The Post-2015 Process – Bringing together the Sustainable Development Goals

resource_preview_441In 2000, world leaders put in place the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), a set of eight goals which have focused global attention on a limited set of concrete human development goals and provided targets for national and international development priorities. Specific progress on the 21 targets and 60 indicators associated with the goals can be found in the MDG 2013 report and progress reports by country can be found through the United Nations Statistics Division.

The MDGs, set to expire in 2015, will be replaced by a new set of goals and targets, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Currently the international community is exploring what these goals could be. An Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals has been put in place to prepare a report containing a proposal for the set of SDGs. This working group has 30 seats shared by a group of 70 Member State representatives. Inputs are also being coordinated by a High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, made up of representatives from civil society, private sector, academia, and local and national governments, along with a UN System Tasks Force made up of more than 60 UN agencies and international organisations.

While the MDGs were established and agreed on by 189 governments following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000, the creation of the SDG goals are to be a collaborative effort involving not just governments and the UN, but civil society more extensively. This is being done through a range of local, national, and global consultations, both online and offline, led by different specialised UN agencies, around eleven thematic areas: Inequalities, Governance, Health, Sustainability, Population, WaterEmployment,  ConflictFoodEducation,  and Energy.

The nine major stakeholder groups, identified for consultation during the first Earth Summit, are also providing significant inputs into this process. The groups are Business and Industry, Children and Youth, Farmers, Indigenous Peoples, Women, Local Authorities, NGOs, Workers and Trade Unions, and the Scientific and Technological Community. Each represents the voice of their respective constituencies within UN meetings and the post-2015 process, and each has their own process for gathering and submitting contributions and inputs into the SDG development process.

Three business-related platforms are providing input into the process: the Sustainable Solutions Network of think tanks, the World Economic Forum, and the UN Global Compact. The UN Global Compact has put in place LEAD, a consortium of 50 large-scale, globally oriented corporations to collect contributions and recommendations. The findings of this consultation process were compiled in June 2013 in a report to the UN Secretary General. The Global Compact also contributed another document to the UN process, Post-2015 Business Engagement Architecture, which illustrates the main building blocks necessary to enhance corporate sustainability as an effective contribution to sustainable development. Companies are also engaging via the Global Compact’s range of issue specific platforms such as the CEO Water Mandate, Business for Peace, and the Food and Agriculture Business Principles.

This process of creating the SDGs will culminate in a high level summit in September 2015. For a full list of meetings leading up to this, visit the interactive time line and for more information and resources about the SDGs, visit http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org.

Five ways to get engaged in the Post-2015 process

  1. Contribute to the consultation process on different themes: Follow and contribute to the consultations happening online around the different thematic areas and stakeholder groups. A second round of consultations is currently happening online at www.worldwewant2015.org and is an opportunity not just to share your thoughts but also your best practices, research, and to provide inputs on joint position papers.
  2. Share your thoughts on what should be included: Several online platforms provide a space for individuals to have their say on which issues are most important to them and their family including www.myworld2015.org or post2015.org. Sustainable Development Goals e-Inventory is crowdsourcing proposals for post-2015 to feed into the intergovernmental process for SDGs.
  3. Contribute to the consultations of the business sector: The UN Global Compact is conducting consultations among its Local Networks, around two key themes: how elements of the UN’s post-2015 Development Agenda apply to specific national settings and how business can best support priorities likely to be found in the Sustainable Development Goals. See Engaging with the Private Sector. You can also engage through the work being done via the different issues specific platforms of the UN Global Compact.
  4. Get your school engaged: Introduce your students to the MDGs and Post-2015 agenda, and have discussion around how business can and should contribute. Explore ways to incorporate the SDGs into your research, courses, events on campus and, once established, participate in making them happen in your community and country.
  5. Stay up to date about the issues being discussed at http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org and follow discussions on social media at #post2015, and on Facebook and Youtube.

 

Business Contributions to the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals – Issue Briefs (part 2 of 2)

Post 2015Over more than a decade, the international community has been working on reaching targets set forth by the Millennium Development Goals, a set of eight goals which focused global attention on a limited set of concrete human development goals and provided targets for national and international development priorities. As these targets are set to expire in 2015, the international community, including the private sector and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are currently discussing what will comprise the new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) post-2015.

