The third session of intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda took place from 23-27 March at UN Headquarters in New York. The session, co-facilitated by David Donoghue, Permanent Representative of Ireland, and Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya, focused on: a proposed timeline and roadmap for the UN Statistical Commission to create an indicator framework for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); country experiences in implementing sustainable development; and arrangements for a joint meeting with the preparatory process for the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD) in April 2015. An interactive dialogue with Major Groups and other stakeholders took place on Wednesday morning.
Throughout the week, attention focused on a document circulated by the Co-Facilitators on Monday on targets in the proposed SDGs, which outlined possible revisions to 19 targets. Many delegates questioned the process by which the paper had been developed and warned against tampering with the Open Working Group’s (OWG) proposal for SDGs, emphasizing their support for maintaining the delicate political balance achieved therein. Others favored consideration of possible improvements, assuring colleagues that the OWG proposal would remain as the “baseline” in case of disagreement. Delegates also exchanged views on coordination between the post-2015 and FfD processes, and discussed the possibility of establishing a technology facilitation mechanism, as called for in the Rio+20 Outcome.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA
The intergovernmental negotiation process on the post-2015 development agenda was first mandated by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Special Event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in September 2013, which also decided that a Global Summit should be held in September 2015 to adopt a new UN development agenda.
MILLENNIUM SUMMIT: The UN Millennium Summit took place from 6-8 September 2000, at UN Headquarters in New York. Attended by 149 Heads of State and Government and high-ranking officials from over 40 other countries, the main outcome document was the Millennium Declaration. This Declaration contained a statement of values, principles and objectives for the international agenda for the 21st century. Subsequently, the MDGs were elaborated based on consultations among representatives of international institutions. The UN Secretary-General presented the MDGs to the UN General Assembly in 2001, at which point UN Member States recommended that they should be used as a guide to implement the Millennium Declaration, with a deadline for accomplishing the goals set for 2015.
UNCSD: The international community gathered at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June 2012, agreed to launch a process to develop a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Rio+20 outcome called for establishing an Open Working Group (OWG) that would submit a report to the 68th session of the General Assembly, containing a proposal for SDGs. The Rio+20 outcome document outlines, inter alia:
• the importance of remaining firmly committed to the full and timely achievement of the MDGs and of respecting all Rio principles, taking into account different national circumstances, capacities and priorities;
• the SDGs should be action-oriented, concise and easy to communicate, limited in number, aspirational, global in nature and universally applicable to all countries, and focused on priority areas for the achievement of sustainable development;
• the need to ensure coordination and coherence with the processes considering the post-2015 development agenda, and to receive initial input to the OWG’s work from the UN Secretary-General in consultation with national governments;
• the need to assess progress towards the achievement of the goals, accompanied by targets and indicators, while taking into account different national circumstances, capacities and levels of development; and
• the importance of global, integrated and scientifically-based information on sustainable development, and of supporting regional economic commissions in collecting and compiling national inputs to inform this global effort.
The UNGA endorsed the outcome document, titled The Future We Want, in resolution 66/288 on 27 July 2012.
UNGA SPECIAL EVENT TO FOLLOW-UP EFFORTS TOWARDS ACHIEVING THE MDGS: This Special Event took place on 25 September 2013, at UN Headquarters in New York. The Outcome Document called for, inter alia: a single framework and set of goals that are universal in nature and applicable to all countries, and that promote peace and security, democratic governance, the rule of law, gender equality and human rights for all; intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 agenda; the Secretary-General to release, by the end of 2014, a synthesis report on all post-2015 development agenda inputs; and adopting the new agenda at a summit in September 2015.
OWG: The OWG on SDGs held its first eight meetings, also referred to as the “input” or “stocktaking” phase, between March 2013 and February 2014 at UN Headquarters in New York. In February 2014, the Co-Chairs, Macharia Kamau (Kenya) and Csaba Kőrösi (Hungary), released a “stocktaking” document, reviewing the discussions to date, and a “focus areas” document, outlining 19 focus areas as the basis for further discussion. Prior to each of the subsequent five sessions, the Co-Chairs released revised documents for OWG delegates’ consideration. A document considered the “zero draft” of the goals and targets was issued on 2 June 2014, containing 17 proposed goals and 212 targets. After two sessions held primarily in informal consultations, at the conclusion of the 13th session of the OWG, on 19 July 2014, the Group adopted by acclamation a report containing 17 proposed SDGs and 169 targets, and agreed to submit the proposal to the UNGA for consideration and action at its 68th session.
SYNTHESIS REPORT OF THE UN SECRETARY-GENERAL: The UNGA called on the UN Secretary-General, in resolution 68/6 of September 2013, to synthesize inputs on the post-2015 development agenda in a report before the end of 2014, as an input to the intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released an advance version of “The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet” on 6 December 2014 and formally presented it to UN Member States on 8 January 2015. The report proposes an integrated set of six essential elements: dignity, people, prosperity, planet, justice, and partnership.
UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY: A number of UNGA resolutions have established and set parameters for the post-2015 development agenda negotiations and related processes. On 30 June 2014, the UNGA adopted resolution 68/279, titled “Modalities for the third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD3),” by which it decided to hold FfD3 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 13-16 July 2015, and, inter alia, emphasizes the need for effective coordination with the preparations for the summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda.
On 10 September 2014, the UNGA adopted resolution 68/309, by which it: acknowledged the conclusion of the work of the OWG; welcomed its report; and decided that the proposal of the OWG contained in its report shall be the main basis for integrating the SDGs into the post-2015 development agenda, while recognizing that other inputs will also be considered in the intergovernmental negotiating process in 2015.
On 29 December 2014, the UNGA adopted resolution 69/244 on the organization of the UN Summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda, which will take place on 25-27 September 2015 in New York with the 70th session of the UN General Debate beginning on 28 September. The Summit will be convened as a High-level Plenary meeting of the UNGA and include plenary meetings concurrent with interactive dialogues. The rules of procedure and established practices of the UNGA will apply, unless otherwise decided.
On 16 January 2015, the UNGA adopted draft decision A/69/L.46 on modalities for the intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda. The decision states, inter alia:
• the proposal of the OWG on SDGs will be the main basis for integrating the SDGs into the post-2015 development agenda, while other inputs will also be taken into consideration;
• “every effort shall be made” to ensure effective coordination between the intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda and the preparatory process for FfD3, and other relevant UN intergovernmental processes;
• the outcome document for adoption at the Summit “may include” as main components: a declaration; the SDGs and targets; means of implementation and global partnership for sustainable development; and follow-up and review; and
• the initial draft of the outcome document shall be prepared by the Co-Facilitators “on the basis of views provided by Member States,” as well as “taking into account substantive discussions in the process of intergovernmental negotiations,” and issued by May 2015.
FIRST SESSION OF INTERGOVERNMENTAL NEGOTIATIONS ON THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA: The first session in the process of intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda convened from 19-21 January 2015 at UN Headquarters in New York to conduct a “stocktaking” of governments’ views on the agenda. This was the first of eight scheduled sessions to prepare the outcome of the UN Summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda in September 2015. On the basis of this session, the Co-Facilitators prepared an Elements Paper for discussion at the next session.
SECOND SESSION OF INTERGOVERNMENTAL NEGOTIATIONS ON THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA: The second session of the intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda convened from 17-20 February 2015 at UN Headquarters in New York. The session focused on the declaration component of the outcome that will be adopted at the Summit of Heads of State and Government on the post-2015 development agenda in September 2015. The session also included an interactive dialogue with Major Groups and other stakeholders and a briefing with the Director of the UN Statistics Division.
REPORT OF THE MEETING
On Monday morning, 23 March, Co-Facilitator Macharia Kamau introduced the programme of work for the week, with discussion of indicators on Monday and Tuesday, and the rest of the week dedicated to discussing the SDGs and targets. He referred to the Co-Facilitators’ letter of December 2014 requesting the support of the UN Statistical Commission (UNSC) for developing an indicator framework, on the understanding that Member States have no appetite to reopen the SDGs and the targets, but that more thought and discussion will be dedicated to indicators. He explained that the UNSC has been requested to develop indicators for the SDGs and targets, and that the Co-Facilitators were in touch with the UN Statistics Division (UNSD) to ensure that the preliminary indicators proposal would be ready for the current session.
INDICATORS FOR GOALS AND TARGETS
PRESENTATIONS: John Pullinger, Chair of the UNSC, presented the conclusions of the 46th session of the UNSC from 3-6 March 2015, which was organized on the theme of “Data in support of the post-2015 development agenda.” He said the technical work on indicators for the post-2015 development agenda is well underway, and that “statisticians are ready to step up, step forward and step on the gas.” He noted that the Post-2015 Summit in September will be the first time in history that the Chair of the UNSC will address the UN General Assembly, creating a bridge between the political and statistical tracks. Pullinger stressed that the Commission had unanimously endorsed the roadmap proposed by the Friends of the Chair in their report on “Broader Measures of Progress,” which suggests that the indicator framework should be adopted at the 47th session of the UNSC in March 2016. He added that the Commission underlined the need for sufficient time and further refinement of the provisional indicators proposed by the UNSD, and endorsed the creation of two groups: and Interagency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IEAG-SDG) and a High-Level Group (HLG) to provide strategic leadership for SDG implementation, comprised of national statistics offices (NSOs), with regional and international organizations as observers.
Pullinger further explained that: the first IEAG-SDG meeting will take place in May 2015; the conclusions of the discussions will be presented during the May session of the intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda for further political guidance; and the IEAG-SDG will propose a refined indicator framework in July 2015. Pullinger added that the Technical Report of the UNSD Bureau, proposing 304 indicators for the SDGs, should be considered only as a “point of departure;” and is only provisional as it has not been endorsed by NSOs, and does not prejudge or preclude further discussions.
T.C.A. Anant, Chief Statistician, India, stressed the importance of sustained capacity building, the role of national data, and building partnerships for successful monitoring.
Gabriella Vukovich, President of the Hungarian Central Statistical Office, said that the number of indicators should be kept relatively trim, as the data will have to be produced by all countries. She said that capacity building will be needed in both developing and developed countries, and that sufficient time will be needed to produce all indicators.
Anna Majelantle, Statistician General of Botswana, stressed the need for stakeholder ownership and public acceptance of indicators, saying that NGOs should use them as tools for monitoring and evaluating their own development programmes.
José Rosero, National Institute of Statistics and Census, Ecuador, said that the process of developing the post-2015 indicator framework should build on regional and national experiences.
DISCUSSION: Co-Facilitator Kamau acknowledged that the discussion of goals and targets “remains a difficult area.” He said that some targets will require “tweaking” to avoid inconsistency, and to be measurable and action-oriented, as well as being assigned a global numerical value. He stressed that the Co-Facilitators are not engaged in a broad-based technical proofing exercise, and underscored that just 19 targets had been identified as requiring some technical clarification.
Co-Facilitator Donohue then referred delegates to a document on the 19 targets, which had been circulated by email, and invited delegates’ responses.
