Thursday, July 30, 2015

Comments on the new Post 2015 text

Love the new preamble YES YES YES People need to read the SDGs and their targets and not a summary in a preamble. Well done Co-Chairs and secretariat !!!!

I thought we all agreed cherish should go out of the text?  Like most of the people here we are all David Cassidy Fans but its a bit much putting it into an intergovernmental text.

If you want to be more supportive of David then join his fan club

Wonderful to see hygiene; added to sanitation and water.

Perhaps governments might like to consider this as a replacement. "A world which invests in its children,  in which the rights and aspirations of all children are realized, and in which every child grows up free from violence and exploitation."

There still seems to be a non recognition by some that sustainable development includes poverty eradication. The present wording seems to indicate that they are still two different things. "We recognize the intrinsic interlinkages between poverty eradication and the promotion of sustainable development."  I would have preferred that we recognize sustainable development as our guiding framework and that poverty eradication as our highest priority in addressing it. 
 On CBDR we have [and reflecting the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances]. It seems to me probably the best we will get over the next few days.

Common Reporting - I do believe we need a common reporting framework which all governments should report on and its good to see that in the follow up section

Financing for Development - great to see it NOT annexed to the text. Not sure on para 
86. We welcome, as outlined in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the dedicated follow-up and review for the Financing for Development outcomes as well as all the means of implementation of the SDGs which is integrated with the follow-up and review framework of this Agenda. The intergovernmentally agreed conclusions and recommendations of the annual ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development will be fed into the overall follow-up and review of the implementation of this Agenda in the HLPF.

It may be that this will be dealt with afterwards but i would like to see a clearer demarcation between Addis and Goal 17. Only this way will both be reviewed effectively. The CSD in 1993-2002 had a week for the finance, capacity building and technology transfer for Agenda 21 alone. This is a more complicated agenda and needs more time.

On family the bad references have been taken out great news.

On climate change I prefer 31alt: We will address decisively the threat posed by climate change and environmental degradation. We note with grave concern the significant gap between the aggregate effect of UNFCCC Parties’ mitigation pledges in terms of global annual emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020 and aggregate emission pathways consistent with having a likely chance of holding the increase in global average temperature below 2 °C or 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. Further to the Lima Call to Climate action, we will work for a comprehensive, ambitious agreement at COP21 in Paris applicable to all Parties [and reflecting the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances].

On the use of stakeholders, civil society and other actors we still have an intellectually imperfect document but that hasn't been helped by the inability of stakeholders or civil society to understand the terms themselves - a battle for another day i think. 

On corporate reporting again a lost opportunity to have a big impact again a a battle for another day.

It was wonderful to see in the last version and retained in this one "addressing growing anti-microbial resistance" in para 27. good work Sweden and I guess i have to say the UK too :-)

 Finally on Habitat III para 33 now has an addition to mention Habitat III, reads as follows: "We look forward to the upcoming United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in Quito, Ecuador". 

I would have preferred the original text suggested by Ecuador "building upon previous Habitat conferences and looking forward to Habitat III". I felt that it underscored the existence of a long-term trajectory of UN conferences on cities and human settlements, hence evoking the existence of partnerships and practitioners which can be reoriented towards the implementation of SDG11 and the operationalisation/localisation of the Post 2015 Agenda at the subnational and local levels. 

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Part 2: NGOs such as Save the Children and Corporations

Tuesday also saw a very good article in the Guardian which raises some very serious issues relating to Save the Children’s relationship with the corporate sector.

It was a good warning for all NGOs to look at who they are having funding from in the corporate world. 

Be true to your vision and principles.
“A world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation.” Save the Children vision.

What was interesting, and did bring a smile to my face, was the article wasn’t the same by the end of the day as it was at the beginning.

The earlier version was called: Has Save the Children become too large and lost sight of what it is for?’ the later one was called: ‘Justin Forsyth: 'If NGOs stay politically correct, we won't have an impact'.

Clearly the Guardian had experienced the full weight of Save the Children’s communication department. The article now told a much less critical story and was full of quotes by Justin (CEO of Save the Children).

