ACCESSIBILITY AT UNOG A A A A The United Nations in the Heart of Europe

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL DISCUSSES ITS CONTRIBUTION TO THE ELABORATION OF THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL DISCUSSES ITS CONTRIBUTION TO THE ELABORATION OF THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA
4 July 2013

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) today held a thematic discussion on its contribution to the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda as a principal body for policy review, policy dialogue and recommendations on issues of economic and social development and for the follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals.  It held two panels on shaping the post-2015 development agenda and on follow up to the post-2015 development agenda.

Nestor Osorio, President of the Economic and Social Council, said that the theme of the panel discussion would provide an opportunity to make recommendations for the post-2015 development agenda, including implementation and monitoring.  Despite significant progress made in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, trends had been uneven between countries and regions.  There was a need to adopt a more structural, systematic and systemic approach; and, in the post-2015 development framework, the Council could make its own contribution as a key platform for coordination, monitoring and implementation of the agenda.

The panels were moderated by David Steven, Senior Fellow and Associate Director, Centre for International Cooperation, New York University. 

In the first panel, Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said that there had been an emerging consensus that the post-2015 development agenda should build on the Millennium Development Goals and have sustainable development at the core.  At the Rio+20 conference, States had agreed to strike a balance between the economic, social and environmental pillars of development.  The key role of the Economic and Social Council in this regard had also been recognised. 

Helen Clark, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme, said in the post-2015 agenda, growth needed to be shared and inequality should be tackled.  There was broad agreement around the priority which should be given to inequality because it exacerbated instability and fragility in society.  Inclusive and equitable development was all about having the opportunity to be gainfully employed and have a decent livelihood.  States should listen and reach out when designing the agenda, bearing in mind that people around the world expected to be heard and consulted on matters which affected them. 

Speaking in the panel were Anthony Mothae Maruping, Commissioner for Economic Affairs, African Union Commission; Francois-Xavier de Donnea, Inter-Parliamentary Union/Chamber of Representatives, Belgium; and Amina Mohammed, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning.  Participating as discussants were Michael Anderson, Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Post-2015 United Nations Development Agenda, United Kingdom; and Ann Aerts, Head of the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development.

During the interactive discussion, speakers welcomed the focus on the economic, social and environmental dimensions of the sustainable development agenda; others called for the inclusion of non-traditional elements such as peace and security.  Delegations welcomed the reports on the post-2015 development agenda drafted by high-level groups; reiterated the view that poverty reduction and sustainable development should be at the core of the agenda; and highlighted the role of the Council with regards to policy, coordination and implementation.  Some speakers underlined the need to combine universal goals with the recognition of specificities and challenges of particular countries, such as the least developed countries; and others called for an integration of human rights principles.

Speaking in the discussion were Belgium, Nepal, European Union, Croatia, China, Finland, Austria, Benin, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Germany, Venezuela, Canada, Ecuador and Italy.

In the second panel, Minelik Alemu Getahun, Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the extraordinary progress made under the Millennium Development Goals needed to be renewed and new structures put into place.  ECOSOC was well-placed to instrumentalise this process and a number of reforms could be put into place.  Renewed partnerships and financial systems should provide sufficient space to developing countries to pursue their respective development agendas.  The reforms would aim to streamline and make more coherent partnership structures.

Martin Dahinden, Director, Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, said that United Nations Member States had decided to set up a High Level Political Forum on Development Cooperation, which would convene every four years to address development challenges.  The Council, however, remained the principal organ in the integrated and coordinated follow-up of all major United Nations conferences on development.  The Council should make sure that the United Nations operation system functioned as effectively as possible.

Speaking in the panel were John McArthur, Senior Fellow at Fung Global Institute, United Nations Foundation and Brookings Institution; Bernadette Fischler, Policy Analyst (post-MDGs), CAFOD, the Official Catholic Aid Agency for England and Wales; Faeqa Saeed Alsaleh, Assistant Secretary-General, League of Arab States; and Klaus Rudischhauser, Deputy Director-General, EuropeAid, European Commission.

During the interactive discussion, speakers underlined the importance of following up on the post-2015 development agenda and raised issues concerning the number and type of goals which should be set and reached if they were to eradicate poverty and transform the lives of billions of persons, the different types of partnerships and strategies which could be adopted to that end, the need to monitor implementation and to measure partnership effectiveness and progress by using a variety of methods, and the necessity to reform the Council so as to ensure that their global vision could be realized.

The following delegations spoke during the discussion: South Africa, Iran, Mexico, Russian Federation, Gabon and Nigeria.  The International Telecommunications Union also took the floor as did Yaya Olaniran, Chair of the Committee on World Food Security. 

In closing remarks, the President of the Council, updating delegations on the status of the Ministerial Declaration, said that additional consultations were needed and suspended the High-level Segment.                                                                                                           

The Council will resume its work on Friday, 5 July at 10 a.m., when it will open the Coordination Segment with a dialogue with the Executive Secretaries of the Regional Commissions on “regional perspectives on the post-2015 development agenda.   

Thematic Debate on the Contribution of the Economic and Social Council to the Elaboration of the Post-2015 Development Agenda

Panel I: Shaping the Post-2015 Development Agenda

Opening Remarks by the President

NESTOR OSORIO, President of the Economic and Social Council, said that the theme of today’s panel discussion would provide an opportunity to make recommendations for the post-2015 development agenda and hold a discussion on the best ways of implementing and monitoring it.  Over the years, the Economic and Social Council had accumulated extensive knowledge and experience in the coordinated follow-up to global summits, and the Council’s role as a global dialogue, policymaking and accountability platform had been greatly enhanced by the Annual Ministerial Review and the Development Cooperation Forum.  Despite significant progress made in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, trends had been uneven between countries and regions.  There was a need to adopt a more structural, systematic and systemic approach, which would help make the changes necessary to achieve further progress.  In the post-2015 development framework, the Council could make its own contribution as a key platform for coordination, monitoring and implementation of the agenda, and bring the matters of the agenda to a wider range of stakeholders.  The post-2015 development agenda should be inclusive and global, and must put in place a strategy which promoted job creation and sustainability of development. 

