Insight: “Emerging Perspectives in the Era of the Post – Millennium Development Goals”.
15 May 2014, Brasilia: The Institute for Human Development (IHD) and Wada Na Todo Abhiyan (a coalition of over 4,000 civil society organizations in India), jointly initiated an international symposium on “Human Development in the Global South: Emerging Perspectives in the Era of the Post – Millennium Development Goals“. Held between the 28th-29th of April 2014 in New Delhi, India, the event took place in collaboration with the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) and was attended by over 100 participants, including academics, technicians, activists and researchers.
The event began with an inaugural session attended by the directors of the institutions that organized the event, including the Resident Representative of UNDP in India, Ms. Lise Grande and guest professor, Mr. Thomas Pogge (Yale University). This first session highlighted the progress made by the MDG’s, while drawing attention to some general criticisms of the strategy adopted by the MDGs, as well as the promotion strategy of the goals more broadly. In this regard, it was pointed out that countries like India need special attention with respect to the procedures of achieving social outcomes in order to ensure that progress can be maintained in a sustainable manner that will not only alleviate the effects of poverty and inequality, but also disrupt the structures that perpetuate these problems. Professor Alakh Sharma (Director of IHD) and Dr. Nagesh Kumar (Director of ESCAP) emphasised that a central axis of the new goals should be the fight against inequality, not just poverty.
Ms. Grande pointed out that the current context for implementing the new sustainable development agenda differs considerably from that of the MDGs, as it is unlikely that countries like India will have growth rates as fast as those experienced over the past decades, which rendered, according to her, such emerging countries flagships of the MDGs. Even so, she pointed out that new global development agenda has the ability to avoid some procedural errors identified in the strategy of the MDGs. Ms. Grande also pointed out that the MDGs have been little discussed, undermining the global effort to work on these goals effectively. Further challenges identified for the post 2015 efforts included the devastating effects of the global economic crisis of 2008 and a recent decrease in the rate of enhancing interconnectedness between institutions involved in promoting development.
Adopting a more critical tone, Professor Thomas Pogge stressed the necessity for the new global development agenda to meticulously define the formulas for calculating indicators of compliance for each goal, in order to avoid overrating achievements due to political pressure, which he claims to have been the case with some MDGs.
Speaking on behalf of civil society, Mr. Amitabh Behar (Executive Director of the NGO Network, Wada Na Todo Abhiyan) criticized the MDGs, as well as the basic documents already available in preparation for the creation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), for being too conservative and stipulating very modest results that fall short of the capacity of governments and what they should demand. He also criticized how both strategies articulate themselves in an overly technical manner, inhibiting civil society from being effectively engaged in these processes.
Six plenary sessions followed attended by scholars, teachers, researchers and technicians from Brazil, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nepal, China, and, most prominently, India. These sessions sought to lay the groundwork for subsequent working groups by suggesting concrete policy recommendations regarding the proposal, in an effort to incorporate these themes into the new global development goals effort. The plenary sessions addressed the following topics:
• Human Development in the Global South: a roadmap to an equitable future.
• Eradicating poverty and ensuring social protection
• Providing Food Security and Combating malnutrition
• Expanding employment opportunities
• Promoting educational opportunities
• Universalizing coverage and health care
The IPC-IG’s researcher, Pedro Lara de Arruda, participated in plenary session number 2 (Eradicating poverty and ensuring social protection ), in which he presented preliminary research results on the relative positions of the BRICS countries with respect to their potential post-2015 targets on Social Protection. In his study, Arruda accessed the relative position of these countries in relation to the ILO Convention, n. 102 (on minimum guarantees regarding healthcare and social protection) and the Social Protection Floor Initiative – SPFI (on Social Protection more broadly, with a more progressive focus that seeks to integrate initiatives via the life-cycle approach development framework).
On the second day the participants were divided into working groups to discuss how to operationalize the topics covered in the primary sections of the following possible post -2015 targets:
• Employment and Social Protection
• Food and Nutrition Security
• Health care
• Access to education and training
• Social Inclusion
Arruda attended the Working Group on Employment and Social Protection. He took the opportunity to disseminate the newly released Policy in Focus issue #28, where he participated as guest editor. The issue focused on the youth of the BRICS countries. The central points elaborated in the Working Group included:
• Criticizing the idea of defining an exclusively industrialist and non-agrarian agenda, a sentiment which was championed by other participants. Arruda actively advocated for the enhancement of small-hold and family-based farming.
• Suggesting that the new goal stress the necessity for maintaining social protection initiatives for job promotion on a long-term basis, rather than on a short and discontinued basis. Arruda’s recent studies illustrate and echo this sentiment.
• Suggesting that both programmes and their Impact Evaluation studies accommodate specificities and disaggregate data in terms of, at least, gender, age and rural-urban divide.
• Suggesting that one such goal must be operationalized to also contemplate problems regarding high separation rates (which presents a greater challenge than unemployment itself for the case of the Brazilian youth, for instance), and not only unemployment or lack of hiring.
• Suggesting encouraging programmes which guarantee minimum benefits for workers in the informal market in tandem with consistent policies designed to increase the attractiveness of the formal market
• Suggesting the requirement of a “supply side” approach to most social programmes (active involvement of beneficiaries in benefit delivery and the maintenance of programmes)
Finally, the event included a concluding section in which representatives from each Working Group presented on the main visions agreed on in each Working Group.
The final document produced by the event is still being reviewed, but will soon be made available. A publication with two written contributions sent by each of the speakers: one on particular countries and another on the global context more broadly will also be released soon. A book will be published in the future with articles selected from the presenters who participated in the event.
See Pedro Lara de Arruda’s presentation from the event on “the relative position of Brazil with regards to a possible SDG on social protection” below.
To learn more on the MDG’s, the SDG’s and social protection, see our related publications:
One Pager #193 – Global Goals as a Policy Tool: Intended and Unintended Consequences
One Pager # 84 – The 2015 Debt Crisis
Author: Pedro Lara de Arruda
Editor: Ashleigh Kate Slingsby
This post is also available in: Portuguese (Brazil)
Short URL: http://pressroom.ipc-undp.org/?p=16321