The United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) is an inter-agency programme of the United Nations mandated to promote and develop constructive relations between the United Nations and civil society organizations.

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21 November 2012

High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on Post-2015: London Meeting

On 7 November, the Special Envoys of the Co-Chairs of the High-level Panel (HLP) of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Agenda and the High-level Panel Secretariat provided a briefing at UN Headquarters in New York to highlight the outcomes of the Panel’s second meeting, held in London, from 31 October to 2 November.

The London meeting, which focused on the overall theme of household poverty, opened on 31 October in a seminar setting, allowing the Panel to hear from academic experts on key poverty and sustainability issues, including on future social and economic projections, rule of law, and good stewardship of natural resources. A closed discussion followed on 1 November, addressing individual and household poverty, with a particular focus on human development. Finally, 2 November was marked by a day of outreach to civil society, the private sector and youth. Organized in partnership with these constituencies, the outreach day featured six Civil Society Roundtables, a Youth Event, a Private Sector Roundtable, as well as a livestreamed Town Hall meeting.

NGLS carried out an online consultation for the Panel from 19 October to 7 November, in two phases. An initial two-page report was presented to the Panel on 30 October, ahead of their London meeting; a detailed final report of this consultation was delivered to the Panel on 26 November. Both reports are available online at www.worldwewant2015.org/Post2015HLP.

This article will feature the outcomes of:
(Click on the links below to directly go to the section of your interest)

The briefing by the Special Envoys of the HLP Co-Chairs and the HLP Secretariat
The six Civil Society Roundtables
The Youth Event
The Private Sector Roundtable
The Town Hall meeting

Briefing by the Special Envoys of the HLP Co-Chairs and the HLP Secretariat

On 7 November, the Office of the President of the General Assembly and the Permanent Missions of Indonesia, Liberia and the UK hosted a briefing at UN Headquarters in New York, mainly to share the outcomes of the Panel’s recent meetings held in London. Chaired by Mark Lyall Grant, the Permanent Representative of the UK to the UN, the briefing included the Special Envoys of the Co-Chairs of the Panel, two members of its Secretariat, Amina J. Mohammed and Homi Kharas, and one Panel member, John Podesta.

Michael Anderson, the Special Envoy of David Cameron, Prime Minister of the UK, explained that consensus among the Panel members has begun to emerge around some central themes: the rights of women and girls; increasing access to energy, including through renewable energies; infrastructure; economic growth that creates jobs and reaches “those who have been left behind;” creating an enabling environment and the conditions for empowerment and growth; improving the quality of data for smarter and better implementation, including accountability and transparency; and expanding partnerships to involve a broader group of actors.

Desra Percaya, Special Envoy of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, expressed the Panel’s agreement that poverty eradication is the most important objective for a post-2015 development agenda. Identifying job opportunities, the provision of accessible and affordable healthcare, education, housing, clean water and sanitation, and other services as aspects and products of sustainable growth and equity, Mr. Percaya stressed that the post-2015 agenda must build on both lessons learned from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and newer understandings of profound global challenges for sustainability and economic growth.

Panel member John Podesta also cited the Panel’s general agreement that the next iteration of development goals must take a fundamentally different shape than that of the establishment of the MDGs. Mr. Podesta emphasized that the nature of the Panel’s task is to construct a vision for sustained prosperity for all, to fulfill the Panel’s stated challenge of “ending poverty in our time.” Mr. Podesta also paid heed to the conditions, particularly global partnerships and a “collective commitment,” necessary to instrumentalize an ambitious post-2015 agenda.

To ensure that this global agenda “reflects the world’s real development needs,” all panelists envision enveloping a “truly consultative” process to shape the Panel’s work towards the post-2015 development agenda. Mr. Podesta elaborated: “Real consultation means having an open door and engaging in structured outreach to civil society, to private philanthropy, young people, the private sector, thought leaders, and most importantly to the voiceless, including the poorest of the poor.” Abdoulaye Dukule, Special Envoy of Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, similarly focused on the shared ownership of the post-2015 process. Inviting civil society and the private sector into the dialogue is essential, Mr. Dukule opined, for the eventual implementation of the framework and its positive impact. Referring to President Sirleaf’s previous experience as a development worker, he shared that she believes strongly in consultation to avoid “the problems of sending solutions to people without giving them the means to change the process.”

The Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning, Amina J. Mohammed, spoke about the Panel’s focus on outreach since its inception, as well as its endeavours to incorporate lessons learned from the MDGs process, especially in terms of individual country ownership and the lag time between the adoption of the Goals and countries’ engagement in them. She introduced some UN-related processes around post-2015, including the newly-formed “One Secretariat” to provide support to UN system initiatives related to completing the MDGs and beginning the new global development agenda. The One Secretariat, located at the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and including Ms. Mohammed, Assistant-Secretary-Generals from UNDP and UN-DESA, and the Co-Chair of the MDG Task Force, is mandated to ensure coordinated and coherent support, in fulfilment of the United Nations operating principle of “Deliver as One.”

Mr. Kharas’s remarks touched on the kinds of questions the Panel will consider in its subsequent meetings. These questions will help the Panel to make an initial assessment of the MDGs’ achievements and the necessary empirical foundations required in constructing a post-2015 agenda. The Panel will address which MDGs will not be “completed” by 2015, which goals might need to be amended or scaled up in the context of the high levels of ambition for the post-2015 framework, and what new challenges – jobs, for example – should be considered. Mr. Kharas concluded on a practical note, illustrating the Panel’s concern of balancing the aspirational nature of new goals with an insistence on their practicality, affordability, and technical feasibility.

Next steps and upcoming meetings

The Panel’s third meeting will be held in Monrovia, Liberia, in early February; it will focus on national development and address issues, such as the role of State actors, governments; corruption; security; and fragile States. Subsequently, in Bali, Indonesia, the fourth meeting will focus on the global dimensions of development, particularly global partnerships and means of implementation. This meeting will take place in March 2013. The Panel intends to continue its outreach to civil society and other stakeholders, in advance of and during its upcoming meetings.

The first draft of the Panel’s report is expected in March 2013, followed by a second draft in April 2013 and a final report by the end of May 2013.

The Civil Society Roundtables

Roundtable 1: Employment
Roundtable 1 focussed on how employment, particularly for the poorest, could be meaningfully approached. Participants seemed to agree that job creation, both in quantitative and qualitative terms, was urgently needed. Civil society noted that these discussions must be held in the context of achieving human rights: employment should be to help sustainable development, poverty eradication and the realisation of people’s human rights. From this point of view, promoting "Decent Work" was seen as critical as it includes rights, social protection and partnership.

In terms of the post-2015 agenda, civil society raised a number of key issues, including: ensuring decent lives – decent work and decent alternatives for those who cannot work (social protection); exploring the possibility of including a goal on decent work in the post-2015 framework that would be universal with targets on employment creation, reduction of vulnerable work, indicators on gender inequality, women and young people; and exploring how new jobs can contribute to a new development model (i.e. green jobs for sustainable development).

Social protection and an enabling environment for human capital and for businesses were the main areas of discussion. In this regard, a number of questions were raised and debated: Who should provide social protection – the State or the private sector? What kind of protections? How do you protect the informal sector while still encouraging movement into formal sector? How to remove barriers to access employment, including lack of education/relevant skills, gender, ability, etc?

Looking at employment from a poverty perspective, participants suggested that income for the poor is largely coming from small business, agriculture, and rural economies, and these were areas where attention could be focused. Other areas to consider included looking at where the growth of populations is taking place; looking at employment in terms of vulnerability, rather than informal versus formal; looking at women and the types of jobs they have as 80% of work is done by women, who only get 10% of the income; and looking at equity in education and preparation in order to ensure that the growing youth population will be able to get jobs.

Civil society concluded by underscoring that if employment is about poverty alleviation, it would be good for the Panel to reflect on the interlinkages between all of the areas that were discussed during the roundtable, and for this to be reflected in their final analysis. They further stressed the need to bring to the fore the principles of grassroots-up, participation and non-discrimination: “[W]ithout those we don’t have the overall outcomes of poverty alleviation.”

Roundtable 2: Inclusive growth
Roundtable 2 focused on a number of key questions: What are the engines of inclusive growth? What is the private sector contribution to human development? What kind of partnerships will help end poverty in the post-2015 development framework?

