The debate on the next global development agenda has changed dramatically compared to that of the MDGs fifteen years ago. On one hand this shift is about substance: the new challenges countries face individually and at global level require new goals that will differ from the MDGs. But on the other hand there is a big difference in the process – with expectations of the goal-setting exercise much higher, and participation much greater, than ever before.
And while there has been plenty of criticism of the MDGs, there has been at least as much critique of the MDG-setting process itself, which is seen to have lacked the participation of relevant actors and to have been strongly donor-led. The result was a top-down approach that missed the crucial ingredient of ‘ownership’ amongst those actually implementing development within countries.
This time around the process is different, as all countries north and south do have an active role in defining a new development agenda – through regional consultations and inputs, and involvement at the UN via the Open Working Group. But besides formal country engagement, there has been an influential debate happening in parallel led by think tanks, academics, NGOs and private sector, on what an effective new set of goals would look like.
Yet as commentators have pointed out, this conversation has mainly been dominated by people and institutions from highly developed countries. In May last year an analysis carried out at ODI revealed that, of all the proposals on new goals up to that point, well over two-thirds were from very high Human Development Index (HDI) countries, and less than 1 per cent came from low HDI countries (with 10 per cent from ‘medium HDI’ and 12 from ‘high HDI’ countries). In this way the post-2015 process still risks repeating one of the biggest faults of the MDG-setting process, in spite of great efforts to avoid doing so.
In this context, it is essential that the post-2015 debate incorporates greater substantive input from commentators and scholars in the global south. They bring ideas on new goals based on a grounded knowledge of which policy and political approaches have helped or hindered progress up to this point, through research and through lived experience of MDG implementation.
To facilitate this engagement, Southern Voice on Post-MDG International Development Goals in partnership with post2015.org is launching a series of blogs by contributors from across and beyond the Southern Voice network. This series brings southern insights and a wider discussion to bear on critical questions around future global goals, such as:
How to make sure the new agenda effectively takes forward the crucial High Level Panel proposal to ‘leave no one behind’?
How to transform economies for a new age of inclusive and sustainable development? And how sustainability more broadly should be addressed across new goals?
The series will host weekly blogs addressing the post-2015 debate from southern perspectives, drawing on contributions from the Southern Voice network and interested commentators beyond it. If you would be interested to submit a blog contribution please contact Andrea Ordóñez; we also encourage your active participation by way of tweets, replies and comments on the posts!