Presentations and Discussion

DAVID STEVEN, Senior Fellow and Associate Director, Centre for International Cooperation, New York University, Moderator of the discussion, said that they were at a critical stage in the post-2015 development agenda and hoped for open interventions in the spirit of an interactive dialogue.  Little after the Millennium Development Goals was agreed upon; they had become the flagship of the United Nations and people knew about how they had transformed the lives of many people.

WU HONGBO, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said that there had been an emerging consensus that the post-2015 development agenda should build on the Millennium Development Goals with sustainable development at the core.  At the Rio+20 conference, States had agreed to strike a balance between the economic, social and environmental pillars of development.  The key role of the Economic and Social Council in this regard had also been recognised.  A special event would be convened by the General Assembly in September and there was also ongoing work by the open-ended working group on sustainable development goals and the financial expert committee on sustainable development financing strategies; these would hopefully lead to a global framework.  The intergovernmental process at the United Nations had clear and complementary roles and Member States should give clear guidance for advancing the process and the United Nations system should ensure that it provided the relevant data, information and analysis to allow States to reach informed decisions.  Ultimately, translating the sustainable development agenda into a unified development framework was everyone’s business and all stakeholders should engage with the United Nations system to ensure this endeavour was successful.  The framework should support initiatives at all levels, in particular as regional development priorities and actions were growing in importance, and regional specificities should be taken into account.  The United Nations regional commissions, as part of the Economic and Social Council system, should continue to work and build on regional experience at both national and international levels.  National level actions determined whether commitments were translated into results and were essential for sustainable livelihoods freeing people from fear and want.  Actions also should be taken by the United Nations to monitor and review progress, as well as identify challenges.    

HELEN CLARK, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme, said that even though the Millennium Development Goals poverty target had been achieved, inequality was on the rise.  In the post-2015 agenda, growth needed to be shared and inequality should be tackled.  They had shaped an ambitious agenda and pursued bold actions which would achieve the inclusive and equitable goal.  Meanwhile, the voice of the people needed to be heard too.  There was broad agreement around the priority which should be given to inequality because it exacerbated instability and fragility in society.  Inclusive and equitable development was all about having the opportunity to be gainfully employed and have a decent livelihood.  Ms. Clark said that there had been huge outreach in the process up until now, but the important thing was that set priorities had to be heeded.  Therefore, States should listen and reach out when designing the agenda, bearing in mind that people around the world expected to be heard and consulted on matters which affected them.  The United Nations, for its part, very much favoured a participatory system.      

ANTHONY MOTHAE MARUPING, Commissioner for Economic Affairs, African Union Commission, said that he agreed with Ms. Clark that it was important to increase efforts to tackle inequality across regions, while also continuing efforts to fight against extreme poverty.  
FRANCOIS-XAVIER DE DONNEA, Inter-Parliamentary Union/Chamber of Representatives, Belgium, said that inequality was the main reason behind political instability.  The best way of fighting inequality was to have democratic systems which would make sure that the poorest had the opportunity to vote for their government and that there were no obstacles stopping them from exercising their right to vote.

AMINA MOHAMMED, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning, said that the main lesson learned was that issues should be tackled when making the transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the post-2105 agenda, and that they should look through the environment lens to make everything work and achieve sustainable development.

DAVID STEVEN, Senior Fellow and Associate Director, Centre for International Cooperation, New York University, Moderator of the discussion, also stressed that an agenda that was comprehensive but simple enough to be communicated was needed; it was important that it make a difference on the ground.  Africa after 2015 would be home to a young growing population and see important changes; in this context, how did they think that the actions of ECOSOC could have a positive contribution?

ANTHONY MOTHAE MARUPING, Commissioner for Economic Affairs, African Union Commission, said that it was important to maintain momentum in the fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals and that pending work was carried over.  The international community should learn from previous experience to ensure that there would be no relapses and gains made would be sustained.  Eagerness for a post-2015 development agenda should not dilute the enthusiasm of continuing to pursue the fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals.  African countries were eager to contribute and make an input in the 2015 development agenda through the African Union and to speak with one voice.  The African Union Commission had teamed up with the Economic Commission for Africa in order to carry out regional and continental consultations with a wide range of stakeholders.  Among the four priority areas that had emerged were structural economic transformation, inclusive growth, human development and questions about financing.  The goal was to achieve strong, sustained and inclusive growth that would provide jobs and reduce poverty.  The promotion of human development, aimed at vulnerable social groups, was also a priority.  Africa would seek to consolidate partnerships and to mobilise national resources, aware of the enabling environment needed at all levels, to achieve these goals.  Global resolve to address human rights, strengthen capacity, combat corruption and further regional integration to increase resilience were also necessary.

DAVID STEVEN, Senior Fellow and Associate Director, Centre for International Cooperation, New York University, discussion Moderator, said that job creation was particularly important during the economic crisis and asked how they could make the economic transformation happen.  

HELEN CLARK, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme, said that transformation was not just about the Gross Domestic Product.  In Africa, the investment in infrastructure, especially in rural areas, was critical, so that the benefits of growth and development would reach everyone and lift them out of extreme poverty.  