Based on extensive consultations with the UN Global Compact network of companies around the world, a series of ten issue briefs have been developed to explore the critical role business has to play in achieving sustainable development goals, and the willingness of the business community and HEIs, to support the efforts of government and civil society in this work. These briefs provide suggestions of issues and accountability mechanisms to be included in the SDGs, and outline business’ role in helping to achieve these goals. These papers were presented to the co-chairs of the inter-governmental Open Working Group on SDG.

Here, in Part 2 of the blogpost, is an introduction to the issues of infrastructure & technology, peace & stability, poverty, water & sanitation and women’s empowerment. For more detailed information click on the links below to access the full issue brief. (See Part 1 for energy & climate, education, food & agriculture, governance & human rights, and health)

Infrastructure and Technology: Technology is the beating heart of economic transformation, and good infrastructure protects the environment while providing the leverage people need to lift themselves out of poverty. This includes deploying investment sufficient to meet requirements for “green” transport, energy, and water systems in the developing world and upgrading and replacing old infrastructure in the developed world, increasing the share of the population with access to public transportation, stepping up R&D in both public and private sectors and reducing carbon emissions from the construction and operation of buildings. Equally important, is creating universal and affordable access to the internet and computing technology, and effective use of e-governance to increase managerial capacity and transparency. Businesses are engaging in these issues in a variety of ways, including through the Green Growth Action Alliance launched by the World Economic Forum.

Peace and Stability: Businesses consider peace and security to be crucial to sustainable development, and an area where their own interests give them reason to complement the responsibility of public institutions to build and maintain peaceful situations. This includes improving access to justice, services and economic opportunity for diverse ethnic, religious and social groups; improving mediation, dispute resolution and dialogue mechanisms to prevent and resolve conflict and to build peace; and reducing violent deaths, preventing and reducing the illicit trade of small arms, and reducing the reach and extent of organised crime—especially through the provisions of the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. Violent crimes are bad for business, and companies are looking at the means they have at their disposal to defuse social conflicts before they get out of hand or, in post-conflict situations, help to weave a strong social fabric leading to shared prosperity and stability. Businesses are engaging in these issues through platforms such as the UN Global Compact’s Business For Peace.

Poverty: The eradication of poverty is widely expected to be the overarching objective of the Sustainable Development Goals. This includes eliminating extreme poverty (those living under $1.25/day in 2005 real US dollars), creating jobs , eliminating child labour, ensuring full access to private finance and reducing the Gini co-efficient rating, a measurement of income inequality, in each country. Recognising the drawbacks that even moderate poverty poses to societies and economies, a growing number of companies are adopting new policies and practices that are inclusive of the poor as employees, customers, suppliers, and neighbours. This includes work being done through the Women’s Empowerment Principles and the Poverty Footprint Methodology.

Water and Sanitation: Water and sanitation are key given their cross-cutting nature in relation to sustainable development priorities—including energy, food, and women’s and girl’s empowerment. This includes universal access to affordable and safe fresh water, and basic and improved sanitation facilities to bring freshwater use in line with supply, and ensure establishment and full implementation of national water effluent standards. A growing number of companies are adopting new policies and practices to reduce their corporate water use, improve the quality of water returned to the environment, and to provide decent water, sanitation and hygiene services for employees, and the communities in which they operate. Further efforts include the UN Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate and the CEO Water Mandate’s Water Action Hub.

Women’s Empowerment: A key target for the sustainable development priorities will be to achieve women’s and girl’s empowerment. This includes increasing the proportion of leadership positions held by women in public and private sectors, universally recognising and enforcing equal pay for equal work, increasing full and equal access of women to ownership, property rights and land titles, and reducing the rates of violent acts committed against women and girls. In addition to gender equality being a fundamental and inviolable human right, women’s and girls’ empowerment is essential to expanding economic growth, promoting social development, and enhancing business performance. The full incorporation of women’s capacities into labour forces would add percentage points to most national growth rates. Business is engaging through the Women’ Empowerment Principles among a range of efforts, to further this goal.