I have to say I prefer it if an organization has a problem with an article they should have a right of reply not try and change the original article – it’s much more powerful.
The issue for NGOs just like the UN, as I addressed in the previous blog, and for that matter governments, is we are all looking for funding from the private sector. But at what cost!

Stakeholder Forum Experience

I had the same issue when I was Executive Director of Stakeholder Forum. In 2001 Stakeholder Forum took funds from BP as they rebranded themselves as ‘Beyond Petroleum’ and I have to say ‘naively’ I believed them. It turned out to be green wash. Third World Network quite rightly criticized me and Stakeholder Forum at the time. They were right and we were wrong. BP has now sold its solar and was in 2013 about to sell its wind but reversed that decision but is focusing on  core business of‘oil and gas’. As CBS reported in 2013 ‘Beyond Petroleum' No More? BP Goes Back to Basics’.

The result for Stakeholder Forum was that we developed a policy with a criteria for when we would take corporation funds. We didn’t do it again until 2012 around Rio+20 when we had support from AVIVA for a push for a convention on Corporate Reporting to have all companies listed on the Stock Exchanges producing an environment, social and governance report to be listed on a Stock Exchange or explain why not. Bloomberg estimate over 75% of companies don’t report that Bloomberg looks at. We can hope that the very good Sustainable Stock Exchange Initiative takes up the lead where governments have failed.

Save the Children and Corporations

I mention this because I think very similar to the original Guardian article that NGOs and in this case Save the Children should not take money from companies that operate against their core principles and values. The Guardian article says this on the issue of Save the Children and child labour.

Two more Save the Children US partners, Nike and Walmart, have been dogged by allegations of child labour in recent years, an undercover report by CBS News in 2013 found widespread use of the practice in Walmart’s Bangladesh supplier.
Justin Forsyth says all decisions on corporate partnerships are made by a board-level committee which “signs off the companies that we work with”.
He adds: “Nike has a very progressive policy on child labour. Whether it is already implemented in the right way is another question, and that’s the same with other companies. We’re not going to only work with companies that are perfect, but we’ll work with ones that are going in the right direction.”
There is a difference between accepting them as a corporate partner and helping them address issues that go against your core values and principles as an organization. So if you admit you don’t know if it’s been implemented in the right way then clearly you should find out before taking money from them. You should ensure there are robust monitoring and evaluation systems in place so if the company starts again you stop your association with them. Its not rocket science.

I have another issue with Walmart myself. As the Washington Post reported:

“The low wages paid by businesses, including some of the largest and most profitable companies in the U.S. – like McDonald’s and Wal-Mart – are costing taxpayers nearly $153 billion a year.

After decades of wage cuts and health benefit rollbacks, more than half of all state and federal spending on public assistance programs goes to working families who need food stamps, Medicaid, or other support to meet basic needs. Let that sink in — American taxpayers are subsidizing people who work — most of them full-time  (in some case more than full-time) because businesses do not pay a living wage.”

In 2014 Walmart announced that they were cutting health care benefits for some part time employees. The Wall Street Journal said:

“Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is cutting health insurance for another 30,000 part-time workers and raising premiums for its other employees, as U.S. corporations push to contain costs in the wake of the federal health-care law.”

These are often women and often women with children trying to be flexible to enable their children to spend time with them as well. Again I wonder how a child rights organization can justify taking money from a company that contributes to low wages and no health care as children will be some of the first impacted by that.

Climate Change

This brings me to some of the other corporate partners of Save the Children - Exxon Mobile and Chevron.

In a wonderful article by the US Environment Correspondent for the Guardian Suzanne Goldenberg titled ‘Exxon knew of climate change in 1981, email says – but it funded deniers for 27 more years.’ From the article:

Kenneth Kimmel, the president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said ExxonMobil and the other companies profiled in its report had failed to take responsibility about the danger to the public of producing fossil fuels.
US taxpayers subsidising world's biggest fossil fuel companies
 “Instead of taking responsibility, they have either directly – or indirectly through trade and industry groups – sown doubt about the science of climate change and fought efforts to cut emissions,” he wrote in a blogpost. “I believe that the conduct outlined in the UCS report puts the fossil fuel companies’ social license at risk. And once that social license is gone, it is very hard to get it back. Just look at what happened to tobacco companies after litigation finally pried open the documents that exposed decades of misinformation and deception.”

