POST 2015 DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK-SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS
The meaning of development and the processes and methods adopted to bring it about have kept on evolving over the years. Realization of the human rights based social aspect of development led to the emergence of concepts like inclusive development and good governance, which were sought to be implemented through frameworks like MDGs. Similarly, the concept of sustainable development brought together economic development and environment. In the Brundtland report, the concept of sustainable development is defined as a “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
7.1. MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS: MDGS
At the Millennium Summit in September 2000 the largest gathering of world leaders in history adopted the UN Millennium Declaration, committing their nations to a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty and setting out a series of time-bound and quantified targets, with a deadline of 2015, that have become known as the Millennium Development Goals. They are aimed at addressing extreme poverty in its many dimensions-income poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter, and exclusion-while promoting gender equality, education, and environmental sustainability. They are also basic human rights.
The internationally agreed framework of 8 goals and 18 targets was complemented by 48 technical indicators to measure progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. The goals were adopted in 2000 but base level for setting targets is 1990.
Difference between goal, target and indicators
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been the most successful global anti-poverty push in the history. They were embraced by all UN Member States and millions of peoples’ lives have improved due to concerted, targeted efforts by many countries, groups and individuals.
7.1.1. EVALUATION OF THE SUCCESS OF MDGS
While some targets are unlikely to be met without accelerated progress, others – such as reducing extreme poverty – were met comfortably ahead of schedule. Also targets like gender equality in terms of gender parity index, reversing the trend of HIV and Aids cases and halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water have been achieved. In contrast to these we are far behind with respect to targets related to child mortality, maternal mortality, sanitation, hunger and education.
7.1.2. ACHIEVEMENTS OF MDGS
Simple, measurable and time bound to support accountability.
MDGs have focused minds on broader measures of human development, as opposed to economic growth alone.
o Reduction of poverty: The main goal – to halve the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day – was achieved before the 2015 deadline despite the absence of any legally binding enforcement mechanism. The number of people in extreme poverty declined by an estimated 130 million. Rapid economic development in countries such as China, though, was a major factor leading some to say that poverty would have been halved regardless of the MDGs. But along with this, the MDGs provided a set of clear international priorities that helped channel substantial funding from aid agencies and foundations.
o Between 1990 and 2002 average overall incomes increased by approximately 21 percent.
o Child mortality rates fell from 103 deaths per 1,000 live births a year to 88.
o Life expectancy rose from 63 years to nearly 65 years.
o An additional 8 percent of the developing world's people received access to water and an additional 15 percent acquired access to improved sanitation services.
Over the past decade, the MDGs have become a central reference point for aid and international cooperation, not only providing a compelling vision for international development, but also a set of quantitative benchmarks against which development progress can be measured.
Helped in generating popular awareness for ending poverty, and supporting increases in aid.
The MDG process has helped improve the capacities of national statistics offices through its focus on specific, measurable targets.
7.1.3. CRITICISMS OF MDGS: HICCUPS TO BE AVOIDED BY ANY POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT MODEL
Top-down and straight jacket approach: They are charged with neglecting issues in developed countries, not considering the real needs in recipient countries, particularly those of marginalised populations. One of the causes of this is, its utilisation of a donor- driven design. Failed to tackle the root causes of poverty and underdevelopment. Post-2015 framework for development must be bottom-up supported by inclusive and transparent process. It should adopt global goals that reflect global priorities but targets that can be tailored to national and sub-national contexts.
No goals or commitments for developed countries and no compulsion for members to follow the MDGs. No indication of what happens if goals are unmet at the end of the target period.
Incomplete agenda: The MDGs have also been criticised for the dimensions they have omitted. Critics argue, for example, that the goals do not place enough emphasis on sustainable development, and leave out crucial issues such as ‘peace, security and disarmament’ as well as 'Human rights, democracy and good governance'. Moreover, they cover only some dimensions of multidimensional poverty.
Improper target setting: Some goals at the global level were unrealistic right from the start (e.g. MDG 2, which demands total enrolment in primary education worldwide), while others demonstrate low ambitions, at least at the global level (e.g. MDG1, which asks for halving the share of people that suffer from income poverty and which according to the World Bank has already been achieved). Some MDGs cannot even be measured – either because no indicators or targets were set, or because for certain indicators no data is available.
