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Published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
in collaboration with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
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Volume 208 Number 1 - Friday, 22 February 2013
SUMMARY OF THE PUBLIC DIALOGUE AND LEADERSHIP MEETING ON ADDRESSING INEQUALITIES IN THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA
18-19 FEBRUARY 2013

The Public Dialogue and Leadership Meeting on Addressing Inequalities in the Post-2015 Development Agenda took place from 18-19 February 2013 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Co-hosted by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UN Women and the Governments of Denmark and Ghana, these meetings were the culmination of the Global Thematic Consultation on Addressing Inequalities in the Post-2015 Development Agenda and were held to review the final report and findings of the consultation.

The public dialogue, held on the first day, included three interactive discussions that focused on: the impacts of inequalities; the different dimensions of inequality that should be of greatest concern, the synergies among them, and the common factors that drive and sustain them; and the most effective ways to address inequalities and their driving factors in a new development agenda, as well as ways to assess and measure progress on reducing inequalities in the years ahead.

The public dialogue was attended by 148 participants. In addition, about 1400 people visited the websites where the dialogue was webcast, with many submitting questions via Twitter and email.

The results of the dialogue were presented to the leadership meeting that was held on the second day. The leadership meeting was attended by 42 high-level participants, including Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, and about 100 other delegates. The leadership meeting, which included a High-Level Roundtable on Addressing Inequalities in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, produced a Chairpersons’ summary statement

This report summarizes the presentations and discussions during the public dialogue and leadership meeting.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE GLOBAL CONSULTATIONS ON THE POST-2015 AGENDA

At the High-level Plenary Meeting of the 65th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) held in New York in September 2010, governments called for accelerating progress towards achieving the MDGs, and also for thinking on ways to advance the UN development agenda beyond 2015. In response, the UN undertook several initiatives aimed at developing a post-2015 development agenda, including: setting up a UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda; launching a High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda; appointing a Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning; and launching national and global thematic consultations.

In addition to the above, other processes that will feed into the post-2015 discussions include: the work of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, a 30-member group mandated by the outcome document of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20) to prepare a proposal on Sustainable Development Goals for consideration by UNGA at its 68th session; regional consultations by the Regional Economic Commissions, which will result in a report on regional perspectives on the post-2015 development agenda; inputs from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, set up by the UN Secretary-General in August 2012 to support global problem-solving in ten critical areas of sustainable development; and input from businesses and the private sector through the UN Global Compact.

In order to ensure coherence across these different work streams, an informal senior coordination group of four Assistant Secretary-Generals (ASGs) has been put in place, which includes the ASG for Economic Development at the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), ASG for Development Policy at the UN Development Programme (UNDP), ASG for Policy and Programme at UN Women, and the Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning. A “One Secretariat” has also been established to facilitate coordination and coherence across the work streams.

UN System Task Team: The UN System Task Team (UNTT), which includes more than 60 UN entities and agencies, and other international organizations, was set up to assess ongoing efforts within the UN system, consult all relevant stakeholders and define a system-wide vision and roadmap to support the deliberations on the post-2015 UN development agenda. UNTT presented its report, Realizing the Future We Want for All, in June 2012, calling for an integrated policy approach to ensure inclusive economic development, social progress and environmental sustainability, and a development agenda that responds to the public’s aspirations for a world free of want and fear. The report will serve as a reference for further broader and inclusive consultations on the post-2015 development agenda.

UNTT, which is co-chaired by DESA and UNDP, continues to provide technical support to the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals. It also aims to support the multi-stakeholder consultations being led by Member States on a post-2015 global development agenda by providing analytical inputs, expertise and outreach.

High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda: This Panel was launched by the UN Secretary-General in June 2012. Co-chaired by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom, it includes leaders from civil society, the private sector and governments. The Panel, which reports to the UN Secretary-General and is not an intergovernmental process, is expected to publish its report in May 2013, outlining its vision and recommendations on a post-2015 global development agenda. This report will feed into the Secretary-General’s report to Member States at the Special Event on MDGs in September 2013.

Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning: In June 2012, Amina J. Mohammed of Nigeria was appointed as ASG and Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning to coordinate, on behalf of the Secretary-General, the process of developing and building consensus among Member States, UN actors and key external actors. Mohammed also serves as ex-officio member on the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons, represents the Secretary-General in the post-2015 debate and advises him on related matters.

National and Global Thematic Consultations: The UN Development Group (UNDG) initiated national and global consultations on the post-2015 development agenda aimed at bringing together a broad range of stakeholders to review progress on the MDGs and discuss the options for a new framework. The national consultations are taking place online and offline in more than 60 developing and developed countries, with national stakeholders exchanging inputs and their inputs for a shared global vision of “The Future We Want.”

At the global level, UNDG initiated 11 multi-stakeholder thematic consultations on: inequalities; education; health; governance; conflict and fragility; growth and employment; environmental sustainability; hunger, nutrition and food security; population dynamics; energy; and water.