WU HONGBO, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said that the creation of decent jobs was important.  The eradication of poverty was an issue of major concern to many countries.  The Secretary-General of the United Nations was organizing a special event to encourage all States to redouble their efforts to implement the Millennium Development Goals and to urge Member States to honour their commitments under Millennium Development Goal 8.  In addition, the United Nations had set up an online consultation system on its website which allowed absolutely all stakeholders, not just State representatives, to voice their views and participate in the process.     

FRANCOIS-XAVIER DE DONNEA, Inter-Parliamentary Union/Chamber of Representatives, Belgium, said that the main thing was to create conditions necessary for appropriate investment in terms of infrastructure, especially in Africa.

AMINA MOHAMMED, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning, said that without investment they would not be able to translate all the ability at the local level into development, so they should not underestimate the side of the government which was responsible for investing in local infrastructure. 

DAVID STEVEN, Senior Fellow and Associate Director, Centre for International Cooperation, New York University, Moderator of the discussion, highlighted the importance of conditions that made growth and development possible as well as the role of parliaments and national and local governments in the post-2015 agenda.  What could ECOSOC do to facilitate their role?

FRANçOIS XAVIER DE DONNEA, Inter-Parliamentary Union/Chamber of Representatives, Belgium, said the fact that the Millennium Development Goals had not been completely achieved was not imputed to the lack of financial resources but to weakness in governance both in developing countries and donor communities.  Therefore, in the context of the post-2015 development agenda, a focus on democratic governance was needed.  Effective parliaments constituted the keystone of “better” governance, given their substantive and monitoring roles in the context of the design and implementation of policies, and capacity to make the governments accountable.  Donors at the national and international level continued to invest in the strengthening of parliamentary systems to develop auditors and other instruments to oversee the work of governments and promote governance.  As the Economic and Social Council looked at the future it would have to increasingly facilitate the participation of parliament, of course through the International Parliamentary Union, for example, by holding meetings with parliaments.  Regional parliaments should also be strengthened.

HELEN CLARK, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme, underlined the importance of parliaments and their involvement and interest in the Millennium Development Goals, which had a positive impact. 

WU HONGBO, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, agreed on the importance of good governance and the role parliaments could take in this regard.  It was important to remember that development goals should be simple, easy to communicate, and measurable.  Measuring governance was difficult, what would be the standard, would one size fit all?  Mr. Wu would like to see the principle of good governance enshrined as part of the notion of an enabling environment for the successful implementation of development goals.

AMINA MOHAMMED, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning, said that without governance on the agenda nothing much could happen.  Discussing the role of parliaments was an opportunity to focus on the importance of institutions.  Unless they could turn words into a law and the law was enforceable, there could be no tangible results.  Persons and monitoring frameworks that could reinforce parliamentary decisions were key to this process. 

ANTHONY MOTHAE MARUPING, Commissioner for Economic Affairs, African Union Commission, said that functional, transparent and accountable institutions were very important.  In Africa, the illicit outflow of funds was a major concern at the moment, so the financial sector should operate properly to ensure that illicit outflows could be traced.  Supervision and regulation of the sector should also be reinforced.

AMINA MOHAMMED, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning, said that in order to gain a better understanding of the environment and move into a much bigger agenda, they should get a better idea of the scale of the agenda so as to be able to determine the investment which they needed to make.  Capacity to deliver on that required investments from a wide range of institutions.  In terms of resources needed, the challenge with the development agenda was that it was not legally binding, so it was in the interest of governments and partners to invest and not to see it as a burden or a huge risk.  It was also necessary to build and consolidate global partnerships and to demonstrate the political will to mobilize resources.  They should hold partners to their commitments under the Millennium Development Goals, look at a wider post-2015 agenda and concentrate on the more fragile economies.  Regarding job creation, emphasis should be placed on opportunities for women while designing the new agenda.  People needed to be at the centre of efforts made and not staring at efforts from the outside.
FRANçOIS XAVIER DE DONNEA, Inter-Parliamentary Union/Chamber of Representatives, Belgium, said that money was an abundant commodity but what was lacking was political will and good ideas.  A global fund to address development issues and climate change might be a good idea.  There were different ideas for financing initiatives; among them, levying a small tax on oil by oil producers could be a simple idea and non-ideologically laden. 

ANTHONY MOTHAE MARUPING, Commissioner for Economic Affairs, African Union Commission, said that honouring commitments was important.  Past experience had shown that this was not always the case.  Domestic resource mobilisation was also very important, as well as supervision.  Resources should be retained within developing countries.  Another source that had come into the fore was remittances and, while they were private funds, many of them were invested in housing and other developmental activities.  Improved targeting was also important.

HELEN CLARK, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme, underlined that official development assistance did remain important, even if it did not constitute a major part of the resources mobilised.  It did play an important part in pushing countries to develop capacity, mobilise national resources and remain investment-ready.  Liquidity was available, as well as emerging climate finance, but the adequate infrastructure and instruments in order to be able to access it was also needed.  Global solidarity, such as in the case of HIV/AIDS, was also important; it was encouraging to see the mobilisation of national resources.

WU HONGBO, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, recalled that an intergovernmental committee was working on proposals concerning financing.  Regarding partnerships and accountability, the Economic and Social Council had a big role to play.  For example, at a meeting in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, a platform had been presented for developing a global platform for sustainable development and this had been the first time that representatives of countries from different categories sat together and exchanged views.  All different partnerships should inform and complement each other, avoiding duplication; and perhaps, instead of a single global partnership, a system of partnerships could be established.  Regarding accountability, overseas direct assistance and remittances, when the private sector and civil society were mobilsed to provide resources for development they had to be sure that their resources would be strictly used; parliamentary oversight or national audit mechanisms could be used in this regard.

