The interactive session was co-chaired by H.E. Ambassador Paul Badji, the permanent representative of Senegal to the United Nations, and H.E. Ambassador Carsten Staur, the permanent representative of Denmark to the United Nations. Messrs Badji and Staur have been appointed Co-Facilitators of the MDG+10 Review Process. One of their main tasks is to steer the process of preparation and negotiation of a Draft Outcome Document of the September Summit on the MDG’s. The aim of this interactive session was to have a dialogue between representatives of civil society and Member States on key issues and challenges related to the MDG’s, before initiating the process of producing the draft outcome document. The drafting of the Outcome Document is expected to start around the end of April.
To begin the discussions, presentations were given by the following civil society representatives: Dr. Gill Greer, Director-General of the International Planned Parenthood Foundation. Ms. Lydia Zigomo, Head, East Africa Region, WaterAid. Mr. Robert Fox, Executive Director, Oxfam Canada . Dr. Arjun Karki, International Coordinator, LDC Watch.
The Millennium Development goals embody an ambitious program that set out to eradicate the inequalities and obstacles that afflict the majority of the world’s population. Much of the headway that was made in the beginning of the twenty first century was imperiled by several major world crises, such as the energy crisis, the food crisis, and most recently the financial crisis. In order to address the challenges posed for the achievement of the MDG’s, it is important that developed world governments and institutions work in concert with developing world governments and that both be seen as equal partners in the attainment of these goals. The MDG’s cannot be seen as existing in a vacuum with each goal a separate entity from the other. An integrated approach needs to be developed that treats the whole body rather than just the individual parts.
There was a consensus amongst the speakers and the member states that civil society has an important role to play in the achievement of the millennium goals both in terms of advocacy and in the delivery of services. The goals directly discussed were goals 1, 3, 5, 8, but there was an agreement amongst the speakers that all the MDG’s overlap. It is important to note that many of the development challenges related to the achievement of the goals come from either similar or the same root causes. Recognizing these interlinkages is an important factor in formulating solutions for multiple sectors. It was stated by both the speakers and the member states that an integrated approach will be necessary in the future.
There was a consensus amongst the speakers and the member states that the old model of North to South cooperation and financial flows is no longer relevant and oversimplifies development. While donor commitments to ODA need to be met, alternative methods of financing and development need to be explored. All policy conditionality must be removed from ODA, and clear ownership of the funds needs to be established. It was mentioned by some of the speakers that it is worrying to see ODA being used not for development purposes but rather for security concerns. The tying of development to security is another worrying trend that was brought to the attention of the member states. It is important to look at where aid is going and ensure that its distribution is equitable and productive and not tied to the developed world’s foreign policy agenda.
It is necessary for developing countries to “own” their development platforms. Developing countries need to be given the policy space to increase their domestic capacity and engage in the decent work agenda. Over-emphasis on developing export-based employment in developing countries has led to massive inequality as well as large gaps in domestic productivity, particularly in the agricultural sector. IFI policy prescriptions which hamper the creation of effective public services in the global south is detrimental to their growth and leads to dependency on ODA to fill these gaps in services. They also undermine quality public sector employment that could foster strong public systems in areas such as education and health, thereby alleviating poverty and encouraging growth. This is particularly true of the LDC’s. Strong assistance and attention must be paid to the economic growth of the LDC’s if they are to overcome the effects of the crisis.
Worthy of note among the responses from the floor was that of the Permanent Representative of Spain , speaking on behalf of the EU. She emphasized the importance of employment, decent work, social protection and respect for workers’ rights as key elements in a holistic approach to the formulation of policies for poverty eradication and the achievement of the MDG’s.
It was stated by all that MDG 8 is particularly important if the MDG’s are to be realized. Developing global partnerships is necessary to fill the gaps in ODA. It was emphasized that these partnerships should not just be North to South, but South to South as well. –Prepared by Jeroen Kwakkenbos – ITUC UN Office