South Africa, for the Group of 77 and China (G-77/China), opposed technical proofing of the goals and targets, and any repackaging or clustering of the SDGs. He warned that the development of indicators should not reinterpret the agreed SDGs and targets, including the means of implementation (MOI) in SDG 17. He said the Group believes the mandate to formulate indicators is confined to only global indicators, and should “in no way delve into national indicators.” He called for respect for the national policy space of Member States, and for the current session to take into account countries’ ongoing work on national indicators. He clarified that the UNSC will only finalize its work on indicators by 20 March 2016 at its 47th session. He called for the IEAG-SDG to be led by NSOs and relevant regional institutions, and for it to have an intergovernmental character, and to ensure equitable regional representation and technical expertise. He requested that this “technical track” receive clear guidance from Member States, further stressing that responsibility to implement the development agenda lies with governments, and that capacity building and technical support remains of critical importance for G-77/China.
The European Union (EU) said that a robust framework of indicators will promote timely implementation of the post-2015 development agenda, and is necessary for its success and accountability. He stressed that the development of indicators should be primarily a technical process, and he strongly supported the process set out by the UNSC. He recommended that the work on indicators should include a broader set of UN and other international actors, including the scientific community. He said indicators should be policy-relevant, understandable, clearly communicated, and build on existing indicators and monitoring systems. He proposed selecting indicators that address multiple goals and targets. He added that national and regional indicators should support global indicators, and that indicators need to “allow for comparability” and should therefore be used by all countries.
Namibia, for the African Group, said that crafting of indicators is a technical process. He reiterated the call to expand the IEAG-SDG to become “an intergovernmental group” and to ensure financing for the participation of statisticians from developing countries. He called for the work of the UNSC to be guided by respect for “the development policy space of developing countries” and their cultural and social values. He highlighted the importance of addressing the capacity deficit of developing countries.
Maldives, for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), cautioned against any rearrangement of the current 17 SDGs, saying that this could alter the visibility and importance of certain goals and targets. He suggested identifying a smaller number of indicators that address cross-cutting issues, and added that most of the proposed indicators cannot be currently measured by NSOs of small island developing states (SIDS) in their already overburdened statistical systems. He highlighted the need for developing indicators that address the particular circumstances of SIDS, and expressed “deep concern” over the UNSC’s proposed timeline, explaining that, “we cannot have our leaders adopting an incomplete agenda in September.”
Saudi Arabia, for the Arab Group, underlined the importance of abiding by the conclusions of UNSC 46, and adopting the indicator framework during its 47th session. He noted that the indicators should be technically sound and not dictated by political discussions. He proposed that SDG 16 should include, inter alia, indicators on combating terrorism and respecting the right to self-determination of peoples. With regard to the IEAG-SDG, he stressed the need for: NSOs’ leadership; inclusion of all Member States that want to participate; and providing support for developing countries to participate.
Benin, for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), highlighted that the process of developing the indicators should be carried out under the political supervision of the two Co-Facilitators and their technical support team in the Secretariat. He added that NSOs should play a leadership role in the process, which should take a multi-stakeholder approach involving scientific organizations. He further stressed the need for investment to enhance national statistical capacity, especially in LDCs.
Belize, on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the goals and targets of the OWG must be incorporated into the agenda in their entirety, and there must be a link established between agendas at the global and national levels. She offered political parameters for the work of the UNSC, emphasizing that: all goals and targets must have equal importance and standing; indicators should be established for all SDGs and targets; the goals and targets should not be recalibrated; and universality and respect for national priorities should be ensured. She stressed that March 2016 should be the “upper limit” of time for delivery of the indicators.
Guatemala, on behalf of the Central American Integration System (Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama), said the focus must be on implementation and setting the correct indicators, and that each indicator should measure several targets. He called for including measurements of wellbeing and equity that go beyond gross domestic product (GDP), and for the gender perspective to be central to all indicators.
Tonga, for the Pacific small island developing states (PSIDS), said that global indicators must be measurable, relevant to the targets, limited in number, and not fall below levels of ambition set by existing international agreements. Global indicators should be complemented by a set of national indicators, he said, that are developed by national governments themselves.
Uganda said that the UNSC should take advantage of already existing indicators, and capacity challenges should be identified and rectified. He said the post-2015 agenda must be easy to understand, communicate, and monitor.
India said that the document circulated by the Co-Facilitators was premature. Rather than commenting on the list presented, he offered political guidance for the process of developing indicators, including: making them fully consistent with the politically-agreed goals and targets; preventing the introduction of contentious issues; and ensuring that the indicators relate to the target they intend to measure.
Nigeria called for participation and an inclusive approach to the process of setting indicators. She recognized the need for technical expertise as well as for input from planning and finance ministries.
Indonesia noted that the development of indicators is a technical process, different from the political nature of the post-2015 negotiation process. He said that indicators must be based on, and respond directly to, the goals and targets contained in the OWG report, should respect the delicate political balance achieved therein, and be underpinned by sufficient data. He called for all targets to be treated with the same importance, and to take account of differences of national circumstances and priorities.
Nicaragua underscored the importance of developing countries’ participation in the technical process of measuring implementation. She called for strengthening NSOs through funding and technology transfer, emphasizing that “national follow-up must be the task of NSOs.”
Ecuador, on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, stressed that the development of indicators should not be used to undermine or reopen the agreed SDGs and targets, saying this could undermine the “delicate political balance” that was achieved by the OWG and could affect national ownership of implementation. He said that “no single target is less important than others” and that the UNSC’s task is the development of global indicators for monitoring progress at the global level. He highlighted the importance of having disaggregated data that take into account the most vulnerable groups, including the needs of indigenous people and migrants.
Mexico said the creation of indicators will take time, and that the process should be gradual and evolving. He stressed the importance of regional indicators, saying that many indicators that will be used to measure progress will need to be established at the regional level, and he suggested forming working groups to identify where regional indicators can be feasible.
Botswana, on behalf of the Land-Locked Developing Countries (LLDCs), agreed that statisticians should be given space to provide assistance to developing countries, while avoiding having any impact on the goals and targets that have been agreed. He stressed that any questionnaires on indicators should be distributed in all official UN languages, to improve the country response rate.
Morocco expressed his support for the UNSC roadmap. He highlighted the need to: take into account the realities and circumstances of developing countries; develop strong indicators for the MOI targets; and continue providing guidance to the technical process. He further suggested using regional-level coordination to feed into the global monitoring level.
Brazil noted that clustering or packaging the SDGs would be very difficult without compromising the positions of Member States, adding that, “even technical refinement can be politically disruptive.” He said that indicators should be created in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR), with developed countries taking the lead in changing unsustainable production and consumption patterns.
Cabo Verde expressed her concern about adopting the indicators after the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda and stressed that the intergovernmental negotiations should provide guidance to the technical work on indicators. She stressed the need to promote durable partnerships and strengthen MOI so that countries could “step on the gas” in implementing the SDGs.
Costa Rica highlighted the need to develop high quality crosscutting indicators so as to reduce the number of indicators, and to have indicators that take into account the multidimensional aspects of poverty. He observed that, even though the independence of the statistical offices needs to be respected and the technical process should not be dictated by the political process, the final decision on indicators will be a political one.
Argentina noted that the development of indicators is a technical process and that each country will need to develop its own relevant indicators, while global indicators should be used to track progress on SDGs at the global level. She further expressed her support for the UNSC timeline, adding that Member States need first to adopt the post-2015 development agenda and then assess quality indicators.
The US encouraged Member States to allow the technical community to take care of the process of developing indicators. Noting that the characteristics of the targets will influence the characteristics of indicators, he called for “a common standard of measurability” for the targets. He further stressed the need for defining and agreeing on a set of guiding principles for indicators and for building a “data ecosystem” that makes data available from disaggregated sources.
Sweden supported the UNSC’s establishment of the IAEG-SDG and its proposed timeline. She agreed with the need for substantial investment in capacity-building measures. She noted that some indicators will not have globally established monitoring mechanisms, and called for support for such mechanisms, rather than limiting the level of ambition. She acknowledged that the OWG proposal on SDGs will be “the main basis” for integrating the SDGs into the post-2015 agenda, while recognizing that “other inputs could also be included.”
While acknowledging that the process for developing indicators is of a technical nature, Egypt said that dialogue between the technical and political levels will be useful. He requested the UNSC Chair to respond to the proposals to expand the IAEG-SDG to become an intergovernmental group, ensure financing for the participation of statisticians from developing countries, and elaborate on the potential interaction between global, regional and national-level indicators.
Switzerland said indicators are the “backbone” of monitoring and review of the post-2015 agenda. She supported the proposed UNSC roadmap, and proposed that the September agreement contain a statement on the need for indicators and a call on the UNSC to develop them.
Pakistan said the development of indicators is a technical process that should be carried out by NSOs. He stressed that global indicators should be limited in number so that they are simple and easy to understand, and they should correspond to agreed goals and targets.
The United Kingdom said the post-2015 agenda will need “a new way of doing statistics,” stressing the importance of data disaggregation and leaving no one behind. He added that national and regional targets should be complements to, not substitutes for, global indicators.
Responding to delegates’ comments, Pullinger said the IAEG-SDG will be composed of Member States on a representative basis, and will include LLDCs, SIDS and countries in special situations. He said that while delegates will define the scope of the goals and targets, the UNSC’s task will be a technical one of capturing the full range of the goals and targets, and respecting the political balance that has been set. On regional indicators, he noted the need to respect the right of each region to consider what makes sense, adding that UNSC will facilitate a “data ecosystem” that will select from a pool of existing data. On financing, he said the UNSC intends to create a trust fund to enable countries to participate on a fair and equal basis. On capacity building, he referred to targets already listed under SDG 17 on the need to strengthen the data capability of many countries.
The United Arab Emirates warned against tampering with the “delicate political balance” achieved in the proposed SDGs and targets, which, he said, had only one theme: poverty eradication through sustainable development. He said the Post-2015 Summit in September will set the parameters for experts to develop the indicators, giving guidance to the IAEG-SDG and helping the UNSC “see the forest from the trees.” He said the outcome document of the Summit should specify principles for the indicator framework, which, he said, should provide a basis for international comparisons over time. He proposed avoiding any unnecessary burden of monitoring, suggesting the application of existing indices such as the Human Development Index or the Happiness Index.
Sri Lanka emphasized that: national indicators cannot be decided at the global level; implementation is voluntary; all targets must be given the same importance; and no targets should be left out on the basis of being unmeasurable.
The Republic of Korea welcomed a technical review by national experts, saying that measurability, collectability and comparability of data are important. He noted that the monitoring of governance and the rule of law is qualitative in nature. He called for disaggregating data to consider gender, age, geographic region and vulnerable groups.
Finland requested updates for Member States later in the process. She also: encouraged broad-based membership of the IAEG-SDG; suggested that multi-purpose indicators could address several targets at once; called for mainstreaming gender issues, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, throughout the goals and targets; and suggested that indicators be selected for relevance and sustainability, more than feasibility.
