Monday, July 6, 2015

Greece and some lessons for all of us – do we need a global default?

Syriza’s win in the Greek referendum showed to the whole of Europe and the world that people will not stand for harsh austerity measures,. originally caused not by them but by the financial and banking sectors casino capitalism.  Remember the financial crisis wasn’t created by the people but by a small number from the finance sector virtually all of who have not suffered or found themselves in jail.

The current economic model, which has brought unprecedented prosperity to the more developed
countries and to particular people in those countries, has only deepened the inequality inside those countries and between them and most developing countries. That the Sustainable Development Goals have goal 10 'Reduce inequality within and among countries' shows that we are in difficult times.

We are still experiencing the impacts of the financial crisis of 2008 and the medicine that we have been given isn't working. This includes reducing our pensions, our social service support and increase in unemployment particularly for the young..  Youth unemployment  was a driver for the Arab Spring and has also been a recruitment of ISIS (See  Fareed Zakaria CNN report). It has been one of the elements behind the challenge for Greece where youth unemployment stands at 60%. It isn’t alone in Europe there are similar problems in Spain (49.3%) and Italy (41.5%).

The conditions for what happened in Greece are ripe in Spain with Podemos who’s allies won in the local elections in cities such as Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia and Zaragoza  taking 25.69 of the votes if you add the socialists  and other assorted left parties nearly 68% of Spain voted against austerity. In Italy the 2015 regional and local elections solidified the left in power in many cities and regional governments

Back to Syriza for a moment they brought together a coalition of the youth, unemployed, fedup and poor when they got elected in January this year but yesterday’s referendum saw their support at over 61% that means that they have drawn from the center and center right of Greek society.

Podemos party's leader (Spain) Pablo Iglesias today tweeted that 'democracy had won'.

There are interesting  parallels of the ecological problems with the financial crisis. The banks and financial institutions privatised the gains and socialised the losses. We are doing the same with the planet’s natural capital. Our present lifestyles are drawing down the ecological capital from other parts of the world and from future generations. We are increasingly becoming the most irresponsible generation our planet has seen. The past 30 years have been characterized by irresponsible capitalism, pursuing limitless economic growth at the expense of both society and environment, with little or no regard for the natural resource base upon which such wealth is built.

The global financial crisis has provided abundant ‘teachable moments’ for politicians, policy-makers and the public to ponder a series of critical lessons. But clearly, too many of them have not yet learned enough. The real questions will be, first, whether we all learn those lessons, and then, whether we take the appropriate actions in time.

The bipartisan Levin and Coburn Report issued by the US Senate found ‘that the crisis was not a natural disaster, but the result of high risk, complex financial products; undisclosed conflicts of interest; and the failure of regulators, the credit rating agencies, and the market itself to rein in the excesses of Wall Street (Levin and Coburn, 2011).

The majority of individuals running the developed world’s private and public financial institutions and the keepers of conventional wisdom in New York, London and other major developed country financial centres were virtually unanimous in acting as though they had repealed the laws of economics, and that growth in investments and profits could continue indefinitely, no longer restricted by macroeconomic conditions or local realities.

Global debt has according to McKinsey Global institute increased by $57 trillion or 17% by 2007. In the old days countries defaulted on their debts but in a globalized world perhaps we need to think out of the conventional box and consider a global default or reboot. This would create liquidity and enable governments to invest again.

It is important to remember that the reparations imposed on Germany after the first World War amounted to saddling them with a vast and unplayable debt. Their currency duly collapsed in the 1920s, and the wipe out of savings and social unrest thereby unleashed were a major cause of the rise of Nazism etc. Do the Germans remember that as they seek to impose harsh creditor-led conditions on the Greeks and to refuse to contemplate debt write-offs? Also remember that the Greeks also forgave the German state.

My friend Jeb Brugmann pointed out a great interview with the star economist Thomas Piketty in Die Zeit reminded people that German had a debt that amounted to 200% of their GDP after the war and in the London Debt Agreement (1953) where 60% of German foreign debt was forgiven.

On Monday even White House spokesman Josh Earnest said it is in the best interest of Europe and the United States for the Greek debt crisis to be resolved.The question is will Germany and others listen?  The US is getting closer to formerly disagreeing with the approach of Germany. If that happens expect some very tough comments from the Obama Administration.