Financial issues: Financial Support Targets and indicators for Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) were not backed up by any quantitative or time-bound targets. Levels of international aid have been minimal and have not been able to play any significant role in fostering achievement of MDGs and targets. Overall ODA required for supporting the MDGs estimated to be US$ 195 billion in 2015 (equivalent to 0.44 and 0.54 percent of the combined GNP of donor nations); in 2012, the net ODA from developed countries was USS 125.6 billion, a meagre 0.29 percent of donors' combined gross national income (UNDP. 2013). Also, there has been inappropriate administration of funds in some cases.
Non-uniform achievement of targets: There are huge disparities across and within countries. Sub-Saharan Africa is the epicentre of crisis and a widespread shortfall for most of the MDGs. Asia is the region with the fastest progress, but even there hundreds of millions of people remain in extreme poverty. Within countries, poverty is greatest for rural areas, though urban poverty is also extensive, growing, and underreported by traditional indicators.
Focus on output rather than outcome: Some MDGs measure outputs or inputs rather than outcomes or impacts of development. MDG2, for example measures only the intake of education, regardless of its quality or relevance for economic, social and political life.
MDGs neglect distributive issues: For instance, when a particular country lowers its child mortality rate, then MDG 4 does not capture whether this is due to improvements in the health of the most disadvantaged or others that are better off in terms of child survival. For policy makers it may be cheaper and hence more attractive to invest in the health of the latter rather than those at the bottom of the pyramid.
Little progress with MDG8: Fair open trading system, dealing with the debt problem, providing access to medication in developing countries, and making available the benefits of new technologies, including ICTs
The MDGs cannot easily be transformed into national objectives: They were originally formulated as global goals, but they were increasingly seen as national objectives in order to create national accountability.
Figure 4 Lessons for the Post - 2015 development framework
7.1.4. INDIA AND MDGS
Economic survey 2013 suggests that India is on track to achieve targets like poverty reduction, household with water access, gender parity, universal primary education and under five mortality rate. But there are targets related to maternal mortality rate, share of women in non-agriculture employment, birth attended by skilled personnel and sanitation, which are unlikely to be achieved by India by next year.
7.2. POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK
The wheels for establishing the post-2015 framework are in motion. Two United Nations (UN) processes are running in parallel:
Post-2015 development agenda, by the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons. It is a process led by the UN Secretary-General, responding to a mandate from the General Assembly in 2010 following an event to accelerate progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). On the 30th May 2013 the HLP published its report. The report outlines new priorities, global goals and affiliated targets for development while also drawing on experience gained from implementing the MDGs. However it is important to note that these have not been agreed upon by governments at the UN level. The HLP Report is one of several reports the UN Secretary-General will draw upon to create his own report on post-2015.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were agreed on in principle at Rio+20 and developed by an intergovernmental Open Working Group (OWG) on the SDGs of the UN General Assembly.
Stakeholders have consistently expressed their desires that the post- 2015 development agenda and the SDGs processes converge to establish just one set of global development goals. One of the main outcomes of the Rio+20 Conference in 2012 was the agreement by member States to launch a process to develop a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will build upon the Millennium Development Goals and converge
with the post-2015 development agenda. It was decided to establish an "inclusive and transparent intergovernmental process open to all stakeholders, with a view to developing global sustainable development goals to be agreed by the General Assembly".
Following figure shows the relationship among the above three and makes it clear that SDGs are different that MDGs beyond 2015 and Post-2015 Agenda is now a broad development framework which includes SDGs.
It should be clarified that SDGs are not an alternative to the past or ongoing frameworks, including MDGs, but can address the shortcomings and challenges facing MDGs, and broaden their goals to reflect other SD objectives, as already agreed to by governments.
7.2.1. FACTORS TO BE KEPT IN MIND WHILE WEAVING THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK
Inclusive and sustainable development: The centre issues in international development have changed. While the MDGs reflect a focus on extreme poverty and social development, a broad consensus has emerged that the international development community must do a better job of integrating environmental sustainability into its architecture and actions.
Changing global context: The MDGs were conceived in an era of relative stability and strong growth, when global power was more concentrated and the development lexicon was largely focused on more and better aid from rich countries and better policies in poor ones. The geopolitical map is more complicated and fragmented today than it was in 2000. The Group of Eight is no longer the core economic grouping on issues of global importance, since emerging economies and the Group of Twenty have made global governance more diffuse.
Stakeholders outside government, such as the private sector, philanthropic foundations, and citizens’ movements, are more woven into global affairs. Foundations, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and philanthropists are playing more prominent roles in global development today.
Diversification of finance sources for development: While aid remains a critical resource for many low- and middle-income countries, other sources of finance for development, including taxation, remittances, and investment, are of greater importance now than in 2000.
