II. Qs on the shape of a post-2015 development framework:
5. How should a new framework address the causes of poverty?
Based on the new conceptual framework on the causes of maldevelopment I plead be arrived at by consensus, the post 2015 framework will importantly have to work on deconstructing neoliberal globalization --the latest incarnation of raw capitalism. Why? Because it is not about the alleviation of poverty (much less about the chance of eradicating it); it is about a quantum reduction of disparity the world over --among and within countries. It is about working out new mechanisms of redistribution of wealth and power. And such a redistribution will only come through empowerment and social mobilization from below; with people going from having voice to exerting influence. I worry that all the good intentions of the UN to address the structural causes of poverty in the conceptual framework will lead to another 10 years of failure if it does not politicize this issue. The rich have no intentions to give up their power and privileges; non-violent counter-power has to be organized and applied. Dialogue has to become a dialogue of equals.
6. How should a new framework address resilience to crises?
Ultimately, the common denominator of most of the man-made crises can be attributed to the excesses of capitalism. Decisive steps must be taken by the new framework to foster the social mobilization needed to make sure effective disparity reduction measures are launched nationally and internationally. [ Internationally, this means giving accredited NGOs a seat, voice and vote in UN and in government deliberations. Environmental crises have both natural and man-made causes. As Rio and Rio+20 have shown us, we can effectively address the latter. The new framework must depart from this premise and thus, as a minimum, incorporate Rio+20 recommendations.
7. How should a new framework address the dimensions of economic growth, equity, social equality and environmental sustainability? Is an overall focus on poverty eradication sufficiently broad to capture the range of sustainable development issues?
The economic growth model has been shown to be unsustainable, mostly (but not only) on environmental grounds. Does the new framework have an option not to deemphasize economic growth as the main development goal? It actually needs to denounce it in no uncertain terms.
Reaching equity and social equality inevitably points to the fact that both need the processes of empowerment and social mobilization I insisted-upon earlier.
For environmental sustainability, the roadmap has already been worked-on by the experts in Rio and Rio+20 so that the new framework has to adopt its recommendations.
As said, the focus ought not to be on poverty eradication, but on disparity reduction which has connotations for urgently needed actions both in rich and in poor countries including changes in many, if not most, aspects of ODA.
The disparity reduction approach is necessary, but not sufficient to capture the range of sustainable development issues. Rio+20 is clear about this.
8. What should be the architecture of the next framework? What is the role of the SDGs in a broader post-2015 framework? How to account for qualitative progress?
The broader architecture of the next framework must absolutely be based on the human rights framework. Enough of lip service. It is time for deeds (related, nothing less, than to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to the UN Charter). From now on, we have to look at the development process from the perspective of claim holders and duty bearers in their dialectic relationship. This language must be adopted and both groups have to be made more confident and assertive in their respective roles, i.e., claim holders placing concrete demands/staking claims and duty bearers abiding by UN Covenants, Conventions and General Comments. The concept of progressive realization is another one to be given center stage.
The role of the Sustainable Development Goals is also key. We only have one planet! Heed the recommendations from Rio!
Also related to the architecture, there will have to be a global UN body with executive powers following up on the implementation of the new framework. (The MDGs did not really have this; it was left to countries to apply them; there was no global accountability). This body must be endowed with funding. It must have some kind of an executive ombudsperson role on issues of implementation and must work towards influencing international financing mechanisms being made available.
To account for qualitative progress, yearly benchmarks have to be set by each country (especially for the poorest districts/municipalities) based on processes that must be implemented en route to the progressive realization of the different human rights. Civil society organizations are to be appointed as watch dogs for the achievement of these benchmarks; they need to receive funds specially earmarked for this.
9. Should (social, economic, and environmental) drivers and enablers of poverty reduction and sustainable development, such as components of inclusive growth, also be included as goals?
The word enablers is a rather vague one. So is inclusive growth. I had already suggested a) that we need to deemphasize economic growth as the main development goal, b) that the selection of outcome goals is likely to be less useful than the use, inclusion and of yearly processes-achievement benchmarks, and c) that disparity reduction, and not poverty reduction, is the term to be used from now on.
Indeed, the three drivers mentioned in the question need to be tackled --but absolutely not forgetting a fourth one, namely the political driver. Each is necessary, but not sufficient. [The UN being non-political is to be understood in terms of non-political-partisan, but, by God, it needs to act more decisively on issues political in nature it strongly stands for; therefore, when needed, calling a spade a spade. Some agencies do it more that others].
10. What time horizon should we set for the next phase in the global development agenda (e.g., 10, 15, 25 years, or a combination)?
I am more inclined for five years with yearly-interval benchmarks as yardsticks of progressive realization. Yearly achievements/shortcomings can thus be assessed and adjustments made accordingly, as needed, in a participatory manner. With the world changing as fast as it does, I am sure that major adjustments are justified every five years --at least at the country level.
11. What principles and criteria should guide the choice of a new set of goals?
The human rights principles of non-retrogression, universality and inalienability, indivisibility, interdependence and interrelatedness, equality and non-discrimination, participation and inclusion, and accountability and rule of law are, once and for all, to guide the new framework. The assessment of these principles being respected is to be built-in into assessing annual benchmarks.
The main criterion that must go with this is for countries to be mandated to participatorily draw-up long-term and annual plans for the progressive realization of human rights Human rights are all closely related to the development process. (Such plans could be a requirement for ODA as well). The new framework must demand these progressive realization plans be drawn up.
This thematic discussion was led by FAO and WFP in collaboration with “The World We Want”.
The consultation was facilitated by the Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)