DAVID STEVEN, Senior Fellow and Associate Director, Centre for International Cooperation, New York University, Moderator, summarizing the discussion so far, said that the main points addressed were the challenge to end poverty within a generation, the need to create jobs around the world, the enabling environment needed to make that happen, and the question of finance and accountability used as tools to promote development. 

MICHAEL ANDERSON, Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Post-2015 UN Development Agenda, United Kingdom, said that the Council was uniquely situated to integrate the various parts of the United Nations system, such as trade and intellectual property, and facilitate discussion on them.  Agreeing a post-2015 framework was a fragile process and there were risks involved.  The Council could play a major role in ensuring that an agreement was reached in the end and that Member States did not settle for the lowest common denominator.  Mr. Anderson said that the world must not lose focus on the poorest and most vulnerable persons around the world, nor should they give up on the Millennium Development Goals.  There was still time to make progress towards achieving them, which would create momentum for the post-2015 agenda.  It was high time to address the problem of corruption and related issues, such as illicit money outflows, underperforming tax systems, and money laundering practices, and subject all that to greater transparency and better governance.  Inequality was one of the main obstacles when it came to employment.  They should identify with precision how inequality manifested itself and then devise practical measures to address the problem.    

ANN AERTS, Head of the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development, said that the world should not lose sight of the Millennium Development Goals and that they should collect more data to document the lessons learnt from the process of implementing the Millennium Development Goals.  The private sector could play a critical role in development, for example with strategic philanthropy, because it was very flexible and had access to a large pool of expertise and private capital.  Financing health services and creating jobs were among the remaining challenges, said Ms. Aerts.  They should think of all the means available to them and should bring a business mindset to efforts to find solutions to all the problems identified.   

BENEDICTE FRANKINET, Permanent Representative of Belgium to the United Nations in New York, responding to the question of the Moderator concerning the Council’s role in the post-2015 agenda and speaking in her capacity as coordinator of the work on the reform of the Council, said that it appeared that there was a consensus on the need to integrate the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development in a comprehensive framework.  As the President of the Council had indicated, the importance of implementation and follow up of this agenda would be crucial.  A review of the Economic and Social Council cycle would contribute to the capacity of the bureau to coordinate with other United Nations bodies and a more effective organization of its events and activities, as well as the structure of its segments, to avoid current bottlenecks.  Negotiations on a high-level political forum on sustainable development had been concluded.  Concerning the ongoing process for the strengthening and reform of the Council, Ms. Frankinet noted the idea of regrouping most of the meetings of the Council in New York, with the exception of the humanitarian segment, which would take place in Geneva; and said that the negotiation of this process should conclude before the end of the current session of the General Assembly.

Nepal said that as part of the post-2015 development agenda, a multi-stakeholder global approach and ensuring policy space for developing countries was necessary.    The unique characteristics and challenges of countries could not be captured by a focus on income and a flexible approach, such as the one outlined in the Istanbul Programme of Action, was needed.  The representation of least developed countries should be included in all international norm-setting processes and financial resources were key to the successful implementation of the post-2015 development agenda. 

European Union said that the Special Event scheduled for 25 September would serve to reaffirm the collective commitment to the Millennium Declaration.  Too often economic, social and environmental issues were considered separately with different financing, monitoring and accountability mechanisms.  The new framework would ensure the integration all three interrelated dimensions of sustainable development in a balanced way.   

Croatia said that the international community had a historic opportunity to eradicate extreme poverty in a single generation.  Concerning the post-2015 development agenda, they needed to integrate all three pillars of sustainable development in a balanced way and the agenda should be people-centred.  To avoid including too many items on the agenda, what criteria should be used for an issue to be perceived as a stand-alone target?

China said that many countries had made progress achieving the Millennium Development Goals but still faced many challenges.  When formulating the new agenda they should take into account the challenges lying ahead and adopt the principle of specificity alongside the principle of universality.  The goals should be comprehensive and balanced, with poverty elimination and job creation placed at the top of the agenda.  

Finland said that the Millennium Development Goals should be achieved and that the Council should play a crucial role in the development of the post-2015 agenda, on which a number of high-level reports had been prepared as a basis for discussions and recommendations.  Peace and security should be included in addition to the traditional elements and Finland had high hopes for the work of the committee on financing to address existing challenges.

Austria updated the Council about the international conference on the twentieth anniversary of the Vienna conference on human rights held last week in Austria in collaboration of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, where experts had emphasised the need to base the post-2015 agenda on a human rights-basis, including the principles of participation, accountability, non-discrimination, equality and equality, which had not been sufficiently included.

Benin stressed the quality of the high-level panel’s report and emphasised that the terminology used for least developed countries was not in line with the United Nations-agreed language.  While it was important to count with universal goals, the specific characteristics should be taken into account and, in this context, the least developed countries constituted a vulnerable group and the Istanbul Guidelines should be taken into account.

Indonesia said that the post-2015 development agenda should ensure that sustainable development reached the poorest and most excluded populations.  Good governance and institutions were very important in that respect.  The future development agenda should focus on action and incorporate a forward-looking mindset.  The Council had a major role to play in the realization of the new agenda. 

Kyrgyzstan said that the world was divided into two extremes, one of which consisted of extremely poor people dying of hunger and diseases; poverty eradication was the biggest remaining challenge.  Most of the efforts must be undertaken by countries themselves, so Kyrgyzstan urged States to fight corruption, provide transparency and ensure an equitable use of resources.   