As children will be at the forefront of the impacts of climate change how can Save the Children take money from Exxon Mobile?

Meanwhile Chevron have closed down their renewable section so clearly like BP focusing on maximizing the profits from the problem and not contributing to the solution.

Tony Blair and Save the Children

As my readers know I was very critical of Save the Children US giving the “global legacy award” award to former prime-minister for his work on poverty in Africa. I was also hugely supportive of the stand by over 500 Save the Children staff signing an internal letter calling the decision “morally reprehensible” Many living in dangerous places where such an action might put their lives in danger. It  still must have been a very difficult thing for them to do. An insight into the way the management feels about this is for me in the comment by Justin their CEO as reported in the Guardian article on Tuesday he said:

“There wasn’t a reaction anywhere else in the world. It was only in the UK. We didn’t get any reaction in the US, and this was a Save the Children US event.”

He seems to forget that the reaction was from not only the UK but 500 of his own staff particular in the Middle East and Africa.  In the UK nearly 125,000 people signing the petition calling for the award to be revoked.

So my final comment on this is I believe yet again it’s an issue of a lack of management that allows an organization, such as Save the Children to accept funding from the particular companies they have.  Perhaps as the original article in the Guardian suggested  'Has Save the Children become too large and lost sight of what it is for' 

I am unlike some people not against taking money from company’s but it must must fit in with the goals and principles of what you are trying to do as an organization. 

I truly hope that the great staff in Save the Children will let their managers know that it is unacceptable to have a plan to engage the corporate sector that includes the companies listed above if they are negatively impacting on children.

Part 1: The UN and Corporations

Tuesday I went to an excellent side event by the Global Policy Forum who pre-launched what I think is an excellent report called Fit for Purpose: Private funding and corporate influence in the United Nations. 

I wanted to share some of the findings with you and suggest that you do download the report for a fuller read.

The UN Agencies and Programmes have had a mixed relationship with the corporate sector. This relationship has to some extent been forced  on them by a true lack of funding for the UN over a long period of time. 

As the report points out this has had some very worrying impacts most recently the incident over UN Women and Uber shows that some Agencies and programmes do not have in place robust systems to decide who they should partner with. This does require a clearly policy across the UN. Giving x to the UN should not come without some strong control as the company will benefit from the association with UN name. A worry is without that robust control then the UN name will be tainted by association.  

Member states responsibility for funding

As the UN chases some of the corrporate money one key recommendation of the report that deals with government responsibility I think should be considered very seriously this is that no funding should go to ‘other projects’ in an agency or programme until the member state has fulfilled their funding requirement for normal programmatic work.

2015 a lost opportunity 

I have been impressed with the work of UNEP FI and UN Global Compact that they have been prepared to throw out companies that do not adhere to their principles. I think this needs to continue and be more robust buts its a good example where the UN has been prepared to walk away from some companies.

In 2002 I worked with a number of corporations and NGOs on the idea of developing a convention on Corporate Social Responsibility based around the OECD guidelines - unfortunately it didn’t come to be.

I have supported while at Stakeholder Forum and since I left more accountability of companies on their environment, social and governance (ESG).  More recently in the runup to Rio+20 and in the Financing for Development process I have been working to try and secure a global commitment that all companies listed on stock exchanges should have to produce their ESG reports as they do their economic reporting. Although this has been supported by two UN High Level Secretary General Panels the wording in the FfD process doesn’t go as far as to suggest a date for this to happen a huge missed opportunity. Such requirements exist in the Stock Exchanges in Brazil, China, India and South Africa. Governments could even at this late stage in the Follow Up and Review have a paragraph calling on all Stock Exchanges by 2030 ( I would prefer 2020) to make it a listing requirement to produce their ESG report. 

