Linkages Update - Editor's Note #208 - 22 May 2013

 M(S)DGs Consultations and Recommendations 

By: Lynn Wagner, Ph.D., Manager, Knowledge Management Projects, IISD Reporting Services <lynn@iisd.org>
   

Key events during the next fortnight will provide the next step in bringing together numerous consultations on the post-2015 development agenda. 

First a little background, if you have not been following the process closely. The eight UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were based on the 2000 Millennium Declaration and agreed upon in 2005, will formally expire in 2015. The UN is leading a broad consultation process to create a new, post-2015 development framework, and to do so in an inclusive manner. This process, which began in 2012, includes, inter alia: a UN Task Team to initiate work and provide system-wide support; a High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons (HLP) to evaluate the current framework and consider the post-2015 agenda; and a series of global thematic consultations and national dialogues, followed by leaders' meetings to consider the results of the consultations. The report of the HLP is due to be handed over to the UN Secretary-General on 30 May, following which UN Member States will be briefed on the Panel's recommendations.

At the same time, the UN General Assembly has convened an intergovernmental, open working group (OWG) responsible for designing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), based on the outcome of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20). The third meeting of the OWG opened today, 22 May 2013, at UN Headquarters in New York. This meeting will consider the specific themes of food security and nutrition, sustainable agriculture, desertification, land degradation and drought, and water and sanitation. This meeting will set the tone for how further themes are considered during OWG meetings between now and February 2014. The OWG will also consider, inter alia: employment and decent work for all, social protection, youth, education and culture; health and population dynamics; sustained and inclusive economic growth, macroeconomic policy questions and infrastructure development; energy; means of implementation; global partnership for achieving sustainable development; human rights, the right to development, and global governance; sustainable cities and human settlements and sustainable transport; sustainable consumption and production (including chemicals and wastes); climate change and disaster risk reduction; oceans and seas; forests; biodiversity; and promoting equality, including social equity, gender equality and women's empowerment.

Now that the HLP recommendations and global thematic consultations are coming to an end, and the OWG process is delving into a series of thematic issues, many voices are beginning to address the need for coordination and possibly convergence of these myriad processes. For example, during the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Meeting on Integrating the Social, Economic and Environmental Dimensions of Sustainable Development, which this issue of Linkages Update highlights, Deputy-Secretary General Jan Eliasson told participants that “Sustainable development provides a conceptual framework for our work ahead. That is why it is at the core of the post-2015 development agenda.”

This statement presents a strategy on how the two needs – development goals to pick up where the MDGs leave off, and international goals on sustainable development as set out by Rio+20 – could become one. But the process of setting these “M(S)DGs” will traverse unfamiliar territory for both the sustainable development and development communities. Policy makers will need mapping and information-filtering assistance, to help them find relevant pieces of information on both processes as well as for help in figuring out how to put the pieces together. Our reporting from the conferences where these issues are discussed, and our knowledge management work to track developments related to both streams of input, seek to provide some of the pieces necessary to put the international M(S)DG puzzle together. We welcome your comments on the missing (and found) pieces and the road towards 2015.