Germany said that a paradigm change was underway and the post-2015 development agenda should involve all countries regardless of their level of income.  They should continue to focus on eradicating extreme poverty whilst also attaching importance to other goals on the new agenda, such as improving human lives in a sustainable manner and by showing respect to the environment and to the planet’s limited resources. 

Venezuela said that States had to agree and apply clear rules and strengthen the Council as a platform for dialogue; developing the post-2015 agenda was necessary to ensure consistency, avoid duplication and create a coherent framework.  The Council should be able to coordinate activities central for the three pillars of sustainable development.  Should deep reform be tackled before moving on the development agenda?  Venezuela also welcomed the establishment of the high-level policy forum.

Canada welcomed the high-level panel report and said that the post-2015 agenda should be clear, simple and easily communicated, but should also be people-centred.  Following up on the consultations referred to by Ms. Clark, Canada asked how to manage the expectations and to keep people engaged in the process.  Concerning low and middle income countries, how would the particular needs of fragile States be taken into account amidst the diversity of needs?

Ecuador said that many presentations had addressed inequality, which went beyond purely economic considerations, and should consider other factors, such as poverty, violence and education.  Ecuador advocated for the creation of societies without racism and underlined the importance of the education of young people on peace and the protection of the environment.

Italy said that the interrelation between development and migration should also be taken into account.  The Council should continue to be the main coordination mechanism and to ensure a high degree of consistency.  Italy favoured the method of full sharing and consultation with non-State actors, especially non-governmental organizations, and said that the territorial partnership approach was the best way of ensuring equality and inclusiveness.  

AMINA MOHAMMED, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning, in concluding remarks, said that ambition was difficult to keep for a long period of time, so it was important to keep the space open for the voices which had entered the debate.  Young persons, women, and local government representatives would be top of the list for the years to come.  More consensus building was needed at this stage, as was devising an agenda with a clear set of goals so as to promote sustainable development and eradicate poverty.

FRANCOIS-XAVIER DE DONNEA, Inter-Parliamentary Union/Chamber of Representatives, Belgium, in concluding remarks, said that it was important for companies in developed countries to comply with anti-corruption laws concerning their activities abroad.  It was outrageous to see companies employ various corruption techniques in order to violate laws with impunity.   
ANTHONY MOTHAE MARUPING, Commissioner for Economic Affairs, African Union Commission, in concluding remarks, said the point had been made that the development agenda should include regional and country particularities and should not detract attention from the programmes of work for least developed countries and other groups of countries.  Measures to ensure parliamentary consultations were important and their views were very important.  The goal should be sustainable development, but resilience of the economy should also be emphasised.

HELEN CLARK, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme, in concluding remarks, said that the point had been made that a universal agenda should not be so universal as to forget about the poor.  A lot had been said about the needs of least developed countries; poverty eradication and multi-dimensional poverty remained an issue in these countries and the Millennium Development Goals in this regard should not be given up.  How to manage expectations when so many voices had been heard was an important question and the responsibility went back to the Member States, those participating in the working group, those negotiating an outcome for the post-2015 development agenda, and at the national level.  Concerning the territorial approach, underlined by Italy, local governments were key for the achievement of development goals as well as parliaments, including in budgetary processes.

WU HONGBO, Under-Secretary-General of Economic and Social Affairs, reiterated the challenge of universality, which was a challenge for discussions among Member States.  It was important to keep in mind the different national situations; during the discussions, some ideas were developed on the idea of a concept paper; goals could refer to specific targets which would be suitable to different countries.  Discussions were still underway and, regarding the role of the Economic and Social Council, there had been some complaints.  Precisely for that reason, the strengthening of the intergovernmental process had been launched.  There were measures which had been introduced and were meaningful.  

Panel II: Follow up to the Post-2015 Development Agenda

Presentations and Discussion

DAVID STEVEN, Senior Fellow and Associate Director, Centre for International Cooperation, New York University, Moderator of the discussion, opened the panel by asking how more constructive partnerships could be built given that the world had changed since the Millennium Development Goals were set.

MINELIK ALEMU GETAHUN, Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that partnerships included various technical commitments, for example technology transfer, which were shaping the future of, for example, the fight against HIV/AIDS and malaria.  The extraordinary progress made under the Millennium Development Goals needed to be renewed and new structures put into place.  ECOSOC was well-placed to instrumentalise this process and a number of reforms could be put into place.  Renewed partnerships and financial systems should provide sufficient space to developing countries to pursue their respective development agendas.  The reforms would aim to streamline and make more coherent partnership structures.

MARTIN DAHINDEN, Director of the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, said that Mr. Getahun had suggested dealing with a vision and a promise and, at the same time, the international community needed to move beyond 2015 through new avenues to tackle the challenges ahead.

JOHN MCARTHUR, Senior Fellow at Fung Global Institute, United Nations Foundation and Brookings Institution, said it was important to flesh out the point about building on official development assistance, where it would be needed and where complementary sources of finance would be needed, and to be creative in finding solutions.

BERNADETTE FISCHLER, Policy Analyst (post-MDGs), CAFOD, the official Catholic aid agency for England and Wales, said the private sector should be transparent about their activities and should become more responsible actors in development, ensuring that their business models were aligned with development objectives all along the value chain.
DAVID STEVEN, Senior Fellow and Associate Director, Centre for International Cooperation, New York University, Moderator of the discussion, turning to Mr. Dahinden asked about how accountability could be implemented in the post-2015 development agenda. 

