The UN General Assembly's (UNGA) Second Committee (Economic and Financial) held a panel discussion on 'Promoting accountability at all levels: monitoring the post-2015 development agenda,' with participants identifying principles for an accountability mechanism for the post-2015 development agenda, and opportunities for its design.
31 October 2014: The UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) Second Committee (Economic and Financial) held a panel discussion on ‘Promoting accountability at all levels: monitoring the post-2015 development agenda,’ with participants identifying principles for an accountability mechanism for the post-2015 development agenda, and opportunities for its design. The discussion took place on 31 October 2014, at UN Headquarters in New York, US.
Borg Tsien Tham (Singapore), Rapporteur of the Second Committee, chaired and opened the discussion, saying that the UNGA has a “critical role” to play in providing policy guidance for strengthening a development accountability mechanism.
Thomas Gass, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), served as the panel moderator. “The quality of the global partnership for development going forward will only be as good as the accountability framework that is put in place,” he remarked, stressing the need for a framework that is universal, voluntary, state-led, and evidence-based. Gass asked panelists to consider how to make participation attractive, and said the framework must support countries’ varying capacity needs.
María Emma Mejía Vélez, Permanent Representative of Colombia, stressed that if the post-2015 development agenda is to be truly transformative, the accountability and monitoring mechanisms must be strong. The primary responsibilities for implementing and monitoring must fall to each state, she said, while allowing for further input by civil society. She noted the potential roles of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the High-level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF) in hosting such a mechanism, and said that any monitoring system should take into account the lessons learned from other similar systems.
Ashraf Rashed, African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), shared the accountability and monitoring experiences of the APRM, which is comprised of 24 African states. He said that the APRM is a participatory and inclusive process that includes a self-assessment phase for Member States, and places a high premium on disseminating best practices. He said the APRM is being re-positioned to take on a larger role in the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
Marc Levy, Columbia University, explained that sustainable development accountability mechanisms must account for future “shocks to the system” that will result from a complex, interlinked world. He called for mechanisms that can respond to rapidly transmitted risks, manage transitions, and create linkages across multiple sectors. “It might seem like too much for the UN to design the system all at once,” he said, proposing instead that the post-2015 accountability mechanism link to other existing mechanisms, and encourage a spirit of learning, discovering, and mutual adjustment.
Paul Zeitz, Global Development Incubator, emphasized the need for mutual accountability between governments, citizens, and the private sector. Citizens that are enabled to “pay attention, respond, engage, and act” have an important role in the decision-making process, he said. Furthermore, he called for an accountability mechanism built around “commitments to action” through a decentralized approach, along with sectoral “data hubs” to gather actionable data around specific priorities.
The discussion was then opened to Member State representatives, who raised questions on: the role of regional commissions for post-2015 accountability; mechanisms for exchanging best practices; sustainability of implementation; the nature of non-binding development goals; and multi-stakeholder involvement.
The Philippines and Norway suggested that the Open Working Group’s proposed 17 goals and 169 targets are too many for accountability and more prioritization is needed, while Venezuela stressed that the proposal should not be reopened for negotiation. Switzerland called for more discussion around the HLPF review mechanism, as well as how incentives to make a voluntary accountability mechanism meaningful. Brazil called for an accountability mechanism to “monitor for adequate compliance of the private sector and UN entities.” Canada said the poorest and most vulnerable must form the base of accountability, with incentives for the participation of civil society and the private sector. Guatemala said universality should not be imposed on a country without taking into account its unique situation.
Thomas Gass closed the session, reminding panelists of accountability’s ultimate purpose: to render the global partnership for sustainable development strong and effective to achieve this ambitious vision. [IISD RS Services] [Event Webpage]