On the engines of inclusive growth, civil society acknowledged that growth without sustainability can increase inequality; furthermore, growth that is not sustainable is not inclusive. Gender equality should be part of the process that drive inclusive growth. While growth can be an important engine, it has to be participatory, and marginalized people should have a voice in shaping the development path, civil society further outlined. For growth to be participatory, it should allow for access to education, health and information. The latter was seen as particularly important in terms of transparency and accountability mechanisms. To empower people, the right information must be accessible and usable.

In terms of the private sector, civil society highlighted the need to harness all resources to eradicate poverty, and one participant suggested that business models should go beyond corporate social responsibility (CSR) and consider poor people as engines for growth and drivers of social progress. One participant noted that business is for profit and civil society is not – so how is that gap bridged? What are possible mechanisms that would enable business and civil society to work together? Another noted that a major frustration is the view that free markets work all of the time, adding that if conditions of inequality are already there, free markets will further exacerbate inequalities rather than equalizing society. Some highlighted the need for business to improve transparency, particularly in terms of their relations with fragile States. In this regard, investing in participation, accountability and strengthening governance was a way to bring about more stability in these States.

On private sector partnerships, civil society stressed that business can act not only as a responsible player, but can also start to think about – and lead the way – for some of these initiatives and act as partner in poverty eradication. There is a clear business case to invest in poverty reduction, for example through good quality products of small producers, which could generate shared prosperity.

In conclusion, there was agreement that the “inclusive” in growth is vital and growth can no longer ignore inequality. Investing in women is essential to stimulate inclusive growth. Civil society also stressed the importance of investment in essential services, including access to justice and a minimum income. The question was also asked as to whether or not a specific goal on reducing violence and promoting peace was needed. The environment was highlighted as extremely important, particularly in relation to resources for future generations.

Roundtable 3: Equitable empowerment
The session opened with civil society highlighting that women are still missing in development conversations. Another message that came across was the strong need for a grassroots focus in order for development to be meaningful. One civil society participant noted that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are not reaching the grassroots level and do not address environmental degradation, hunger and lack of livelihoods. These must be part of the new development framework, and they must have a grassroots focus, the participant stressed. In this regard, three critical points for the post-2015 framework were suggested: 1) policies should be created which address poverty, climate change and inequality and which focus on grassroots women and the rural poor; 2) the need to promote social justice and policies which improve jobs and livelihoods; and 3) poverty should be decentralized in order to allow social mobility.

The discussion then turned to policies and practices that could promote equitable empowerment and benefit people living in poverty. One participant said the emphasis must be on local accountability, with local authorities being held to account on spending aid, governance and participation at the grassroots level. Another suggested that a new development framework needs to support current livelihood streams, conservation, national resources and greater access to microfinance, with another stressing that all people in poverty should have equal rights to access development. Furthermore, without the participation of communities in the creation of a new development framework, the objectives and indicators would be skewed.

Another civil society participant explainedthat the MDGs have made a difference when national governments adopted them, and progress made can be measured by government financing. The participant further highlighted critical points for the post-2015 framework as: investing in women and girls (education and training); promoting political participation and leadership of girls; and placing an emphasis on sexual reproductive rights (financing for sexual reproductive health and access is critical).

The discussion turned to whether or not bringing people living in poverty into formal arrangements would enable development. One civil society participant questioned the risk that would be involved in bringing people into formal arrangements. Another highlighted the fact that often people within the informal sector do not have access to finance or protection and policies are needed which promote growth as well as social protection. One participant noted that the informal sector constitutes a large part of the economy in poor countries, and despite this, little attention is paid to it.

The group concluded that the definition of the “informal sector” needs clarification. The informal sector is both rural and urban, and involves both rich and poor with different motivations. Policies and practices which promote economic empowerment will need to: address climate change; eradicate poverty; reduce inequality; include the voices and needs of marginalized people, including women and people with disabilities; and be within and between countries.

In terms of the process, decision-making must be participatory; should have a strong focus on rights; place an emphasis on good governance; promote local accountability; and should involve tools for commitments so countries are held to account. In terms of the informal and formal economies, the group concluded that as so many people in developing countries are in informal arrangements, it is important to meet them where they are. Individuals in the informal sector should have the same entitlements as those in the formal sector, including insurance and bank accounts.