MARTIN DAHINDEN, Director, Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, said that this panel was very timely because it coincided with the decision of United Nations Member States to set up a High Level Political Forum on Development Cooperation, which would convene every four years to address development challenges.  As those challenges were of a global nature, they required global answers.  The Council, however, remained the principal organ in the integrated and coordinated follow-up of all major United Nations conferences on development.  Important steps had been taken to strengthen the Council, but further reform was necessary, so the reform process should continue.  The Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation believed that the following issues should be considered.  First, it was crucial to set common objectives, bearing in mind that the United Nations system as a whole could play a key part in implementing their shared vision.  Today’s debate could be used to reflect on how the high-level political forum affected the Council and what needed to be changed.  The United Nations operation system of development was already undergoing reform, and its toughest challenge was the adoption of a new operation culture which would coordinate and harmonize the efforts of the various bodies involved.  The Council should make sure that the United Nations operation system functioned as effectively as possible and that the reform tied in with other relevant processes.

DAVID STEVEN, Senior Fellow and Associate Director, Centre for International Cooperation, New York University, Moderator of the discussion, asked the panel to comment on how ECOSOC could become a monitoring structure for the post-2015 development agenda. 

MINELIK ALEMU GETAHUN, Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said any movement in that direction should be Member States-based; the process must reflect the ownership of the Member States, complimenting the work of the Secretariat.

BERNADETTE FISCHLER, Policy Analyst (post-MDGs), CAFOD, the official Catholic aid agency for England and Wales, said that better statistics and data were key to restructuring partnerships as ECOSOC went forward in its post-2015 thinking.

JOHN MCARTHUR, Senior Fellow at Fung Global Institute, United Nations Foundation and Brookings Institution, who said he was involved in the birth of the Millennium Development Goals, said that as goals and frameworks were thought about for the post-2015 development agenda, the victories of the Millennium Development Goals must be considered.  However, there was not in general a goal-based regime, except for perhaps in health development, in the structural make-up of development institutions.  Funds and financing were not linked sufficiently to outcomes.  This was because institutions did not take outcomes sufficiently seriously.  The multilateral institutions themselves also needed to identify performance-based metrics; ECOSOC could take the lead in this.  Much came back to financing.  There were three types of goals to think about: minimum standards for humanity; a common set of priorities with country-specific targets – ECOSOC could be prominent here; and finally a matter concerning everybody - “pooled goals” – such as those concerning the oceans and the environment and so on.  As the final 1,000 days of the Millennium Development Goals hovered into view, this September was the last chance to put into place any measures that might have an actual outcome on the success or failure of the Millennium Development Goals.  This in itself could be seen as a practice run for instituting goal-based systems that would perhaps form a basis for structures in the post-2015 development agenda.

BERNADETTE FISCHLER, Policy Analyst (post-MDGs), CAFOD, the official Catholic aid agency for England and Wales, followed up on the question of how goals should be looked at, which was important in order to be able to compare targets and achievements.  Global indicators would be necessary to make comparisons across countries, sectors and time.  While goals and targets should be contextualised according to countries’ specific situations, it was important to ensure comparability.  One succinct set of goals was necessary to keep the target focused.

MINELIK ALEMU GETAHUN, Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, agreed on the importance of focused goals but also about the need for an agreed timetable in order to assure accountability.  Concerning the need for peer-review, it could be useful in the context of regional economic commissions.  Elaborating on these ideas could provide a valuable contribution to the post-2015 agenda.

MARTIN DAHINDEN, Director of the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, said that he agreed with most of the ideas expressed; in order to make the discussions  livelier, he emphasized his disagreement with the notion that a goal-based system could effectively represent reality and, thus, proceed on the basis of planning to achieve systemic goals.  Could reality be captured on the basis of such an understanding?  Perhaps it would lead to failure as a number of planning-based systems had in the past. 

JOHN MCARTHUR, Senior Fellow at Fung Global Institute, United Nations Foundation and Brookings Institution, responding to these concerns about goal based systems, clarified that he was not a friend of planned economies, but that there had never been any pretence that goals would be achieved on the basis of a plan and even scenario planning had been lacking.  It was not about pretending to predict but about taking seriously feedback mechanisms that could help to learn how to better pursue goals in a more serious way.  Mr. McArthur disagreed with the phrase “progress towards goals”, which meant only doing a bit better, while the real question should be what was required to achieve such goals. 

MINELIK ALEMU GETAHUN, Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that global funding was very important and there was already significant evidence that it could make a huge difference with regard to combating diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS.   

DAVID STEVEN, Senior Fellow and Associate Director, Centre for International Cooperation, New York University, said that the more progress they made the more difficult further progress became and obstacles multiplied, which they could clearly see in education.  Goals could be achieved only if they involved a much broader partnership.  What could be the role of academia, the private sector, civil society and other partners in achieving their goals?

BERNADETTE FISCHLER, Policy Analyst (post-MDGs), CAFOD, the official Catholic aid agency for England and Wales, said that there were two basic principles which needed to cut across all those relationships: mutual respect and equal footing of all partners involved.  A large number of economies consisted of small businesses.  Fostering small enterprises could promote economic growth and strengthen the local market, which was the stepping stone for inclusive and equitable growth.  The Council, for its part, should support the work of small businesses in every way.  Concerning academia, its role was to stand up for those whose life was difficult, always taking into account the post-2015 framework.  Ms. Fischler stressed that transforming discriminatory social norms made a difference to people’s lives on the ground.  Conflicts and natural disasters posed a major threat to the most vulnerable, and the main concern for those living in poverty was employment and the protection of livelihoods.  Non-governmental organizations played an important role as implementers of inclusive development, so it was important for them not only to observe but also to participate and impact.  There should be consultations with civil society in the form of two-way conversations at least at the very beginning and at the very end of the decision-making process.