For more details about the business sectors contribution to the Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals visit the UN Global Compact site and stay tuned for future Primetime Posts on the topic.

From now through July 2014, the Online Consultation for the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda on Engaging with the Private Sector is being held on the World We Want platform, hosted by the UN Global Compact and UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO). You can contribute to the dialogue at www.worldwewant2015.org/privatesector2015.

 

Business Contributions to the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals – Issue Briefs (part 1 of 2)

Post 2015

Over more than a decade, the international community has been working on reaching targets set forth by the Millennium Development Goals, a set of eight goals which focused global attention on a limited set of concrete human development goals and provided targets for national and international development priorities. As these targets are set to expire in 2015, the international community, including the private sector and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are currently discussing what will comprise the new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) post-2015.

Based on extensive consultations with the UN Global Compact network of companies around the world, a series of ten issue briefs have been developed to explore the critical role business has to play in achieving sustainable development goals, and the willingness of the business community and HEIs, to support the efforts of government and civil society in this work. These briefs provide suggestions of issues and accountability mechanisms to be included in the SDGs and outline business’ role in helping to achieve these goals. These papers were presented to the co-chairs of the inter-governmental Open Working Group on SDG.

Here is a brief introduction to the different issues presented including, in part 1, energy & climate, education, food & agriculture, governance & human rights, and health, and in part 2 infrastructure & technology, peace & stability, poverty, water & sanitation and women’s empowerment. For more detailed information click on the links to access the full issue briefs.

Energy & Climate: Climate change and unmet energy demands are challenges that recognise no political or physical boundaries, crossing all sectors and industries globally. The private sector has a role to play as solutions-providers in mitigating and adapting to the impacts of climate change and ensuring energy security, while simultaneously generating attractive financial returns. It also plays a role in developing new and innovative solutions to climate and energy challenges, and finding ways to collaborate and form partnerships, seizing opportunities for greater investment in technological solutions. Additionally, businesses themselves are aligning business practices to advance climate solutions—raising standards, increasing efficiency and reducing emissions, and committing to longer range sustainability objectives and goals in order to better align their efforts and strategies in relation to the broad global sustainable development agenda. For more on one active private sector participation, see Caring for Climate, an initiative aimed at advancing the role of business in addressing climate change.

Education: Businesses consistently single out education as the first or second priority for the post-2015 world, and also one of the areas where they are best positioned to make a difference. This includes ensuring that every child completes primary education, facilitating computing skills in secondary schools, increasing the percentage of young adults with skills needed for work, achieving parity in enrolment and educational opportunities at all levels for girls and women, and including sustainable development concepts at all levels of schooling with special emphasis on business school. The business community is doing this through partnerships, on the job training, the development of new technologies, and through initiatives such as the Framework for Business Engagement in Education and the Principles for Responsible Management Education.

Food & Agriculture: Farming and food occupy a pivotal position in sustainable development. Enhanced harvests, food processing and distribution will help to eradicate hunger, renovation of the rural sectors of the developing world, where the great bulk if the poor are found, is key to an advance on prosperity, and current agricultural practices are at once contributing and threatened by, climate change. The business sector believes the goals in this area should focus on eradicating hunger and halting increase of obesity and malnutrition, doubling the productivity of agriculture in the least developed countries, stopping and turning back the increase in greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation resulting from farming and livestock, decreasing overexploitation of ocean fish stocks, and reducing food waste. Business can play a role through development of new crops, training of farmers, utilising new technologies and processes, and increasing collaboration and lesson-sharing through issue platforms such as the Food and Agriculture Business Principles.

Governance & Human Rights: The business community identified both fair and efficient governance and an environment where human rights can flourish as not only benefiting business, but being necessary features of a sustainable society. This includes raising awareness and implementation of all UN human rights conventions and instruments, achieving competitive and transparent procurement processes, further developing an open, rule based, non-discriminatory international trading and financial system, and establishing a climate supportive of business and investment at home and from overseas—including further incentives in favour of sustainability. Business can play a role through scrupulous respect for human rights in the workplace and in their dealings with stakeholders, as well as through the framework laid out in the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights.

