In my last two posts on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), I have tried to point out that the global community must tackle broader issues that are stalling existing multilateral processes. Without addressing issues such as the urgent need for a more inclusive architecture for global governance (including for global trade and finance), global inequality, and greater coherence at the global level, mutual lack of trust will continue to obstruct new processes as it does existing ones.
The High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda is ideally placed address these broader issues – it is, after all, a panel of global leaders and thinkers entrusted with the task of coming up with an effective and workable global development agenda for the future.
However, although the Panel takes note of these problems in its draft report (which will be presented to the UN Secretary General in May), it fails to explore them in any meaningful way or come up with convincing solutions or recommendations.
The Panel’s draft report rightly recognizes that “global governance must also become more legitimate and effective” and that “revitalized global governance structures, a fairer trading regime and a reformed international finance and monetary system are all elements necessary to reach sustainable solutions”. It does not, however, propose any radical changes that will make this revitalization and reform happen.
For instance, the report recognizes that those MDGs that were “less successful,” such as MDG 7 (ensure environmental sustainability) and MDG 8 (develop a global partnership for development) should continue to be priorities for attention in future “Global Development Goals”. But it fails to consider how rich countries can be held accountable in future for keeping their end of the bargain.
The focus, once again, is primarily on changes at the national level – for instance, when discussing inequality, and the need to make institutions fair, accountable and accessible.
The report lists three ways of achieving greater coherence in international processes:
• change the governance of the bodies that make international rules and decisions;
• try and make sure that global agreements outside the post-2015 framework take into account the impact of their decisions on development; and
• adopt whole-of-government coordination at the national level, so that each country takes an integrated approach in its international discussions.
But then it goes on to discuss examples of how the third option, coordination at the national level, can be made to work. The first option, of changing the governance of international bodies, is not explored further.
The last thing the world needs is another “to-do” list for developing countries policed by rich countries, while the latter continue to flout commitments and promises.
It can only be hoped that comments from developing country governments will lead to the infusion of more concrete and enforceable “to-dos” for rich countries, and address the need for broader reform in the global governance architecture, before the report is handed to the Secretary-General.