In terms of indicators for the post-2015 framework, they must be bottom-up and better capture those people left out in the MDG framework, including women, people with disabilities, young people, rural poor and other marginalized groups.

Roundtable 4: Environment, resource management and climate change
This roundtable discussed two key questions: What role does the environment and natural resource management have in sustainable poverty reduction? Where does climate change fit into the post-2015 development framework? One participant set the stage by noting that people are dependent on natural resources, and if the environment and natural resources are not taken into account, development that has been achieved thus far will have no meaning. Global leaders should put environment management and natural resources at the top of the agenda.

Another participant suggested that the environmental issue is a very important dimension of human security, livelihood and human dignity, and must be considered in terms of human rights and civilization. For climate change, attention should be given to the most vulnerable people (youth, women, elderly, disabled people) and the most vulnerable countries. The structural causes of instability and injustice must be looked at when devising the new development framework, and should be founded on the 1992 Rio principles.

One civil society participant emphasized the impact environmental degradation, climate change and associated natural disasters are having on women, further compounding vulnerability and poverty. Women are also impacted as victims of conflicts that erupt over limited natural resources. There is a need to mainstream gender awareness across the goals, in addition to a stand-alone goal. Women should be thought of as a key part of the solution, and be included as part of the decision-making processes that are underway at the global and national level. By using the unit of household poverty as the focus of the Panel discussion, there is a need to understand that there are different experiences of poverty, meaning those suffering acute poverty within a household may be missed out. Therefore, disaggregated data is needed at a household level and should be applied to other inequality issues as well.

Another participant suggested that environmental sustainability should be central to development if is going to work for large numbers of poor people, as more than half of the world’s poor live in fragile ecosystems; furthermore, climate change means more pressure on these ecosystems which are more likely to break down and exacerbate the challenges that the poor face. Environmental support systems are very often a public good in economic terms, which require careful management. Poor people are more immediately dependent on these goods, so if they aren’t managed correctly, it will be poor people, particularly poor women, who will suffer the most.

One civil society participant stressed that inequality of consumption does not only apply to climate change; there is a very unequal use of resources. Lifting people out of poverty can only be done if the richest countries reduce their consumption. Comparing the consumption ratios, with the North consuming more than 75% of global production, another participant stressed that the balance between people and planet needs to be addressed. Polluters must pay in the new framework so that the patterns of consumption can also be addressed. The extraction of natural resources should be sustainable and ensure biodiversity. Another participant suggested that the post-2015 agenda needs to address the issues of consumption – the links between consumption in the North and West and production in the South and East. It would be very challenging, but a vision of future life that is appealing to people is needed, one that would create a sense of possibility and hope.

Participants agreed that a reduction of consumption in the richer nations must be part of the post-2015 framework, which must be universal – and ambitious and transformative. Science is at the root of these discussions: i) there is a need to build scientific knowledge at every level and share it; and ii) scientific knowledge and understanding should imperatively be retained in developing countries. Inequality must be reduced as it is people at the margins of society who are most affected; furthermore, there is a need to look at the most vulnerable people, including women, and inequality between countries. In terms of adaptation, there is a need to ensure that people living in the most fragile ecosystems have adequate ways of creating resilience. Human rights and the relationship between people and planet should be at the core of these discussions.

Roundtable 5: Inequality
Roundtable 5 addressed a number of key questions: How can inequality be addressed to promote inclusive development? What lessons have been learned in measuring outcomes from the MDGs? How to prevent aggregate national targets obscuring differentiated outcomes in the post-2015 development framework?

The roundtable discussed a range of issues, covering the definition of inequality, gender inequality in particular, and possible responses. There was also discussion of the mutual responsibilities of the High-level Panel and civil society in formulating a new development framework.

Participants suggested that many different groups suffer from inequality: people with disabilities, older people, children and youth, those in minority groups, as well as inequality due to gender. Inequality also results from where people live – rural communities can suffer from inequality and from being marginalized, as can people living in fragile States and conflict-affected environments, where development progress is slow or non-existent.