Changing nature of problems: Today many of the challenges that the world faces, including climate change, financial regulation, tax avoidance, and insecurity, require global solutions. But this is at a time when confidence in the multilateral system is waning.
System approach to policy formulation: While the 1990s in the West marked the high point of “planner” mentality in public policy, today there is increased attention paid to systems thinking, complexity, and change, with development portrayed “as an emergent, inherently unpredictable and discontinuous process”.
7.3. UN CONFERENCE ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: RIO+20, 2012
The concept of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was born at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, in 2012. The objective was to produce a set of universally applicable goals that balances the three dimensions of sustainable development: the environmental, social, and economic.
Rio+20 committed UN Member States to develop a set of sustainable development goals (and targets and indicators) that would be balanced, coherent and comprehensive. The task of preparing a proposal on the SDGs and developing a set of measurable targets and indicators was assigned to the intergovernmental Open Working Group (OWG) of the UN General Assembly.
The Post-2015 Development Agenda will build on the progress achieved through the MDGs. At the same time, it will address persistent issues and new challenges facing people and the planet. The MDGs faced criticism for not sufficiently covering the environmental dimension of sustainable development, and for not addressing inter-linkages between its three dimensions.
Three basic inter-linkages underpin this cohesiveness and can be used as a "filter” to assess the completeness and robustness of the future goals, targets and indicators:
1. Leave no one behind and provide a life of dignity for all
2. Achieve greater prosperity in an inclusive manner within the capacity of the earth’s life support system
3. Increase capital to achieve greater resilience and secure future generations’ livelihoods
There are three other important considerations for formulating SDGs, targets and indicators:
4. They should build upon existing internationally agreed goals and targets, as agreed to in Rio+20.
5. Targets should be Solutions-oriented and actionable.
6. The targets and indicators should be scientifically credible, verifiable, measurable, and based on best available information and evidence.
In the Rio+20 outcome document, member States agreed that sustainable development goals (SDGs) must:
1. Be based on Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.
2. Fully respect all the Rio Principles.
3. Be consistent with international law.
4. Build upon commitments already made.
5. Contribute to the full implementation of the outcomes of all major summits in the economic, social and environmental fields.
6. Focus on priority areas for the achievement of sustainable development, being guided by the outcome document.
7. Address and incorporate in a balanced way all three dimensions of sustainable development and their inter-linkages.
8. Be coherent with and integrated into the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015.
9. Not divert focus or effort from the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
10. Include active involvement of all relevant stakeholders, as appropriate, in the process.
7.4. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS
The UN Open Working Group, responsible for crafting the sustainable development goals (SDGs) has released Sustainable Development Goals in July, 2014 at its 13th and final session. The UN general assembly (UNGA) adopted these goals in 2015.
There are 17 goals and 169 targets to be achieved by 2030. The list includes a reworking of the eight millennium development goals, such as eradicating poverty and hunger, improving education, and achieving gender equality, as well as new goals on water and sanitation, affordable energy, safer cities and climate change related to sustainable development.
Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture
Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all
Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all
Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries
Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development: finance, technology, capacity building, trade, policy and institutional coherence, data monitoring and accounting etc.
7.4.1. CRITICAL APPRECIATION OF THE SDGS
Difference in principle behind SDGs and MDGs: How SDGs are better than MDGs:
The SDGs will be relevant for all countries and will measure a much broader set of factors than the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This shift recognises:
o the interconnectedness of our economies and societies
o our dependence on a stable and productive environment and
o the importance of greater co-operation and common frameworks for action.
While formulating SDGs, UN Open working Group (OWG) had following 19 focus areas
Wider range of goals that matter from a sustainability perspective: The MDGs are not a purely socio-political agenda and neither SDGs are just environmental. Both approaches involve similar ideas. They differ mostly with respect to their underlying thinking: While the MDGs are mostly inspired by improving the living conditions of the poorest people, the SDGs main concern is shaping development sustainably. It consists of a number of manageable goals that are easy to understand, measurable and with a deadline. On the other hand they are (i) more comprehensive than the MDGs have been, (ii) correlation sensitive, (iii) outcome-oriented, (iv) specified by indicators, (v) country specific and (vi) realistic while still ambitious.
CRITICISM of SDGs
Proposals for a new set of UN development goals have been criticised by the Copenhagen Consensus Center, a think-tank founded by the Danish environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg. They have rated SDGs targets as Phenomenal, Poor and categories in between them. According to them many targets are either excessively vague or are having bad cost-benefit ratio. Only 13 out of 169 targets are phenomenal and 9 of them are totally poor. Other targets are in between these two categories.
