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Beyond 2015 media statement: Reaction to the OWG's Focus Areas Document

Download the pdf version of the March 3, 2014 Media Release here.

Media release: Beyond 2015’s reaction to the Open Working Group’s ‘Focus Areas Document’

The participating organisations of the Beyond 2015 campaign congratulate the members of the Open Working Group (OWG) on releasing their ‘Focus Areas Document’ for the post-2015 agenda. We welcome this positive first step, which we recognise as a ‘pre-zero draft’. We know it has not been easy to arrive here, and we strongly encourage Member States to maintain the high levels of engagement and enthusiasm for the process.

Beyond 2015’s reaction to the Focus Areas Document welcomes the recognition that multidimensional poverty eradication is of top priority for the post-2015 agenda. However, we are concerned by a number of issues:

  • The OWG’s over-emphasis on growth at all costs. Beyond 2015 insists that the post-2015 agenda must radically transform the way in which the purpose of the economy is understood, so that it exists to serves people and planet.
  • The lack of commitment to a universal agenda which applies to developing and industrialised countries alike. Member States and civil society have agreed that the post-2015 agenda must be universal. The next phase of work must explicitly recognise the need for a universal agenda.
  • The need for a stronger focus on inequality and human rights. The OWG must present clear recommendations for ensuring that the Sustainable Development Goals are pursued equitably, rather than leaving the poorest and most vulnerable behind. Actively reducing inequalities between social groups regarding economic, social, political and environmental inequalities is necessarily ambitious, but cultural inequalities and human rights must also be taken into account.

Co-Chair of Beyond 2015, Mwangi Waituru of the Seed Institute, Kenya, says: ‘We need to remind the OWG that expectations are high. The narrative produced by the High Level Panel raised the bar. It is now incumbent upon the OWG to spell out how this will be operationalized through a set of goals. It is the OWG that makes or breaks the narrative. We, as a generation, must live up to this opportunity.

Beyond 2015 calls on members of the OWG to raise the level of ambition in the negotiations, to agree a strong set of universal and truly transformational Sustainable Development Goals that reflect the voices of those most affected by poverty and injustice. Anything less is simply unacceptable.

For more information and interviews please contact:

Mwangi Waituru, Beyond 2015 Co-Chair, The Seed Institute, Kenya, mwangi@seedinstitute.com

Neva Frecheville, Beyond 2015 Co-Chair, CAFOD, UK, nfrecheville@cafod.org.uk

Hanna Hansson, Beyond 2015 Sweden, Concord Sweden, hanna.hansson@concord.se

Leo Williams, Beyond 2015 International Coordinator, Brussels, lwilliams@beyond2015.org

Notes to Editors

1. Beyond 2015 is a global civil society campaign, pushing for a strong and legitimate successor framework to the Millennium Development Goals. The campaign, created in 2010, is built on a diverse, global base, ranging from small community based organisations to international NGOs, academics and trade unions. A founding principle of the campaign is that it is a partnership between civil society organisations from the ‘North’ and the ‘South’ – bringing together almost 1000 civil society organisations from developing, emerging and developed economies.

2. Beyond 2015 is working closely with the International Forum of National NGO platform (IFP), Climate Action Network International (CAN I) and Participate in the framework of a joint project aiming to collectively represent the needs of those most affected by poverty and injustice at the national, regional and international levels throughout the intergovernmental negotiations around the post-2015 agenda.

3. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight international development goals that were established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000, following the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration. All 189 United Nations member states at the time (there are 193 currently) and at least 23 international organizations committed to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, the goals are:

  1. To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. To achieve universal primary education
  3. To promote gender equality and empowering women
  4. To reduce child mortality rates
  5. To improve maternal health
  6. To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
  7. To ensure environmental sustainability
  8. To develop a global partnership for development

3. The MDGs expire at the end of 2015 and discussions are now underway to develop the framework to replace them.

4. The Open Working Group (OWG) was established in January 2013 by the General Assembly to steer the formulation of the proposal on sustainable development goals (SDGs). The Focus Areas Document, released on February 21, 2014, does not constitute a zero draft of the report that the Group has been mandated to submit to the General Assembly at its sixty-eighth session. While the document is recommended for further consideration, the focus areas identified are not exhaustive and do not preclude inclusion of other issues discussed within the context of the thematic clusters but that may not have been captured here. On release of the Focus Areas Document, the OWG stated, ‘It is our view that the international community could realize greater impacts of the much sought transformative change if further actions are taken in these focus areas of sustainable development. This is necessary to build prosperous, peaceful and resilient societies that also protect the planet. […] The Co-chairs ask Member States to begin, based on our document, the serious business of identifying SDGs and accompanying targets at the ninth session of the Open Working Group in early March.’