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Brief Reflections on the Synthesis Report of the UN Secretary General on the Post-2015 Agenda

Johannes Nilsson • Jan 13th, 2015
Brief Reflections on the Synthesis Report of the UN Secretary General on the Post-2015 Agenda

On 4 December 2014 the UN Secretary General released his Synthesis Report on the Post-2015 Agenda “The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet”. It calls for a continued global progress to improve the lives of all people and the state of the planet and establishing a people-centered approach to development. 

The report’s aim is to support states to continue discussions on the post-2015 agenda and review lessons learned from the MDGs. It stresses the need to ‘finish the job’ acknowledging the current era as one of “unprecedented technological innovation and change” (p33) that allow unlocking “possibilities for sustainable development /…/ crucial to our vision for the world beyond 2015” (p33).

While recommending to maintain the proposed 17 goals put forth by the UN’s Open Working Group (OWG), the report suggest six “essential elements for delivering the SDGs” (p20) to provide conceptual guidance. The elements are proposed to "rearrange them [the goals] in a focused and concise manner that enables the necessary global awareness and implementation at the country level” (p19).

Governance
The report underscores the participatory process and wide variety of contributions to the debate on the Post-2015 Agenda having emphasized “the need for democracy, rule of law, civic space and more effective governance and capable institutions” (p7) and describes civic freedoms, democracy and governance as “both enablers and outcomes of sustainable development” (p23). This is much in line with the analysis by the Earth System Governance Project as described in the report “Ideas on Governance ‘of’ and ‘for’ Sustainable Development Goals” and the policy briefs on good, effective, and equitable governance here and here. The report also recognizes the attention given to strengthen “effective, accountable, participatory and inclusive governance” in these debates (p14).

Building on this, the Secretary General’s report calls for establishing “effective modalities for multi-stakeholder cooperation /…/ across all stakeholders: public, private, civil society, philanthropic, and other sectors, and inclusive of indigenous knowledge” (p34) to move forward. To this achievement it proposes establishing a multi-stakeholder online global platform to a) map existing resources and gaps of technology facilitation initiatives; b) enhance international cooperation; and c) promote information sharing (p34). A draft decision paper, released on 8 December on the modalities for intergovernmental negotiations on the Post-2015 Agenda can be found here.

The report further states that “[i]mplementation is not just about quantity. It is also about doing things together” emphasizing the need for inclusive partnerships spanning across global, regional, national and local levels to allow the SDGs to be a platform that enable alignment of private-sector action and public policies calling for “public-private-people partnerships” (p24).

Next steps
Set out to be decided on in New York in September 2015, the decisions on the SDGs’ future is located in-between the 3rd International Conference on Financing for Development in July in Addis Ababa and UNFCCC’s COP21 in Paris in December. Hence, 2015 is a significant year on global decision-making on governance of and for finance, sustainable development and climate change. The UN Secretary General’s report provides negotiators and stakeholders with an interesting read on the challenges of this year.

Tags: frameworks and conceptualizations,Open Working Group (OWG) Process,Post-2015 Development Agenda,Post-2015 intergovernmental process,Sustainable Development Goals,UN Secretary General