The first proposed goal, to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere” was unrealistically ambitious. Some goals, such as having universal social protection systems, fighting substance abuse or offering equal access to vocational or university education, would be very expensive relative to the benefits they offered. Others, such as “ensuring all learners acquire knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development” were difficult to define precisely and hence unlikely to be effective. Some, such as that for sustainable tourism, focus attention on a specific area that the economists said would be better handled by a more general economy-wide objective.
There are few urgent issues which are not adequately addressed: On such issue is related to Indigenous people. Indigenous people make up 5% of the world’s population, and form 10% (according to the World Bank) to 30% (says the UN) of the world’s poorest people. By most accounts, they have been the group least well served by the MDGs. In the draft of the SDGs also, they get only two mentions: in goals on hunger and education. This failure of attention to them can be attributed to their minimal say in politics across the world.
7.4.2. EFFECTIVE IMPLEMENTATION OF SDGS: ‘MEANS OF IMPLEMENTATION’
The notion of ‘Means of implementation’ describes the interdependent mix of financial resources, technology development and transfer, capacity‐building, inclusive and equitable globalization and trade, regional integration, as well as the creation of a national enabling environment required to implement the new sustainable development agenda, particularly in developing countries.
The implementation of the post‐2015 development agenda will require States and other relevant actors, acting individually and collectively, to adopt policies and mobilize resources to advance equitable, human rights‐based, sustainable development. In this regard, a renewed and strengthened global partnership for mobilizing the means of implementation needs to (i) address the social, economic and environmental dimensions in an integrated manner; (ii) build on existing commitments and governance structures, ensuring that new initiatives reinforce previous successes; (iii) reinforce coherence in the implementation of a universal post‐2015 agenda, leveraging resources across diverse funding mechanisms; and (iv) strengthen governance and accountability frameworks, providing for multi‐stakeholder engagement, including for financing, technology innovation and diffusion, and capacity building for people and institutions.
Capacity building is a cross‐cutting issue in all sustainable development policy documents, including Agenda 21 and the Rio+20 outcome document.
Sustainable Development Budgets: Governments have the primary responsibility to implement the Post-2015 Agenda. This has implications for fiscal policies and the allocation of public resources. Governments will have to formulate Sustainable Development Budgets in order to implement Sustainable Development Goals.
Civil society, the private sector, the media and other relevant stakeholders should play a significant role in the delivery and the monitoring of the global partnership.
Enhanced data availability, disaggregated by criteria such as age and sex, which requires investment in data collection and management systems and transparency, should also allow the media, civil society and citizens to monitor the progress at the national, regional and global level.
Global overview: The UN, through the annual reports of the Secretary‐General, could continue to provide a global overview on sustainable development and the implementation of the post‐2015 development agenda. The Secretary‐General’s High‐level Panel has recommended that “an international conference should discuss how to integrate development, sustainable development and environmental financing streams."
At a sub‐global level, it would be desirable that periodic meetings of regional bodies dedicate sessions to sustainable development implementation through mutual and voluntary accountability reviews, as was suggested by the High Level Panel report on the post‐2015 development agenda.
Digital divide is one of the biggest obstacles to sustainable development. To reduce this, common access to information is essential. Available data are made open and shared locally and across borders. The development of policies that will promote open access to scientific data, especially legal issues that hinder access to scientific data are needed, along with the need for research funded by governments to be made accessible to the public.
Technology transfer: Foreign direct investment contributes toward financing sustained economic growth over the long term. It is especially important for its potential to transfer knowledge and technology. A central challenge, therefore, is to create the necessary domestic and international conditions to facilitate direct investment flows. Trade is an additional important means for diffusing new technologies and knowhow. The share of GDP devoted to Research and Development (R&D) in developing countries has increased. South‐South Cooperation (supplementing North-South Cooperation) has become an important catalyst for absorption of technologies tailored to developing countries’ needs.
Further policy makers need to find the right balance between intellectual property rights and technology transfer to ensure both accessibility and reward (for creativity and innovation) which remains a fundamental challenge in building inclusive and sustainable development paths.
India and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
India’s 12th Five-Year Plan is titled Faster, More Inclusive, and Sustainable Growth and envisions simultaneous achievement of social, economic, and environmental goals as crucial for the success of the Plan. The Plan, thus, calls for more attention to be given to the issue of sustainability. As far as environment is concerned, India’s stand is that SDGs need to include common but differentiated responsibilities.