Inequality, like poverty, has many dimensions. Income inequality is the most apparent, but there is also unequal access to services such as health or education, or to economic opportunity.

Gender inequality was recognized as one of the biggest challenges to overcome as gender inequality prevents women and girls’ development in their own right and is a major barrier to achieving the MDGs. There was no consensus on whether there should be a separate goal on inequality or gender inequality, or whether it was better to ensure that the main pillars of the development framework – whether economic or related to human development, peace and security – were defined in ways which work for both genders – or both.

There was consensus on the importance of good data and sex disaggregated data had to be available for all goals, to monitor progress and to enable informed development of policies and strategies – from local to regional to global level.

Participants recognized that a number of challenges remain. The very poorest girls and women may not benefit from progress in some sectors of the economy or employment. The aim should be inclusive growth, meaning everyone could benefit from growing economies. Progress on issues such as land rights were also important, but needed to be accompanied by measures to support better access to healthcare.

Inequality also needs to be addressed not only at the lowest levels – but also in ways that support people’s further development. For example, some countries have made very good progress in enabling access to primary school, but then have no transition to secondary education. Access to finance is also an issue, particularly in Africa. Microfinance schemes provide enough to survive, but not enough to enable saving or investment to enable the move to the next level.

In terms of development of the framework, participants drew attention to a number of critical challenges, including: tackling the issues that cause a divide at the local level; addressing political issues (such as policies – including economic policies – in one country which have an impact on other countries); and ensuring the framework will be meaningful and take into account the cost of measures and the financial commitment necessary for implementation. There is a need to hear more directly from those experiencing poverty and inequality. There was consensus feeling that the moral and ethical bar needs to be set higher.

Roundtable 6: Health care, food, water, energy, education
This roundtable addressed the core question: how to ensure that all people, especially the poorest and most marginalized, have the food, water, energy, healthcare and education they need.

During the opening presentation, a number of lessons learned from the MDGs were presented, including: percentages are not the best way to reach people and too much stress on statistics can prevent progress in quality; limiting goals and targets to certain aspects of life is also counterproductive since food, water, energy or education are linked to many other issues (work, environmental protection, legal identity, decent housing, etc). Significant progress therefore requires these goals to be considered as part of a comprehensive human-rights framework, participants asserted. They also underlined that without meaningful participation at every stage of a project’s design and implementation, the project will never meet the needs of the poorest and most marginalized.

Participants then raised the question: Can a post-MDG framework use the participation of people living in extreme poverty, not as a preliminary ingredient, but rather as an ongoing long-term tool for implementation? Real engagement of the poorest and utilization of their experience and intelligence would be an efficient and innovative approach to end extreme poverty, they claimed.

One participant called for a focus on health and education, which should be considered in a rights-based approach including principles of accountability, transparency, non-discrimination and rule of law. Sexual and reproductive rights should be included in the framework, he added, with the recognition of a universal access to comprehensive sexuality education and universal access to sexual and reproductive health service. In terms of healthcare, the need for greater investments in midwifery was particularly emphasized by another participant.

Another civil society participant highlighted two focuses for the post-2015 framework: equality and quality. He recommended targeting the entire community at once, and not only specific groups (hailing the example of building school latrines not only to enable access to education for girls but also to ensure access for children with disabilities). He also underscored that maximum impact can be achieved if target the poorest first – the cost is higher, but the human impact is greater. Community engagement and data disaggregation are absolutely critical to ensure progress towards access and equality, he concluded.

One participant described older people as systematically marginalized in education, healthcare, food and water supply in crisis situation, despite the critical services they provide to their communities. He therefore stressed the necessity to reach them and better understand their needs. The importance of ensuring a basic social protection floor for all members of the community was also voiced.

A High-level Panel member outlined the challenge of empowering people and communities to enable them to fully participate and acknowledged the need for disaggregated data. He also described public, private and civil society partnerships as the way forward. It is critical to find a balance between long-term and immediate issues, he said: some healthcare systems will take at least 15 years to deliver, but ensuring people’s health in the meantime is crucial.

This roundtable discussion made it clear that data will play a critical role in the definition of the new agenda as far as health care, food, water, energy and education are concerned and that a rights-based and bottom-up approach is required.

