today. As a typical example of a UN bureaucrat he repeatedly stated that the post 2015 agenda should not carry a 'gloom and doom' but a 'Yes we can' message that should revamp development. I am not sure if he was addressing the right audience given the many empty seats at the start of the gathering.
The science-policy interface received speciifc reference during the past week, emphasizing the need for science to contribute to evidence based policy making with the Global Sustainable Development Report as most important vehicle. Other topics of the agenda were the Sustainable Production and Consumption ten year program (10YSCP), which was an outcome of Rio+20 within the mandate of UNEP. It gained momentum but was told to get to the implementation phase and deliver on its mandate. Finally countries in special situations including small islands were given specific attention at the occasion of International Year of Small Island Developing States. An upcoming conference in Samoa was brought to the attention of the audience and also reference was made to the development of a vulnerability index to address climate change and extreme wheather events affecting these states. Finally the means to walk the talk was subject of discussion with the ever growing role of business, private capital flows and even capitalization of the natural resource base mentioned. New forms of development financing are required, including south-south cooperation and regional approaches. Good governance, rule-of-law, women empowerment, partnership with the business sector, economic stability and decentralisation were seen as essential for building resilience. They will most probably feature at the Addis Ababa finance for development conference in July 2015. Finally the role of the High-level Policy Forum itself was elaborated, including its role in the voluntary review of SDG achievement at country level, once the SDGs are finalized.
Some level of disappointment with the zero-draft produced by the Open Working Group was expressed today by Mr.Sajdik, president of ECOSOC, at the start of the Ministerial gathering. While launching the MDG 2014 annual report today, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon indicated that social exclusion and discrimination have been amongst the most important obstacles for achieving the MDGs, hinting that due attention is to be paid to these realities while formulating the SDGs. In the deliberations that followed repeatedly middle-income countries and China (77+China) emphasized the differentiated commitments on the SDGs (Rio principle 7 also featuring at the Rio+20 gathering).
It seems that the post 2015 framework is still dominated by the reality of developed economies, just trying to recover from the financial crisis, seeing chances for greening the global economy and making good money out of it. The genuine intentions may be questioned as basically western countries are facing a situation of a dwindling global resource base that no longer supports consumption patterns of their knowledge economies. The many empty seats from developing nations representatives at the HLPF tells the story about who is setting the agenda. In the Annual Ministerial Review meeting of ECOSOC next door the 77+China and the European states seemed to form two blocks with each their own perspective on sustainable development as to who should do it and who should pay for it.
To be continued....
My name is Reinier van Hoffen.
Click here for a summary.
Also find the text of a lecture Dr. Achterhuis held at the 2012 Bilderberg conference.