There are critical problems we need to face over the next fifteen years. The Sustainable Development Goals have identified those, what the SDGs did not look at were the emerging new technologies and their impact. I have mentioned this in my blog before referring to the Canadian governments Metazone 2 and Metascan 3 reports. I suggested that we might see a loss of 2 billion jobs over the next 15 years due to these new technologies in five areas: power industry; automobile and transportation – going driverless, education innovation, 3d printers and robots.

We need a world that can address these challenges and opportunities with enthusiasm, with innovation and with hope not one that is inward looking less secure, more dangerous and more violent. Thank you Syriza for giving us a chance to reflect and hopefully change direction.

For the best analysis of the Greek crisis watch Paul Mason's blog on Channel 4 he is their Economics Editor.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Post 2015 Update

This has been a long process. It was July 2011 in Solo Indonesia, when Colombia and Guatemala came forth with the idea of the SDGs, and later when Rio+20 started the process to develop them, the path has been tough.

At the beginning it was opposed by some development Ministries in the north and by some of the development NGOs. But as part of this, we saw the re-framing the financing side of the equation to include sustainable development at Rio+20. This was one of the successes of G77 as was the idea of a technological facilitation mechanism and the SDGs of course.

Finally, we are moving towards a final understanding of what the Post 2015 process will have delivered. The Financing for Development prepcoms have now reached their end and there is only the conference left to finalize everything.

The first reading of the Declaration for the Post 2015 process has now been concluded the final session will be held the last two weeks of July.

 It looks like a technology facilitation mechanism will be set up – though there were some concerns the US might mount a final attempt to block it.

So what are our expectations for the Heads of State meeting in September?

We will be dealing with a weak outcome from the Financing for Development process, a good Declaration to support the SDGs and their targets and a technology facilitation mechanism.

How this will impact on Paris and the Climate negotiations is too early to predict, other than Paris will be viewed through two lens: commitments to a reduction of greenhouse gases and the financing of climate change mitigation and adaptation. With a weak Financing for Development outcome, the G77 will be looking for a robust commitment from developed countries on climate finance.

Financing for Development

The marathon FfD Informal’s finished on Friday, the 26th – though there may be more just before the conference. 
We have ended up with a document that is not ‘fit for purpose’. The issues that have arose have been present and unaccounted for from the beginning. These include:
  1. The Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Finance was  a closed committee. As I said in previous reports, this was wrong in many ways. It ensured that, unlike the SDG process, the members were not subjected to the input and scrutiny of stakeholders. I am convinced that if they had, they would have produced much better documents.
  2. The co-chairs of the Committee were not up to the standard that the job entailed
  3. The Finance for Development office in UNDESA succeeded in marginalizing the input of the Division for Sustainable Development office
  4. The committee had no reputable sustainable development’ finance experts on it.
  5. The development community dominated the discussion on FfD – very few from the sustainable development finance side were engaged
  6. The reduction of the stakeholder space to two civil society and industry slots resulted in no space for local government and a domination of the civil society space by the development NGOs and think the expense of other stakeholders
  7. The document being negotiated did not orientate itself around being a financing mechanism for the SDGs
  8. Very few sustainable development NGOs or think tanks engaged in the FfD process
Developed countries would rather deal with MOI under FfD than Post 2015 because they would like to restrict it to FfD issues. This should not be allowed.

The June Post 2015 Negotiating Session 

Unfortunately I had to watch the first day at the pool in Apex as I missed my flight.....

At last the negotiations on the ‘Declaration for the Heads of State’ have started in earnest. Everyone have made their own suggestions on how to add text on their issues while also calling for the text to not grow.  A lot of what i have i have seen will enrich the outcome text but this will be an interesting balancing act by the co-chairs.

The attempt to reduce the number of goals through clustering in the preamble had no real support so expect that to disappear.

The overall balance of the document was supported by governments and stakeholders. When it comes down to the details it will I think have battles over the issue of rights, CBDR and MOI.  The follow up section also needs beefing up.

I have suggested before we need some accountability for industry and my suggestion is  

5 bis insert We encourage the creation of national regulatory frameworks on Economic Environment Social and Governance (EESG) practices aiming at ensuring that companies listed on stock exchanges report or explain their EESG practices and policies by 2030. Technical support and capacity building would be needed to facilitate the establishment of national regulatory frameworks, especially when applied to larger companies with global reach and systemic impact, and the uptake of EESG reporting for micro small and medium enterprises, mindful of national circumstances.

I have suggested some text to make it clear where partnerships should be discussed. There is no brain space in member states to amend the CSD11 decision on partnerships so I have suggested a paragraph which will instruct ECOSOC to review them and the Bali Guidelines. I have put together a group of stakeholders and UN staff interested in working on this when the present negotiations have finished.