Private Sector Roundtable

High-level Panel members and representatives of the business community welcomed the opportunity to open a dialogue on the role of private sector at this early stage of the Panel’s work.

The roundtable discussion first tackled the challenge of creating an enabling environment for job creation and private sector growth in order to help end poverty. Some recommendations were raised in this regard including the need to: develop infrastructure with improved access to roads, land and energy; develop education systems that produce a skilled, trained and entrepreneurial workforce; empower women to overcome discrimination, legal barriers and reduced access to finance and land; ensure the rule of law and reduce corruption that equals a trillion dollar tax on the poorest people; encourage Foreign Direct Investments in developing countries in order to move beyond aid; enhance responsible business practices; encourage innovation and new technology in developing countries, not only technology transfer from developed ones; and address climate change and resource scarcity.

The role of public-private partnerships was then discussed. Participants highlighted the necessity to build new, bigger, and cross-sectoral partnerships as well as the need to find more efficient ways to share results. Such partnerships will require an enhanced trust and mutual respects among stakeholders and UN agencies should develop and enabling environment for effective partnerships, participants added.

Inclusiveness was especially emphasized during this roundtable discussion. Local companies, rural women and smallholder farmers must always be encompassed in these partnerships and business must integrate them into their operating model, participants claimed. They also urged private companies to move beyond corporate social responsibility to address poverty as part of core business. Participants then declared that civil society, governments and business need to work together to create a demand for sustainable and ethical good and services.

In order to inspire business and make them understand their role in poverty eradication, participants highlighted the need to translate the post-2015 agenda into a business language; encourage increased and better targeted financial flows from private finance; and support in-country hubs of public-private partnership brokers and practitioners.

Finally, the new goals must be considered within planetary boundaries, participants argued. Business therefore needs the right framework, and an enabling environment should include a focus on smart regulation and incentives.

As next steps, future dialogue sessions with Panel member over their next meeting were encouraged in order to take the discussion further. Input will be made into the High-level Panel via outreach by individual businesses, global business groups, and national business coalitions.

Youth Event: Young Leaders, Young Voices

The event was seen as an opportunity for the Panel to interact with youth and better understand development through the eyes of the world’s largest demographic; half the world is under 25 (over 3.5 billion people) and 87% of young people live in developing countries. Young people are a vital asset in the formulation and leadership of any new commitments to global development and tackling poverty worldwide – yet they are disproportionately affected by their community and country’s most pressing problems and remain isolated from decision-making processes, frequently overlooked as a resource for change and development.

The event also sought to give young people an opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of the context faced by their generation and offer practical and relevant input to the post-2015 process. As youth set the context for the discussion, one of the main concerns that emerged was the need to rethink traditional education so that it becomes more relevant to youths’ daily lives and the lives of their communities. Another point raised was the lack of sufficient decent jobs for the young men and women released to the job market every year, which was followed by a youth participant acknowledging the need for youth to be able to have the tools they need to further their career progression, including knowledge transfer in the digital economy, and have the necessary skills to access markets, becoming “trend spotters.”

One youth representative noted: “You are meeting young people who have grown-up in the wake of Millennium Development Goals, and their voices and opinions will be instrumental in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of the new goals. And for that, it is our responsibility to get involved in their challenges, development and celebrate with them in their successes because young people are capable [...].”

Another representative, speaking on the need for jobs for youth, stressed: “Of course we need jobs, but as young people we want goals that focus on new wealth created in our own communities and countries. Goals and indicators that make it easier for a new generation to generate business, create markets, hunt down new supply chains to enable us to be part of the solution to the lack of jobs.” One speaker presented an example of a youth-led development project in her country, which focused on bringing children back into school by giving them solar lanterns that could only be recharged on the school grounds. The initiative led to the formation of a cooperative amongst villagers where unemployed youth were engaged in constructing roads, a school, a hospital and closed sewerage systems. There was also an employment guarantee scheme to make sure that youth didn’t have to find problematic alternatives when there was no work. The project helped address unemployment, and various other issues, including women’s empowerment, sustainability, education, healthcare, and hygiene.