Each thematic consultation is co-convened by two or more UN agencies with support by governments, working together with representatives from civil society, the private sector and academia. The consultations, which seek online contributions at the “World We Want 2015” website, aim to explore the role each theme could play in a new framework, the different ways in which they can be best addressed, and the linkages among them. A high-level meeting will be held for each thematic area, to consider the results and recommendations of the consultations.

In addition, a survey called “MY World” allows citizens to vote online and offline for their development priorities, and acts as the public entry point to the post-2015 development process.

Global Thematic Consultation on Addressing Inequalities in the Post-2015 Development Agenda:The consultation on addressing inequalities was co-convened by UN Women and UNICEF with support by the Governments of Denmark and Ghana. An Advisory Group for the inequalities consultation, drawn from civil society organizations, UN agencies and academic institutions, provided guidance and contributions to the process.

Under the consultation, opinions and evidence were sought through three activities: an open call for papers issued in July 2012 that resulted in nearly 300 proposals and over 175 reports; a literature review of existing evidence on addressing inequalities, with a particular focus on options for measurement; and online engagement with multiple stakeholders – mainly from civil society and developing countries – through a series of ten e-discussions on various aspects of inequalities. The topics covered in the e-discussions were: gender; gender-based violence; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people; disabilities; economic inequalities; indigenous peoples; young people; urban issues; minority groups; and measurement of inequalities. The synthesis report of this consultation, called Addressing Inequalities, Synthesis Report of Global Public Consultation, was released on 7 February 2013.

The culmination of this thematic consultation is the public dialogue and leadership meeting convened to discuss the results and findings of the discussions on how to address inequalities in the post-2015 development agenda. 

REPORT OF THE PUBLIC DIALOGUE ON 18 FEBRUARY

OPENING AND PRESENTATION OF THE INEQUALITIES CONSULTATION

The co-chairs of the Advisory Group for the inequalities consultation, Richard Morgan, UNICEF, and Saraswathi Menon, UN Women, opened the meeting.

Welcoming the participants, Christian Friis Bach, Minister for Development Cooperation, Denmark, noted that inequalities have not been addressed adequately by the MDGs. Highlighting the need to address inequalities to secure a sustainable future and for a human rights-based approach, he called for: investments in education and health; redistributive measures; and building of social safety nets. Friis Bach further observed that increased equity could create economic growth and stronger societies, make better use of capital, and inspire innovation.

Presenting the findings of the public consultation, Menon said the broad-based process revealed that people feel strongly about inequalities, and that there are similar patterns of inequalities in all countries. Calling for a universal approach, she said inequalities diminish the lives of all people, not just of the deprived, and affect the potential of a society. She listed economic, social, political and environmental barriers to addressing inequalities, noting that these barriers often reinforce each other. Menon said the consultation noted the need for transformational change, including affirmative action and special measures aimed at zero discrimination, and a universal framework to provide a basis for accountability.

Following this presentation, discussions took place under three interactive discussions on: why inequalities matter; the different dimensions of inequality that should be of greatest concern; and the most effective ways to address inequalities and their driving factors in a new development agenda. These discussions are summarized below.

PART I: WHY DO INEQUALITIES MATTER? WHAT IMPACTS DO THEY HAVE FOR BOTH SOCIETIES AND INDIVIDUALS?

The first part of the interactive discussion was moderated by Menon and Morgan. Addressing the impact of inequalities on societies, Alexander Cobham, Save the Children, observed that inequalities reduce the prospects for sustainable growth. He further highlighted the impacts on individuals, such as the impact of parents’ income on children’s psychosocial progress and economic achievement. He underlined that tax is a powerful tool for challenging structural inequalities.

Dzodzi Tsikata, Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research, University of Ghana, highlighted that in developing countries in general and in Ghana in particular, inequalities deprive large sections of society of their citizenship in terms of access to, inter alia, education, healthcare, water, sanitation and productive resources. She emphasized that inequalities create insecurities and do not self-correct.

Lars Engberg-Pedersen, Danish Institute for International Studies, said globalization and the spread of information and communication technologies could present a rare opportunity in history to address inequalities and make the 21st century a time when humanism prevails. Noting that the World Economic Forum in Davos recognized inequalities as the biggest threat to a stable society, he underlined the collective benefit for society if everyone is given a chance to realize their potential.

Nicole Bidegain, Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era, said inequalities are the consequence of a system of production that subordinates the wellbeing of people to profits. She highlighted the need to: address root causes; discuss the relation between growth and inequalities; and address elements related to ethics, justice and redistribution. She said political will is necessary to address inequalities.

Christina Chang, Catholic Agency For Overseas Development, listed ethics, effectiveness and efficiency as three generic reasons for addressing inequalities, and underlined the need to address the systemic and structural causes of inequalities.

Rosa Lizarde, Feminist Task Force of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, highlighted the interlinkages between different forms of inequality, particularly gender inequality, which she said should not be subsumed within the larger discussion on inequality. She highlighted the importance of addressing gender-based violence, and said the report of the consultation should be treated as a living document and part of an ongoing dialogue on inequalities.