Japan supported letting the indicator development process “run its course independently” from the intergovernmental negotiations. He highlighted the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction for 2015-2030, adopted on 18 March 2015, which contains seven global targets, including four from SDG 11. He said the SDG indicator selection should: build on existing global indicators; refrain from prejudging the World Trade Organization, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or other intergovernmental negotiating processes; and limit indicators to a manageable number.
Spain affirmed the need for time to identify and adapt indicators, adding that the number of global indicators should be limited. He requested more information on the structure of the IAEG-SDG, calling for a transparent process.
Norway said that designing a robust and high-quality framework is a task for experts, which should be informed by the intergovernmental process. She supported having “closer to 100 than 300” indicators. She welcomed the UNSC roadmap, including the plan to finalize its work by its March 2016 meeting. She highlighted the possibility of adding new indicators, “as our knowledge progresses.”
El Salvador warned against unrealistic assumptions about the situation of developing countries, and called on Member States to provide guidance to the UNSC, taking into account challenges and needs of the elderly, persons with disabilities, and other vulnerable groups. She also proposed establishing a plan of cooperation with middle-income countries, noting that GDP offers “an incomplete picture” of needs and challenges.
Lebanon, supporting the Arab Group and the G-77/China, noted that the lack of indicators will impede implementation of targets, and called for the indicators to be adopted as a unified set, rather than in stages, to avoid assumptions that some targets are more important than others.
Poland observed that “diversity is key” to selection of indicators, as some indicators are only relevant to certain groups of countries. She noted that not all proposed indicators will draw on national statistics, and that consultation and cooperation with other entities providing statistics will be required. She called for building in appropriate time for national-level consultations on the issue, noting that the proposed deadline of March 2016 is quite soon.
Opening the discussions on Tuesday, Co-Facilitator Kamau invited delegates to give clear guidance to the UNSC on the process of developing the indicator framework, and decide who will maintain the political oversight of this work. He noted that the mandate for the intergovernmental process ends with the July 2015 negotiation of the outcome document for the Post-2015 Summit in September.
Denmark recommended including UN agencies, civil society, and other stakeholders in the process of developing indicators, which he said should: be limited in number; address cross-cutting issues; preserve the level of ambition of the OWG outcome; reflect the balanced integration of the three pillars of sustainable development; be both quantitative and qualitative; and build on existing international indicators. He further suggested encouraging the UNSC to provide guidance for national indicators and data collection.
Italy agreed that the development of indicators needs time, should be done through a technical process, and should include the broad participation of stakeholders in the IEAG-SDG and High-Level Group. He stressed the role of NSOs and expressed concern about the use of composite indicators. He further highlighted the need to “fill in the x’s” in the OWG targets and mentioned that Italy is considering increasing its portfolio for capacity building in statistics both at the national and regional levels.
Iran said indicators: should all be afforded the same level of importance; should be limited in number; and should be able to measure several targets. He stressed that the UNSC mandate is confined to global indicators, and should in no way delve into the development of national indicators.
Tanzania expressed concern that the UNSC’s proposed timeline does not match the schedule for adoption of the SDGs in September 2015.
Nepal stressed the importance of having NSOs “on board at all times.” He said the indicators should be few, simple, flexible, and easily communicated, and should capture the full ambition of the proposed SDGs. He said that the March 2016 date proposed by the UNSC would mean a delay in the implementation of the SDGs, and that the post-2015 package agreed in September 2015 should include indicators.
In relation to the UNSC proposed timeline, Co-Facilitator Kamau noted that implementation of the post-2015 development agenda will begin on 1 January 2016, and therefore what is adopted at the September summit must be comprehensive and provide a basis for implementation.
The Holy See did not support technical proofing of goals and targets, and welcomed continuing the UNSC’s work in an open and transparent manner. He cautioned that goals and targets are understood differently in different cultures and contexts, and that the indicators must take these differences into consideration.
Sudan favored having the UNSC develop “guiding global indicators,” while NSOs set national indicators according to country specificities. He lamented that the UNSC survey had not allowed enough time for the in-country coordination that was needed to prepare responses.
China emphasized that poverty eradication is the key goal for the SDGs, and cautioned against making technical revisions or clustering the goals and targets. He supported the UNSC timeline, and viewed the formulation of indicators as a technical task that should conform to the targets set out in the SDGs. Australia stressed the need for global indicators to offer “snapshots” of the implementation of SDGs, and called for crosscutting and innovative indicators.
Canada expressed support for the creation of the IEAG-SDG, encouraging the group to also reach out to civil society, the business sector, and international organizations. He urged Member States to “resist the temptation of including a partial list of indicators in the post-2015 development agenda,” and expressed his support for Switzerland’s proposal to only mention in the outcome how the work on indicators will be carried further by the UNSC. He highlighted the potential role of South-South cooperation and partnerships with civil society and the private sector to build capacity for national statistical systems.
Croatia called for using existing indicator frameworks, and stressed that regional and national indicators should supplement, not substitute, the global ones. Yemen underlined the need for assistance to NSOs, especially in LDCs.
France approved the UNSC timeline, and called for discussions to focus on articulating the different categories of global, regional and national indicators. Chile stressed that the primary responsibility for development belongs with the state, and said the indicator process is contingent on the continued political will of Member States.
The Philippines supported the UNSC’s proposed timeline, and suggested dedicating some of this time to additional dialogues with stakeholders from the scientific and national communities. Thailand said that poverty eradication is an essential part of sustainable development, as is respect for fundamental human rights and rule of law at all levels.
Armenia highlighted the need to address the structural drivers of poverty through promoting the efficient movement of people and goods, and facilitating border crossings. She called on Member States to take into account the Vienna Programme of Action on LLDCs in the post-2015 agenda.
Iceland said that setting indicators is a task for experts, and that the indicators need to be in line with UN and other international agreements. She called for having a limited number of indicators and allowing flexibility for revision. She suggested that the September post-2015 Summit “take note” of a post-2015 indicator package.
Venezuela reminded delegates that the Rio+20 outcome had recognized the diversity of sustainable development models, and that the post-2015 agenda must take into account local realities and development policies. She said that drafting the indicator framework requires the active participation of Member States, and that the SDGs must not be re-negotiated.
Bolivia expressed concern over delay in distributing documentation, which she said has had an adverse impact on the process. She said that indicators on country-specific realities will require data and information that has not yet been compiled, and that sufficient time will be needed for gathering disaggregated data, taking into account the most vulnerable.
Bangladesh stressed the need to respect the “delicate balance” of the OWG outcome and said that any attempts at regrouping or clustering the SDGs and targets should be avoided. He called for national leadership in developing national indicators, developing both qualitative and quantitative indicators, and strengthening national capacities.
Slovakia said that the development of indicators should be a technical process, including stakeholders. She expressed her support for the UNSC timeline, and suggested reducing the number of indicators by having indicators that address crosscutting issues.
Chad noted the need for: taking into account the lessons learned from the MDGs; allowing sufficient time for NSOs to align national indicators with global indicators; developing both qualitative and quantitative indicators; and strengthening the capacity of NSOs.
Israel noted that “the task at hand is far from complete,” and that the process of developing indicators should be handled by technical experts. She expressed her support for the roadmap proposed by UNSC and for the creation of the IEAG-SDG, further stressing the need for: multidimensional indicators that address multiple targets by addressing cross-cutting issues; broadly disaggregated data; and strengthening national statistical capacities.
The Czech Republic said that learning from the experience of the MDG indicators has shown that it is crucial that the SDGs have indicators that are precise, easily to communicate, and developed in sufficient time. He said that some targets will need to be sharpened in focus by their corresponding indicators.
The Seychelles said the only way to ensure that no one is left behind is for the SDGs to be universal for all countries. She said the agenda should aim at ending poverty, creating shared prosperity, and protecting our planet, while giving due prominence to the conditions of SIDS.
Singapore supported the UNSC timeline. He stressed that indicators must be reflections of the targets, and national experts should have opportunities to propose indicators. The agenda should contain a global indicator framework that provides the architecture for global, national, regional, and thematic indicators, he proposed.
Zambia said the indicators will help track progress in meeting the development goals, and she stressed the supremacy of national institutions in guiding this process. She supported the UNSC programme of work.
Uruguay warned against choosing, “in an arbitrary manner,” which elements of the goals and targets should be followed up. She called for strengthening NSOs through the transfer of resources and technology. She supported the work of the UNSC and the creation of the IAEG-SDG, but noted that the final work of the IAEG-SDG should be approved by all countries, “as a whole.”
Luxembourg, on behalf of the Group of Friends on Children and SDGs, proposed that child-focused indicators, such as preventable newborn and child deaths, are needed. He noted that “the fundamental lesson” of the MDGs is that macro-level progress can mask troubling trends.
Kyrgyzstan underlined that the indicators should be reflected in international sustainable development concepts, in line with the UN’s policy of “Delivering as One.”
Congo underlined that the development of indicators is a technical process and expressed his support for the creation of an IEAG-SDG that is open, transparent, and includes experts from all regions. He further stressed the need for strengthening capacity for NSOs.
Rwanda said he is against any technical proofing of the OWG’s agreed outcome and against rearranging or re-packaging the SDGs, cautioning that would be a “dangerous undertaking that risks opening the SDGs.” He also highlighted the need for respecting the national policy space of developing countries.
Estonia expressed support for the UNSC roadmap and underlined that the development of indicators is a technical process. She further underscored the need for: multidimensional indicators that address cross-cutting issues; a limited number of global indicators; and using big data.
Ghana questioned whether the aim of the exercise was to put together a framework of indicators from which each state formulates its own, and whether the global indicators themselves will take into account the principle of CBDR. She suggested that capacity building for data collection should be part of the discussion in the FfD conference.
Co-Facilitator Kamau responded to Ghana’s questions, saying that the post-2015 agenda will contain global indicators, and that regional indicators will be left to the regions to design. He said the question of CBDR would have to be debated by Member States.
Nikhil Seth, Director, Division for Sustainable Development, Department of Social and Economic Affairs, updated the delegates on the use of the Trust Fund to support developing country travel to the negotiations, saying that 44 delegates had their travel supported for the meeting. He announced a contribution of £100,000 to the Trust Fund from the United Kingdom Department of International Development.
On Friday morning, Nauru opposed reopening the SDGs and targets, and welcomed the work of UNSC, suggesting that interim discussions with UNSC take place to provide political guidance. She stressed that when global indicators are adopted, they should “leave no state behind.” She called for an indicator on the monitoring, control and surveillance of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and called for oceans to be prominent in the thematic dialogues.
NATIONAL APPROACHES TO IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SDGS
On Tuesday afternoon, delegates shared experiences on preparing for implementation of the SDGs at the country level.
PRESENTATIONS: Palouki Massina, Secretary General of the Office of the President of Togo, described the Togo 2030 national plan, saying the SDGs will form the foundation of this framework. He explained that Togo’s priority areas include information and communication technologies, engineering, technology transfer, water, sanitation, clean energy, renewable energy, and capacity building. In terms of monitoring implementation, he spoke of the challenges of weak human and technical capacity within the public administration.
