6 November 2014
Discussions Begin on Modalities, Substance of Post-2015 Negotiations
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Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya, and David Donoghue, Permanent Representative of Ireland, convened the first informal meeting of the plenary on the intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda.

After a second informal meeting on 10 November, the co-facilitators will be able to plan next steps in the process, Kamau said.

unga694 November 2014: Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya, and David Donoghue, Permanent Representative of Ireland, convened the first informal meeting of the plenary on the intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda. After a second informal meeting on 10 November, the co-facilitators will be able to plan next steps in the process, Kamau said.

Kamau and Donoghue were appointed on 17 October 2014, per a letter of UN General Assembly President Sam Kutesa, to lead “open, inclusive and transparent consultations on the post-2015 development agenda, including the organization and modalities for the intergovernmental negotiations and the remaining issues related to the Summit for the adoption of the post-20 15 development agenda.” Donoghue said he looked forward to working with “every Member State,” continuing the open and inclusive process that has already been taking place.

Kamau asked for delegations’ views on the modalities and organization of work for the intergovernmental negotiations. He stressed the tight timeline for the process, in contrast to the pace of the last two years’ in the context of the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He also stressed that Member States could build on experiences gained in the Open Working Group (OWG) regarding modalities and organization of work.

On substantive issues, Kamau asked for views on the scope of the post-2015 development agenda, and components of the agenda.

The Group of 77 and China requested a timeline for negotiations that accounts for the ongoing consultations on the Finance for Development (FfD) conference, and to avoid parallel sessions. They said negotiations must be open, inclusive and transparent. They requested “clarification” of how the forthcoming synthesis report of the UN Secretary-General on the post-2015 development agenda will influence the negotiation process. They also called for negotiating on the basis of a zero draft from the beginning of the process, and cautioned against “introducing new drafts every session.” He also said means of implementation (MOI) and the global technology facilitation mechanism are key to discussions.

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) welcomed a broadly consultative process with civil society, private sector and academia, to secure citizens’ “buy-in.” He hoped the post-2015 negotiations could take the findings of the FfD preparations into account, rather than waiting for the Conference to conclude. On substance, he called for: a concise, forward-looking declaration; leveraging requisite political will for full implementation of agenda; retaining the integrity of the proposed 17 SDGs; and finding consensus on technology facilitation.

The EU highlighted the need for a universal, rights-based agenda and said universality must be applied in an effective way, as all governments need to participate. On a new global partnership, he called for avoiding duplication with the FfD process, saying the framework agreed in Addis Ababa can feed back into negotiations on the post-2015 agenda. He supported stakeholder participation in the process, and said the HLPF will have an important role in monitoring and accountability mechanisms for the agenda.

The Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) said the OWG outcome provides a legitimate, balanced and robust platform for integrating the SDGs in the post-2015 agenda, and he encouraged a working structure similar to that of the OWG. PSIDS’ substantive priorities include: climate change mitigation and adaptation, as both a stand-alone priority and cross-cutting issue; healthy, productive and resilient oceans; adaption to national circumstances; sustainable energy; predictable and sufficient MOI; and the OWG outcome with proposed Goals 5, 14, 15 and 16 considered especially essential.

The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) said, on organizational aspects, the process should: be transparent and inclusive; define and adopt modalities for the intergovernmental negotiations; define and adopt rules of procedure; define and adopt the agenda for the post-2015 summit; and coordinate with the FfD and UNFCCC processes. On substance, she stressed: a prominent place for both MOI, accountability, and the Samoa Pathway in the post-2015 development agenda; the importance of oceans and climate change; the post-2015 summit should adopt a declaration with 17 SDGs, indicators and targets; and the declaration should also map out the process for HLPF to review implementation of the agenda.

The African Group called for completing negotiations on the modalities by December, so the process can focus on substance beginning in January. He called for a political declaration to accompany the goal set, said a section on MOI should draw on the OWG report and the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) outcome, and said the HLPF will be “the mechanism” that will monitor and evaluate progress in implementing the goals and MOI at the national level. He added that a technology facilitation mechanism must be a key part of the post-2015 development agenda. He also appealed for synchronizing the numerous ongoing negotiations, to enable small delegations to participate and experts to come from capitals. On modalities, he stressed the need for a truly intergovernmental process.

Hungary said that the post-2015 process will be mostly about “ways and methods of implementation.” While many still think of sustainable development as an extra burden, they will implement what makes economic sense. He called for making visible the economic rationale for a transformative agenda that integrates issues across the dimensions of sustainable development. “We seek lasting solutions,” he said, not “exporting solutions from one part of the world to another, nor from one era of life to another.” On modalities, he urged flexibility, stakeholder inclusion to ensure an “evidence-based and implementation-oriented” process, and trusting the co-facilitators to “lead the process and hold the pen.”

Several Member States echoed the call for enabling civil society and other stakeholders to express views during the process, including: Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Palau, Republic of Korea and Switzerland.

China and Nigeria stressed the intergovernmental/government-led nature of the process.

Delegations cautioning against opening the OWG outcome included Colombia, who said the OWG proposal should be the “main component” of the post-2015 development agenda, and Bangladesh. Brazil said the OWG proposal of 17 SDGs and 169 targets comprises the core of the post-2015 agenda. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) added, “we can’t cut the SDGs to fit on a fridge magnet even if the marketing department wants us to do so.”

The US, Canada, ROK and others spoke of “building on” the OWG report as negotiations move forward. Australia called for a short number of goals, and refining the “quality” of the OWG’s proposed targets.

Other concerns and topics raised by delegations included: coherence between the post-2015 development agenda negotiations, and the Financing for Development (FfD) conference and preparatory process; desires for a road map; whether the co-facilitators will table the first draft of a negotiating document, or another basis for beginning negotiations; the need for a “development-centered and development-driven” agenda, in the words of Bangladesh; ways to incorporate monitoring and accountability in the agenda, including through the HLPF; the process of developing indicators for the post-2015 development agenda; the contents and scope of the agenda; the nature of the outcome document from the Heads of State and Governments summit in September 2015; the need to conclude discussions on MOI and technology facilitation; and determining the position of the Secretary-General’s synthesis report, report of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing (ICESDF) and the FfD outcome.

Solomon Islands, citing the many “moving parts” in the post-2015 development agenda, asked for a structure to “collapse it all into a single track.” He suggested that intergovernmental negotiations begin with a single document encompassing all other processes.

Switzerland outlined her preferred approach to negotiations, including three preparatory meetings, possible meetings outside New York to enable broader participation and ownership, holding preparatory sessions back-to-back with FfD preparatory sessions, and possibly using the June 2015 HLPF meeting to discuss the review mechanism of the post-2015 development agenda.

Brazil said a monitoring and accountability framework should be applied to UN funds, agencies and programmes, which are responsible for 60% of all activities carried out by UN, amounting the four times its spending on policy, advocacy and norm-setting and three times its spending on peacekeeping.

Colombia called on States to ensure the FfD conference is not “Monterrey plus Doha 3”, but has a greater relationship to the SDGs agenda.

Closing the meeting, Kamau said the next informal meeting will take place on 10 November, and discussions of modalities for the process should conclude by the end of November 2014. [IISD RS Sources]

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