Statements from the panelists were followed by questions and comments from the floor and the online audience, on, inter alia: inequalities of specific groups; the normative framework to address inequalities; goals, targets and indicators; the role of markets; the need to make the potential global goal on inequalities easy to communicate; the role of education in tackling inequality; and the importance of targets and indicators to assess progress.

Responding to the comments, Engberg-Pedersen noted the importance of ensuring that the voices of vulnerable groups are heard and cautioned against assuming that all markets cause inequalities, citing experience in Denmark that showed that with strong political interventions, markets could be a force for good. He highlighted the need for a stand-alone goal on inequality, adding that a goal based on the Gini coefficient, a commonly used measure of inequality, could be difficult to get through politically.

Stressing the importance of discussing inequalities within the UN, Bidegain highlighted the need for economic growth that creates jobs and does not deplete the planet’s resources. She cautioned against overemphasizing quantitative indicators and called for a ‘new way of doing policy’ based on a comprehensive approach that includes qualitative indicators and accounts for ‘intersected’ identities. She also noted the need to move the discussion beyond access to education to include the quality of education, and highlighted the importance of addressing ways to increase public financing to achieve the post-2015 goals.

Tsikata emphasized the importance of recognizing the role of the state in addressing inequalities, noting that even social policies have been underpinned by markets in the past. Cobham noted the need to invest in data collection and remarked that the Gini coefficient is ‘the enemy of communication.’

Morgan cautioned against focusing too much on goals and targets, highlighting the role of policies and legislation to limit the harmful behavior of people and corporations. He said the nature of discrimination varies from one society to another, and that an ongoing ‘situation analysis’ is needed to understand not only who is worse off, but why and what needs to be done. Noting that some marginalized sections of society do not form part of household surveys and censuses, he said lack of data should not become an excuse for inaction.

PART II: WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT DIMENSIONS OF INEQUALITY THAT SHOULD MOST CONCERN US? WHAT ARE THE SYNERGIES BETWEEN THEM, AND THE COMMON FACTORS THAT DRIVE AND SUSTAIN THEM?

This part of the interactive discussion was moderated by Layla Saad, MDG Achievement Fund, and Mac Darrow, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Saad introduced the panel and Darrow encouraged an exchange of views on the following aspects of inequalities: vertical versus horizontal; in-country versus global; absolute versus relative; and inequality of opportunities versus inequality of outcomes. He also invited views on intersecting inequalities and the role of human rights.

Myrna Cunningham Kain, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, emphasized the need to recognize both the collective and individual rights of indigenous peoples, taking into account intersections and the cultural dimension of inequalities.

Assefa Bequele, African Child Policy Forum, called for contextualization of social exclusion and inequality, and highlighted place of residence, ethnicity and age as drivers of inequality. He urged universalization and non-discrimination in the provision of social services, and putting children at the heart of the post-2015 development agenda.

Noting that there is no longer a possibility for simplistic goals, Mariama Williams Kamara, South Centre, queried whether the MDGs have “picked the low-hanging fruit.” She stressed the need to focus on systemic and structural issues, and called for clarity in looking at intersecting inequalities.

Bani Dugal, Baha’i International Community, emphasized the need for a better definition of equality, and for change in the attitudes and mindsets of people at the community level. She noted that addressing inequalities would need more than skillful methodologies and technocratic solutions.

Usu Mallya, Tanzania Gender Networking Programme, highlighted the need for closer attention to the impact of globalization and privatization on inequalities. She noted that the global economic crisis resulted in increased competition for resources such as land, water and minerals in Tanzania, exacerbating inequalities. She asked participants to consider how to challenge and transform global governance structures so that the priorities of the marginalized become the basis of discussions at the national, regional and global levels.

Kate McInturff, Social Watch, highlighted gender-based violence as a barrier to equality, hampering political participation, education and economic wellbeing of women and girls. She said complexity of data collection should not be a barrier to addressing inequality and stressed the importance of disseminating data in meaningful ways.

In the discussion that followed, participants raised concerns related to, inter alia: the fact that human rights have not always gone hand-in-hand with equality; insufficient emphasis on specific groups other than women; indigenous peoples’ sovereignty; and ways to ensure that governments understand the importance of disaggregated data.

Kain highlighted new patterns of exclusion, including indigenous peoples’ lack of control over natural resources and criminalization of indigenous peoples’ demands. She observed that while violence against women is universal, it needs context-specific solutions. She also noted the study on indigenous people with disability, prepared by the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Mallya emphasized the need to address economic growth and human rights as one. Kamara highlighted climate change as a threat factor contributing to inequalities and said this cannot be resolved by the market.