14.bis insert We instruct ECOSOC to review the Commission on Sustainable Development 11 decision on Partnerships and take into consideration the Bali Guidelines on Partnerships and update the instructions for Partnerships in light of the lessons learnt over the past fifteen years

15. bis insert To help with implementation we request the Secretary General to assign the overseeing of the SDGs to the relevant UN Agency and Programme under a Task Manager approach (similar to Agenda 21)

Then what we are also missing is what the capacity building platform should be and I would suggest building on what was UNDPs Capacity 21...

15 ter insert To enable better implementation we call for the creation of Capacity 2030 (similar to UNDPs Capacity 21) which would support developing countries implementation of the SDGs and targets. UNDP and UNDESA to coordinate Capacity 2030

I am very much looking forward to the next version of the text in a couple of weeks. 

Technology Facilitation Mechanism 

Another of the outcomes from Rio+20 was the process set up possible Technology Facilitation Mechanism. There has been a twenty year discussion on technology transfer that has gone nowhere. The developed countries say all IP is privately owned and developing countries say it isn’t. We seem now to at last be moving forward on this issue. Ambassadors Guilherme de Aguiar Patriota, Brazil, and Paul Seger, Switzerland, who had chaired the process last year reported the TFM progress has now resulted in a number of enabling paragraphs in the Financing for Development process . Summarizing FfD should establish the TFM with intent that it will be operational by 2017.  

"We decide that the Technology Facilitation Mechanism will be based on a multi-stakeholder collaboration between Member States, civil society, private sector, scientific community, United Nations entities and other stakeholders and will be composed of: a United Nations Interagency Task Team on Science, Technology and Innovation for the SDGs, a collaborative Multistakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the SDGs and an on-line platform."

"We look forward to the recommendations of the High-Level Panel on the feasibility and organizational and operational functions of a proposed technology bank and STI capacity building mechanism for LDCs. We will take into account the High-Level Panel’s recommendations on scope, functions, institutional linkages and organizational aspects of the proposed bank, with a view to operationalizing it by 2017. "

Again Rio+20 set the process up for yet another part of the jigsaw that we need to fit together to address the challenges of the next 15 years. This was an area that has been stuck in the mud since 1992. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A prelude to July 4th celebrations who should be the next James Bond?

The time is very near for Craig Daniel's last outing as James Bond. When Ian Fleming wrote the original Commander James Bond in 1953 who would have guessed that we would still be seeing actors playing him. For many people just like Dr Who your Bond is probably related to when you first watched a film. For me the best Bond was Sean Connery perhaps only just beating the two that are not in the photo above Peter Sellers and David Niven both who stared in the original making of Casino Royal. The film rights had been bought in 1960 of Fleming's first Bond movie by Charles Feldman and he was unable to come an agreement with Eon productions and so produced it himself winning Burt Bacharach an Academy nomination for the 'Look of Love'

Back to the point of this blog which is who would/could be the next James Bond? Here is my top ten suggestions not in any order.

Christopher Eccleston would be an interesting choice he has played Dr Who and John Lennon and would bring a down to earth approach to Bond.

Christian Bale the Dark Knight born in Wales his mother was a circus performer

Chiwetel Ejiofor sometimes rumored as a possible future Dr Who was amazingly good as the operative in Serenity.

Tom Hardy played Bane in the Dark Knight Rises and most recently Mad Max though Charlize Theron stole that show

Dylan McDermott who was excellent in Olympus has fallen would be an excellent Bond.
Henry Cavill who plays the Man of Steel but Robert Downey Jn has shown you can do more than one franchise at the same time

Idris Elba was great in Pacific Rim and in the BBC TV programme Luther.

Andrew Lincoln from the Walking Dead would be another good choice.
My final suggestion is Jon Hamm from Mad Men.  

So that is my top ten not in any order but all would do well as the new James Bond..... then there is always.......


Friday, June 26, 2015

UN at 70: Tea Party discussion on:What has the UN ever done for us?

UN at 70: Tea Party discussion on:What has the UN ever done for us?

(A parody of Life of Brain‘s “What have the Romans ever done for us?”)

Imagine a group of Tea Party activists sitting in a bar.

The UN they are everywhere

I think I saw a black helicopter the other day

Yes……..and have you seen those black drones too ----

The UN has black drones?

All right, Jacob. Don't labour the point. And what have the UN ever given us?

