24 March 2013: Civil society organisations met on March 23-24 just prior to the High Level Persons Group (HLP) to be held at Bali, and prepared the following statement to be presented to the HLP group. As the fourth meeting of the High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda begins in Bali, Indonesia, we, the members of global, regional and national civil society urge the HLP to be ambitious by setting a framework for transformative, universal, people-centered development.
We call on the HLP to outline the bold and relevant commitments needed to ensure a new paradigm for sustainable development, firmly rooted in existing economic, social, cultural, civil and political human rights obligations. Nothing less than a wholly transformative development framework is required to fulfill the international commitments of the past and present.
It must produce concrete processes to achieve outcomes and tackle structural root causes. It must be based on the principles of human rights, equity, social, economic, gender, climate and environmental justice, participation, accountability,
and non-discrimination. It must ensure dignity, safety, happiness and wellbeing, harmony with nature, and resilience. It must redistribute power, wealth and resources between and within countries, between rich and poor, and between men and women.
The framework must be based on acting on the demands of grassroots voices; the post-HLP processes, including the Open Working Group and inter-state consensus-building phase from September 2013, must be based on co determination and social partnership; the bias towards the private sector across development must end; corporations must respect the principles of environmental sustainability and enforceable international accountability in line with human rights.
As the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) near their target date, financial, food, energy, environmental crises and conflicts are presenting new challenges that are undercutting gains made in development. The dominant neoliberal growth model is exposed by entrenched and deepening poverty and inequality. Human rights remain without respect, protection and fulfillment, and are exacerbated by conflict and insecurity, economic, social and gender injustice.
Three of nine planetary boundaries – climate change, biodiversity, biogeochemical – have been breached, and there is a distinct lack of international, binding commitments to tackle the planetary emergency.
Half the world’s population lives on less than US$2.50 per day. Some 2 billion live in multidimensional poverty, a measure incorporating nutrition, education, infant mortality and sanitation, among others. The wealthiest 20 percent of humankind enjoy more than 80 percent of the world’s total wealth while the bottom 20 percent share only 1 percent.
Global Partnerships and Means of Implementation
MDG8 aspired to support the delivery of the MDGs through global partnerships and means of implementation, but suffered from a lack of political commitment and clearly defined, binding targets and responsibilities. It was not explicitly linked to other MDGs, left out non-traditional donors, and did not assign responsibility to developing countries.
As such, there remains no democratic, global and multi-stakeholder executing mechanism or enforcement body to ensure commitments on development cooperation are met – non-binding statements are not translated into action, and developing countries must still contest for the democratic ownership of their development strategies. Multilateralism has weakened over the last decade, with the current regime favoring powerful states to the detriment of the rest, and regional bilateral partnerships the preferred model. The lack of a strong framework for inclusive and equitable partnerships means the financial crisis has underscored existing gaps in development financing, which has shrunk when it has been most needed, setting the stage for future debt crises.
There remains little coordination and coherence in defining the role of emerging economies in providing development finance and South-South Cooperation. The private sector is increasingly emphasized by governments as an important development actor, but it lacks strong regulation and accountability: the conditions for private sector engagement risk undermining development gains rather than supporting them, through sharply escalating human inequalities. Although formally recognized as an independent development actor in its own right, civil society is not granted the voice or resources to fulfill this role in society.
At the same time the last decade has brought to attention the potential failure of new sources of financing. Illicit financial flows, capital flight, and tax avoidance by multinational corporations are draining many of the poorest countries of resources for development. Unfair trade rules have led to the bankruptcy, destitution and destruction of millions of small farmers, and fisherfolk and local markets in developing countries. Unbridled and misguided liberalization has encouraged a race to the bottom in labor rights and working conditions, with women and girls bearing the brunt of these impacts.
The vision and priorities of the post-2015 framework must include a focus on indigenous peoples, religious and ethnic minority groups, marginalized caste groups, stateless people, people living in remote and conflict or disaster-affected areas, women, children – including those without parental care, youth, the aged, disabled, LGBT, people living with HIV and AIDS, small-scale food producers, and the informal sector. The framework must ensure accountability through disaggregated data on progress based on these groups. It must also include full employment and decent work for all, combined with universal social protection, access to justice and progressive taxation.
It requires a commitment to equitable access and governance of natural resources,
building climate-resilient livelihoods through low carbon development pathways, including safe and sustainable transport and infrastructure. Gender equality must be central – including addressing violence against women and girls with and without disabilities, and guaranteeing sexual and reproductive health and rights – as should ensuring peace, security and state-building in fragile states.
The framework must include goals and zero-targets on universal access to
equitable healthcare, quality, inclusive education and lifelong learning, water and sanitation, and food and nutrition security.
