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European Union Paper comes out on the SDGs

For those who have not been involved with the Sustainable Development Goals Open Working Group let me just explain a little about how it operates. The Rio+20 Conference agreed that:

"An open working group shall be constituted no later than the opening of the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly and shall comprise of thirty representatives, nominated by Member States through the five UN regional groups with the aim of achieving fair, equitable and balanced geographic representation."

Governments could not agree on the 30 members as 70 countries applied to join and so some buddy system was created for those 30 seats. It created some very interesting buddies:
  • India / Pakistan / Sri Lanka
  • China / Indonesia / Kazakhstan
  • Cyprus / Singapore / United Arab Emirates
  • Bangladesh / Republic of Korea / Saudi Arabia

  • Iran (Islamic Republic of) / Japan / Nepal
  • Australia/Netherlands/United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • Canada / Israel / United States of America
  • Italy / Spain / Turkey

  • As you can see this took countries out of their traditional groups of the European Union and the Group of 77. This was in my opinion a very positive development and it was helped by the fact that the European Union could not agree a new position further to the March 2012 Communique for Rio+20. This also then I think contributed to the G77 not having a solid negotiating position on many of the issues under discussion either. So what we saw was a real conversation based on input from experts and stakeholders across what would have traditional groupings.

    That is about to change.

    On June 2nd the European Union published a "Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, The Council, The European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Committee of the Regions called 'A decent Life for all: from vision to collective action.  Please do read it.

    I was reflecting on whether this action by the European Union was a good idea.One of the strengths of the SDG OWG has been the lack of block mentality and now I wonder what the reaction to this will be by G77. 

    On the issues that they are addressing  I would suggest that one of the most important sections of the Communique is Section 5 on a New Global Partnership. To date key G77 countries have asked for the Means of Implementation to be under each goal. This is the approach taken in Agenda 21. The EU seems to be approaching it more from an MDG approach where there would be stand alone goal on A New Global Partnership. 

    I am a huge fan of the Agenda 21 approach where you can focus the MoI to a particular goal and set of targets e.g. what are the technology transfer issues, the capacity building issues, the education, the financial mechanisms that are needed. 

    Back to the EU Communique  it gives clear indication which goals they favour and which they see could be mainstreamed. Its proposed priority areas are:
    "The Commission proposal calls for tackling issues of global concern such as poverty, inequality, health, food security, education, gender equality, water and sanitation, sustainable energy, decent work, inclusive and sustainable growth, sustainable consumption and production, biodiversity, land degradation and sea and oceans.

    The post-2015 framework should also ensure a rights-based approach and address justice, equality and equity, good governance, democracy and the rule of law and address peaceful societies and freedom from violence." 

    This communique it should be remembered is to now be discussed by the EU Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. The next European Parliament meeting is in mid September so the communique will not  have parliamentary and Council agreement before the end of the SDG OWG. It should therefore be seen as an input to the 2015 negotiations. 

    For those new to the process I thought i would underline the way forward. The SDG OWG should finish its work in July...thought there is a possibility of it announcing more informal meetings. The President of the UN General Assembly stocktaking event is tentatively the 1st of September. Then we should expect to see the UN Secretary Generals report on the post-2015 framework out in late November for negotiations to start in 2015. 

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