PART III: WHAT ARE LIKELY TO BE THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAYS FORWARD TO ADDRESS INEQUALITIES AND THE FACTORS THAT DRIVE THEM, AS PART OF A NEW DEVELOPMENT AGENDA? HOW WILL WE BE ABLE TO ASSESS AND MEASURE PROGRESS ON REDUCING INEQUALITIES IN THE YEARS AHEAD?

This part of the interactive discussion was moderated by Alfonso Barragues, UN Population Fund, and Anuradha Seth, UNDP. Barragues listed three main elements of a rights-based approach to addressing inequalities: legal frameworks with entitlements of equality and non-discrimination; institutional protection against inequalities; and empowerment measures that enable stakeholders to claim their rights.

Seth listed five different proposals for addressing inequalities in the post-2015 development agenda that came out of the consultation process: having a specific post-2015 goal on inequality; reflecting inequality in all the other goals for the post-2015 period; equality weighting of indicators to measure progress with a specific focus on the most excluded; including specific targets for the poorest and most excluded to ensure that they benefit from overall aggregate progress; and establishing absolute targets for universal coverage and access, where none of the post-2015 goals would be considered as achieved without achieving zero, or near zero, targets for inequality.

Ib Petersen, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Denmark, emphasized the need for global backing for rights-based approaches, and green and inclusive economic growth. He felt a specific goal for inequalities would be politically sensitive.

Regina Adutwum, National Development Planning Commission, Ghana, said addressing inequalities continues to be a priority for Ghana, and cited the Ghana National Health Insurance Scheme as an example of the policies and programmes that have been implemented. Among the lessons learned, she identified challenges in the design and implementation of ideas.

Ming Hwee Chong, Baha’i International Community, defined inequalities in the context of the quality of relations between individuals, communities and nations, and called for changes at the fundamental level of thought, attitude and values.

Yasmin Hussein, Amnesty International, noted that a number of international agreements relating to inequalities are already in place, and could be linked to development. On the question of Muslim countries and the extent to which they are challenging inequalities, she said each country is different and should be assessed for its own situation.

Ashok Kumar, National Confederation of Dalit Organisations, India, said an ‘internal transformation’ was necessary for communities that have been marginalized over several years and not had a chance to raise their voice. He called for enabling processes that give such communities the chance to voice their own concerns.

In the discussion that followed, participants commented on the high proportion of the marginalized among jailed populations, and queried the likelihood of controversial issues such as sexual and reproductive rights being included in the post-2015 framework. A participant noted the role of some global institutions in creating inequalities, saying leaving this aspect out of the discussion on inequalities would be akin to “mopping the floor with the tap turned fully on.” On Petersen’s comment that a goal on inequalities might be politically sensitive, she said an alternative could be to seek a goal to address discrimination.

Summing up the panel discussion, Barragues recognized the need to ensure the engagement of members of marginalized communities, and strengthen the discussion on inequality and adolescents. Stressing a human rights-based approach as central to the post-2015 architecture, he further emphasized the need to make principles of equality contextually relevant, and ensure public participation, social accountability and well-developed monitoring.

CONCLUSIONS OF THE PUBLIC DIALOGUE

In the concluding session of the public dialogue, Naila Kabeer, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and member of the Advisory Group on the inequalities consultation, presented her perceptions of the dialogue. She noted that real-life markets do not conform to textbooks, as they exclude the “have-nots,” and cautioned against leaving certain aspects of life to market forces. She said responses to inequalities are determined by whether they are perceived in the context of injustice or loss of productivity.

Menon highlighted elements on which she felt progress was made during the public dialogue: intersectionality; universality of concerns; and recognition of the fact that inequalities impact society as a whole. She noted the following elements need further elaboration: discrimination, which was difficult to measure and capture; and the choice and range of options to address inequalities, including the space within which governments can make these choices globally and domestically.

Richard Morgan said the Advisory Group on the inequalities consultation would convene following the conclusion of the public dialogue, to brainstorm on how to go further and align better with social movements. He said a report of the public dialogue will be made available, and messages from the dialogue will be delivered to the leadership meeting the next day. He proposed linkages between the consultations on inequalities and the other ten thematic consultations, the national consultations, and other related upcoming meetings such as the High-Level Meeting of the UN General Assembly on Disability.

REPORT OF THE LEADERSHIP MEETING ON 19 FEBRUARY

OPENING REMARKS

Carsten Staur, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Denmark to the UN, facilitated the leadership meeting.

Anthony Lake, Executive Director, UNICEF, emphasized that addressing inequalities is not only a choice, but also a moral and practical necessity that speaks to the world’s sense of justice and can spur economic growth and lead to more cost-effective outcomes. He said failing women and girls, children and persons with disabilities is not only unjust, but also denies societies the benefit of their contribution. Noting that investment in equity carries additional results that outweigh additional costs, he emphasized the need not only to ask what growth can do for equity, but also what equity can do for growth.

Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director, UN Women, said dialogue and inclusion must be at the center of development efforts, and engaging people in development is a collective duty rather than procedural formality. Noting that women constitute more than half of humanity, she said progress in the post-2015 period will depend on the extent to which women are engaged and heard, and discrimination and violence against women are ended. She said the post-2015 period is an opportunity to address some of the shortcomings of the MDGs, as well as the underlying causes of poverty at national and global levels.

