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Post-2015 High-Level Panel Holds Open Dialogue Ahead of First Meeting

25 September 2012: Members of the High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda participated in an Open Dialogue on “Towards 2015,” organized by the Permanent Mission of Japan to the UN, on 25 September 2012, in New York, US. The dialogue was followed immediately by the first High-level Meeting of the Panel.

Chairing the meeting, Koichiro Gemba, Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, said the event aimed to promote dialogue among Panel members and other actors, including civil society, the private sector, academia, youth representatives and NGOs.

Helen Clark, Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), said achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) still needs to be a top priority, and that evidence of what has worked for achieving the MDGs needs to inform the post-2015 development agenda. She also highlighted the Millennium Acceleration Framework now being used by over 40 developing countries. She stressed need for consensus on the global development agenda, which can be reached by incorporating independent experts, civil society, employing the social media and new technology to involve people at the global level. Clark further noted that to this end, the UN Developing Group (UNDG) is coordinating at least 50 national-level dialogues in developing countries, global thematic dialogues and online public conversations.

Amina Mohammed, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning, noted unanswered questions regarding the post-2015 development agenda and several issues to address in the coming years. Specifically, she emphasized the need to: inform globally what will be crafted locally; engage youth; face the “statistics challenge” to improve baseline data; and converge around one agenda. She also explained that the Panel's report would form part of the UN Secretary-General's report, and lend the report independence.

Gemba presented the Tentative Chair's Note of the Post-MDGs Contact Group, an informal policy dialogue on the post-2015 development agenda launched at the end of 2011, at the initiative of Japan. Gemba stressed that the post-2015 framework should: be established through an inclusive process and broad partnerships; build on the strengths of the MDGs; address emerging challenges; and consider guiding principles including human security, equity, sustainability and resilience.

Following these opening remarks, stakeholders were invited to give their views on the post-2015 development agenda. Bernadette Fischler, Beyond 2015/CAFO, asked the Panel to take into account the perspectives and priorities of those directly affected by poverty and injustice, especially people with disabilities, women and youth. She announced the initiative, "Participate: Knowledge from the margins for post 2015," which is to provide an open space for dialogue with the parts of the population who should benefit from the post-2015 framework. She invited members of the Panel to actively join this dialogue. Kaosar Afsana, BRAC, said the post-2015 agenda should consider hunger (including the nutritious value of food) and education, and emphasized that all issues of poverty are interconnected.

Claire Melamed, Overseas Development Institute (ODI), stressed the importance for the Panel to identify what stakeholders want, and to focus on a core set of elements to be delivered. Mark Suzman, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, identified the MDGs' key assets as their: broad endorsement; simplicity, tangibility, and focus; measurability and clear deadline. He called for the next round of development goals to build on these qualities, while improving at reaching poorer, more marginalized people. Suzman cautioned against diluting the focus of the MDGs with new issues which may be harder to track and measure, and which are more politically contentious.

Chernor Bah, youth advocate, conveyed a critique from young people in Sierra Leone and elsewhere regarding the incomplete achievements of the MDGs, stressing, “the promise has not been kept.” He urged the Panel to keep its promises going forward, including by setting the right goals, noting that youth will hold them accountable. He also argued that education should be at the core of the goals, along with stability and peace.

Members of the Panel also addressed the briefing. Naoto Kan, former Prime Minister of Japan, said the first priority is accelerating efforts to achieve the MDGs by 2015. In discussing the future envisioned after 2015, he emphasized poverty reduction, health and education, growth and employment, human security, narrowing the gaps between and within countries, and involving civil society. He said the Panel should produce both a political declaration and concrete goals, which would be consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Jean-Michel Severino, CEO of Investisseur et Partenaire, and former Head of France's International Development Agency (AFD), stressed the need for goals to belong to everyone, not just governments, to achieve mobilization. He stressed that creating new goals must not take away from remaining work on existing goals, and called for fulfilling all commitments by 2015. Fulbert Gero Amoussouga, Office of the President of Benin, highlighted the range of stakeholders who should be consulted, stressing that the main challenge is to ensure that consultations are “self-fuelled.” Andris Piebalgs, EU Commissioner for Development, reported on a public consultation that had been conducted within the EU on views toward the MDGs, which found strong and continuing support, even as the EU faces financial strains at home. He underlined that new goals should cover each individual, no matter whether they live.

Kadir Topbaş, Major of Istanbul, Turkey, said to put the MDGs into action, education must be prioritized. He noted the heavy responsibility of holding younger generations' future in one's hands. He also emphasized the importance of cities and local authorities, and urged a better balance between the needs of rural and urban populations. While recognizing the work of civil society organizations, he called for a better diagnosis of the current situation. Gunilla Carlsson, Sweden's Minister for International Development Cooperation, highlighted that the post-2015 development agenda needs to be adapted to current realities, as well as to situations of conflict, women and youth. She added that governance should be based on inclusiveness, transparency, accountability and respect for human rights.

Moderated open interventions followed the Panel's comments. Heikki Holmås, Norway's Minister of International Development, suggested to use the MDGs as a model of simplicity and proposed giving the "post-2015 development agenda" a simple name. He called for the need to coordinate the MDGs and the SDGs, to look at inequalities and to fight corruption. Otaviano Canuto, Vice President, World Bank, stated that the post-2015 framework should be concrete and focused on implementation, and that absolute poverty should remain a priority. He informed that the Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group, convening in October 2012, in Tokyo, Japan, will include a seminar on the post-2015 global development framework.

In related news, on 24 September, Ban appointed Izabella Teixeira, Minister for the Environment, Brazil, to serve on the panel, replacing Vanessa Petrelli Corrêa, Brazil, who recently resigned. [Webcast of Dialogue] [UNDP Press Release] [Biographical Note on Izabella Teixeira]