Another representative referred to health as an indispensable aspect of human development: “Young people should be free from any disease that hinders us to live freely in society. Of the many dimensions of health, we truly believe that sexual and reproductive health and rights are crucial for empowering youth and enabling us to make wise decisions. Youth are disproportionately affected by sexual and reproductive health issues. In Africa, HIV rates of transmission are highest amongst people aged 16-25 and across developing countries, unplanned pregnancy is the biggest killer of girls aged 15-19, but these examples just skim the surface of why sexual and reproductive health is a key to development. Specifically, it is a tool that can empower girls and young women like me.”

After a two sets of 10-minute roundtable discussions, a number of main points emerged.

In terms of ensuring their inclusion and innovation in the post-2015 process and framework:
· Youth are innovative stakeholders and need to be part of the executive dialogue and key partners in the post-2015 process.
· Youth should be placed at the centre of designing and implementing youth-targeted initiatives.
· We must engage in youth-led consultations and integrate youth participants and perspectives into the existing country-led consultations, amongst other recommendations.

In terms of what was missing from the MDGs that youth would like to see in the post-2015 agenda:
· More of a bottom-up approach to development to ensure goals are reflective of youth needs and have full buy-in from target populations.
· A focus on the post-conflict context and vulnerable groups — including women and girls, disabled youth, LGBT youth, and youth in war-affected areas.
· Mainstream gender in household poverty and consider the gender dynamics of household poverty within the same household, amongst other recommendations.

Town Hall meeting

The High-level Panel concluded its three-day Conference with the so-called Town Hall meeting, in which over 250 representatives from civil society participated in order to share their views and concerns for post-2015. Also on Twitter the debate was followed lively with over 250 tweets being posted during just the first hour of the meeting. Although the meeting concentrated around the issues of human development, jobs and livelihoods, many interventions touched upon a broad range of other topics.

Moderated by Duncan Green, the Town Hall meeting featured Panel members Graça Machel (South Africa), Fulbert Gero Amoussouga (Benin), Abhijit Banerjee (India), Gunilla Carlsson (Sweden), Tawakel Karman (Yemen), and John Podesta (United States of America), as well as the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning, Amina J. Mohammed (Nigeria), and Lead Author and Executive Secretary of the Panel Homi Kharas (Pakistan).

Homi Kharas opened the meeting by highlighting the vision of the Panel: to end poverty in their time. He explained that the Panel is still debating on what this exactly would entail, especially in terms of feasibility and affordability. Key questions were: What important unfinished business from the MDGs do we want to complete? What do we want to change or amend in the MDGs to make them more relevant to the new development challenges? What do we need to add?

Following the opening statement, Mr. Green gave the floor to those civil society representatives that wanted to make interventions, and for which they had approximately 15 seconds each (considering the large amount of civil society speakers). Simon Ross from Population Matters, was the first to speak, and brought up the issue of family planning and an increased number of jobs for women. Kathrin Hagan, from the Geneva Social Observatory, highlighted that food and nutrition was one of the looming issues, especially within the household framework. Baby Milk Action brought up the issue of breastfeeding, which would have a positive impact on all MDGs. Pippi Gardener, a youth member of Girl Scouts, advocated for sexual and reproductive health rights, while a representative of Landesa called for secure land rights, especially for women, in order to increase income, production and investments, and address household poverty. Andrew Shepherd of the Chronic Poverty Advisory Network, put emphasis on the fact that not all global challenges can be transformed into global goals, as some are very context-specific and demand national autonomy, e.g. marriage and inheriting laws, which are responsible for keeping people poor.

Judith Watts from the NCD Alliance pointed to the importance of integrating the issue of non-communicable diseases (NDCs), such as diabetes and cancer, in any post-2015 development framework as these diseases pose a serious threat to health and thus development. “NCDs cause poverty; poverty causes NCDs,” she said. One representative made a plea on the inequity in access to medication, especially pain medication. She explained that the International Narcotics Control Board estimates that 90% of strong pain medication is ascribed to about 10 developed countries, the UK being one of them. The rest of the pain medication is shared among the rest of the world. Nivi Narang from Every Child pointed to the issue of child care and protection, calling it unacceptable that every year 1,5 billion children are experiencing violence and 223 million children are raped or subject to sexual violence. She proposed “protection as a measurement of all development goals.”