Friis Bach said inequality has many faces and amounts to unacceptable denial of universal human rights. Noting that addressing inequalities matters for all and not just for the “bottom billion,” he emphasized the benefits of a more stable economy, cost effectiveness in poverty eradication and social cohesion. Noting that no low-income fragile state has reached a single MDG, he emphasized the interconnectedness of peace, security and development. Friis Bach urged framing a new set of goals that would promote sustainable development and ensure the right to a better life for all. 

Paul Victor Obeng, Chairman, National Development Planning Commission, Ghana, highlighted a number of initiatives in Ghana to address inequalities, including: free basic education; school meals and a school uniform programme; the Ghana National Health Insurance Scheme; a ministry for women and children affairs; property rights for widows; steps to reduce maternal mortality through free prenatal care; appointment of a blind person as minister; and livelihood and income support for the poor and the aged. As a result of these actions, he said, Ghana has reduced poverty levels, increased per capita incomes, achieved a high growth rate and made significant progress on the MDGs.

Sarah Cook, Director of the UN Research Institute for Social Development, as member of the inequalities consultation Advisory Group, summarized the main conclusions of the public dialogue that took place on the previous day. Highlighting inequalities as key to the post-2015 development agenda, she highlighted the need to: incorporate targets and indicators on equality across all goals, locating them within a normative framework; and strengthen the links between the social agenda and the global development decision-making process. Cook listed the following priorities: a clear human rights-based normative framework; universalism; transformative rather than incremental measures; coherence of economic and social agendas; and addressing global drivers of inequality. She noted the challenges of framing political goals, complexity of inequalities, and insufficient data.

Jayati Ghosh, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India, as member of the inequalities consultation Advisory Group, highlighted five actions needed to address inequalities: a universal framework; affirmative action; macroeconomic strategies and fiscal policies aimed, for instance, at effective implementation of tax laws; addressing unequal control over natural, productive and financial assets; and addressing inequalities between countries. She noted that several international treaties need reframing to take these considerations on board, and a framework of accountability is necessary to ensure implementation.

HIGH-LEVEL ROUNDTABLE ON ADDRESSING INEQUALITIES IN THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA

At the start of the roundtable discussion, three members of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda made brief statements.

Noting the achievements of Scandinavian countries in combating inequalities over the past 200 years, Gunilla Carlsson, Minister for International Development and Cooperation, Sweden, emphasized the recent rise in inequalities in Sweden, particularly among migrants and young people. She highlighted the need for a global understanding of what drives development as a precondition for addressing inequalities. Noting the benefits of equality on the micro- and macro-economic levels, she called for global discussions, decisions and goals on how to fight inequalities, specifically those related to gender.

Betty Maina, Chief Executive, Kenya Association of Manufacturers, highlighted the growing income inequality between countries, saying that dealing with inequality is a global and national challenge. In addition to access to resources, she highlighted: the contribution of infrastructure such as roads and energy; linkages between economies; and the removal of trade barriers that affect the poor in addressing inequalities.

Recognizing the challenges of defining a unified goal, Andris Piebalgs, European Commissioner for Development, identified three pillars for addressing inequalities: ensuring the basic rights crucial for survival, such as access to food, water, sanitation and basic healthcare; ensuring access to basic education, infrastructure, modern energy services and information; and ensuring fair representation of the population in governance.

Staur invited comments from the roundtable, noting that Chatham House rules would be followed in reporting the discussion and that the identity of speakers would not be revealed.

Elaborating on the role of governments in tackling inequality through redistribution, a developing country participant highlighted investment in the private sector, building a skilled work force and promoting basic health care.

A developed country participant highlighted the role of developed countries in addressing inequalities, saying that although they contribute to developing countries in certain situations, they also take back in many ways. He called for: effecting greater transparency and accountability; enabling civil society to monitor accountability; addressing gender inequalities; and building capacity to get strong institutions and good governance at the national level.

A developing country participant pointed out that a high growth rate for the Gross Domestic Product of his country did not make a significant impact on reducing poverty. Highlighting the importance of the agriculture sector for the poor, he called on governments to consider whether their efforts target poverty, safeguard the poor, and address social protection and gender inequalities.

A member of the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda said the success or failure of the new agenda for development could decide the future of multilateralism. She called for: closer attention to implementation and follow-up; incentives for countries to participate in the agenda; closer coordination among UN agencies; reliable indicators and measures that allow comparisons among countries; and an enabling environment.

A developing country participant highlighted: the link between development and growth, stressing the need to focus on fields of production that will help reduce inequalities; the need for integrated programmes to ensure training, literacy and access to new technologies for women; and the need for setting up mechanisms to hear local voices.

Noting that economic growth does not necessarily result in poverty reduction, another participant from a developing country urged for a comprehensive holistic framework to address multiple inequalities and inclusive sustainable development. 