PLEASE NOTE Coordinators of Friends of para 47: Brazil, South Africa, France and Denmark and members Switzerland, Norway, Austria,  Chile and Colombia  its still not too late.

Fit for Purpose: Private funding and corporate influence in the United Nations. 

This brings me to the Global Policy Forum’s Report.

Some of the recommendations I particularly like are:

“As partnerships with the private sector become more widespread and significant, it is essential that the United Nations put in place and improve existing integrity measures at all main interfaces with the private sector to protect its brand and reputation, promote responsible business practices and United Nations values and achieve greater coherence between the agendas of the United Nations and businesses.

Therefore, in line with the subsequent resolution of the General Assembly on global partnerships, the Secretary-General, in collaboration with agencies, funds and programmes should report on efforts to:
    • improve the Guidelines on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Business Sector, including from a gender perspective;
    • disclose the partners, contributions and matching funds for all relevant partnerships, including at the country level;
    • strengthen due diligence measures that can safeguard the reputation of the Organization and ensure confidence-building;
    • ensure that these elements are coherently reflected in relevant system-wide
  • This Secretary-General’s report should be undertaken through an open and transparent consultative process, and should be updated regularly in the same manner.
  • Upgrade UN standards related to reporting and transparency. Changing the way in which the UN interacts with the business sector also requires an open and transparent reporting process. This should include:
    • Guidelines for transparency and public reporting of existing practices and regular reviews of their relevance and adequacy to fit the purpose. These guidelines should also provide for comprehensive reporting requirements for UN-business partnerships.
    • Tracking and coordination across the UN development system in order to prevent duplication and competition within it, and for coherent reporting to the intergovernmental processes.
These are all very good recommendations I hope government will consider in the months ahead.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Some initial thoughts on the Final Declaration Draft

Wow we are, we hope, into the last five days of the Post 2015 process!!!! 

By Friday there should be an agreement and lots of hugs, I understand, all round. Between now and then though there is some tough negotiations to be undertaken. 

have to admit I didn't stay up to wait for ‘final draft’ of the Declaration to come out. I had spent part of Sunday evening at a 'Make A Wish' concert at the Bitter End rock venue in West Village.

So we are now down to the real negotiations. After my morning in the Vienna Cafe this is some of the areas I believe will cause some discussion and negotiations this week.

The preamble has grown somewhat and has become more of a laundry list under the 5 Ps (Planet, People, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership) by doing so I think misses the point of the preamble and I don’t think what we have now under the 5 Ps adds anything. 

The most important part of the Declaration are the Goals and Targets. On Friday the final statement by South Africa on behalf of G77 and China looked like the x and ys would be dealt with. Helpfully the latest draft separates the targets that need to be dealt with. the Outstanding will be 14c which deals with the need to align it with UNCLOS. This may have some residue conversation but its looking good and is ultimately the substance to the Declaration.

Now let’s look at the main areas of disagreement:

Common But Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR): The issue here is should CBDR apply to all SDGs. I have consistently supported the G77 position here because there is selected memory by the developed countries. Agenda 21 dealt with most of the goals we now have except Goal 16 on Promote peaceful and inclusive socialites for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels and Goal 10 on reduce inequality within and among countries. The developed countries ‘shared responsibility’ does not recognize the historical nature of where we are now and the responsibility of developed countries for that. When the chapters of Agenda 21 were undertaken in the 1990s they were done with a CBDR perspective.

The family – do we recognize the huge diversity that the family term now represents or should it be restrictive. I hope we embrace the diversity of what is now the families that we all live in. This may go to the wire. 

Human Rights language this is likely to continue to be an area of controversy – why mention some rights and not others. The right to development, the right to food and water -- what should be included and what should be excluded? I support the inclusion of the three.