Health: Health is central to development and is an investment that enables economic growth and wealth, as well as better quality of lives. This includes affordable access to quality treatment and care for all, the reduction of the reach of TB, malaria,HIV/AIDS, and non-communicable diseases, universal reproductive health services, and reducing maternal and under-five mortality. Health care constitutes a major industry and is involved in global campaigns to fight disease and make medications more affordable. They are also involved in innovative partnerships in wide-ranging areas such as research & development, disease elimination, new business models, community partnerships, and innovative licensing.

 

From now through July 2014, the Online Consultation for the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda on Engaging with the Private Sector is being held on the World We Want platform, hosted by the UN Global Compact and UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO). You can contribute to the dialogue at www.worldwewant2015.org/privatesector2015.

Developing the post 2015 agenda

worldwewantIn the year 2000, world leaders came together to establish the Millennium Development Goals – also known as the MDGs – a set of eight goals which member states and international organizations have agreed to achieve by the year 2015. The MDGs are to:

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. Achieve universal primary education
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women
  4. Reduce child mortality
  5. Improve maternal health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability
  8. Develop a global partnership for development

The MDGs have been a powerful tool for sustaining global attention and bringing together international support to promote development. The strength of the MDGs is that they focuse on a limited set of concrete human development goals and have provided a target for setting national and international development policies. The specific, time-bound targets and measurable indicators provide valuable and effective benchmarks for monitoring progress and achieving concrete results.

The target today, post Rio+20, is still on achieving those goals by 2015 but the process has started to develop a framework that could succeed the MDGs in the post 2015 era. Discussions are already underway as to what these new goals and targets may look like, taking the lessons learnt from the MDGs. This includes an intergovernmental Open Working Group, a UN System Task Team as well as over 50 national consultations being led by the UN Development Group (for more information about this process visit Post 2015 site).

It was felt, in particular by civil society organizations, that there were several important issues that were not addressed in the original MDGs, issues productive employment, violence against women, social protection, inequalities, social exclusion, biodiversity, malnutrition, the rule of law, human rights that could be included this time around. In order to ensure that the important issues are not overlooked and to make the goals and targets stronger, this time civil society is being invited into the process through a wide range of consultative processes.

In conjunction with the UN task forces and governments plans for the post-2015 agenda, a consultation process is being held online via a platform called The World We Want 2015. Here, nine thematic consultations are taking place led by various UN agencies including Inequalities, Governance, Health, Sustainability, Population, WaterEmployment,  ConflictFoodEducation,  and Energy. Each theme has regular online discussions, summaries of the consultation process, and ongoing Twitter updates of the live proceedings.  Currently there is an online consultation on Sustainability and Growth that will continue until the 8th of March. There are also a series of conferences around the different topic areas happening around the world.

Individuals are also being invited to take part in the process is via My World (www.myworld2015.org), a global survey asking individuals to choose priorities in creating a better world. The results will be shared with world leaders in setting the next global development agenda.

There are also a range of hubs bringing together research, reports and information about the Post-2015 discussions, all which invite contributions. Post 2015 is a hub for ideas, debate and resources on what comes after the Millenium Development Goals. Co-ordinated by the Overseas Development Institute, which has been working on a major research project on the post-2015 agenda, the site also collects information about new research, papers and other relevant information regarding this topic.  Several movements and organizations such as Beyond 2015 and Global Call to Action Against Poverty provide a space for civil society groups to discuss what the post 2015 agenda may look like and submit their recommendations.

The first report of the UN system on the Post 2015 Development Agenda – Realizing the Future We Want for All – provides a good overview of the whole process and the issues being discussed. Moving forward there are a range of events that will bring together the public consultations into the Post 2105 edition of the MDG. For example Feb 27-28 will be the 2013 Global MDG Conference in Bogota, Columbia and the topic will be discussed at length at the upcoming 68th UN General Assembly in September of this year.

To follow other Post Rio+20 activities visit sustainabledevelopment.un.org.

–  How do you incorporate the MDGs in your research and teaching? What are your thoughts on what the post 2015 goals and targets could look like? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. –

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