Well there is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 that has ensured human rights for loads of people

Oh yeah, yeah they gave us that. Yeah. That's true.

Masked Activist:
Then they set safety standards for sea and air travel.  You remember how bad it was before the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) contributed to making air travel the safest mode of transportation

Oh yes... that was very good, Dylan you remember what the accidents used to be like.

All right, I'll grant you that human rights and safe traveling are two things that the UN have done...

And being able to post mail abroad because of the Universal Postal Union (UPU)  which has maintained and regulated international mail delivery.  And The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) which has coordinated use of the radio spectrum, promoted cooperation in assigning positions for stationary satellites, and established international standards for communications, ensuring the undeterred flow of information around the globe.

(sharply) Well yes obviously the mail and radio and satellites and telephone calls... go without saying. But apart from the human rights, mail, radio, satellites and being able to travel safely abroad

Another Masked Activist:
The stopped the hole in the ozone layer ... The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) highlighted the damage caused to the earth's ozone layer. As a result the UN facilitated governments  through the Montreal Protocol, to stop chemical emissions of substances that have caused the depletion of the ozone layer.  Dylan that was good it spared millions of people from the increased risk of contracting cancer due to additional exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

Other Masked Voices:
Also they helped to eradicate of smallpox…that was not a nice thing to get and then ebola…..that was thanks to the  UNs World Health Organization

Yes... all right, fair enough...

Activist Near Front:
And providing safe drinking water – the UN agencies have worked to make safe drinking water available to 1.3 billion people in rural areas during the last decade. That's pretty good!!!

Oh yes! that i so true!

Yeah. That's something we'd really miss if the UN  closed shop, Dylan.

Masked Activist at Back:
And their work on sanitation…….

What about their work on universal immunization - Polio, tetanus, measles, whooping cough, diphtheria and tuberculosis which still kill million children each year. Polio is nearly eradicated that’s pretty good.

Yes, they certainly know how to address health issues... (general nodding)... let's face it, they're the only ones who could do that in a place like this.
(more general murmurs of agreement)

What about the peacekeeping…. Since 1945, the United Nations has been credited with negotiating over 180 peaceful settlements that have ended regional conflicts.

and what about improving education in developing countries - as a direct result of the efforts of UN agencies, over 84 per cent of adults in the world can now read and write, and 90 per cent of children in these countries attend school.

All right... all right... but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and travel safety, satellites, mail, infrastructure and a freshwater system and human rights and environment .. what have the UN done for us?

Brought peace! Maintaining peace and security – The UN has deployed over 50 peace-keeping forces and observer missions and has been able to restore calm to allow the negotiating process to go forward while saving millions of people from becoming casualties of conflicts. The United Nations has used quiet diplomacy to avert imminent wars.

(very angry, he's not having a good meeting at all)

What!? Oh... (Scornfully) Peace, yes... shut up!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

NGOs, Civil Society, Stakeholders – what do we mean and when

There has just been a two day meeting organized on Major Groups and Other Stakeholders (MGoS) Workshop on Governance, Transparency and Accountability with the hope of an outcome of:

“Building on the governance discussions from the previous sessions, recommendations on how the future engagement of MGoS in the HLPF may be best structured to fulfill the provisions of 67/290 to the fullest extent possible will be considered. Recommendations for the establishment of autonomous coordination mechanisms among MGoS engagement at the HLPF will also be considered.”

I listened in and participated when I thought I could make a useful contribution. What became clear was that people misunderstand concepts that they use, or use them wrongly or possibly don’t understand the consequences of using them.

A little history

Traditionally as far as the UN is concerned everyone one who is not government is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). 

Outside the UN over the last twenty five years, two general discourses have taken place, one in the sustainable development field and the other in the development field. The first on sustainable development where around the 1992 Earth Summit Maurice Strong (Secretary General of the UN Conferences in Stockholm [1972] and Rio [1992]) and others wanted to tap into what at that time they were calling ‘sectors of society’ to help with the implementation of Agenda 21. By the Summit in June 1992 governments had agreed to recognize for the first time nine sectors or as they became known, the nine Major Groups.