Technology Facilitation Mechanism another of the successes out of Rio+20 – set in motion and steered by the Ambassadors of Brazil and Switzerland. It was shifted over to the FfD track. In my opinion to have some useful outcome from FfD. The question now is does it get reintegrated into the Declaration. The developing countries say yes the developed countries say why this and not the whole of the FfD outcome. I personally think that it should be integrated into the Declaration as it was part of the discussion in the SDG OWG and early part of the 2015 negotiations.  I like it as its represented in the text at the moment it shows what was agreed and what the process forward is.

Global Sustainable Development Report I didn’t expect there to be a discussion on this but am really pleased that there is. This report COULD play a similar role to the Human Development Report of UNDP or the Global Environmental Report of UNEP.  At present it is not funded anywhere to the level it needs to be done to. The discussion is around should it be yearly or every 4 years when Heads of State meet. This is a critical report and should be supported effectively to show the state of SDG implementation.

Stakeholders/Major Groups/Actors/Civil Society

The document still is intellectually inconsistent in the terms it uses and when it uses them relating to /Major groups/Stakeholders/civil society/non state actors. This is not helped by the reality that many stakeholders themselves don't know what they mean.  There are huge impacts of the misuse of these terms to who then is engaged in the process. For Major Groups it was clear nine named sectors of society which governments were obligated to speak to in the follow up to the 1992 Agenda 21 implementation. The term civil society leaves it amorphous and leaves it up to governments or the UN to decide.   For Financing for Development the decision to just have civil society and business and industry meant there was no place for local government or academics for example. This in particular is true of the language in the national follow up "Such reviews should draw on contributions from civil society, the private sector and other actors." it should say: "draw on contributions from civil society, the private sector and all other stakeholders."

It would have been nice to see a commitment to the stetting up of a multi-stakeholder platform by governments to help in the implementation and national review of the SDGs.


There is still a discussion around how to reconcile the issue of universality and national priorities. Also national v global indicators this though should be dealt with work of the Inter-agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) on indicators. I like the idea that there would be a set of global indicators maybe two per target and that national and stakeholder indicators would be part of a compendium. The IAEG-SDG is to be with us for  the next ten years. 
Reporting will be voluntary but how do we deal with peer group learning regionally or globally or both? I would hope both the Africa Peer Group Review Mechanism shows the strength of a regional approach.


On the issue of partnerships this should be dealt with in ECOSOC - after September and their should be a review of the only UN agreement on partnerships the UN Commission on Sustainable Development 11 (2003).  We don't need a 1000 flowers bloom but a focused approach to partnerships. One partnership per target would be a great way to bring resources, people and action together. A proper system of how the private sector engages in partnerships will be critical. I would suggest that the UN assigns the task of managing each of the goals to the relevant UN Agencies and Programme and oversees the partnerships for each of the targets under the relevant goals.  This will enable a monitoring through the relevant UN Agency or Programme as well as through the Partnership Forum in EcoSoc. to help this perhaps the following bold words could be inserted in.

80. The HLPF, under the auspices of ECOSOC, shall carry out regular reviews, 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 and other stakeholders, including civil society and the private sector. They shall be state-led, involving ministerial and other relevant high-level participants. They shall provide a platform for partnerships, utilising existing fora, as appropriate, and ensuring the participation of major groups and other relevant stakeholders.

Antibiotic resistance 

There are many small wording changes that is now in the document "addressing growing anti-microbial resistance" it didn't make it into the targets last year but two major reports have since then come out one by WHO which makes it a major issue the world will need to deal with. This is great news.


The UN system is not fit for purpose to deliver this agenda so there will have to be a UN GA resolution to start to deal with the consequences of the outcome from September for UN Commissions, Agencies and Programme as well as for ECOSOC. There is no time to do that this week or enough brain space – though there may be suggestions reflected in the text probably around asking the UN SG to produce a report for discussion on the subject.

There is also a little strange wording in para 9 on 'A world which cherishes its children' perhaps invests in its children might be better.  Cherish on the other hand was one of my favouite David Cassidy songs

So much to do this week and so little time.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The year of negotiating precariously

This is a reproduction of the Guardian article written by myself and Michael Strauss 'The year of negotiating precariously' in the Guardian on the 23rd of July 2015 which can be read on the Guardian web site here. Or you can read it here.

