UN General Assembly President John Ashe held an interactive meeting to hear civil society representatives' recommendations on the forthcoming synthesis report of the UN Secretary-General on the post-2015 development agenda.
The hearing took place on 9 September 2014, in New York, US, in preparation for the High-level Stocktaking event on the same topic.
10 September 2014: UN General Assembly President John Ashe held an interactive meeting to hear civil society representatives’ recommendations on the forthcoming synthesis report of the UN Secretary-General on the post-2015 development agenda. The hearing took place on 9 September 2014, in New York, US, in preparation for the High-level Stocktaking event on the same topic.
Opening the meeting, Ashe expressed hope that civil society will stay engaged in the post-2015 agenda-setting process during the upcoming 69th session of the UNGA. While the 68th session has set the stage, he said, the coming year, especially beginning in January 2015, will see more intensive activity to generate the outcome document of the September 2015 summit. He noted that civil society members were involved at the inception of this process, and should ensure their voices continue to be heard and their ideas included in the outcome document.
Representatives from civil society in each region offered their views on the outcome of the UNGA Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the post-2015 development agenda overall, and the synthesis report expected in late 2014. The Africa representative emphasized the need for deeper economic and financial transformation, to enable Africans’ greater participation in development agenda-setting and decision-making. She recommended an accountability mechanism to consolidate citizens’ voices in progress on the SDGs. And she said the OWG’s reference to unpaid domestic care work should be stronger, with a call for reducing and redistributing such work.
The Arab States representative noted the need for better education, highlighted unemployment and environmental degradation in the region, and called for support for civil society’s participation in the setting the post-2015 development agenda. The Asia representative said civil society in her region supports the model of “development justice,” said the international economic order has not been adequately addressed in the OWG document, and called for the post-2015 agenda to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The Europe/North America representative said proposed Goal 8 is overloaded because it effectively includes two goals – economic growth and employment. The latter itself has four pillars, and she called for a separate goal. She added that social protection should be given greater prominence. She also stressed that “rights, and their protector, the rule of law, are foundational to development.” The Latin America representative said the document lacked recognition of women as farmers, fishers and pastoralists, and highlighted their key role in sustainable management of natural resources and in achieving food security and sovereignty.
The representative of small island developing States (SIDS) said poverty and inequality deprive people of the benefits of development, and called on Member States and the UN system to pursue ambitious political change.
Reflecting on the interventions, Ashe observed the calls for further expansion of the proposed goals, and asked participants to consider whether implementation would be possible. He also asked for input on crucial aspects of the post-2015 development agenda besides the SDGs. Among other respondents, Jeffery Huffines, CIVICUS, said the SDGs will need robust means of implementation beyond the traditional donor-beneficiary paradigm. He noted a need for monitoring and accountability frameworks rooted in human rights, and suggested strengthening the mandate, structure and organization of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). He said the HLPF should be the home of SDG review.
Ashe closed the interactive hearing with a summary of participants’ views, including that: the Secretary-General should consider the proposed SDGs as a whole, and emphasize that Member States are not to pick and choose from among them, in order to avoid fragmentation; vulnerable groups such as women and the young should not be overlooked in the course of implementation; and volunteers and community organizations can make substantive contributions to implementing the new agenda.
Following the civil society hearing, the ‘High-level Stocktaking Event on the Post-2015 Development Agenda: Contributions to the Secretary-General’s Synthesis Report’ convenes on 11-12 September. [IISD RS Sources] [Webcast of Meeting] [UNGA President’s Press Conference] [Nomination of Civil Society Representatives]