They didn’t just do this by listing them but by developing chapters of Agenda 21 on what the rights and responsibilities of those Major Groups should be. I strongly suggest people go back and read those chapters (Chapter 23 to 32).
To remind people of the preamble chapter 23:
  1.  Critical to the effective implementation of the objectives, policies and mechanisms agreed to by Governments in all programme areas of Agenda 21 will be the commitment and genuine involvement of all social groups.
  2. One of the fundamental prerequisites for the achievement of sustainable development is broad public participation in decision-making. Furthermore, in the more specific context of environment and development, the need for new forms of participation has emerged. This includes the need of individuals, groups and organizations to participate in environmental impact assessment procedures and to know about and participate in decisions, particularly those which potentially affect the communities in which they live and work. Individuals, groups and organizations should have access to information relevant to environment and development held by national authorities, including information on products and activities that have or are likely to have a significant impact on the environment, and information on environmental protection measures.
  3. Any policies, definitions or rules affecting access to and participation by non-governmental organizations in the work of United Nations institutions or agencies associated with the implementation of Agenda 21 must apply equally to all major groups.
  4. The programme areas set out below address the means for moving towards real social partnership in support of common efforts for sustainable development.
Paragraph 3 in particular opened the door for these nine to engage at the UN

When the UN Commission on Sustainable Development was established in 1993, it included in the terms of reference for the Commission a number of key and unique requirements:

National level

26. The Secretariat should take into account the particular clusters of the multi-year thematic programme of work of the Commission and be guided by the following list of issues as regards the information to be included in the analytical reports:
26(b) Institutional mechanisms to address sustainable development issues, including the participation of non-governmental sectors and major groups in those mechanisms;
26 (m) Other relevant environment and development issues, including those affecting youth, women and other major groups.
28. In order to organize the information provided by Governments, the Secretary-General is requested to prepare, taking into account regional and subregional dimensions, the following analytical reports for future sessions of the Commission:
(v) Specific problems and constraints encountered by Governments at all levels, including local Agenda 21 activities and activities related to major groups;
39 (b) Identify gaps and opportunities for cooperation, including cooperation with non-governmental organizations and major groups;

In the 1990s  there were huge advances in the involvement of what we were now calling stakeholders in the work of the Commission and that work starting to positively  infect other parts of the UN that were dealing with NGOs. Whether it was at UNEP which renamed its Civil Society Section to Major Groups and Other Stakeholders in 2004, or at the UNFCCC and CBD where they used the stakeholder concept but had in the CBD there own views on who that should be.

So how are we defining stakeholders?

In its broadest sense, a stakeholder is any individual, organisation, sector or community who has a ‘stake’ in the outcome of a given decision or process.  In the context of international decision making processes, such as those at the UN level, the term stakeholder usually refers to a global constituency or group such as farmers, NGOs, trade unions and workers etc."

By the ten year review of Rio in 2002 there were now nine seats in the negotiating rooms - one for each Major Group. I have been an early advocate for expanding the Major Groups to include more stakeholder groups and is something I continue to advocate for whether it’s the education community or disability groups or older people.

Between 1997-2001 there was a joint venture between the Major Groups, UNDESA and the Chair of the CSD (usually a Minister) to organize the multi-stakeholder dialogues with member states.

When we talk about expanding stakeholder space this is a great example where member states gave up 12 hours, let me repeat that 12 hours of negotiating space in fact the first two days of the CSD each year to dialogue with stakeholders.

These were then, four three- hour session to discuss different sub themes of the thematic issues infront of the CSD.  It was a true interactive dialogue. We never had all Major Groups participating in each of the dialogues, but the Major Groups selected from among themselves the 3 or 4 most relevant Major Groups to the issue being discussed for each three hour sessions. For the dialogues half the time went to governments and half to stakeholders. Operationally by February before the May CSD a short paper by each Major Group for each session were written and from the Major Group papers a comparative analysis was produced by the secretariat which became the focus of the debate.

No speaker was allowed more than two minutes and the key speakers from each relevant stakeholder group for each of the dialogues were not allowed to exceed five minutes. These were the ONLY prepared statements after that the dialogue would require all those who participated to be able to do that as experts.  You had better know your stuff because the chair or a government official would come back often and ask you to explain what you meant or what proof/evidence you have for what you are saying. So very quickly only the best and knowledgeable stakeholder representative took the floor. It ensured very high quality debate.

The most successful dialogues (on tourism) were organized under Simon Upton, the New Zealand Minister and Chair of the CSD, and the report from the dialogues entered the Chair’s summary as an official New Zealand government position into the negotiations. Governments then had to negotiate out what we had proposed if they didn’t like it.