The year 2015 may be recorded as one of the most extraordinarily successful – or disastrous – years in the history of international diplomatic negotiations.

Most have been well reported – the recent agreement with Iran –the Pacific trade agreement. The Eurozone’s probably tragic imposition of controls over Greece.

Each of these takes on critical geopolitical, macroeconomic, or environmental crises. But almost none of them addresses the pervasive social, cultural and micro economic crises that afflict up to 2 billion people on a daily basis. Those are the invisible personal crises of poverty, hunger, sickness, and non-education which cumulatively play an integral role in building and triggering the more ominous, more obvious, and easily reported on threats.

Almost completely out of major media view, the 194 UN member nations are wrapping up three years of talks on a model that will guide the next 15 years of global policy decision making. It is dedicated to providing every person on the planet with necessary food, water, energy, health care, housing, jobs and education, as well as assuring their rights, freedoms and access to information. It attempts to sustain oceans, forests, agriculture, land ecosystems, and the earth’s climate.

The sustainable development goals (SDGs) were initiated at the UN Rio+20 summit in 2012. And although Rio+20 was dismissed at the time by many as either sadly disappointing, or an outright failure, it has become increasingly clear that the conference played a similar role to that played by the Brundtland Commission for the Earth summit in 1992. It created a framework to integrate environmental, economic and social policy that would be sustainable far into the future.

It also agreed on an ambitious attempt to merge the sustainable development policy agenda with the earlier, often distinct, development policy agenda that in many national and UN agencies still functions separately.

To accomplish all this, Rio+20 set in motion a complex processes that will culminate in September.
The sustainable development goals

The major part was the SDG process. It has agreed 17 goals and 169 targets that will all but certainly be accepted with a couple of small changes to a few targets.

And while it’s true that the 17 SDGs are far more numerous and complex than their eight predecessor MDGs, that very complexity has allowed them to address issues with a breadth of cooperation and intentional specificity. This achieved the buy-in of a vast range of governmental, non-governmental and private sector actors whose active cooperation will be critical to achieving their successful implementation in the far more economically complex and politically turbulent world of 2015.

The only outstanding issue being negotiated is the political declaration of this transformational agenda that will be presented to the heads of state of all nations to agree when they meet in 
September in New York.


The most difficult question still being negotiated is determining how the new goals and targets should be funded.

As we write, Financing for Development (FfD) – a process that grew out of the traditional development programme funding track and was tasked with providing the answer – has just concluded a major conference in Ethiopia. Its results fail to elaborate the financial architecture or the required funds for financing the SDGs. There is no certainty these can be added on before September.

That could be disastrous. A funding failure would seriously undermine both the confidence of poorer countries in the commitment of wealthier countries, and limit the overall chances of the SDGs’ implementation success.

Such a failure would also drastically increase the pressure on the separate climate financing negotiations currently in progress to support any agreements on climate in Paris.

Climate change

This year will end with the one of the biggest pieces of the post-2015 policy jigsaw – the UNFCC Climate Conference in Paris.

Similar to the SDGs, the climate agreement is looking for funding. In Copenhagen, $100 bn was promised per year by 2020. By 2014 the fund had mobilised $10.2 bn. A shortfall of commitments will put addition strain on negotiations as developing countries look to see funding for the Green Climate Fund.

But there have been significant developments since Copenhagen to indicate that some of the necessary political will is now in place for an agreement that will require actions by all countries that will be broad, but may be voluntary.

And in the very specificity of their targets, the SDGs help deal with dynamics like this.
The reaction of the media

But for the SDGs to succeed, they will require broad public understanding and cooperation. The role of media will become essential. And that will prove a challenge.

A primary misunderstanding is that the SDGs are very different form the millennium goals agreed in 2000. The SDGs are universal – not just for developing countries. They cover all of sustainable development – not just traditional development issues.

The process to agree the goals has been one of the most inclusive ever, from intense intergovernmental consultations to hundreds of stakeholder meetings in every region.