María Mejía Vélez, Permanent Representative of Colombia, said Colombia’s 2014-2018 development plan strives for the irreversible eradication of poverty, adequate articulation of all three dimensions of sustainable development, and transformative measures to improve collective well-being and reduce gaps between regions. She said the plan reflects 91 of the SDGs’ 169 targets. Velez also announced Colombia’s recent creation of a high-level inter-institutional commission for preparation and effective implementation of post-2015 development agenda.
Koen Davidse, Special Envoy for Post-2015 Development Goals and Director of Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Netherlands, said his government’s line ministries had been asked to test all the goals and targets, to see what applies to the Netherlands. They identified challenges for their own implementation, including on: traffic deaths; curricula; gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls; water and sanitation; sustainable transport; and food waste.
Wah Wah Maung, Deputy Director-General at the Foreign Economic Relations Department of the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development, Myanmar, said her country’s National Comprehensive Development Plan will complement the post-2015 development agenda. She said its development policy is “people-centered development,” and that the ongoing reform process will seek to foster rule of law, preserve the natural environment and promote human rights.
DISCUSSION: Mexico described its efforts to draw up and launch a public online indicator information system, which will provide data on the achievement of the SDGs to the public, using graphics, visualizations and data available for downloads.
Germany explained its institutional architecture that is in place to ensure effective implementation, which includes national and local sustainable development strategies and stakeholder engagement. He said the German cabinet had decided on possible contributions to the implementation of the post-2015 agenda domestically, which include, inter alia: eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; preserving the natural resource base; transforming sustainable economies and reducing greenhouse gases; and achieving gender equality.
Denmark said his country is committed to defining its contribution to the entire agenda, and that it was already clear that some targets will be challenging to implement. He added that Denmark will assist the poorest countries in capacity building.
Sweden said it will establish an inter-ministerial task force to ensure a “whole-of-government” approach, with key priorities including the full realization of gender equality and human rights, and further greening of the Swedish economy.
Papua New Guinea noted the importance of having a national sustainable development road map in place before the transition to the SDGs. He said the National Strategy for Responsible Sustainable Development for Papua New Guinea prescribes growth based on renewable resources rather than extractive activities, and ensuring that foreign capital investment strengthens resources “instead of decimating them.” He said the 2016-2017 Medium Term Development Plan will incorporate relevant SDGs, targets and indicators.
Rwanda highlighted the Rwanda Governance Scorecard, an annual assessment of the status of governance and accountability in the country, and said that it measures six out of the ten targets proposed for SDG 16.
New Zealand said her country has formed a task force to provide advice on how it will measure progress on the SDGs and targets, noting that there are multiple goals and targets that New Zealand would struggle to report on.
Chad noted that they will not achieve the MDGs, and so their national priorities will be to reformulate those national goals that still need to be attained. He questioned how their own national plan, Chad 2030, should be linked to the post-2015 agenda.
Switzerland said their sustainable development strategy will be the main instrument for contributing to the implementation of the post-2015 agenda, which will be updated to incorporate the SDGs. He said creating a true “whole-of-government approach” to global reporting will be a challenge, as his government is working to integrate measurement across agencies.
The US questioned how to prioritize across the 371 different elements and outcomes that are covered in the targets, and whether to use a “pick-and-choose” approach or apply more integrated thinking.
The UK highlighted its strong engagement of civil society as an asset for implementation. He said a cross-ministerial group has been established to oversee the work of the government on the post-2015 agenda, which will address opportunities for national implementation and tackle issues such as child poverty, gender equality and non-communicable diseases. He noted that some targets, such as halving road deaths and reducing deaths from tobacco by a third, are not relevant to the UK, as much progress has already been made in this area.
Malaysia highlighted its measures to ensure poverty eradication and greater access to education and healthcare. She said the MDGs had been embedded in the national development agenda, and a similar approach could be considered for the post-2015 agenda.
Vietnam highlighted her country’s national strategy for sustainable development for 2011-2020, which includes indicators on the national employment rate and biodiversity maintenance, among others. She said that implementation is reviewed annually, and that localizing the SDGs into this framework will be part of the steps toward success.
Concluding the discussion, Co-Facilitator Kamau said the many elements for consideration within the goal and target set are a manifestation of the complexities of sustainable development, as a multiplicity of efforts will be needed to take care of people, planet, and prosperity. He added that many of these efforts are already happening, with countries’ statements showing the “green shoots” of this global project. Kamau said countries inevitably will prioritize the elements based on where they are on the development trajectory.
MAJOR GROUPS AND OTHER STAKEHOLDERS INTERACTIVE DISCUSSION
On Wednesday morning, delegates took part in an interactive dialogue with Major Groups and other stakeholders.
STATEMENTS: Margaret Ann Gillis, HelpAge International, on behalf of the stakeholder group on ageing, called for the indicators framework to require data on ages up to and over 100 years old, so that older people can be taken into account in policy-making.
Mosharraf Hossain, ADD International, called for disaggregated data to include disability status in relation to poverty and access to education and healthcare.
Richard Mkandawire, International Fertilizer Industry Association, for Business and Industry, said business can be a source of valuable information, and proposed including indicators on the nutrition of lactating mothers and micronutrient deficiencies in relation to stunting.
Nozipho Wright, Women’s Environment and Development Organization, on behalf of Women, called for the indicator framework to remain open for further development after the 47th session of the UNSC. She requested funding to enable Global South representation on the IAEG-SDG, and in follow-up and monitoring.
Lawrence James Attree, Saferworld, suggested drawing on monitoring approaches already applied by CSOs, research institutes, companies, and UN agencies to address perceived challenges of measuring progress in relation to SDG 16 on peace, justice and governance, saying that this is “not a technical difficulty but a matter of political ambition.”
Roberto Borrero, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, for Indigenous Peoples, called for recognizing the status of indigenous peoples as rights holders, not only members of vulnerable groups, and for disaggregated data on ethnicity and indigenous status.
Rodrigo Isai Madrid Estay, SOS Kinderdorf International, for Children and Youth, highlighted the value of description, besides statistics and numbers, in measuring quality-of-life issues, saying that, for example, “It’s difficult to measure love, but not hard to create the conditions that foster it.”
DISCUSSION: Denmark said indicators should be based on human rights standards and developed by technical experts in a transparent process involving non-state actors. He welcomed the use of private sector data that can be used to assess progress and gaps in implementation.
Brazil expressed concern that the use of composite indicators will promote aggregation of data, rather than disaggregation that can make everyone visible. He stressed the need to develop indicators for MOI and noted that the private sector should not compete but complete the public sector’s work of data gathering.
STATEMENTS: Wilson Sossion, Kenya National Union of Teachers, for Workers and Trade Unions, encouraged the inclusion of more process indicators related to policy and legislation, for example, on local government management of water systems under SDG 6, and the possibility for collective bargaining on wages under SDG 8.
Antonio Domingo García-Allut, Fundacion Lonxanet para la Pesca Sostenible, welcomed SDG 14 on oceans and proposed an indicator on the number of countries ratifying and becoming a party to the FAO Agreement on Port State Measures. He suggested distinguishing between the different types of fishery subsidies mentioned in the indicators framework, and amending the indicator that currently requests certification of artisanal but not industrial fisheries.
Gomer Padong, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement, said that indicators should: be broadly disaggregated; abide by the principle of non-regression; assess quality, not only quantity; and measure environmental factors.
Sai Jyothirmai Racherla, Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW), noted that the UNSC should draw on technical inputs from stakeholders, and that the indicators should address structural barriers faced by vulnerable groups.
Samuel Kissi, Global Youth Action Network, said development of the indicator framework should be guided by the principles of human rights and non-discrimination.
Maria Theresa Nera Lauron, CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness, IBON International, said statistics are political and “matter for those we choose to count and those who we don’t.” She stressed that civil society can play a powerful role in monitoring the SDGs and building the new paradigm for social transformation.
DISCUSSION: The US said the voices of civil society need to be included in the indicator process, and that experts must be given the time, space, and flexibility to “ground-truth” the indicators. He said that data comes from a wide range of public and private sources, and that transparency and openness around data must be ensured.
Germany said the indicators must cover all aspects of the agenda, without manipulating the content, and that time must be allowed for fine-tuning.
Bangladesh cautioned that if the indicator work is left to experts alone, there will be “legitimate” suspicion. He stressed that the development of national indicators should be left to the countries, and that using both qualitative and quantitative data will make measurements more reflective of the goals.
The Blue Planet Project called for differentiating between rights-holders, organizations, and corporations in participating in the discussion, saying that the agenda should serve public rather than private interests.
World Vision said children must be placed at the heart of the agenda, especially vulnerable children in remote areas.
Other civil society representatives called for, inter alia: a global indicator on healthy life expectancy; certification schemes for all sizes of fisheries; and indicators for human settlements, disaggregated by the type of community.
Sweden agreed that accountability mechanisms are crucial, and highlighted that NGOs will be included on the Swedish national delegation to the post-2015 negotiating sessions in June and July.
STATEMENTS: Attah Benson, Community Emergency Response Initiative, Nigeria, called for mentioning the need for legal and policy frameworks in the target on community participation, and for the introduction of time-bound indicators on climate change.
Elles Blanken, VSO Papua New Guinea, called for ensuring the participation of women, civil society and volunteers, and for a focus “not only on numbers, but actual change in local communities,” urging delegates not to fall into the trap of “only doing what is measurable.”
Shanta Laxmi Shrestha, Beyond Beijing Committee, Nepal, called for mainstreaming a gender perspective across all parts of the post-2015 framework, and proposed indicators to measure access to gender equality education and the percentage of trained teachers in gender-responsive pedagogy.
Ajarat M. Bada, Reach Out to Asia, called for measuring the impact of state-sponsored terrorism, and for disaggregating data to highlight violence on the basis of religion.
Paul Okumu, Africa Development Interchange Network, expressed concern that peace, wellbeing and good governance may be treated as secondary because of measurement challenges, and requested the UNSC team to “throw away the box, not just think outside it.” He said that the indicators must support the ability of civil society to hold their governments accountable.
DISCUSSION: Ethiopia invited Major Groups and other stakeholders to communicate with the UNSC on the indicators. He said that the nature of international development cooperation is in the process of being redefined, highlighting the potential for civil society to influence this.
Norway said that the time allocated to the OWG did not allow Member States to polish the outcome, hence some targets contained x’s, “as place holders for later homework.” She said targets should be: measurable enough to be implementable; clear enough to allow Member States to assess progress; and in line with existing international standards.
STATEMENTS: Martha Lekitony Ntoipo, Indigenous Information Network, said the indicator framework must give priority to gender equality, accessible education for all, industrialization, and the empowerment of women. She stressed the need for simple, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound (SMART) targets that take into account the needs of women and indigenous people.