Participants further addressed issues such as unsafe work environments; trafficking; inclusive growth; reducing consumption behaviour (especially in developed countries); twinning arrangements between developed and developing countries; sustainable development goals (SDGs); the inclusion of people living with disabilities, youth, women and the elderly; the conservation of tropical rainforests; access to information, data and transparency; labour and human rights; the role of volunteering; and social protection for communities and societies around the world

Many other interventions were related to the consultation process for the UN’s post-2015 development agenda. For example, a participant from Nigeria talked about the importance of ownership and said that grassroots voices, especially women, have not been heard. National consultations have to take the form of tribunals at rural level in order to capture the voices of the marginalized, she emphasized.

Given the limited amount of time for each participant to make an intervention, many of the interventions ended up being direct questions to the Panel on how they were planning to address a specific theme or issue in the post-2015 development framework. Questions raised included: “How will the Panel consider the impact of populationg growth and how to reduce it?” (Population Matters), “What does the panel think the overriding purpose of a post-2015 framework should be, and are you yet thinking about finance? Would you see a role for new sources of finance, such as financial sector taxes?” (CAFOD), “How are the diasporas, contributing signicantly to development (financially), going to be taken into account?”(Comic Relief), “How to ensure that subsistence economies can be integrated in the global economy?” and “How to ensure the protection of ecosystems?” (Commonwealth Human Ecology Council), “How do we make a change in post-2015 with all the multiple crises?” (Voice), and “How will the Panel hold governments responsible for the next set of goals?” (Bridge Leadership Foundation).

In a response, Ms. Mohammed reminded the audience that there are still three years to go on the MDGs and that much could be done by then. Ideally, many of the issues addressed in the interventions would be tackled by 2015, so that the new framework could focus on prevention. Ms. Karma, explained that the Panel will need to write goals that are in response to civil society needs and input, noting “We need your voice, dreams and expertise.” Ms. Machel highlighted the general consensus that the aim of the post-MDGs is to end poverty in our time and that this should be done in a simple and actionable way. She then returned a question to the audience, "How do you help us, as a panel, to package this so we can take it back to the constituencies we work with, not for?” She also referred to her own experience in working in civil society and the fact that civil society organizations sometmes tends to see their own agendas as the most important ones. “If we are to end poverty in our lifetime, we cannot continue to work in silos,” Ms. Machel emphasized, requesting civil society to start thinking in what we can do better and differently. Ms. Carlsson emphasized that it was important to include the voiceless and to identify the forgotten areas. “We need to learn more about what poor people want,” she continued, underlining that perhaps poor people do not want to be described as poor. She concluded by noting that the focus should be on implementation and on recognizing people as assets. Ms. Machel affirmed this point and raised the question: Can we call them something else than poor? Moreover, she said “We also need to get rid of the attitude of donors and recipients. Even LDCs have something to offer, they are development partners.” Systems and language that support inequality need to be challenged, she concluded.

Mr. Podesta pointed to the fact that ending poverty is not only the responsibility of the UN or of certain governments; it is the responsibility of all global stakeholders. Transparency and accountability were also vital requirements in his view, especially in relation to MDG8 on global partnerships. Mr. Gero Amoussouga mentioned two categories of actions that will be central to create inclusive growth: give poor people the power and get organized to find the means to give them this power. In this frame, he highlighted the importance to educate, train and empower people by teaching them how to make decisions and take responsibilities for the consequences of these decisions. He also mentioned the importance to ensure poor people the access to services, not only to basic services, but to everything that permits them to produce and create growth. In terms of organization, partnerships between governments, private sector, civil society and poor people are the key, he concluded.

Finally, Mr. Banerjee explained that the Panel cannot assure that all topics addressed at this meeting and in future meetings and consultations will be incorporated, as there are just too many ideas out there. “We can assure you of our failure. We will never make you all happy. So one fundamental problem with this process is that you end up with a very small number of goals,” he said. He therefore asked civil society not necessarily to share their specific views, but to think of which goals need to be prioritized. Mr. Karman added “force us to write the dream of what we want in the goals but also the mechanisms to implement them,” noting that “It is very important to translate these goals to be become laws and treaties. Not just internationally but also locally.”

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