Post-2015 discussion shifts to financing and implementing a "transformative agenda"

Post-2015 discussion shifts to financing and implementing a "transformative agenda"

New York—20 May 2015

As the United Nations comes towards the end of negotiations on goals for the post-2015 development era, the discussion is shifting increasingly towards how to pay for and implement the bold and transformative agenda that has been proposed.

And among the questions that arise are these: How can all countries, to their capacity, contribute towards the common good? How can we facilitate, manage and monitor the process to reach a successful outcome? How can the most marginalized be meaningfully included in the process?

These were among the issues considered at a breakfast meeting on the topic “Mobilizing Resources for Economic Justice: The Road to Addis Ababa.”

Held 20 April 2015 at the offices of the Baha’i International Community, the meeting was the 25th in a series of informal breakfast dialogues between diplomats, UN officials, and civil society on the post-2015 development agenda.

The meeting featured two keynote speakers: Mahmoud Mohieldin of the World Bank and Tamer Mostafa of the Permanent Mission of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the United Nations.

Mr. Mohieldin focused on how capacity in national institutions, leadership and technology will affect progress towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which lie at the heart of the post-2015 agenda.

“The experience of the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals), which are ending this year, and the achievements we are seeing on different fronts – the poverty front, the education front, and other aspects – have been very much a result of coordinated efforts at the national level,” said Mr. Mohieldin, who is the Bank’s corporate secretary and the president’s special envoy on the post-2015 process.

“While it is very useful to have goals and targets and the initiation of interesting proposals to get things done at the global level, if you don’t really have well-coordinated policy at the national level, if you don’t have institutions, if you don’t have leadership, and if you don’t have the means of implementation, these goals and targets are going to remain either unfulfilled or just aspirational,” said Mr. Mohieldin.

He went on to discuss how various policy measures, such as the implementation of new technologies, such as so-called “big data” collection and analysis, will be needed for this process, in part because of the large number of goals and indicators that have been identified for the coming global development agenda.

“We need to be very serious when it comes to data, and the calls for a data revolution are very much right,” said Mr. Mohieldin.

Mr. Mostafa, on the other hand, considered issues from a more “political” vantage point, outlining especially his view that all countries – developed and less developed alike – must take increased responsibility for the progress of the whole.

He noted, for example, that the current, so-called “zero” draft for the upcoming Third Financing for Development conference, to be held this July in Addis Abba reiterates the long-established target that developed countries should be expected to contribute 0.7 percent of the national economic product to official development assistance (ODA).

“Why is it that the ‘transformative agenda’ is stopping at 0.7 percent,” he asked.

“If this is going to be a shared responsibility, rather than CBDR (common but differentiated responsibilities), we need everybody to stand up for that challenge,” he said.

Other points made during the meeting, which continued under Chatham House rules after the opening talks, included the following:

  • This agenda requires much more than ODA. It is not possible to realize these ambitious goals without working on the whole range of means of implementation (MOI). There are efforts needed by all – national, international, public and trade sectors.
  • With the focus on financing for development, there is a big risk that we lose the focus on human and social capital—which are fundamental to delivering the promise of the goals.
  • When it comes to technology transfer, the big difference is made in the final mile of delivery. If people are not prepared to use the technology then no progress has occured, and it is not transformational. Technical change cannot be equated to transformation.

As with previous meetings, the event was co-sponsored by the Baha’i International Community and International Movement ATD Fourth World. Notes of the meeting can be read here.