Overcoming Global Indifference

Jun 12, 2014

Why we care about the future development agenda

 New York – The United Nations Development Group (UNDG) which unites 32 UN funds and programmes hosted a high level debate on “Why we care” about the Post-2015 Development Agenda in the United Nations Headquarter.

Participants from UN agencies, Member States and academia shared their personal reflections in regards to the ongoing discussions on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the wake of the OWG zero draft document containing 17 focus areas and over 200 targets for a proposed future development agenda.

“We have started a global conversation on what the priorities are, and now on operational aspects or how to make them a reality. However, the question of why we are doing this and the values behind our aspirations need to be more evident,” said Olav Kjorven, Special Advisor on the Post-2015 Agenda to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator, setting the stage for the debate together with the permanent representatives of Honduras and the Kingdom of Bhutan. "Otherwise, we could see a slide towards lowest common denominators," he added.

A challenge to reaching an ambitious agreement and taking it forward is “global indifference”, said Amina Mohammed, Special Advisor of the Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning.  Another challenge is the sole focus on GDP and material goods, according to Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Science Roman Catholic Church.

The list of potential SDGs aims not "merely" at helping the poor but at a much more ambitious set of parameters, going beyond the accomplishments of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which will expire at the end of next year.

The emerging issues include reducing inequalities, promoting inclusive growth and decent work for all, advancing quality education, reducing vulnerability to climate change, protecting the ecosystems and biological diversity that sustain humanity, and promoting peaceful societies and the rule of law.

The SDGs are a reflection of our understanding of how to overcome the greatest challenges of our time and for people to draw hope that we can break our indifference according to Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on the MDGs.

There are disagreements on the implementation arrangements for achieving them, such as sourcing the financing, providing technical means of support, how to create space and incentives for the private sector, local authorities and other non-state actors, and ensuring the right tools are in place in different countries.

The ongoing 12th Session of the OWG from 16-20 June will provide more clarity if an ambitious agenda is still within reach.

Since 2013, the UNDG has engaged more than 2,6 million people in sharing their priorities for the future development agenda through a consultation initiative organized in 88 countries, and through 11 thematic consultations and the global MY World survey. The results of workshops, interviews and online and offline polls are available in the report ‘A Million Voices: The World We Want’.

You can follow the discussions on Twitter under #post2015 and #dialogues2015.

Contact information

Antje Watermann: antje.watermann@undp.org

UNDP Around the world