DAVID STEVEN, Senior Fellow and Associate Director, Centre for International Cooperation, New York University, Moderator of the discussion, asked again about how ECOSOC could build more effective partnerships.

JOHN MCARTHUR, Senior Fellow at Fung Global Institute, United Nations Foundation and Brookings Institution, said that the global health academic community had had an intense debate about how to define the next phase of development outcomes. Conversely, in academic economics, the Millennium Development Goals and what came after had been all but ignored in the last decade.  Since academic engagement was key to policymakers and ministries of finance, ECOSOC could do more to stimulate interest in and thinking about the post-2015 development agenda in academia.

MINELIK ALEMU GETAHUN, Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, agreed that academia had a big role to play.

MARTIN DAHINDEN, Director of the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, said that the role of civil society could not be emphasised enough; civil society groups were in many countries the only structures that applied pressure on governments to come up with solid policies and produce better results.

DAVID STEVEN, Senior Fellow and Associate Director, Centre for International Cooperation, New York University, Moderator of the discussion, invited the two discussants to take the floor.

FAEQA SAEED ALSALEH, Assistant Secretary-General, League of Arab States, said that effective partnerships for development were the basis for the achievement of development goals post-2015 and lessons should consider what had and had not been achieved in the context of the Millennium Development Goals.  The three development summits and their decisions had reflected the political will at the highest level and partnerships among stakeholders to achieve these goals, however, their implementation on the ground had not been as successful as expected.  The Economic and Social Council provided important machinery for coordination and cohesion, while taking account the particularities and priorities between and within regions.  Indicators would take into account the particular characteristics of these regions.  Ms. Alsaleh also highlighted the importance of governance and the absence of this aspect in previous Millennium Development Goals explained that despite progress achieved, people in several countries were going to the streets and asking for change in their governments; therefore this dimension should not be ignored but stressed upon in the upcoming phase of development goals.  The Ministers of the League of Arab States had decided to focus on the Millennium Development Goals in their fourth report, which refereed to the development priorities of the region in post-2015, taking into account of the Rio+20 conference. 

KLAUS RUDISCHHAUSER, Deputy Director-General, EuropeAid, European Commission, said that he agreed that the Council was in need of reform so it could become more efficient.  He was also very much in favour of establishing a new and effective global partnership.  This would become a necessity once the new global agenda was formulated.  The role of the new global partnership would be to ensure equity, accountability and national responsibility.  In the new agenda, it was important to distinguish between global goals and country-specific goals.  Concerning accountability, it was essential to be able to measure progress towards the set goals and to be able to hold accountable those involved in the implementation of these goals.  Regarding financing, a global framework addressing the sustainability agenda would require a new model of financing, which would include all possible financing sources.  The discussion about financing should be done in a comprehensive way, which would involve not only Governments but also the private sector and civil society, who should be fully onboard in all matters relating to sustainable development.

DAVID STEVEN, Senior Fellow and Associate Director, Centre for International Cooperation, New York University, said that an important issue which needed to be addressed was conflict and its impact on rising food prices and the availability of natural resources, which made a difference to the lives of people on the ground.     

YAYA OLANIRAN, Chair of the Committee on World Food Security, said that the post-2015 consultation on hunger, food security and nutrition had provided evidence that the international community was committed to eliminating hunger.  This goal was achievable during the current generation if a broad range of actors were signed up to it.  Existing coordinating bodies and agreed international frameworks were vital in this respect.  Inclusive and transparent governance and gender equality were also prerequisites to achieving the goal of hunger elimination.  Certain reforms had been identified to strengthen food security and nutrition policy, including reform of the Committee on World Food Security itself.  A collaborative effort was underway, and a number of relevant guidelines had been produced.  Rights-based approaches had had an impact but in order to achieve progress, transparent monitoring, review and accountability mechanisms had to be strengthened.  Agriculture and climate change had been a difficult topic but progress was being made and food security was mentioned at a recent climate change conference in Bonn; integration across themes had been a key lesson of the Millennium Development Goals process.

South Africa said the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 remained one of the main development priorities.  The development priorities of developing countries should receive the priority they deserved and issues related to peace and security should not be ignored.

Iran highlighted that the development agenda should be development-centred and focus on achieving goals.  In order to ensure an international enabling environment, global governance should be addressed, such as the financial crisis and its impact on development.  Developing countries would need policy space in order to achieve goals and a responsive private sector could complement the work of governments.

Mexico stressed the need for a single and universal set of goals and the importance of striking a balance between development and sustainability.  Disaggregated data on vulnerable groups could help address inequality and monitor the impact of development goals on the ground.  The Council was the main body for the follow up of the Millennium Development Goals and Mexico hoped that this would continue to be the case for the post-2015 agenda.

Russian Federation said that the post-2015 agenda should be based on the consistent implementation of obligations previously undertaken by States.  One of the key objectives facing the international community was setting priorities correctly, bearing in mind that each country had its own specificities and preferences.  The Russian Federation believed that it was important to avoid the politicization of the multilateral dialogue on development issues, for example by placing an unjustifiable emphasis on peace and security.   

Gabon said that it was pleased with the Council’s call to the international community and to the world’s leaders fully to reaffirm their commitment and assume their responsibilities both nationally and internationally with respect to assistance offered to developing countries.  States should also redouble their efforts to realize the Millennium Development Goals, reduce inequalities, promote the transfer of technology, and empower the youth, persons with disabilities and women. 

