The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will expire in three years. What will and should come after 2015 has been a topic of debate in the development community, including CSOs, for some time now.
But now the gears are shifting. CSOs need to stand ready for a meaningful engagement to co-create the post-2015 framework. Do we aspire to set new international goals and targets? How do we ensure that the new framework will have at its base the principles of human rights, sustainability and equality? How do we take stock of earlier discussions among CSOs regarding the subject matter, especially discussions in the global south?With these questions in mind, CIVICUS was a part of conversations that took place in Washington, DC at the Civil Society Policy Forum of the World bank/IMF Spring Meetings, where our UN representative in New York Jeffery Huffines and our Board member Rajiv Joshi made presentations, hosted by the UN Millennium Campaign (view the report). CIVICUS also organised a brown bag lunch on 24 April, hosted by UNDP in New York, to discuss more in depth how CIVICUS can be instrumental in UN-CSO engagement, attended by a dozen UN colleagues and others. I was fortunate to be part of these discussions.
For CSOs working in development at the global level, this conversation is not entirely new. Among others, GCAP, with its ‘the World We Want’ campaign, has been pushing for the achievement of the MDGs, and suggesting a broad framework for post-MDGs. The Beyond 2015 coalition is accelerating its efforts to strengthen the coalition and bring common messages to the forefront of the international community, especially the UN. CAFOD, among the leading organisations of the Beyond 2015 coalition, produced a report last year, ‘100 voices: Southern perspectives on what should come after the MDGs’ which is becoming a solid data point for groundwork for the post-2015 work process.
More recently, with the upcoming Rio+20 meeting and the talk of SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), discussions have been heating up on how the post-MDGs will be linked to the SDGs. In March, CIVICUS was a co-convenor of such a discussion at the UN (view the report). Berlin Civil Society Center also convened a group of INGOs’ Chairs and CEOs in April where they shared perspectives on working together on a strategic partnership for the post-2015 agenda.
All of these resonate with the UN-led process, now in place, to prepare for the MDGs review summit in September 2013. The UN inter-agency task team will lead in-country and sector-based consultations, and the UN Secretary General will convene a High Level Panel to lead the political discussion on the post-2015 agenda. Academics and development practitioners are also starting to produce papers and articles about the new framework.
From CIVICUS’ point of view, a few things need to be made clear at this point:
1. CAFOD’s report stated it aptly: “A post-2015 framework must be developed through an inclusive, participative process; in partnership between North and South.” Efforts must be made to ensure transparency and inclusion that engages stakeholders, including marginalised communities and citizen’s groups. CSOs, being recognised as “development actors in their own right” (Accra and Busan principles), should be integral to the process, rather than just act as observers with opinions.
2. At the same time, all of us should be mindful of the consultation fatigue phenomenon and the fact that most CSOs may not have the capacity and financial resources to effectively mobilise constituents to participate. Efforts need to be made to mitigate this aspect.
3. CSOs need to envision a new framework as a strategic advocacy tool to advocate for principles of human rights, sustainability and equality. On top of it, CIVICUS will argue that issue of shrinking civil society space must be brought to the forefront of the debate, as without ensuring an environment where free discussion of opinions is guaranteed, there cannot be meaningful dialogue. At the same time, CIVICUS will encourage CSOs to invite and involve those citizens who may not be formally associated with organised civil society.
These are not so much official viewpoints of CIVICUS but rather some personal sketches, having participated in a few dialogues. At the CIVICUS World Assembly in September, there will be more discussions, and we will try to be instrumental in bringing voices of our members and constituency, as well as those of our broad stakeholders, to the debate that will unfold.
Acting Secretary General