What next for development?
26 February, 2014
The post-2015 development framework sets an agenda which would benefit the poorest countries – a personal view from conference chair and visiting programme director Dr Roger Williamson – independent consultant and Visiting Fellow, Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex.
The post-2015 development framework: priorities for the least developed countries
Wednesday 29 – Friday 31 January 2014 (WP1309)
The Least Developed Countries (LDCs) have the most to gain if the current discussions for a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) bear fruit. Conversely, they have most to lose if they suffer from the same foot dragging fate of the minilateralism which has paralysed international talks on trade and climate change.
As was made clear at the conference, if we do not get a robust climate change agreement soon, one nation may not even be there. It will disappear beneath the Pacific. Kiribati’s Ambassador to the UN had a stark message – one metre of sea level rise and her country will be drowned out of human history.
The UN High Level Panel on post-2015 goals has some wonderful slogans: to leave no-one behind; they want a quantum leap on employment and prosperity; they look for a data revolution for development. But will these proposals be implemented?
Leave no-one behind: reference was made at the conference to a new Oxfam report Working for the Few which shows that one per cent of the population own nearly half the world’s wealth.
Inequality has been a theme in recent years at the Davos World Economic Forum. A couple of years ago, the Davos meeting (attended by an estimated 70 billionaires) warned about inequality. Can the governments of the world do better than this – given that 70 per cent of the population live in countries where inequality has risen in the last 30 years?
A quantum leap on jobs – the Wilton Park event had trenchant input from the ILO, who are pioneering decent work. But 900 million workers in the world – people who are in work – can’t get their families above $2 over day in income. Poor people are working hard.
A data revolution – one example explored at the conference was the need for gender disaggregated data. Progress is being made, but we need to know about the numbers of child brides, statistics for gender based violence, income gaps, completion rates for boys and girls in school. This information is essential for evidence based policy.
Wilton Park provides a great forum for intensive exchange on issues like this. Where else can a woman who visits the villages of her native Bhutan with the Queen Mother (incognito), and an inspiring Ugandan prize winning blogger who reports on the rape victims of African civil wars consult with the UK Envoy on post-2015 or gender specialists from the OECD?
We also heard from a specialist from the African Model Forest Network, a water specialist from Nepal, an NGO lobbyist who grew up as a pastoralist in Northern Kenya, but now lobbies the global climate change meetings for Christian Aid.
There are also big ‘consult the public’ processes going on. MyWorld and Participate, which seeks out voices from the margins, both introduced their work. Professor Andrea Cornwall warns that participatory consultation can run the danger of ventriloquizing the poor. Those in power just pass on selected quotes from such processes to give legitimacy to what they wanted to do anyway.
The only antidote to that is to continue a process which is open, which does not get stuck in negotiations at the UN, but occurs across the globe, with youth voices, Brazilian activists, Pacific Islanders and yes, the donor countries, who have to ensure that the penny in the pound of our tax money (less than) which goes to developing countries does not get siphoned off to pay for UK flood damage.
The SDGs will need to ensure that unsustainable energy use, production and consumption patterns in rich countries change. It is not just a question of giving a bit of development assistance. After 2015, more effort will need to be devoted to sustainable energy for all, jobs, inequality and development in a climate constrained world.
Conference: The post-2015 development framework