As has been obvious to those who follow the international policy arena and/or have seen all of the #post2015 hashtags, 2015 was going to be a year of transition in the global arena. A few major milestones were on the horizon including:
- The Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa this week (how are we going to pay for new global goals?)
- Another summit in New York in September this year which will formally approve the 17 Sustainable Development global goals (SDGs) that will replace the past decade’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) .
- And towards the end of the year a Climate Change Summit will be held in Paris.
Although there are certainly large challenges to face – both in improving the quality of lives, and the processes we engage in to get there, there seem to be some qualitatively significant progress in the processes unfolding this year.
- After the round of NGOs Forums that paralleled similar UN Conferences in the 1990’s, the UN focus on giving a ‘seat at the table’ to civil society seemed to diminish. The role of the UN Secretary General and other leaders of multilateral organizations has always been crucial to incorporating more voices into the higher level policy discussions. The trend we have been seeing over the past couple of years as I wrote about at the end of last year and the most recent comments made by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon at the Financing for Development conference this week.are all promising regarding a renewed emphasis on the importance of incorporating civil society voices.
- Both the UN Conferences and agreements of the 1990’s, and the Millennium Development Goals of the 2000’s, were primarily single-issue focused. The Sustainable Development Goals, and the focus on connecting the current round of conferences and discussions, seems to be moving us in a more holistic direction. A recognition that complex and integrated challenges need integrated discussions and solutions is indeed a positive development.
- Although each of the sectors – public, private and civil society – have their own focus and ways of operating, there is also a growing recognition that given the critical stage we are at (Boiling Point) in addressing major global challenges, the sectors have to find ways to work together. Gradually and with due caution, creative new partnerships are being tested and we have seen much discussion of this coming from the Financing for Development conference. This includes an increased focus on re-thinking economic growth and development as job creation and local empowerment and not just as foreign aid.
So there is cautious hope as the year and some major milestones pass the half way point, that we may be building on our learning from the past, and turning some new corners towards the goals of a just and sustainable future.