So the nine chapters of Agenda 21 for the first time gave space to all nine major groups to have their own voice at these negotiations.  This was particularly important I believe for the women’s groups, youth groups and Indigenous Peoples groups but it also enabled a space for the first time at the UN for local government.  Chapter 28 of Agenda 21, the local authority’s chapter had a huge impact as it asked:

“Each local authority should enter into a dialogue with its citizens, local organizations and private enterprises and adopt "a local Agenda 21". Through consultation and consensus-building, local authorities would learn from citizens and from local, civic, community, business and industrial organizations and acquire the information needed for formulating the best strategies.”

By 2002 over 6000 local authorities had worked with their local stakeholders and citizens to produce their own local agenda 21.

Agenda 21 also ensured that industry had only one of nine spots at the table not the usual conscript of one of two as had been the case for many years. 
Now back to the civil society discourse, in the development field this construct has had many meanings some including industry some not. Let me take the Wikipedia definitions:

 “Civil society is the "aggregate of non-governmental organizations and institutions that manifest interests and will of citizens."[1] Civil society includes the family and the private sphere, referred to as the "third sector" of society, distinct from government and business.[2]'s 21st Century Lexicon defines civil society as 1) the aggregate of non-governmental organizations and institutions that manifest interests and will of citizens or 2) individuals and organizations in a society which are independent of the government.[1]

If you take out industry what this construct does is to reduce the discussion to two spaces in all: one for industry and one for the rest of non state actors which it calls civil society. Accordingly it takes away individual voices from very every key parts of society and in particular the three I mentioned above (Women, youth and Indigenous Peoples) and it takes away all space from local government, as we have seen in the Financing for Development process.  So the result - whether intended or not - of supporting a civil society discourse is to take away space from very important parts of society AND massively increases the space for industry.

Another problem is that NGOs sometimes use civil society when they mean NGOs….and often any ‘civil society’ grouping is a front for larger northern NGOs.
I just don’t understand the logic of the people who are supporting the civil society discourse. Unless you want to reduce space for stakeholders.

On an operational level in the Commission on Sustainable Development process we have always had combined stakeholder groups working together, but using their individual speaking slots to support each other which is of course a much stronger way of doing it than just giving one voice to CSOs.

In the post 2015 process please let’s expand the voices to the larger stakeholder community and not reduce it.

Recommendations to consider        
  1. Stop using the term civil society as it will only help to reduce the space, not increase it
  2. I am in favour of expanding the stakeholder space, and so what I think would be a first step is the development for the 2016 HLPF of equivalent chapters to those nine we had for Major Groups in 1992 in Agenda 21 which identify the rights and responsibilities of the stakeholders that are going to engage in the HLPF.

For me that means at least two new stakeholder groups that I would add: the aging community and the disabled community. But the chapters need to reflect what each stakeholder group will provide so it can be monitored and reported on.  We are now moving into implementation and that needs to be reflected in those chapters. So what role does your stakeholder group have in implementation? Again do read the 1992 Agenda 21 chapters to start thinking about this.


Well, to some extent this would apply to all stakeholders, but I will address the NGOs as I co-chaired the NGO coalition at the UN CSD from 1997 to 2001. Let me share a few of the things that we had then:
  1. The NGO Coalition had seats on its board for all Major groups
  2. We had annual elections for all the posts that included Co-chairs, Major Groups reps and issue causes co-coordinators. These were at the end conducted by email.
  3. All positions had to have a male and female as co-organizers including one from the north and one from the south
  4. All thematic issue caucuses eg human rights, water, housing etc had to produce a mission statement, an active plan and list all members unless there were good reasons why not a caucus could be established (eg human rights organizations in certain countries)
  5. All  thematic issue caucuses had to show at least 10 UN accredited organizations as members to be recognised as a caucus
  6. All thematic issue caucuses had to show geographical representation and have a plan to outreach to strengthen the weaker represented regions
  7. We had a web site with all this information for anyone to see
  8. A staff person employed by the committee supported the thematic issue caucuses and the organizational issues off all Major Groups
  9. If any issue co-oordinators did not fulfil their obligations, they were sacked and a letter sent to their Executive Director explaining why they had been sacked. This happened twice in the 8 years of the coalition and in one of those cases the organization reprimanded the staff person in their annual review.
  10. We produced a printed Annual Report which was sent to ALL government Missions to ensure transparency

There are lessons from the above for sure.

Recommendations to Consider

The NGO Major Group sets up at least 17 thematic caucuses (one for each of the SDGs) to work on the monitoring and implementation of the Post 2015 agenda now. These caucuses hold annual elections and agree a mission statements and an NGO web site should be set up for all the caucus information to be in one place. This would also include registration in the relevant thematic caucuses.

