Global leaders in New York – can they make progress on a new set of Development Goals?

In September Presidents and Prime Ministers were in New York for the annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Among the issues they grappled with, two were of special interest to the development community – first, how to tackle Climate Change, and second, to make progress on fixing a new set of development goals.

Alongside the political figures, leaders of all the major development institutions were present. Institutions such as Gavi, the Global Vaccine Alliance; GPE (The Global Partnership for Education) and SUN (Scaling Up Nutrition) held events to publicise new successes or discuss innovations. UK civil society leaders were present during ‘UNGA week’, along with partners from the South.

An international consortium of NGOs called “Beyond2015” has been working to urge global leaders to set ambitious targets for the next set of Development Goals, starting 2016. The current Millennium Development Goals ran from 2000 and end in 2015.  Before she left the UK, Beyond 2015 asked Development Minister Lynn Featherstone to explain what the UK is hoping to achieve from the UN discussions.

The post 2015 negotiations is one of our top priorities in UN negotiations”, said Ms Featherstone. “UN negotiations so far have made some good progress, but there is much work to do. The current draft set of goals needs to be more concise, compelling and implementable.”

“The UK has shown leadership on setting strong development goals. But efforts to combat poverty will be totally undermined if Climate Change is not reversed. If the global climate does rise by 2 degrees we will face a very challenging situation – crop failures, steeply rising hunger, mass migration, to name just a few examples ”.

The UK was represented in New York by Deputy PM Nick Clegg among others. The government is proud of recent progress on UK aid. A bill is moving through parliament to guarantee in law the current 0.7% of Gross National Income for international development. The second reading of the bill was supported by 166 MPs, with only 6 votes against. This is used by the UK as a ‘good example’, to encourage other countries to raise their aid contributions. As Lynn Featherstone described it: “We need to broaden the shoulders of the aid effort…. at present the same countries are supporting most of development programmes. We need a wider set of contributors.”

The Beyond 2015 negotiations now move into a new phase, to end next September (2015). BOND agencies will be listening closely to keep the UK to its word, and to try to encourage other countries to also increase their commitment. 270 agencies across the world recently wrote to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon asking him to ensure that the new set of goals ‘leaves no-one behind’. Meaning: no goal can be considered achieved unless it is achieved for all sectors of the population – including the poorest and the traditionally marginalised. We are insistent that the next development framework includes ambitious goals – and that this time the goal is not a reduction in poverty but an end to extreme poverty by 2030.

By Steve Lewis – Global Health Advocacy Manager for RESULTS UK

Useful twitter links:

Steve Lewis – @owstonlewis


Beyond2015 – @Beyond2015

Gavi – @Gavi

Global Partnership for Education – @GPforEducation

SUN – @SUN_Movement

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