Danny Sriskandarajah, secretary general of CIVICUS, a global alliance of grass roots organisations, echoes what many of the NGOs who were active in the MDGs but who were initially skeptical of the SDGs, now seem to think of the Post 2015 agenda: “The process so far has been more inclusive than many of us expected and the resulting document is stronger than we anticipated. But now everything rests on member states to commit themselves to an ambitious framework that surpasses the meagre expectations of global governance.”

Tomorrow is today

The SDGs represent a new paradigm in intergovernmental policy substance – and in the process that has created them.

And in a year of extraordinarily complex and critical global crisis negotiations, the biggest, broadest, possibly most idealistic – but ultimately the most essential – might be the one almost nobody of the general public has heard anything about yet.

Felix Dodds is an author and a senior fellow at the UNC Global Research Institute and an associate fellow at the Tellus Institute. Michael Strauss is the executive director of Earth Media, an independent political and communications consultancy based in New York

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

New Book Governance for Sustainable Development

The Post-2015 Agenda is an unprecedented effort that embodies universal aspirations for achieving a better, more just, equitable, peaceful and sustainable future. Representatives from 193 governments and multiple stakeholders, from all sectors, have actively participated in its creation. This ambitious and unique exercise represents a paradigm shift in development policy. It materializes years of dialogue and candid ambitions of addressing the most pressing global challenges. In this context, the rule of law, as well as, effective, robust, participatory and accountable institutions is of utmost importance to achieve the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and their 169 targets.

The inextricable link between good governance and sustainable development was acknowledged in the Rio+20 Declaration “The Future We Want”. Moreover, the Report of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda further elaborated on this issue and made a call for all countries to recognize the need for responsive, legitimate and democratic institutions, at all levels.

Mindful of these challenges, the governments of Mexico, Romania and the Republic of Korea, with the technical support of the Tellus Institute and the organization ARTICLE 19, reinvigorated the “Group of Friends of the Governance for Sustainable Development”, which was created in the preparation of the Rio+20 Conference, as a flexible and informal space to discuss issues related to good governance and foster cooperation between multiple actors in the context of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

The Group of Friends also aims to contribute to the discussions of the institutional architecture for the Agenda’s implementation, follow-up and review. Thus, the Group convened government representatives, UN officials, experts, and civil society in November 2014, January and May 2015 to three participatory workshops on governance and the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
During the first workshop discussions revolved around the relevance of governance in the SDGs context including data collection and accountability. Moreover, participants shared ideas and experiences on public participation. In January, during the second workshop, attendees held engaging discussions on the international, national and regional infrastructure for follow-up and review for the agenda. The third and latest workshop took place in January. It focused on key issues of governance and sustainable development; particularly, on the need of an interlinked and coherent review framework for the Post-2015 Agenda and the Addis Ababa agreement on Financing for Development. At this meeting, participants analyzed and reflected upon the lessons that existing review mechanisms may have for strengthening a Global Alliance for sustainable development.
It is with great pleasure that we are now presenting this publication which compiles the main elements of the engaging and valuable discussions that governmental representatives, UN officials, several NGOs, experts and civil society had on the aforementioned workshops. In this sense, we would like to thank all the participants for their important contributions. Moreover, we extend our gratitude to the Tellus Institute and the organization ARTICLE 19 who have worked extensively to make these dialogues and the present publication a reality.

We expect the present publication to be a useful input for the ongoing discussions about the institutional architecture for the Post-2015 Agenda. Our generation has now the opportunity to redefine the future and bring real, significant, transformative and universal change for and with the people, leaving no one behind. However, sustainable development will only become a reality if we have the enabling environment for it to happen. Thus, good governance will be pivotal for implementing, reviewing and improving the Post-2015 Development Agenda. We expect that this publication contributes to the colossal, but encouraging, challenges we will be facing during the next 15 years.  

Ambassador Choong-hee HAHN, Ambassador Simona-Mirela Miculescu and Ambassador Jorge Montaño

Governance for Sustainable Development is edited by: Hoonmin Lim, Sara Luna and Oana Rebedea, David Banisar Felix Dodds and Quinn McKew

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