Sorry for this long blog but I do feel passionate about expanding stakeholder space as I believe it helps governments make better informed decisions.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Some suggestions on the zero text in regard to Follow Up

I did promise some thoughts on the Follow Up section of the zero draft. These are initial comments which I have put in bold I have used the text from the establishment of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development for 11bis but replaced Agenda 21 with the SDGs. This intersessional workign group on MOI which existed from 1993-2002 was a success and might be the best way of monitoring the MOI aspects of the SDGs and those elements in the FfD process that apply to them. Integrating the MOI discussing and in particular financing with the HLPF will eb critical to its success. If the finance process is happening somewhere else then the chances for implementation of the SDGs will diminish.

I have added a paragraph (para 5bis)  in on corporate reporting to bring it in line with the Secretary General Panel of Eminent Peoples recommendation on this. What is being proposed here is already being undertaken by the major exchanges in Brazil, China, India, Thailand and South Africa and promoted by the European Union and in particular Denmark, France and the UK. This is infact unfinished business from Rio+20. 

On the issue of Partnerships there is not enough time and brian space for member states or stakeholders to revist the Commission on Sustainable Development 11 decision on partnerships. I suggest that is done by ECOSOC and that a robust  set of criteria for partnerships is agreed (14 bis) . The approach from after WSSD showed that a 1000 flowere bloom was a very bad most died. In a paper i did for UNDESA I looked at those partnerships that succeed and cam up with a suggestion that there should only be 169 partnerships one per target. That the goals should be assigned to relevant UN agency or progarmme to oversee as 'Task Managers' this will enable a focused approach to the role of partnerships and a proper accountability structure. 

Finally on capacity building UNDP in the ten years after Rio 1992 ran a very successful programme called Capacity 21. I believe we need something similar to this to help implementation of the SDGs. I am suggesting this should be a joint programme of UNDP and UNDESA (15ter). 

III. Follow-up and Review

1. A robust, effective, inclusive and transparent follow-up and review framework, operating at the national, regional and global levels, will promote effective implementation of this Agenda and accountability to our citizens.

2. All member states will engage voluntarily in review processes, taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities. As national ownership is key to achieving sustainable development, outcomes from national-level processes will inform reviews at both regional and global levels.

3. Follow-up and review processes shall be guided by the following principles:
a.       They will address progress in implementing the goals and targets, including the means of implementation, in a manner which respects their integrated and inter-related nature.
b.      They will maintain a longer-term orientation, identify achievements and critical success factors, support countries in making informed policy choices and mobilize the necessary means of implementation and partnerships;
c.       They will be open and inclusive, supported by an enabling environment for the participation of all people and stakeholders.
d.      They will build on existing platforms and processes, evolve over time and minimize the reporting burden on national administrations.
e.       They will be rigorous and evidence-based, informed by data which is timely, reliable and dis aggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts. Support for developing
countries, particularly LDCs, to strengthen national data systems is critical.

National Level

4. Building on existing reporting and planning instruments, such as national sustainable development strategies, we encourage all member states to develop ambitious national responses to the SDGs and targets as soon as possible.
5. Each member state could, at least once every four years, conduct robust and inclusive reviews of progress, based on a publicly available government progress report and complemented by
contributions from ( delete: civil society, academia, local government) (insert Major Groups and other relevant stakeholders), the UN system, (delete private sector and other actors). National Parliaments can play an important role in review processes as well as other national institutions such as National Sustainable Development Councils and local authorities.
5 bis. We encourage the creation of national regulatory frameworks on Economic Environment Social and Governance (EESG) practices aiming at ensuring that companies listed on stock exchanges report or explain their EESG practices and policies by 2030. Technical support and capacity building would be needed to facilitate the establishment of national regulatory frameworks, especially when applied to larger companies with global reach and systemic impact, and the uptake of EESG reporting for micro small and medium enterprises, mindful of national circumstances.

Regional Level

6. Follow-up and review at the regional level can, as appropriate, provide useful opportunities for mutual learning, cooperation on trans-boundary issues and discussion on shared targets. Regional reviews, including peer reviews, insert with the active engagement of Major Groups and other relevant stakeholders, can draw on national-level reviews and contribute to follow-up and review at the global level, including at the High Level Political Forum on sustainable development (HLPF).
7. We encourage all member states to identify the most suitable regional forum in which to engage, using existing regional mechanisms including UN regional commissions where possible. We encourage the HLPF, under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), to discuss, at its meeting in 2016, progress in establishing regional reviews of the Agenda.