Ivonne Lobos Alva, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, for the NGOs Major Group, said indicators should be developed through a transparent and inter-disciplinary process involving civil society, especially in the IEAG-SDG. She requested removal of the technical revisions that have changed the time frame on some targets from 2020 to 2030.
Mentioning that two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban areas in the near future, Emilia Saiz, UCLG, Local Authorities Major Group, called for disaggregating data on the basis of scale and territory, and using statistics frameworks at the sub-national and local levels.
Aura Fernanda Silva Martinez, College of the Atlantic, for Children and Youth, said technical proofing of goals and targets could be supported only if it raises the level of ambition, as in the case of SDG 4 on education. She lamented the change of the timeframe for achievement, from 2020 to 2030, as “taking us back.”
DISCUSSION: On the technical proofing of targets, Mexico said that allowing 10 more years to achieve biodiversity targets would be counter-productive. He recommended more work be done together with UN-Habitat and the United Nations Environment Programme on urban-rural linkages. He added that global indicators should serve as a tool for comparison, while national indicators should be used to hold governments accountable to their people.
France highlighted the high level of ambition that had already been achieved, noting that implementation will be at the local level, so capacity must be strengthened at all levels.
Viet Nam said that while the SDGs may not be perfect, changing or adding anything would risk damaging the good framework that has been created. He referred to the SDGs as a diamond that might be damaged with polishing, and said the group should spend time “crafting the crown in which the diamond will be placed,” namely the declaration, global partnership, and monitoring and review.
Civil society representatives called for, inter alia: considering the most marginalized people; measuring well-being and happiness to go beyond GDP measurements; strengthening mechanisms for stakeholder participation at the national level; and addressing the problem of discrimination on the basis of caste and ethnicity.
Public Services International called for indicators on: minimum wages; number of strikes; and the number of arrests and detentions. Voluntary Service Overseas highlighted the value of participatory research that allows volunteers to contribute their views, for example, on public services. Sisters of Mercy said that indicators “will scale up or scale down the level of ambition in the entire post-2015 agenda,” stressing that indicators must not fall below the level of internationally agreed human rights standards. The Malala Foundation called for an explicit reference to at least 12 years of free education for children.
Concluding the session, Co-Facilitator Kamau cautioned against trying to revisit the targets “in an extensive way,” in view of the need for these to be soon endorsed by Heads of State. He highlighted that the SDGs process has been without any precedent in history, and warned against tinkering with these “with the risk of losing what we already have in hand.”
DISCUSSION OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS AND TARGETS
On Wednesday afternoon, Tonga, for PSIDS, expressed disapproval at any technical proofing of the SDGs and targets, highlighting that the substance and content of the OWG outcome should remain intact. Regarding the document on targets that was circulated by the Co-Facilitators on Monday, he requested that Member States be given sufficient time to respond.
Ecuador expressed her support for the UNSC proposed roadmap and said that IEAG-SDG should not be of an inter-agency nature, but rather should be intergovernmental. She called for the outcome document to be adopted in September 2015 to provide basic guidance for the IEAG-SDG, and for any change to the OWG outcome to be made by consensus through a transparent process involving all Member States.
Paraguay said that the global indicators should: focus on eradicating poverty and reducing inequality within and between countries; be universally applicable; ensure human rights; be aligned with the Vienna Programme of Action for LLDCs; and address the sustainability of water sources.
Solomon Islands suggested that indicators be scientific, measurable, simple and limited in number by addressing crosscutting issues. She stipulated they should address countries’ specific situations, and be nationally owned.
Palau proposed that SDG 14 on oceans should contain an indicator on marine sanctuaries.
Palestine suggested including indicators on refugees. He highlighted Palestine’s ongoing work to develop indicators that capture the issue of poverty as a consequence of conflict.
South Africa, for the G-77/China, stated for the record that the Group remains averse to reopening the work of the OWG on SDGs, including work conducted “in the guise of technical proofing.” He said the chapeau, goals, targets, and reservations of the OWG report must be integrated entirely, warning that, since the report was adopted through an UNGA resolution, any attempt to adjust its contents would lead to the negotiation of a new resolution and potentially interrupt the agreed timeframe for the agenda. He requested details on how the document on targets that was circulated by the Co-Facilitators on Monday had been compiled, and which stakeholders were engaged in the exercise.
Namibia, for the African Group, emphasized that the OWG was the only body mandated by Rio+20 to define the SDGs, and so had “indisputable legitimacy.” The Group is unconvinced, he said, that Member States can redesign new language on the targets without reopening the whole package, while the rearrangement of the 17 SDGs can only lead to a change in their level of ambition or reduction in goals. He proposed that the x’s be filled in by an UNSC proposal or by countries in their own national capacities.
The EU welcomed efforts to complete the goals and targets to make them consistent with existing frameworks and agreements. He said efforts should draw on scientific expertise, while reasserting that Member States retain the final word. He said the Co-Facilitators’ proposal for technical proofing “goes in the right direction” without losing the substance, balance, and ambition of the OWG.
Belize, for CARICOM, said the criteria used for the technical proofing was a misrepresentation of Member States’ views, and stressed that technical exercises can only take place with political guidance.
Mexico observed that while the formulation of some targets could be improved, such concerns do not justify any technical revision of targets. On targets for biodiversity and ecosystems, he requested that any decisions taken be consistent with the Convention on Biological Diversity framework.
The International Olympic Committee highlighted the value of sport in promoting peaceful and non-violent societies. She requested Member States to reaffirm sport in the political declaration, and suggested that a single indicator of participation in sport could address health, participation and gender equality goals all at once.
The Maldives, for AOSIS, said the idea of technical proofing lacks support, and requested that any supporting documentation, such as the document on targets that was circulated by the Co-Facilitators on Monday, be shared sufficiently in advance of the session.
The UK proposed two criteria for potentially strengthening the targets without unraveling the political balance of the OWG proposal: the targets should have a numerical value, where appropriate; and they must be in line with existing agreements and not fall below them. He urged Member States to refer to other international benchmarks or initiatives to help decide relevant standards, for example, to the Gates Foundation on numerical targets for control or elimination of some diseases, and to UN-Habitat on housing.
Tunisia stressed that MOI are essential components of the SDGs, and that all 17 goals should be dealt with “on the same footing,” with countries filling in the x’s themselves.
Australia said Member States have a responsibility to ensure the targets are “quality assured” and based on the best advice possible. She suggested working on areas where there is broad agreement to improve a target, possibly with the support of the UNSC and input from experts, and for technical input to be provided before the next negotiating session.
Japan said that “there is no reason to be allergic to the technical tweaking of targets,” and that the technical proofing of targets should not be considered a “take it or leave it” proposal. He reminded Member States that UNGA Resolution 68/309 decided that the OWG outcome will be the main basis for integrating the SDGs into the post-2015 development agenda “while recognizing that other inputs will also be considered,” and presented the seven targets recently adopted in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).
Monaco called for including sport in the political declaration.
Republic of Korea said good indicators can come only with good targets, and called for further clarifying and improving targets where necessary.
France said the inconsistency of the draft targets with internationally agreed timelines will undermine the credibility of the document, and a solution to the issue of the remaining x’s needs to be found. He added that delegates should focus their work on accountability and follow-up.
Namibia, for the Group of Friends on Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought (DLDD), reiterated the importance of target 15.3 on desertification and of striving to achieve a land degradation-neutral world.
Co-Facilitator Donoghue informed delegates that the document on targets that was circulated by the Co-Facilitators on Monday was finalized only shortly before the meeting, thus they had not been able to provide it earlier. He added that the Co-Facilitators had set the criteria for the technical proofing.
Co-Facilitator Kamau explained that it was the Co-Facilitators’ understanding that “there was some desire that we should not put in front of the Heads of States and Governments any x’s and y’s or levels of ambition that are inconsistent with other agreements signed by them in other international contexts.” He further clarified that the Co-Facilitators’ expectation was that Member States would provide comments that could be later used to improve the document.
On Thursday morning, Co-Facilitator Kamau opened the discussion with an expression of condolences to German, French, Spanish and other colleagues on the Germanwings plane crash. Kamau then provided a summary of the current “state of play,” inviting Member States to provide an indication of the status of the document on targets that was circulated by the Co-Facilitators on Monday, reiterating the expectation that this is a work in progress. He invited further feedback to the Co-Facilitators, which he said will be used to improve the document.
Kamau also noted that: the UNSC has provided a set of indicators and ratings; Member States have commented that these are still rudimentary; the UNSC has asked for more time to develop the indicator framework; and a decision is needed whether Member States will allow more time. He signaled that decisions are needed as to whether Member States wish to revisit that set of indicators, or perhaps view a progress report on the work. He asked Member States to suggest, if a decision is made to move the indicator work away from the current track, how political oversight of that work will be maintained, and whether this should be done in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)/ High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) track. Finally, he asked Member States to consider how to characterize, in their post-2015 report to Heads of State and Government at the September 2015 Summit, the absence of indicators, noting that “clearly there is some expectation” that a complete post-2015 agenda will be presented.
Kamau anticipated that, once these decisions are made, Member States will focus on the declaration, MOI and arrangements for follow-up and review.
Belarus requested the UNSC to report to Member States on its progress. He highlighted the need for Member States to portray the SDGs, “the most technical part of the agenda,” in “simple human language.” He also highlighted his country’s national sustainable development strategy to 2030, which proposes long-term conceptual priorities that will provide the context for implementation of the SDGs.
Denmark affirmed the need to preserve the ambition of the OWG, and declared his readiness to address the “unfinished business” of the OWG based on having specific and measurable targets that conform to internationally agreed standards.
Finland expressed her support for the technical proofing of the targets and for the two criteria explained by the Co-Facilitators: filling in the x’s and ensuring consistency with existing international commitments and agreements.
Canada called for a “transparent and robust” assessment of the targets, and welcomed Japan’s proposal to align the existing targets with the ones recently decided in the Sendai Framework for Action on DRR. He explained that reviewing the targets does not constitute a re-opening, but rather a strengthening of the OWG outcome, and called for discussion of how the outcomes of other processes can be included in the post-2015 agenda.
Cyprus expressed her support for the technical proofing of the targets and for the two criteria explained by the Co-Facilitators. She added that UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) should provide the legal framework for target 14c on oceans.
Germany stressed the need to further “improve” the work done by the OWG. He expressed his support for the technical proofing of the targets and for the two criteria explained by the Co-Facilitators. On indicators, he proposed the post-2015 development agenda contain a list of provisional indicators and an explanation on the way forward for developing them.
Spain expressed her support for the technical proofing of the targets and for the two criteria explained by the Co-Facilitators.
Greece said that the goals and targets could be made more measurable and consistent with existing UN agreements, while preserving the balance of the OWG proposal. He highlighted target 14c as not reflective of international law in UNCLOS.
Sweden said continued discussions about ensuring that the targets do not fall below existing UN standards should be held as soon as possible. She stressed the universal nature of the agenda, it is “for and by all countries and stakeholders,” should be kept in mind moving forward.