Another developing country participant: urged focus on the agriculture sector and infrastructure to address inequalities; raised concerns about the cost of institutions; stressed that women must be included when designing budgets; and said that equality is impossible without stability and peace. 

A developing country participant said progress has been made on addressing inequalities since the 1990s, and highlighted the need to safeguard this progress through institutional and legal frameworks. He underlined the role of fiscal policy and budget reforms, and the need to focus on quality rather than quantity in the post-2015 development agenda.

Another participant highlighted the linkages between development and inequalities in Africa, and called for redefining the development paradigm in the region by moving away from reliance on agriculture and extractive sectors, to industrialization.

A developed country participant said equal societies are better societies than unequal societies, with lower crime and teenage pregnancy rates, and longer life expectancy. He called for a goal on inequality, but also for inequalities to be treated as a crosscutting issue for other goals.

A developing country participant highlighted the importance of access to markets and technology, and difficulties in using the Gini coefficient to measure short-term progress.

Describing inequalities as a “global public bad,” a developed country participant urged for the inclusion of inequality into most global goals, highlighted EU directives on discrimination as an example of a legal framework, and encouraged establishing social protection floors.

A representative of an international organization emphasized that post-2015 development goals should not be about averages, and noted his organization’s intention to launch a benchmark for measuring the state of inequality and its efforts in preparing a financial framework for the post-2015 development agenda. He emphasized that climate change and sustainability discussions need to be included in any meaningful discussion on inequality.

Noting the need to integrate inequalities in the post-2015 debate, a participant from a developed country proposed: working on a social protection floor; supporting farmers; improving access to finance and insurance; actively engaging the private sector; and strengthening accountability.

A developing country participant highlighted: the importance of economic growth for poverty reduction and inequality; social protection; access to quality and basic services like education, skills, health, water and sanitation; and clear and effective accountability mechanisms.

A civil society representative called for a global goal on eradicating inequality in the post-2015 framework to better target the poorest.

A developing country participant called for ways to improve local-level development and industrialization in Africa.

A participant from an international development agency called for focus on: children and youth; gender equality; sustainable and inclusive economic growth; and improved transparency and accountability.

A participant from an international organization said the only ingredient lacking in addressing inequality is political will at the national and global levels. He highlighted taxation as the most important tool for addressing inequalities, and called for ending perverse subsidies.

A member of an international organization called for: the 2007 Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to be used in the post-2015 agenda; recognition of indigenous peoples in data collection efforts; collective rights related to assets; and strengthening of traditional institutions, governance systems and mechanisms of participation.

A developed country participant highlighted the power of “zero-based” goals in encouraging political will and focus, and the need to continue to focus on the statistical capacity of countries to generate disaggregated data.

A civil society representative called for the urgent inclusion of minority issues in the post-2015 agenda. He cautioned against creating new inequalities by dividing countries into fragile and non-fragile ones, and urged for focus on “fragile spaces” instead.

A representative of an international organization called for an urgent response to the zero-hunger goal and stressed the need to think about how to realize the right to development.

A participant from civil society emphasized: inclusive economic development; social security networks, in particular basic public services for the elderly; and the need to translate international consensus to international cooperation.

Another civil society participant urged a human rights-based framework and approach in tackling inequality, poverty, exclusion and discrimination against persons with disability. He proposed: gathering indicators on persons with disability in all relevant areas; creating inclusive decision-making processes; and including disability issues in international cooperation efforts though bilateral and multilateral projects.

A speaker from an international organization reiterated the importance of linking social and economic dimensions in the post-2015 development agenda. She further stressed the need: for an appropriate policy framework to ensure that the benefits of growth are spread; to consider environmental sustainability; and to see development as a partnership between developed and developing countries.

Another speaker from an international organization stressed the need for human rights literacy so that rights can be translated to concrete demands, cautioned against using statistics and aggregates on marginalized people, and called for an equality goal.

A developing country participant highlighted the fragility of the multilateral system and the importance of delivering a workable common agenda that delivers on the ground. She highlighted the challenges of making the resulting changes irreversible and resilient, and dealing with entrenched poverty and inequality through an “MDG+” approach.

A developing country participant said that while economic growth does not lead to reduction in inequality, reduction in inequality can enhance economic growth.

A participant from an international organization listed four structural drivers of inequality related to employment: access to employment; fair treatment at work; fair rewards; and social protection for people unable to work.

Another participant from an international organization said LGBTI issues had not been addressed during the meeting, and expressed hope that they will be included in the Chairpersons’ summary statement and recommendations to the High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

A participant from an international organization informed the meeting that the consultation on inequalities is part of the broader post-2015 process, with ongoing consultations on other thematic areas and at the national levels, and said that cross-fertilization will be encouraged as much as possible. He also pointed to the challenge of financing post-2015 efforts on “a new footing” and without getting stuck in stale debates.