Global Level

8. The HLPF will be the apex of a global network of review processes, working coherently with the
General Assembly, ECOSOC and other relevant actors, in accordance with existing mandates. It will facilitate sharing of experiences, including successes, challenges and lessons learned, and promote system-wide coherence and coordination of sustainable development policies. Adequate linkages will be made with the follow-up and review of UN Conferences on LDCs, SIDS, LLDCs and countries in special situations.

9. We reaffirm that the HLPF, under the auspices of ECOSOC, shall carry out regular reviews of progress in line with Resolution 67/290. Reviews will be voluntary, while encouraging reporting, and include developed and developing countries as well as relevant UN entities. They shall be State-led, involving ministerial and other relevant high-level participants. They shall focus on assessment of progress, achievements and challenges faced by developed and developing countries, and provide a platform for partnerships, including through the participation of major groups and other relevant stakeholders.

10. Thematic reviews of progress may also take place at the HLPF and in other inter-governmental forums, including the ECOSOC functional commissions and other relevant subsidiary bodies and mechanisms. These reviews will be aligned with the cycle and work of the HLPF, where possible.

11. Sufficient time should also be given at the HLPF, under the auspices of ECOSOC, to review progress on implementing the means of implementation of this Agenda [to be updated following the Third International Conference on Financing for Development].

11.bis insert Establish an ad hoc, open-ended working group, meeting for a week and composed of Governments to report to the HLPF to review the Means of Implementation of the SDGs taking into consideration the outcome from Financing for Development. This body would undertake the following tasks:
  • To monitor and review the requirements, availability and adequacy of financial resources for the implementation of different Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), taking into account the multi-year thematic programme of work of the HLPF, as well as projects, programmes, activities and sustainable development strategies prepared by Governments, in order to provide a suitable and common basis for action on the part of all Governments, bilateral funding agencies and States members of the governing bodies of the agencies and programmes of the United Nations system, as well as multilateral regional and subregional development banks and funds dealing with the issues of environment and development;
  • To monitor and analyse various factors that influence the flow of financial and economic resources, such as debt relief, terms of trade, commodity prices, market access and private foreign investment, as well as to review mechanisms for innovative financing, taking into account activities at the national level;
  • To develop, on the basis of the above, a policy framework for the mobilization of financial resources towards a balanced implementation of all aspects of the SDGs that would, inter alia, assist Governments, where appropriate, to implement their sustainable development strategies.
12. Follow-up and reviews at the HLPF would be informed by the Global Sustainable Development Report, the scope and methodology of which will be agreed as soon as possible. An annual SDG Progress Report will be prepared by the UN Inter Agency and Expert Group on SDG indicators, based on data from national statistical systems.

13. Meeting every four years under the auspices of the General Assembly, the HLPF will provide high-level political guidance on the agenda and its implementation, identify progress and emerging challenges and mobilize further actions to accelerate implementation. The next HLPF, under the auspices of the General Assembly, will take place in 2019, with the cycle of meetings thus reset, in order to maximize coherence with the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review process.

14. In line with Resolution 67/290, the HLPF will support meaningful participation in follow up and review processes by civil society, the major groups, the UN System, relevant multi-stakeholder partnerships, the private sector and other stakeholders.

14.bis insert We instruct ECOSOC to review the Commission on Sustainable Development 11 decision on Partnerships and take into consideration the Bali Guidelines on Partnerships and update the instructions for Partnerships in light of the lessons learnt over the past fifteen years.

15. We also welcome the on-going ECOSOC Dialogues on the Longer Term Positioning of the UN Development System and look forward to discussing these issues in the forthcoming Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review process, as the main vehicle to give guidance to the UN system’s country level work.

15. bis insert To help with implementation we request the Secretary General to assign the overseeing of the SDGs to the relevant UN Agency and Programme under a Task Manager approach (similar to Agenda 21)

15 ter insert To enable better implementation we call for the creation of Capacity 2030 (similar to UNDPs Capacity 21) which would support developing countries implementation of the SDGs and targets. UNDP and UNDESA to coordinate Capacity 2030.

16. We request the Secretary General to prepare guidelines for national reports and review processes. We also request the Secretary General to provide recommendations on the organizational arrangements for state-led reviews at the HLPF under the auspices of ECOSOC, including steps to improve complementarity, coherence and efficiency of follow-up and review processes at the global level in the area of sustainable development.