Upon expiration of the current Millennium Development Goals in 2015, the new “sustainable development goals” to be set at the international level were the subject of recent web-based consultations with global civil society conducted by the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS). The consultation, which took place in December 2012 and January 2013, via the World We Want 2015 platform, polled over 800 large and small organizations to inform the UN High-level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda (HLP). In light of the outcomes of the Rio+20 conference (June 2012), the survey posed 24 “framing questions” along two essential themes: (1) the shape and content of a post-2015 development framework, and (2) partnership and accountability for development.

On 25 January 2013, NGLS released the 39-page summary report of its on-line civil society consultation ahead of the HLP meeting, convening in Monrovia, Liberia, from 30 January–2 February 2013. The report reveals that civil society respondents were nearly in consensus on the need to create a flexible, global-development framework that can be adjusted to accommodate regional, national and local needs and priorities. Many organizations also emphasized the need for integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development (economic, social, and environmental) in a universal manner. However, according to the respondents, these three dimensions are not sufficient in themselves.

Like Habitat International Coalition (HIC), the participating organizations insisted on human rights among the post-2015 development criteria. Some advocating a “holistic, rights-based approach” to the new development framework with foundational principles of equality, equity, nondiscrimination and inclusive participation. A human rights grounding, some argued, rests on permanent obligations, not subject to expiration within the timeframe of any particular campaign. Stakeholder participation formed another common theme among respondents, many of whom called for meaningful inclusion, especially of poor and marginalized communities, through the exercise of human rights to participation, freedom of peaceful assembly, expression and association. These were principles severely compromised in the Rio+20 process.

Consistent with the human rights approach, HIC joined other organizations insisting on accountability of stakeholders and developments actors, in particular, states, governments and the private sector. By way of example, HIC pointed out that prevailing practices and policies such as forced evictions and corruption in development processes (e.g., public procurement, infrastructure installations and megaprojects) only deepen poverty and violate the rights that should be standard in any future development goals.

Echoing the voices and current trends in specific fields of development, including FAO’s development of a new Agenda for Action to address food insecurity in protracted crises, HIC and fellow civil organizations called for the post-2015 development framework to address the root causes of poverty and unsustainable development. Several respondents affirmed that any new approach should seek to measure development and human well-being in a more integral way. The NGLS report also shows that civil society respondents specified financial reform, environmental protection, job creation and education among the continuing and growing urgencies on the future’s integrated development efforts.

Further reading:

UN-NGLS Civil Society Consultation for the High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda

World We Want 2015 Consultation Website]