Nigeria said that in the realization of the Millennium Development Goals achievements varied among countries, so the new agenda should capture more accurately the three pillars of sustainable development.  Poverty and hunger eradication along with water sanitation should be the priorities of the new agenda.  The Council’s intersectoral approach meant that it was well-placed to coordinate efforts to ensure accountability and effective monitoring with regard to the implementation of goals.

International Telecommunications Union said access to and expansion of information and communication technologies, such as the internet, e-government and other communications technologies, were vital to sustainable development.  The International Telecommunications Union urged ECOSOC to recognise the importance of these “cross-cutting enablers” in its input into the post-2015 development agenda.

DAVID STEVEN, Senior Fellow and Associate Director, Centre for International Cooperation, New York University, Moderator of the discussion, invited responses from the panel to the question of science in the policymaking process.

BERNADETTE FISCHLER, Policy Analyst (post-MDGs), CAFOD, the official Catholic aid agency for England and Wales, said it was important to listen to the people who were the targets of development and said that science needed to be brought to bear on finding out what people in poverty actually wanted.

JOHN MCARTHUR, Senior Fellow at Fung Global Institute, United Nations Foundation and Brookings Institution, responding to Mexico’s remarks about science said that a global environmental goal setting process could start with a scientific assessment of the goals and then to have that scientific body recommend goals and then for the Council and the General Assembly to decide what to establish as goals.  Another, more experimental approach, could be to consider an issue by issue organization, there were experts who formed rigorous scientific and professional communities, and a number of these areas could be organised and asked to report independently with recommendations.  There was no systematic way for Member States of the General Assembly to get regular feedback about aspects of the environment they were interested in and this gap should be recognised.  Concerning governance issues, Mr. McArthur said that broadband connectivity offered exciting opportunities for fiscal transparency, in particular, given the apparent political agreement on this issue.  The achievement of the 0.7 target of national income spent on aid by the United Kingdom this year would mark a historic event and should be celebrated in order to inform discussions about what happens next.

MINELIK ALEMU GETAHUN, Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that policy conditionalities could be removed or eased.  Given that in today’s world the level of scientific understanding was uneven, they should think of science as a way of responding to basic needs, such as enhancing productivity and raising the standard of living.  They should also focus on bridging the digital gap, and there was a long way to go in that respect.  

MARTIN DAHINDEN, Director, Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, said that scientific evidence was not structured in a way that allowed it to help policy formulation and behavioural change, which was a major problem.  Innovation was not about having a new idea but about using knowledge and bringing about transformation and change in economy and in society.  They should look at how they could use scientific knowledge in order to move ahead.

DAVID STEVEN, Senior Fellow and Associate Director, Centre for International Cooperation, New York University, Moderator, summarizing the issues addressed during the discussion, said that the points raised by the speakers included the scale of the task at hand, the goals which should be set and reached if they were to eradicate poverty and transform the lives of billions of persons, different types of strategies which could be adopted, strategies implemented by different types of partnerships, the need to measure partnerships by using different methods, the fact that technology enabled them to keep track of whatever progress they were making, and the need to establish different mechanisms of accountability and reform the Council so as to make sure that their vision was effectively implemented.

JOHN MCARTHUR, Senior Fellow at Fung Global Institute, United Nations Foundation and Brookings Institution, underscored that through the richness of the discussion the inevitable tendency was to produce a broad agenda that was meaningful to those in the room but not outside of it.  So the big test was to ask what would motivate the general public in this debate?  The Millennium Development Goals had also been difficult to explain; people got bored of hearing about them after Goal 5 on the list.  Finally, if finance ministries were not on board, the post-2015 development agenda would get nowhere.

BERNADETTE FISCHLER, Policy Analyst (post-MDGs), CAFOD, the official Catholic aid agency for England and Wales, said that it was vital to get the details right but not at the expense of the bigger picture.  What was the purpose of proposing a post-2015 development agenda?  Various answers could be devised.  There was a huge task ahead and a great deal of political will had to be devoted to it.  But solidarity going forward would be key.

MARTIN DAHINDEN, Director of the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, said he was pleased and surprised at how much common ground had been found in the discussion.  As the discussion went forward this spirit should be preserved, and an evidence-based approach would be most constructive.  It was encouraging to see that people wanted ECOSOC to be central to the process of defining the means of the post-2015 development agenda.

MINELIK ALEMU GETAHUN, Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, stressed that the focus should be on eliminating extreme poverty, there were still an unacceptable number of people living in extreme poverty and the international community should not cease to pay attention to them.  The Millennium Development Goals had shown that it was achievable, national obligations and international commitments should be met, this was critical.  Policy space should allow States to establish national priorities and meet their objectives.  The Economic and Social Council had a crucial role to play in this regard, including in the fields of policy, coordination and financing. 

NESTOR OSORIO, President of the Economic and Social Council, thanked panellists and participants for their contributions on these important issues, and observed that during the discussion, panellists and delegations had been able to address questions of substance, priorities, and ideas on how to structure this debate.

Updating delegations about the status of the Ministerial Declaration which the Council had been working on for over two months, the President said a number of consultations had sought to ensure an inclusive and transparent process, and there had been opportunities for everyone to participate.  He had carried out the necessary consultations on both bilateral and multilateral levels; at present substantial parts of the declaration were ready for agreement but there were still a couple of important subjects on which additional time was necessary for delegations to engage in additional consultations.  Rather than forcing or rushing a decision, Mr. Osorio hoped that the consensus could be achieved at a later stage and decided to suspend the High-level Segment and take additional time to make a decision.  He said he would continue to pursue consultations and inform delegations accordingly. 

For use of the information media; not an official record

ECOSOC13/010E


Related Information