Norway said some of the OWG proposals’ imperfections are due to a lack of time to do “polishing and a quality check” on the targets, but that the group now had time to finish the OWG’s unfinished business. She said the SDGs will guide efforts to eradicate poverty, mobilize resources, and implement results, and so must be concrete and specific. On the proposal to include reservations in the post-2015 agenda package, she asked, “Is my Prime Minister supposed to endorse the reservations made by other Member States?”
Israel said Member States need an opportunity to consider whether the OWG language is clear, coherent, and lives up to their level of ambition. She denounced earlier comments by Palestine, and stressed that political discussions do not belong in this forum.
Latvia agreed with the criteria for “tweaking” the targets, said this process should actively involve scientific experts, and called for the final product to be presented for agreement by Member States. On indicators, she supported the UNSC timeline.
Iceland stressed targets must be internally consistent. She said the targets on women’s empowerment are well below existing agreements, and called for gender equality to be reflected in the Secretary-General’s six elements so that women are no longer “kept in the shadows.”
Poland said the goals and targets should be restructured in relatively easy-to-understand language, and the Secretary-General’s six elements are a useful communication tool. The issues of SDG 16 are also crosscutting, he said, and will be critical in translating goals into practices on the ground.
Switzerland supported increasing the coherence and clarity of the SDGs, on the basis that: “x” values are quantified based on existing agreements and advice from the UN system; and wording is amended only where it raises the level of ambition. She said that, while the advice of statisticians is welcomed, the advice of technical experts will be needed to determine what is achievable, and the fallback option will be the OWG’s proposals.
Niger stressed the OWG proposal should not be reopened, and highlighted the expectations for the FfD conference.
The Philippines called for recognizing pollution as a leading cause of death in the developing world, referring to specific targets on treating wastewater, eliminating chemical dumping, and reducing nutrient pollution and marine debris.
The Russian Federation advocated maintaining the OWG proposal, without precluding a technical review of individual targets.
Romania supported the work on the document on targets that was circulated by the Co-Facilitators on Monday, and stressed that Heads of State “cannot address a document with ambiguity.” She proposed that the Summit package should include a political affirmation of the importance of indicators, and take note of the work done so far.
Egypt noted that although many countries are prepared to engage on the 19 modified targets, many others are not, citing the need for time to liaise with capitals. He called for clarification on the criteria and methodology used in the document on targets that was circulated by the Co-Facilitators on Monday, and observed that the concerns expressed relate to procedure rather than substance. He warned that attempts to match the targets with international agreements could be “a slippery slope,” and that further revision could be needed after the FfD conference, noting that Egypt would like to raise the level of ambition for SDG 17. He emphasized that he viewed the OWG proposal as “one package with three components”: the introduction, the goals and targets, and Member State reservations.
Guatemala supported Egypt’s points, and reminded delegates they have less time than the OWG, and the political stakes are higher. Noting that the discussion is now treating the OWG proposal as a baseline, she stressed that the nature of the OWG outcome was a political, not technical, document. She warned against reopening the OWG proposal, saying such action could result in lowering the level of ambition.
Noting that the OWG was “an interesting, though painful, process to endure,” Indonesia highlighted that she is not in favor of opening the SDGs by proofing the targets, and suggested deferring further discussion of technical proofing as “there are other important parts of the agenda that need to be discussed.”
Colombia noted that, even though she does not want leaders in September to adopt a document that has blank spaces, “opening even the smallest space in the discussions will create space for countries to start changing and fixing other parts, and eliminate or change targets.” She added that this would “ruin” the possibility of agreeing on a final outcome.
The United Arab Emirates stressed that he does not support any technical proofing or clustering of the goals and targets as that would mean opening the entire document. He further said that indicators should be developed in a technical process, “outside of the post-2015 outcome document.”
Iran underlined that opening the targets will lead to an open-ended process, adding that no goal, target, or international event should be specifically highlighted in the outcome document.
Iceland, also for Australia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Panama, Poland, Sweden, and the US, stressed that the implementation of all the targets under SDG 14 is vital to capitalizing on the full potential of oceans to contribute to achieving sustainable development. He further called for including indicators on oceans in any core set of indicators that might be proposed and highlighted that UNCLOS should provide the legal framework for the use of the oceans and their resources.
Nigeria said that he is against reopening the targets since starting a “process of cherry-picking at this stage will be the beginning of an endless process.”
Nicaragua said efforts should now be focused on MOI. She discussed the implementation of development goals in her own country, and said it is focusing on expanding renewable energy resources and the number of women in decision-making.
Argentina said the OWG proposal should be taken as a whole, and not be renegotiated. He said future work on the agenda and indicators should take into account UNGA Resolution 69/245 on oceans for sustainable development. He stressed that he does not support monitoring by private organizations.
The US said the OWG targets are ambitious, but are too variable and not technically rigorous enough to be an integrated framework for action. He said the negotiations in the OWG had no sense of finality, and that the agenda should be raised to a common technical standard in order to give more clarity about what it is trying to achieve. He said 32% of the targets are “excellent,” 50% are in need of clarity, and 18% are in need of “considerable work” to make them actionable. He emphasized that targets should: get the balance of quantifiable metrics right; not be divided between the environment and the economy; specify the level of ambition; and prioritize actions and outcomes.
El Salvador said indicators and MOI should have an approach based on human rights. He said it is a priority to focus on the elaboration of indicators, as these will “give life to the goals.” He also emphasized the importance of not re-opening the OWG report.
Turkey supported the establishment of the IAEG–SDG and prioritized working on global indicators, noting this is a technical task requiring time, the cooperation of the scientific community, national ownership, and the broad participation of NSOs. She recalled that country responses to the UNSD survey on monitoring found that only 40% of the proposed indicators were feasible to monitor, adding that the UN’s role in monitoring global targets will be critical. While not against the tweaking of targets, she called for detailed reasoning to be provided on any changes.
Ecuador said the preparation of the document on targets that was circulated by the Co-Facilitators on Monday had broken the agreement not to reopen the OWG proposal, and that there is neither the time nor the political will to make changes. He called for strengthening MOI for each goal, and stipulated that the IAEG-SDG should be an intergovernmental group supported by agencies.
Mexico favored allowing enough time for the indicators framework to be prepared, based on the technical guidance from this session and the UNSC roadmap. He said the final objective should be the submission of the indicator framework for adoption through institutional channels, namely ECOSOC and subsequently the UNGA. He outlined that: the function of global indicators will be to measure global trends; regional indicators should be used to compare experiences and share challenges among those in similar situations; and national indicators should be used to report on the effectiveness and impacts of programmes and policies. He did not support reopening discussion on the targets, saying this has more dangers than benefits.
Morocco stated that the targets should not be reopened, commenting that to reach consensus would require “considerable negotiation efforts.”
On Thursday afternoon, Algeria warned that any repackaging of the SDGs runs the risk of tampering with the political balance of the OWG proposal. Regarding the document on targets circulated by the Co-Facilitators earlier in the week, he said the process followed was questionable, and that the document “has gone beyond the issue of technical proofing.” He recommended filling in the x’s at the national level, and noted that although the post-2015 development agenda contains highly technical issues, it will nevertheless be politically driven.
Palestine responded to Israel’s comments, clarifying that his previous statement was that states should have the right to take into account national and local specificities in implementation of the SDGs, and that he had cited poverty in Palestine as requiring such an approach, in view of the situation in Gaza.
Comoros expressed openness to technical improvement of the targets. She said that the indicators framework should take into account current important challenges, mentioning the impacts of climate change, and the need for disaster management efforts.
Micronesia opposed the reopening or technical proofing of targets, saying this could result in two possible scenarios: a Summit on the post-2015 agenda that does not contain the agenda itself; or, a weaker outcome than is currently agreed.
Lesotho called for the SDGs and targets to be adopted as they are, and especially welcomed SDG 16 on peace, justice and good governance as being essential to good outcomes, saying, “There will be no sustainable development where there is no investment in legal frameworks.”
New Zealand urged delegates to keep their eyes “firmly on the prize” of developing a global framework that will eradicate extreme poverty within a generation. She welcomed the document on targets that was circulated on Monday, saying that her country would have difficulties in tracking some of the proposed targets.
Co-Facilitator Donoghue expressed willingness to revisit the document on targets, and to circulate an updated version to Member States at the next opportunity. Summarizing the discussion, he noted that delegates had demonstrated some openness to filling in the x’s, but that “a fuller rationale” for proposed changes would be desirable. He anticipated that concluding remarks on the targets discussion would be made on Friday.
DISCUSSION OF THEMES OF THE INTERACTIVE DIALOGUES
On Thursday afternoon, Co-Facilitator Kamau invited Member States to make their views known on the proposed topics for the interactive dialogues to take place during the September Summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda, and delegates then discussed a list of possible themes.
Ecuador, on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, proposed six topics for the interactive dialogues: poverty eradication; inequalities; needs of indigenous peoples, migrants, people of African descent, persons with disabilities, and others who suffer discrimination; action on climate change to achieve sustainable development; a successful transition from the MDGs to the SDGs; and gender equality.
South Africa, for the G-77/China, noted that the Summit should constitute the transition from the MDGs to the SDGs, and should therefore provide an opportunity to share successful lessons. He proposed the themes for the thematic dialogues focus on, inter alia, poverty eradication in line with CBDR, reducing inequalities in and among countries, gender equality, technology transfer, and MOI.
Maldives, for AOSIS, suggested the thematic dialogues be used to enable taking action on political commitments. He expressed his support for themes related to eradicating poverty, climate change, renewed global partnership and MOI. He further stressed the need for dialogues on resilience development beyond economic resilience and on the needs of countries in special situations.
Belize, for CARICOM, underlined the need for action-oriented dialogues to consolidate political momentum. She said that the themes should focus on the factors that will impact the implementation of the agenda such as: the influence of the lessons learned from the MDGs on the implementation of the SDGs; strengthening synergies between the global, regional, and national levels; and establishing and supporting strong partnerships. She further mentioned the discussion on peaceful societies and effective institutions should not be limited to the national level but encompass the global framework and institutions.
The EU underscored that the interactive dialogues are not the plenary sessions of the Summit, and should be organized as truly interactive dialogues and engage all stakeholders.
Chile proposed a thematic dialogue on the sustainable use of oceans. Montenegro said the number of indicators must be kept limited along an agreed set of criteria, and should be defined by the Summit in September.
The United Arab Emirates proposed the following themes for the September Summit, in order to develop an integrated approach to the agenda: the transition from the MDGs to SDGs; poverty eradication; women; oceans; water and food security; children and youth; energy and climate change; and innovative partnerships. He said these issues were crosscutting throughout the agenda.
The Seychelles supported the proposals of Chile and the United Arab Emirates to include oceans as a theme for discussion. She said that this topic was absent from the Secretary-General’s 2014 Climate Summit, and must be included in the 2015 Summit.
Monaco regretted that oceans were not on the list of themes for the Summit, and appealed “with passion and firmness” that they must be included in the thematic debates.