Any future framework must redefine the current notion of a global partnership from an inequitable relationship between donor and partner country governments into a global partnership for development cooperation that is equitable and inclusive of all development actors.
This partnership must reaffirm civil society organizations as independent development actors in their own right, promote minimum standards for an enabling environment for CSOs, include their full, meaningful, informed and sustained participation, and ensure that those most affected by poverty and exclusion have a space to voice their perspectives and influence outcomes. It must ensure ownership of this process by including civil society formally in any and all negotiations pre and post-2015, and promote consensus-based decision-making.
The framework must prioritize the needs of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Landlocked Developing Countries, and Fragile and Conflict Affected States in any future framework, taking into account their special requirements, and recognizing that all countries have
common but differentiated responsibilities.
Climate justice and sustainable management of the planet’s resources must be at the center of the framework, and must ensure that any public financing for development guarantees both financial additionality and development additionality to promote positive and sustainable development impacts. The means of implementation must support the achievement of democratically determined human development objectives.
To tackle long-term structural imbalances, international trade rules and policies must be brought in line with socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable development. The one-size-fits-all approach in economic and trade policy does not allow states the space to determine their own development strategies or support the protection of public goods.
Commodity markets must be regulated, including banning speculation, in order to ensure
income and food security for producer countries and their people; the new framework must include international measures to ensure commodity prices are stabilized at levels enabling adequate incomes for the countries and producers; the new framework should eliminate tradedistorting agricultural subsidies in developed countries and provide mechanisms to protect local farmers, fisherfolk, and small and medium-sized enterprises.
The privatization of public services combined with the reduction of government responsibility is a fundamental concern – social partnerships must supersede public private partnerships. Domestic government revenues based on progressive taxation are a sustainable source of funding for public services. Domestic resource mobilization must be enabled through changes to international tax regulation.
Existing commitments on quantity and quality of aid must be met. Loan-based forms of
development cooperation should not be used to deliver financing commitments. Climate finance must be public, obligatory, predictable, grant-based, and free from conditionalities and be additional to the other financial obligations of developed countries.
The widespread democratic deficit, which is evident at the local, national and international levels, results in the exclusion of people around the world from key decision-making processes that affect them. Civil society groups strongly urge decision-makers to embed global governance in the post-2015 development framework by institutionalizing democratic participation and accountability to citizens at all levels; developing new models of governance based on the principles of equality, justice and human rights; and promoting conditions for civil society to engage as development partners, while enhancing and protecting optimal standards for civil society.
Ensuring universal access to social protection is a human right and a direct and efficient way of achieving equality. Global and regional institutions should support governments in investing in universal social protection by implementing the social protection floor as a basic right of all people, regardless of the sector they work in.
While social protection remains the responsibility of governments, a Global Fund for Social Protection should be established to introduce or strengthen social protection floors in the poorest countries. There should be an inclusive framework for ensuring income and job security for all peoples,including those in the informal sector. This includes realizing full employment and decent work for all, and reinforcing and
universalizing international labor standards.
Systematic exclusion and discrimination are at the root of poverty and marginalization. The international human rights framework is not being applied universally. Lack of social and legal recognition means many of those working in the informal sector are denied their basic rights. This includes street vendors, motorbike and some other transport workers, traditional fisherfolk, small producers, home based workers, sex workers, domestic workers, unpaid care workers, smallscale farmers, migrant workers and others.
It is the responsibility of the international community as well as national and local governments to address the current injustices experienced by these groups.
Women’s rights and gender equality must be prioritized specifically and throughout the post-2015 framework. It is critical that the framework commits to end structural violence against women and girls embedded in patriarchy, feudalism, and capitalism, while promoting the democratic empowerment of women at home, in their communities, nationally and internationally.
Governance starts at home, with women making decisions over their own bodies,
sexualities and lives – sexual and reproductive rights are fundamental and must be guaranteed, while laws and policies that discriminate on the basis of gender, sexual orientation and gender identity must be repealed. The framework must ensure women’s rights to and control over land, property, intellectual and productive resources, and information and technology, while promoting fair asset distribution among different social groups. There must be guarantees of women’s decent work and a living wage, including the right to social protection, and transformative and progressive women’s leadership and decision-making at all levels.
Civil society wants to engage in a new development framework that it believes will support the poor and marginalized. Civil society must not merely be consulted, but engaged as an equal partner in all political processes to co-determine a bold, transformative and people-centered framework. We call on the HLP report to set a visionary tone to correct the repeated failures in addressing the critical sustainable development challenges facing the world.
If the new sustainable development framework is to tackle poverty and inequality nothing less than this will suffice. Indeed, anything less than this will not be supported by civil society.
Ruby Khalifah – email@example.com
Ahmed Swapan –firstname.lastname@example.org