From stocktaking to negotiation

Written by Saskia Hollander, on The Broker Online:

“Now that the eighth and final stocktaking session of the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has taken place, the more ‘friendly’ phase of the post-2015 process seems to have come to an end. The OWG member states’ overall emphasis on the need for consensus and pragmatism mask an inevitable clash between the North and the South on the scope of the SDGs, their universality and, above all, their means of implementation. Which elements of the development narrative need to be translated into specific goals and targets? To what extent is their applicability differentiated according to national contexts? And who has to pay?

The purpose of the eight inventory sessions of the OWG, held from March 2013 to February 2014, was to exchange views on how to integrate the agendas of poverty reduction and environmental sustainability, and on how to formulate a possible set of SDGs (see box below). During the next five sessions to be held in the coming months, the OWG member states will negotiate and amend the OWG’s co-chairs’ interim focus areas report (launched on 21 February 2014), and agree on a final document that serves as input for UN General Assembly (UNGA) negotiations starting in September this year. The nature of this outcome document is by no means set in stone. While the North opts for a clear negotiable list of goals and targets, the G77 is reluctant to already commit itself to goals and targets at this stage and stresses that the issue of finance needs to be solved first.”

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