Switzerland called for including a discussion on ecosystem services for poverty eradication and economic development, and for the Summit to discuss how to make the SDGs a reality with relevant actors.
Regarding the interactive dialogues, Ecuador requested having a clear reference to migrants, and called for women, children, and persons with disabilities to be present at the dialogues.
Bolivia proposed that systemic issues be addressed in the interactive dialogues, including sovereign debt and financial crises.
On Friday morning, Co-Facilitator Kamau introduced the Co-Facilitators’ proposal to hold a joint session of the FfD and post-2015 processes, to ensure that what is done on both tracks will be “complementary and synergistic,” highlighting that the output of FfD discussions will be essential to the success of the post-2015 agenda. He noted that an ECOSOC-Bretton Woods Institutions discussion is scheduled for 20-21 April, and suggested a four-day meeting from 21-24 April instead of a five-day session, thus allowing space for Member States to take part in the ECOSOC-Bretton Woods discussion on 20 April. He highlighted that the draft programme for the April FfD intergovernmental negotiation session is available, and invited Member States to advise if there are aspects of MOI that need to be addressed separately from the FfD track.
South Africa, for the G-77/China, stressed that he is against any reviewing of targets and that the OWG outcome, including the chapeau, the SDGs, the targets and the reservations, must be integrated in the post-2015 outcome in its entirety. He noted that while indicators will not be negotiated in the context of this intergovernmental track, Member States should give guidance to the UNSC during the session on follow-up and review. The representative further underlined that the process of creating the IEAG-SDG should be finalized as soon as possible in a transparent manner and called for travel support for developing countries so that capital-based experts could participate in the sessions.
Tonga, on behalf of PSIDS, reaffirmed that the OWG report on SDGs should not be reopened. He welcomed the development of indicative global indicators, and reiterated the need for a fully open and transparent process. He called for the thematic dialogues to bring about clear and concrete outcomes, in particular on climate change and oceans.
Belize, on behalf of CARICOM, noted that the OWG proposal enjoys legitimacy, and did not support any “tweaking” of targets. She welcomed UNSC’s input to help fill in the x’s based on political guidance.
Benin, on behalf of LDCs, supported not reopening the SDGs and targets, and said the issue of filling in the x’s should be resolved in a transparent way. He anticipated that the technical work on elaborating indicators will generate enough information to enable filling in the x’s, and that meanwhile Member States should “think of ways to fill the pending gaps” without engaging in revision of targets.
The EU proposed the outcome of the Addis Ababa conference on FfD should contribute to the concept of a new global partnership for the post-2015 agenda, based on universality, shared responsibilities, respective capabilities, and a multi-stakeholder, multi-level approach. He also called for a key oversight role for the HLPF and coherence with the work of the UNFCCC.
Peru said the UNSC is the appropriate body to deal with the development of global indicators for the SDGs, with constant channels of exchange with this process. He added that the development of indicators does not mean that states cannot develop their own indicators, and recommended follow-up on the indicators be done in the HLPF.
Co-Facilitator Kamau said he saw a lot of common ground among the groups, and noted that the technology transfer mechanism should probably be developed by this track, not the Addis track.
Japan emphasized that a global partnership for development will be a key feature in SDG implementation, and suggested a session on this, during the April meeting, adding that the follow-up and review arrangements should be kept in the post-2015 track.
Samoa stressed that strong MOI and partnership will be needed, and that all 17 SDGs should have equal weight in the agenda. She noted severe capacity constraints on delegate participation in all the negotiating tracks, and highlighted the need for technical support.
South Africa, for the G-77/China, asked about the nature of Member States’ interface with the UNSC, and requested the Co-Facilitators take the lead to ensure there is interaction, suggesting that structured briefings could be organized in future post-2015 sessions. He highlighted Member States’ calls to take up, in the context of the post-2015 discussion, the establishment of a technology facilitation mechanism as provided for in the Rio+20 outcome document, and to prepare a draft decision. On filling in the x’s, he restated the G-77/China position that the OWG report should not be tampered with.
Guyana, on behalf of the Co-Facilitator of the FfD process, agreed on the need for coherence and complementarity, noting that the timing of the FfD process has been to ensure MOI is adequately addressed, and that the FfD outcome contains specific deliverables. He cited a possible precedent for how the FfD and post-2015 processes can cooperate, in the relationship between the Monterrey Financing for Development conference in 2002 and the subsequent World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg later the same year, with the submission of a “Monterrey-lite” version of the outcome to the WSSD process.
Brazil commented on the programme of work for the April session, noting a full day should not be given up for the ECOSOC meeting with the Bretton Woods Institutions, but suggested that there could be a dialogue with them on the role of the Bretton Woods Institutions in the implementation of the post-2015 agenda. He also called for focusing on the priorities and initial tasks of the technology facilitation mechanism, but said there needs to be more than one day to consider this issue.
Chile noted that climate change is also an area of sustainable development that requires financing and stressed the need for coherence and a holistic understanding of what will be decided in both the FfD and post-2015 processes, based on CBDR. He further underscored the need to discuss systemic issues during the April session.
Australia said that experts on regional issues and innovation should be invited to offer presentations during the April session. She further added that she looks forward to the interactive multi-stakeholder dialogues and discussing how they will fit in the renewed global partnership.
On the way forward on indicators, Mexico underlined that, as Member States will be involved in the process of developing them through their NSOs, there is no need for further political oversight of that process during the intergovernmental negotiations.
China said that the intergovernmental process on the post-2015 development agenda should provide the UNSC with political guidance on how to formulate indicators. She explained that Member States should: give the UNSC a clear mandate and a roadmap for the formulation of the indicators by including some paragraphs in the follow-up and review section; and set some principles for formulating the indicators. She added that the April session of the intergovernmental negotiations should focus on, inter alia: integrating the FfD outcome in the post-2015 development agenda; designing the technology facilitation mechanism; and creating international policy frameworks for implementing the post-2015 development agenda.
Co-Facilitator Kamau clarified that the intergovernmental process will discuss only the global SDGs, targets, and indicators.
India stressed the need to discuss technology cooperation, referring to a “clearly unambiguous mandate from the UNGA” to discuss technology as part of the post-2015 development agenda. He suggested Member States’ build on the work of the structured dialogues on a technology facilitation mechanism that took place in 2014, and proposed allocating two days to discuss technology transfer during the April session.
Switzerland noted that the FfD outcome must define the “how” of the agenda, while the post-2015 development process must define the “what.” He explained that the FfD outcome needs to be integrated in the post-2015 development agenda to provide a framework for implementing the SDGs, and should contain an “ambitious” chapter on technology and innovation. He further proposed that the third chapter of the post-2015 development agenda should include: the key principles and outcomes of FfD; MOI; and the global partnership. He said that the April meeting should help Member States reach an agreement on what this chapter should look like.
The EU said that the FfD outcome constitutes the MOI pillar of the post-2015 development agenda and recommended its outcome on monitoring be merged with the follow-up and review of the post-2015 development agenda, under the coordination of the HLPF. He stressed that science, technology, and innovation should not be tackled in a fragmented manner, adding that they are already included in the draft of the FfD outcome.
Egypt noted that he doesn’t share the view that the FfD process is a substitute for the discussion on MOI in the post-2015 development agenda, and highlighted the need to put an emphasis on systemic issues during the April session. He added that a technology facilitation mechanism is one of the unfulfilled mandates of the Rio+20 Conference, adding that there is an “unambiguous mandate from the UNGA to finish the discussions on it in this intergovernmental negotiation track.” He suggested two of the initially proposed five days for the April session be allocated to discussing technology transfer.
Sudan proposed maintaining the April session as a five-day meeting.
The Republic of Korea said the MOI issues, both financial and non-financial, should be dealt with by the FfD conference in Addis Ababa and integrated in a coherent way into the post-2015 development agenda. He recommended spending more time discussing the global partnership and follow-up and review than systemic issues during the April session.
The US noted that all the key elements of the global partnership are legacies of the Monterrey Consensus and the Doha Declaration, and so will be a part of the FfD outcome, adding that the April session should be used to ensure coherence between the two processes. He said that science, technology, and innovation are key elements of FfD, recommending Member States wait to see what comes out of that process before discussing them in this process.
The Netherlands preferred a flexible approach to the April meeting, and called for creating ambitious, specific, and relevant actions for the achievement of post-2015 targets.
Norway supported the UNSC roadmap and requested a briefing on the progress of its work, in future post-2015 sessions. Nigeria opposed any attempt to reopen the balance of the OWG proposal, and supported the proposal to have a joint meeting with the FfD process.
Delegates then adjourned briefly while the Co-Chairs prepared a summary and suggestions for the way forward.
When delegates reconvened Friday afternoon, Co-Facilitator Donoghue proposed the following structure for the April meeting:
• a four-day meeting from 21-24 April 2015, including delegates to the FfD process;
• Day 1, discussing outstanding issues from the FfD track, systemic issues, and innovation, and a meeting with representatives of the Bretton Woods Institutions;
• Day 2, a discussion on the technology facilitation mechanism;
• Day 3, an interactive discussion with Major Groups and a discussion on the global partnership and transformative ideas; and
• Day 4, a discussion on follow-up and review and coherence between the FfD and post-2015 outcome documents.
On targets, he proposed providing a more detailed explanation on the suggested changes to the 19 targets. On indicators, he proposed that the UNSC will again brief the delegations at the negotiations in May, during which Member States could decide to transfer political oversight on indicators to the ECOSOC/HLPF.
Co-Facilitator Kamau observed that delegations had generally embraced the timeframe of the UNSC to agree to indicators in March 2016.
Egypt questioned whether the April meeting proposal would totally lose the discussion on means of implementation. Co-Facilitator Kamau explained that that each discussion of the May session will relate to means of implementation.
India asked whether the target exercise would be broadened beyond the original 19 targets suggested, and said the discussion on the technology facilitation mechanism should build on work done on this topic so far.
South Africa stressed Member States should make a decision on how they will engage and decide on the indicators. He asked whether the follow-up and review discussion of the last day would replace the May discussion on this same topic.
Co-Facilitator Kamau said the April discussion on monitoring and review will just be in the context of MOI and FfD. He said it was clear that this is still the body overseeing the indicators, until it decides how to proceed in May.
Brazil expressed concern regarding the proposed time allocated to the discussion with the Bretton Woods Institutions, noting that the five-day April session had been already shortened to four days because of the ECOSOC dialogue with the Bretton Woods Institutions on the first day.
Guatemala stressed the need to include capacity building on the programme for the April session. On targets that will be decided by other international fora, such as the ones related to climate change, she proposed adding a paragraph in the chapeau or in the declaration referring to them.
Samoa noted the need for clarity on where other MOI, such as capacity building, will fit in the programme of the April session.
Mexico highlighted the need to address capacity building during the April session and expressed his support for Guatemala’s suggestion on targets that are being discussed in other processes.
Indonesia expressed her support for Guatemala’s proposal on targets that are being discussed in other processes and asked for more information on the modalities for “filling in the x’s.”
