2015 Summit modalities - some questions that need answering

Draft resolution for the Organization of the United Nations Summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda

Last week the Ambassadors of Papua New Guinea and Denmark released their draft resolution and it is worth all stakeholders taking an interest in this NOW.

So far the work on the Sustainable Development Goals has had its meetings very well signposted 13 of them clearly announced so that civil servants from capitals and stakeholders can plan to attend. The meetings have been conducted with the active involvement of Major Groups and other stakeholders. They have been integrated into the meetings making their own inputs to the discussion.

What the Ambassadors have put forward does not seem to meet the above participation of stakeholders and possibly even civil servants and experts from capitals.

Stakeholders

First the resolution does not build on the approach from Rio in 1992 to the SDG OWG which was based on Major Groups and other stakeholders. It brings a completely new construct together of: “parliamentarians, local authorities, academia, non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations, the private sector and other relevant stakeholders.” I would ask the question why?

A process to enable those Major Groups and stakeholders has been established and is working very well in the SDG OWG and did so in Rio+20 why change that now…it makes no sense. Additionally, if this formulation passes, it will make it harder for Major Groups and other stakeholders to organize themselves in a new system of self-organization.

Why does the resolution only: “Invites the Inter-Parliamentary Union, as part of the preparatory process for its fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament, to contribute to the Summit;” Why hasn’t it mentioned other stakeholder input such as the first Future Earth Conference from the academics, or the ICLEI congress on resilient cities or the NGO UN DPI Conference this year or next?

The Preparatory Process

What is being suggested is “Encourages Member States and other relevant actors to organize preparatory meetings and activities in the lead up to the Summit; Requests the President of the 69th session of the General Assembly to continue to hold open, inclusive and transparent consultations with all Member States with a view to reaching agreement on all major outstanding issues relating to the Summit, taking into account the views expressed by Member States. Strongly encourages all Member States to actively engage in the process of formal and informal consultations leading to the Summit and to participate in the Summit at the highest level of government;”

As yet it does not identify what this process will be I would STRONGLY advocate for a set of three or four preparatory meetings each of two weeks in length. This will enable the active involvement of civil servants from capitals and stakeholders. It will also help build the media profile for this Summit which will be with the Paris Climate COP later in 2015 the drive change for the next generation.

Civil Society Hearing or Multi-stakeholder Dialogues

We have over 20 year’s experiences of different models for engagement stakeholders in Summit processes. I do not believe that the civil society hearings work. They for a start do not fit onto the Major Groups and other stakeholder discourse but even if they did the experience of them over the last ten years is they have had very little impact. Governments do not attend the sessions and those that do send low level representatives from their Missions. I call it displacement activity it keeps stakeholders busy while governments can get on with the real work. So if not hearings then what?

We should go back to the multi-stakeholder dialogues of 1998 to 2002 which were used at the Commission on Sustainable Development, World Summit on Sustainable Development, the Bonn Water (2001) and Bonn Energy Conferences (2004).  

Not all of those were successful, but many were, the model wasn’t that ALL the Major Groups took part but 4 for each dialogue. So my suggestion is the first day of each prepcom to have a multi-stakeholder dialogue with no more than 4 stakeholders taking part in each three hour session. Half the time is given to governments and the focus is on a couple of key aspect of the negotiations. What is critical for this is that what became known as the Simon Upton model (former New Zealand Minister) is used. This means that  the text that comes out of the dialogues (it’s a chairs text) is entered formerly into the negotiations as if it’s a government text

Regional and National Meetings

The timing of the National and Regional Meetings are vital. They have to happen before the Secretary General publishes his report late this year. Why? Because to have these happen before the formal negotiations start in New York is critical. Therefore it is my suggestion that governments with their stakeholders host national meetings in October and the regional commissions host their meetings in November or December. Clearly they will have to be done on the basis of the SDG OWG final report and the International Experts Committee on Financing Sustainable Development.

Global participation and Engagement

This needs to start NOW – the UNDPI NGO Conference (27-29 August, New York) should be the first place where the stakeholders start to outline their messages in light of the two reports and utilize social media and traditional media to awaken the world to the changes that may be made in their names and - we hope - if done well with them.

Back to the Future?

This cannot be a replay of 1992 or 2000 or 2002 this time governments need to follow through and this is why I do welcome the involvement of parliaments. The executive branch needs to be held accountable to what they promise in September (post 2015 development goals) and December 2015 (Climate COP)– this time governments have to do what the Summit agreements say. Time is surely running out to make the changes that need to done together. There is growing level of nationalism around the developed countries that is forcing governments to look inward. This causes many politicians not to recognize or prioritize the many of the challenges that we face that need global agreements, global and national action and enlightened leadership. These next 15 years should be a period of hope, of vision and most of all action for a better world which together we can make with equity, justice and sustainability.

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