By: Patricia Chaves, Senior Sustainable Development Officer UNDESA – Division for Sustainable Development
Kenya and Ireland to Lead Intergovernmental Consultations
The United Nations is preparing to embark on the challenging journey to define an ambitious, inclusive, integrated and transformative post 2015 development agenda to be adopted by a Summit of Heads of State and Government in September 2015.
The Permanent Representatives of Kenya and Ireland to the United Nations, two very skillful and seasoned diplomats, have been appointed by the President of the General Assembly as co-facilitators to lead “open, inclusive and transparent” consultations on the new agenda. In the United Nations context, these words carry high expectations of clear modalities of participation, ample opportunities for exchanges of views and commitment to reach outcomes by consensus. Ownership from all UN Member States of the outcome of this intergovernmental process will be fundamental for the successful impact of the new agenda. As any veteran in UN affairs will attest, this is not an easy task.
The aim: an agenda to ensure the eradication of poverty and
the achievement of sustainable development by 2030.
The co-facilitators have prepared a “food for thought” document, outlining their proposals for modalities and dates for the intergovernmental negotiations, working methods, and scope for the substantive consultations. The co-facilitators are also encouraging Member States to offer proposals on themes for the interactive dialogues to be held during the three day Summit in 2015.
It is the aim of the process to reach agreement on an ambitious and transformative agenda which would ensure the eradication of poverty and the achievement of sustainable development by 2030.
It is also envisioned that the outcome document to be agreed by Member States during the negotiations and which Heads of State and Government will adopt at the September 2015 Summit will have four main components: 1. A declaration; 2. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), targets and indicators; 3. Means of Implementation and an enhanced Global Partnership; and 4. A framework for reviewing progress and monitoring implementation.
The Secretary General has been requested to prepare a report synthetizing the full range of inputs from intergovernmental processes since the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012 or Rio+20. The Secretary General synthesis report, which will be considered as an important input of the negotiations, offers his vision of six elements to help “frame and reinforce the universal, integrated and transformative nature of a sustainable development agenda and ensure that the ambition expressed by Member States in the outcome of the Open Working Group on the sustainable development goals translates, communicates and is delivered at the country level”.
There have been concerns that the 17 Goals and 169 targets that the Open Working Group agreed to propose to the General Assembly could present challenges in practical and actual implementation at the country and global levels. The Secretary General hopes that his six proposed elements (people, dignity, prosperity, justice, partnership and planet, in no particular order), as indicated in the figure below, will serve as an integrated “set of principles, that applied together, can bring about a truly universal transformation of sustainable development”.
What to Expect in the Coming Months?
The proposed schedule of intergovernmental consultations for 2015 is quite intense. Sessions have been arranged to take place sometimes twice a month from January to July 2015 at the UN Headquarters. A first draft of the outcome document will be shared with delegations in early January 2015.
Two informal consultations to elicit further views from Member States have been scheduled on December 3 and 16, 2014. Further clarity from delegations on organizational and substantive aspects of the negotiations will be expected during these sessions.
Arrangements may need to be advanced to ensure close interaction with other processes having a bearing in the post 2015 intergovernmental negotiations. A Third Conference on Financing for Development is scheduled to take place in July 2015 with expectations that financial needs, requirements and sources to implement the envisioned sustainable development goals will be addressed. Some countries have indicated their interest to address all means of implementation for the post 2015 development agenda at that Conference, which may include the issue of technology facilitation and the shaping of a future Global Partnership for enhanced international cooperation.
Negotiations on a climate change agreement to be decided in Paris in late 2015 will also be unfolding during next year. Some member states have expressed their interest for the post 2015 negotiations to follow up with the climate change process to allow for synergies and complementarities between the two processes while respecting the distinct character of the climate change negotiations.
The UN system is ready to support the intergovernmental negotiations when technical materials, dedicated advice and specialized briefings are requested by Member States to facilitate their discussions and agreements.
For now, comprehensive preparations by members of delegations, civil society actors and the UN system are taking place to start negotiations in full force in January 2015. The world is watching and expecting robust political will to advance an ambitious and transformational agenda.
About the Author: Patricia Chaves is currently a Senior Sustainable Development Officer at the United Nations Division for Sustainable Development. She has 20 years of in-depth knowledge and experience in international policy development and policy making. As a member of the UN Secretariat’s team servicing the Rio+20 Conference (Brazil – 2012), Ms. Chaves was instrumental in the conceptualization and organization of the Partnerships Forum at that Conference which is considered the largest conference ever convened by the United Nations.
Before joining the United Nations, Ms. Chaves was a career Foreign Service officer of the government of Costa Rica.