Algeria expressed concern about the time allocated to the discussion with the Bretton Woods Institutions in the light of the already reduced duration of the April session and asked for more information about the proposed criteria for “filling in the x’s.”
Co-Facilitator Donoghue noted that “it is a little early” to speak about the criteria that will be used to review the 19 targets, but assured Member States that they will be based on what they discussed during the current session.
Co-Facilitator Kamau said that capacity building will be included in the section on the global partnership, and perhaps in the one on deliverables. Noting that he sees the April session as a “train station where all the tracks come together,” he brought to the delegates’ attention the fact that the April session will be the only opportunity for the post-2015 agenda process delegates to “inject” their ideas into the Addis outcome.
With no further comments, the meeting closed at 5:03 pm.
A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF THE MEETING
MUCH ADO ABOUT POST-2015
As the third act of the post-2015 intergovernmental negotiations took to the stage from 23-27 March 2015, the masks worn in the opening scenes began to fall away. The meeting revealed and crystalized the challenges that face the players as they move into the last four months of negotiations to craft the final agenda. Focusing their discussion on the goals, targets, and indicators, delegates reviewed the work that had been carefully constructed by the Open Working Group, and discussed the crafting of indicators for the measurement of the SDGs and their targets. Whereas the two previous post-2015 meetings―on stocktaking and the political declaration, respectively― provided general overviews, this meeting brought the underlying tensions and the different positions of developed and developing countries to center stage. With the positions around these components of the agenda now clearly on display, Member States must find a way to reach agreement on what constitutes a “complete” post-2015 package. This brief analysis will explore the pressures facing these negotiators and the issues that must be resolved before the curtain falls on a final agreement in September 2015.
GOALS AND TARGETS: A STAGE COMBAT
Co-Facilitators Kamau and Donoghue started the third meeting with a bang, circulating an unofficial document containing proposed “tweaks” to 19 of the SDGs’ targets. These changes, intended to fill in unspecified percentages and bring the targets in line with existing international agreements, brought a jolt of excitement to a room that had been clearly divided on whether a technical proofing exercise should even be carried out. With Member State responses to this document postponed until later in the week to allow time for regional and interest groups to coordinate, even the Co-Facilitators referred to the building drama as “ominous.”
Delegations eventually opened Wednesday afternoon’s discussion with hardened positions on the proposals, and on how the OWG goals and targets should ultimately make their way into the final post-2015 agenda. One group of countries firmly stated that the OWG goals, targets, chapeau, and reservations should be integrated in their entirety into the agenda, with a chorus of developing countries repeating one after the other, “We do not support reopening the work of the OWG on SDGs.”
On the opposing side, some developed countries called for technical proofing to ensure that the targets are consistent, complete, and meet a higher level of ambition. One bold US statement caused a stir in the room when suggesting that as many as 68% of the proposed targets could be substantively improved.Member States then colorfully sounded off on the debate―Japan calling the avoidance of technical proofing as akin to an “allergy,” and Viet Nam referring to the OWG proposal as a “delicate jewel” that cannot be polished for risk of damage. A few thinly veiled threats also arose, with at least one developing country government listing the goals and targets that could be found unsatisfactory to her group, perhaps sending a message that reopening the SDGs would have its costs.
Ultimately, these disagreements center on the status of the OWG’s outcome and whether it was intended to be fixed or evolving, as well as fears about reopening and weakening its contents in another full negotiation, versus optimism that the agenda as it stands could be more ambitious. One delegate remarked that re-negotiation would represent the “worst case scenario,” and could unravel the entire list of goals and targets. Others insist―in a case of competing interpretations of the OWG’s work―that the 2014 agreement was itself never complete, was built after only a few meetings of actual negotiation, and would always need to be returned to in this forum.
Brewing mistrust was also more visible around the room, with countries declaring their suspicion about using the “guise of technical proofing” as a means for reopening the document, despite the Co-Facilitators’ continued promises to the contrary. As the pace of the plot picks up, the way towards compromise between these two sides is yet unclear, although delegates are circling the stage, testing the waters on what they might accept.
INDICATORS: A PLAY IN PARALLEL
With no clear agreement yet reached on the way forward with the goals and targets, the conversation about creating an indicator framework often seemed precariously perched on top of an unsettled foundation. The presentation from the UN Statistical Commission stressed that its efforts to elaborate indicators are only preliminary, and would likely stretch for another year, for agreement in March 2016. Many delegations expressed concern at this timeline, however, and urged that their work be sped up to include a full set of indicators in the post-2015 package in September, noting that the post-2015 development agenda would be incomplete otherwise.
The debate over the timeline gave way to another subplot that delegations are grappling with―should the creation of indicators be a purely technical process, or one with strong intergovernmental involvement? Bangladesh recalled a lesson from Statistics 101, that “all data can be manipulated without a careful framework.” The ensuing discussion made clear, however, that different suspicions of this “manipulation” exist. Many stressed the need for Member State ownership over the writing of the entire agenda, including the indicators, and for all measurements chosen to reflect country priorities. However, there was little appetite expressed for a full negotiating process around indicators, and a chorus of calls of support for experts in the statistical community to lead the process.
Finally, indicators can be used as a device to frame the ambition of different aspects of the agenda, and so some delegates took to proposing issue-specific indicators on causes dear to their hearts. Major Groups and stakeholders detailed indicators for measuring the wellbeing of marginalized groups, social protests, and even love, often to rounds of applause and cheers. Although the Co-Facilitators insisted that the indicators should not determine the ambition of the agenda, it was clear that some delegates hoped to use them for this very purpose.
INTERMISSION AND ANOTHER ACT AHEAD
At this point in the production, it is hard to predict now what will unfold in the acts to come, what the final agenda will ultimately resemble, and what solutions Member States will be able to unite around in September 2015. With meetings ahead to focus on still more daunting tasks―agreeing on means of implementation, as well as the framework for monitoring and review―the pace and the intensity of the negotiations is picking up.
With agreement at this meeting to hold a joint session with the Financing for Development preparatory process in April, the plot will thicken before the final dénouement. Coherence between the two negotiating tracks is necessary to ensure that one does not undermine the other, but bringing the two processes together has revealed differing ideas on the nature of their ideal relationship. The relationship with the UNSC must also be better defined to ensure that the technical and political processes support one another. With these loose ends and parallel considerations still to be worked out, delegations are already gearing up for difficult work in the months ahead.
“We are a house divided,” remarked one delegate, as the meeting brought long-held tensions to the fore. The general goodwill among delegations that had been so carefully crafted during the OWG still exists, however, and might be the element to unite the heroes in the final act. Whether comedy or tragedy, it is without a doubt that the post-2015 negotiations have actors and audience alike on the edge of their seats.
ECOSOC Integration Segment 2015: The 2015 Economic and Social Council Integration Segment will bring together Heads of State and Government, ministers, governors, mayors, the UN system, the tripartite constituents of the International Labour Organization, civil society, academia and the private sector. The segment will focus on “achieving sustainable development through employment creation and decent work for all.” dates: 30 March - 1 April 2015 location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination phone: +1-212-963-8415 fax: +1-212-963-1712 email: email@example.com www: http://www.un.org/en/ecosoc/integration/2015/index.shtml
DCF Republic of Korea High-level Symposium: The Symposium is the first high-level preparatory event for the 2016 Development Cooperation Forum and will be co-organized by the Republic of Korea and UNDESA. It will focus on how to bring together commitments on financing and other means of implementation from the Monterrey and Rio processes. dates: 8-10 April 2015 location: Incheon, Republic of Korea contact: Caroline Lombardo, UNDESA phone: +1-917-367-9212 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.un.org/en/ecosoc/newfunct/dcfrok.shtml
FfD Hearings with Civil Society and Business Sector: As part of the preparatory process for FfD3, hearings with civil society and the business sector will be hosted by the Office of the President of the UN General Assembly, with support from the Financing for Development Office and the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS). dates: 8-9 April 2015 location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: Susan Alzner, NGLS phone: +1-212-963-3125 email: email@example.com www: http://www.un.org/esa/ffd/overview/third-conference-ffd/preparatory-process.html
Second drafting session of the outcome document of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development: The second drafting session of the outcome document for FfD3 will take place in April. dates: 13-17 April 2015 location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: UN Financing for Development Office phone: +1-212-963-4598 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.un.org/esa/ffd/
Special high-level meeting of ECOSOC with the World Bank, IMF, WTO and UNCTAD: The special high-level meeting of ECOSOC with the Bretton Woods Institutions, the World Trade Organization, and the UN Conference on Trade and Development will address “Coherence, coordination and cooperation in the context of financing for sustainable development and the post-2015 development agenda.” dates: 20-21 April 2015 location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: Jennifer DeLaurentis phone: +1-212-963-4640 fax: +1-212-963-5935 email: email@example.com www: http://www.un.org/esa/ffd/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/ECOSOC-BWI_Tentative-Programme_25feb2015.pdf
Intergovernmental Negotiations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda: The intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda, which will prepare for the UN Summit, will hold the following sessions: 21-24 April (MOI and Global Partnership for Sustainable Development); 18-22 May (Follow-up and review); and 22-25 June, 20-24 July, and 27-31 July (intergovernmental negotiations on the outcome document). location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: UN Division for Sustainable Development phone: +1-212-963-8102 fax: +1-212-963-4260 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015
Third drafting session of the outcome document of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development: The third drafting session of the outcome document for FfD3 will take place in June. dates: 15-19 June 2015 location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: UN Financing for Development Office phone: +1-212-963-4598 email: email@example.com www: http://www.un.org/esa/ffd/
Third Meeting of the High-level Political Forum: The third meeting of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, which will take place under the auspices of ECOSOC, will focus on the theme, “Strengthening integration, implementation and review – the HLPF after 2015.” The HLPF is mandated to meet every year under the auspices of ECOSOC and every four years at the level of Heads of State and Government under the auspices of the UN General Assembly. dates: 26 June - 8 July 2015 location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: UN Division for Sustainable Development fax: +1-212-963-4260 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/index.php?menu=1838
Third International Conference on Financing for Development: The Third International Conference on Financing for Development will be held at the highest possible political level, including Heads of State or Government, relevant ministers―ministers for finance, foreign affairs and development cooperation―and other special representatives. The conference will result both in an intergovernmentally negotiated and agreed outcome and summaries of the plenary meetings and other deliberations of the Conference, to be included in the report of the Conference. dates: 13-16 July 2015 location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia contact: UN Financing for Development Office phone: +1-212-963-4598 email: email@example.com www: http://www.un.org/esa/ffd/
UN Summit to Adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda: The Summit is expected to adopt the post-2015 development agenda, including: a declaration; a set of Sustainable Development Goals, targets, and indicators; their means of implementation and a new Global Partnership for Development; and a framework for follow-up and review of implementation. dates: 25-27 September 2015 location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: UN Division for Sustainable Development fax: +1-212-963-4260 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/summit
For additional meetings, see http://sd.iisd.org/