CHAIRS’ SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

Reflecting on the meeting, Bachelet emphasized a strong role for every government. She noted a rising consensus, good will and understanding that tackling inequality must be at the center of common development. She called for tackling inequalities that trap people in a downward spiral and emphasized the need for universal goals, making inclusion a guiding principle, and zero-tolerance for inequality and deprivation.

Lake presented the Chairpersons’ summary statement. He noted that many interrelated forms of inequalities and their underlying causes need to be addressed in the post-2015 development agenda. He highlighted rising inequality as a key challenge to sustainable development, and noted that inequalities found in the economic, social, political and environmental domains are intertwined and need to be addressed systematically and coherently. Noting that structural inequalities and social exclusion have not been sufficiently addressed, he highlighted that inequalities can be reduced through targeted and transformative policies and actions. Lake further noted the consultation’s recommendation for a strong integration of human rights principles in the post-2015 framework. Emphasizing empowerment and advancement of women as crucial to development and economic growth, he urged promoting gender equality as an integral part of a future set of international development goals. He said transformative change will depend on equity-based social and economic policies, legislation and actions by governments. Concluding, Lake expressed hope that the consensus present at the meeting could be built on, and could go beyond the post-2015 structures toward the creation of a global movement.

Staur informed participants that the final version of the Chairpersons’ summary statement will be made available online and circulated, along with the Addressing Inequalities report, to the High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda and to the other post-2015 global thematic consultations. He then invited the Governments of Ghana and Denmark to make closing remarks.

Obeng thanked the participants and reiterated Ghana’s commitment to address national inequalities. Friis Bach underlined that more equitable societies are stronger, richer, more tolerant, more trusting and happier. He invited participants to take ideas, messages and inspiration back from the meeting to fight inequality and push for a set of ambitious and visionary goals. The meeting was brought to a close at 3.45 pm. 

UPCOMING MEETINGS

Meeting on the Post-2015 Development Agenda Consultation on Water: This meeting is being organized as part of the Post-2015 Development Agenda Consultation on Water: Water Resources Management, and Wastewater Management and Water Quality. The thematic consultation on water is led by UN-Water, UNICEF and UNDESA, with the support of the Governments of the Netherlands and Switzerland. This meeting will provide a platform for participants to engage in more profound technical and political debate, and synthesize the discussions of two of the three streams of the water consultation: water resources management, and wastewater management and water quality, facilitated by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and UN-Habitat/Aquafed, respectively.  dates: 27-28 February 2013 location: Geneva, Switzerland contact: UNECE Secretariat fax: +41-22-917-0107 email: water.consultation@unece.org  www: http://www.unece.org/post_2015_water_consultation_meeting.html

Meeting on the Global Thematic Consultation on Governance in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: As part of the thematic consultation on governance, this meeting will bring together a wide range of stakeholders to discuss and develop suggestions for governance in the post-2015 development agenda. It will also include a leaders’ roundtable discussion. The aim of the thematic consultation on governance, which is led by UNDP and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and co-hosted by the Governments of Germany and South Africa, is to build consensus on how to integrate global, regional, national and sub-national governance and accountability with the intergovernmental process on the post-2015 development agenda.  dates: 28 February to 1 March 2013  location: Johannesburg, South Africa  www: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/node/296607

High-level Leadership Meeting on the Global Thematic Consultation on Health in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: As part of the Global Thematic Consultation on Health in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, this high-level leadership meeting will bring together Member States and civil society to discuss and develop agenda suggestions on health for the post-2015 development agenda. This consultation is co-led by UNICEF and World Health Organization, and co-hosted by the Governments of Botswana and Sweden.  dates: 5-6 March 2013 location: Botswana email: post2015health@who.int www: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/health

High-level Leadership Meeting on the Global Thematic Consultation on Population Dynamics in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: This high-level leadership meeting is being organized to conclude the Global Thematic Consultation on Population Dynamics in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, co-led by the UN Population Fund, UNDESA, UN Habitat and the International Organization for Migration, and co-hosted by the Government of Switzerland with support of the Government of Bangladesh.  dates: 11-12 March 2013  location: Dhaka, Bangladesh  email: population@worldwewant2015.org  www: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/node/303691n

High-level Leadership Meeting on the Global Thematic Consultation on Conflict, Violence and Disaster in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: As part of the Global Thematic Consultation on Conflict, Violence and Disaster in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, this high-level leadership meeting will bring together Member States and civil society to discuss and agree on an agenda on conflict and fragility in the post-2015 development agenda. This consultation is co-led by UNDP, the UN Peacebuilding Support Office, UNICEF and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, and co-hosted by the Government of Finland. date: 13 March 2013 location: Helsinki, Finland www: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/conflict

High-level Leadership Meeting on the Global Thematic Consultation on Environmental Sustainability in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: As part of the Post-2015 Development Agenda Global Thematic Consultations, this High-level Leadership Meeting will bring together Member States and civil society to discuss and agree on an agenda on environmental sustainability for the Post-2015 Development Framework. This consultation is co-led by UNDP and UNEP, and co-hosted by the Governments of France and Costa Rica.  dates: 18-19 March 2013 (tentative) location: Costa Rica www: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/sustainability

