Towards a Post 2015 Sustainable Development Framework

During the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the governments of South Africa and Ireland convened a Special Event to follow up efforts made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. However, the event title only tells half of the story— the MDG Special Event was as much and probably more about what comes after 2015 when the MDGs MDGs The Millennium Development Goals are eight international development goals that were officially establishing following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000. All 193 United Nations member states have agreed to achieve these goals by 2015. The ITUC advocates for the inclusion of Decent Work and Social Protection in the new development framework. are set to expire, than it was about the current set of goals.

The event itself was mostly performance by High Level Politicians professing their commitment to meeting the MDGs MDGs The Millennium Development Goals are eight international development goals that were officially establishing following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000. All 193 United Nations member states have agreed to achieve these goals by 2015. The ITUC advocates for the inclusion of Decent Work and Social Protection in the new development framework. while also looking towards a successor framework. Nevertheless, the event marked the agreement of an important outcome document (the document was agreed and final prior to the event itself) which took stock of the MDGs MDGs The Millennium Development Goals are eight international development goals that were officially establishing following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000. All 193 United Nations member states have agreed to achieve these goals by 2015. The ITUC advocates for the inclusion of Decent Work and Social Protection in the new development framework. while also laying some important groundwork for the process to agree a set of Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

There is nothing particularly striking with respect to the issue based content of the document. Member states resolved to accelerate efforts to meet the MDGs MDGs The Millennium Development Goals are eight international development goals that were officially establishing following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000. All 193 United Nations member states have agreed to achieve these goals by 2015. The ITUC advocates for the inclusion of Decent Work and Social Protection in the new development framework. , giving particular focus to those goals furthest from realization—like on water and sanitation, environmental sustainability and reproductive health. There are also some welcome references to human rights, and democratic governance, though largely inconsequential in such an agreement.

A section on Global Partnership seems a perfect illustration of how ambiguous the concept is, noting the importance of fulfilling the 0.7% ODA commitments, human rights and the rule of law and responsible business all in the same breath.

However, the purpose of this outcome document is hardly to set out any comprehensive set of priorities.

Instead, arguably the most important element of the outcome document is an agreement on process. The document makes a strong case for single development framework which will take on both the sustainable development agenda (as per the Rio Conference on Sustainable Development) and the post MDGs agenda. In short, the outcome document has set the stage for a set of Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

While this may have seemed an obvious eventuality, it was never a foregone conclusion, but we can be encouraged by the “single track” approach and its inherent recognition of the “interlinkage between poverty eradication and promotion of sustainable development”. We also appreciate the recognition that “a single framework and set of Goals -universal in nature and applicable to all countries” should also allow take into account “differing national circumstances and respecting national policies and priorities”.

At next year’s 69th UN General Assembly the negotiation process will officially commence with a view to agreeing a Post 2015 Sustainable Development Agenda at the 70th session in September of 2015. In the meantime the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals will continue to hold thematic consultations through February 2014 at which point it will begin to negotiate a set of goals to then present to the 69th session.

Article by Matt Simonds ITUC/TUAC