High-level Leadership Meeting on the Global Thematic Consultation on Education in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: As part of the Global Thematic Consultation on Education in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, this high-level leadership meeting will bring together Member States and civil society to discuss and define agenda recommendations on education for the post-2015 development agenda. The thematic consultation on education is co-led by UNICEF and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and co-hosted by the Governments of Senegal and Canada.  dates: 18-20 March 2013  location: Dakar, Senegal  www: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/education2015

High-level Leadership Meeting on the Global Thematic Consultation on Water in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: As part of the Global Thematic Consultation on Water in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, this high-level leadership meeting will bring together Member States and civil society to discuss and define recommendations on water for the post-2015 development agenda. The meeting will be held in conjunction with the celebrations of World Water Day. The thematic consultation on water is facilitated by UN-Water, co-led by UNDESA and UNICEF, and co-hosted by the Governments of the Netherlands and Switzerland.  dates: 21-22 March 2013  location: The Hague, the Netherlands  email: Water2015@worldwewant2015.org  www: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/water

High-level Leadership Meeting on the Global Thematic Consultation on Growth and Employment in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: As part of the Global Thematic Consultation on Growth and Employment in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, this high-level leadership meeting will bring together Member States and civil society to discuss and agree on an agenda on growth and employment for the post-2015 development agenda.  date: TBA location: TBA www: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/employment

Fourth Meeting of the High-level Panel on Post-2015 Development Agenda: The fourth meeting of the UN High-level Panel of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, hosted by the Government of Indonesia, has been scheduled to take place Bali, Indonesia, 25-27 March 2013. The focus will be on “Global Partnerships.”  dates: 25-27 March 2013  location: Bali, Indonesia  contact: Government of Indonesia  www: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/post2015hlp

High-level Leadership Meeting on the Global Thematic Consultation on Food and Nutrition in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: As part of the Global Thematic Consultation on Food and Nutrition in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, this high-level leadership meeting will bring together Member States and civil society to discuss and agree on an agenda on food and nutrition for the post-2015 development agenda. The thematic consultation on food and nutrition is co-led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN and the UN World Food Programme, and co-hosted by the Governments of Spain and Finland.  date: 4 April 2013  location: Madrid, Spain  www: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/node/301764

High-level Leadership Meeting on the Global Thematic Consultation on Energy in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: This high-level leadership meeting is part of the Global Thematic Consultation on Energy. Participants will consider the results of the online consultations and their recommendations. The meeting is expected to develop an “Oslo Declaration” on key energy recommendations and potential global energy objectives, with the aim of informing and shaping the post-2015 development agenda on energy issues. Participants will also discuss processes for engaging with key national, regional and global stakeholders on energy. The meeting will be organized by UN-Energy and the UN Secretary-General’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) Initiative, the co-leaders of the consultation, in partnership with the Governments of Mexico and Norway.  date: 9 April 2013 location: Oslo, Norway email: energy@worldwewant2015.org www: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/energy2015

UNGA High-Level Meeting on Disability and Development: This meeting, which is being convened by the General Assembly, will be held at the level of Heads of State and Government on the theme “The way forward: a disability inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond.”  date: 23 September 2013  location: New York, USA  contact: UN Enable, Secretariat of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities  fax: +1-917-367-5102  email: enable@un.org  www: http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=1590

UNGA High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development: This high-level dialogue is being held as a follow up to the first High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development held in 2006, and will convene during the 68th session of the General Assembly.  date: fall 2013  location: New York, USA  contact: UN DESA  www: http://www.un.org/esa/population/migration/hlmimd2013/highlevelmim2013.htm

GLOSSARY

ASG
DESA
LGBTI
MDGs
UNDG
UNDP
UNICEF
UNTT

Assistant Secretary-General
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex
Millennium Development Goals
United Nations Development Group
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Children’s Fund
United Nations System Task Team

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The Post-2015 Development Agenda Bulletin is a publication of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) <info@iisd.ca>, publishers of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <enb@iisd.org>. This issue was written and edited by Elena Kosolapova and Anju Sharma. The Editor is Tomilola Akanle Eni-ibukun, Ph.D. <tomilola@iisd.org>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <kimo@iisd.org>. Funding for coverage of this meeting has been provided by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Photos courtesy of Alexander Banck-Petersen - www.AlexBP.dk. IISD can be contacted at 161 Portage Avenue East, 6th Floor, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0Y4, Canada; tel: +1-204-958-7700; fax: +1-204-958-7710. The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in other publications with appropriate academic citation. Electronic versions of the Bulletin are sent to e-mail distribution lists (in HTML and PDF format) and can be found on the Linkages WWW-server at <http://www.iisd.ca/>. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <kimo@iisd.org>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11D, New York, New York 10022, USA.

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