The Caribbean Forum: Shaping a sustainable development agenda to address the Caribbean reality in the 21st century took place in Bogota, Colombia, on 5-6 March 2013, followed by the Conference on Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean: Follow-up to the development agenda beyond 2015 and Rio+20, which met from 7-9 March. These meetings were organized by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Government of Colombia. The meetings addressed development goals, aspects of global and regional governance, the implications, from a regional perspective, of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20), and follow-up to the development agenda beyond 2015, with the aim of informing the ongoing global processes.
The Caribbean Forum discussed issues of importance to the subregion, allowing participants to bring their priority areas to the forefront, and also addressed preparations for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to be held in Samoa in 2014. Organized by ECLAC, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Caribbean Forum was attended by over 50 participants, including representatives from Caribbean states, international, regional and subregional organizations, and civil society. The meeting was organized in thematic sessions, including presentations by panelists from countries, organizations and civil society, followed by discussions and exchanges of views of all participants. Following two days of exchanges, participants adopted conclusions, including guidelines on how to continue working towards development in the Caribbean, and priority areas.
The discussions revolved around key issues, including the need to: eradicate poverty; address Caribbean countries’ vulnerability to climate change; improve health services; and diminish violence. On the need to increase financial flows from and into the region, many stressed that most Caribbean countries are considered to be middle-income countries and, therefore, cannot receive certain types of development assistance. The role of the private sector, banking and new sources of development were emphasized in this regard, with one stressing that “we have to rely more on ourselves, as we cannot rely on official development assistance (ODA).” The adopted conclusions were considered by many as a useful identification of an agenda for future discussions at the regional and global levels to bring to the Third International Conference on SIDS, as well as a roadmap to address sustainable development in the subregion that could be integrated into the agenda at the regional level as a contribution to the post-2015 development agenda.
The Conference on Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean was attended by over 250 participants, including ministers, delegates from countries in the region, members and representatives of the High-level Panel of the Secretary-General on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, and members of the UN Secretariat, as well as representatives from international and regional organizations and civil society. Delegates exchanged views on key issues preceded by presentations by panelists.
The passing of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, on 6 March, occurred just prior to the conference, and provided what many called a unique “symbolic moment” and an opportunity for the region to seize in unity and solidarity to honor Chavez’s ideals. He was an “enthusiast of regional integration” said one and so, within this context, delegates from the region met in Bogota, with some shuttling back and forth to attend Chavez’s funeral in Caracas.
The Conference provided the space for delegates to express regional priorities for the post-2015 development agenda, and while some countries expressed differences in opinion, many underscored how the meeting brought positions closer. As one insider put it: “I think before the meeting everyone was waiting to see what others would say, but the meeting really went beyond my expectations in terms of the depth and openness of the discussions and the interest of parties in the issues.”
The discussions mainly revolved around ideas for the post-2015 development agenda, with some “extremely innovative ideas” expressed regarding, inter alia: a paradigm shift with equality at the foundation, and a change towards more sustainable consumption and production patterns; broader measures for assessing sustainable development, including those related to health, education, environment and well-being; and new ways of financing beyond traditional ODA. A central theme addressed how to deal with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the post-2015 development agenda. “This is one area where we really need to work in order to reach a unified position,” said one, with a spectrum of views on the issue, ranging from maintaining the MDGs as separate from any sustainable development goals (SDGs) that are developed, to fully integrating the MDGs into SDGs. The MDGs address pressing challenges, such as poverty eradication, which some fear may be lost in SDGs that address sustainability over the long term. Others tried to allay those concerns by ensuring that the aims of the MDGs would be fully integrated, linked together and expanded upon in SDGs and in the post-2015 development agenda. The interlinkages and interdependency of the issues were illustrated in a concrete manner during the conference. For example, discussions illustrated the importance of healthy nutrition and food security for early childhood development and education, which leads to a healthy and productive work force and eradication of poverty.
Funding is another area that will require further exploration in the coming months, with some believing that if the MDGs remain separate from SDGs there will be competition for funds and others fearing that funding will be diverted from the urgent poverty eradication agenda towards environmental issues, such as climate change mitigation.
One tangible manifestation of regional integration is the initiative to establish a Principle 10 instrument in the region. In Rio de Janeiro in 2012, some Latin American and Caribbean countries adopted a Declaration on the application of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. During the Bogota Conference, this issue was further addressed with additional countries joining or expressing their intention to join the initiative.
After the conclusion of the meeting, many delegates and members of the ECLAC Secretariat expressed their enthusiasm, noting this was a good first step in a longer process, with Colombia proposing such a meeting be held on an annual basis to further the aim of “regional integration.”
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE UNITED NATIONS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCES
STOCKHOLM CONFERENCE: The UN Conference on the Human Environment was held in Stockholm, Sweden, from 5-16 June 1972, and produced three major sets of decisions. The first decision was the Stockholm Declaration. The second was the Stockholm Action Plan, containing 109 recommendations on international measures against environmental degradation for governments and international organizations. The third set of decisions was a group of five resolutions calling for: a ban on the testing of nuclear weapons; the creation of an international databank on environmental data; addressing actions linked to development and the environment; the creation of an environment fund; and establishing the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as the central node for global environmental cooperation and treaty making.
BRUNDTLAND COMMISSION: In 1983, the UN General Assembly established an independent commission to formulate a long-term agenda for action. Over the next three years, the World Commission on Environment and Development —more commonly known as the Brundtland Commission, named for its Chair, Gro Harlem Brundtland—held public hearings and studied the issues. Its report, Our Common Future, which was published in 1987, stressed the need for development strategies in all countries that recognized the limits of the global ecosystem’s ability to regenerate and absorb waste products. The Commission emphasized the link between economic development, security and environmental issues, and identified poverty eradication as a necessary and fundamental requirement for environmentally sustainable development.
UN CONFERENCE ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT: UNCED, also known as the Earth Summit, was held from 3-14 June 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and involved over 100 Heads of State and Government, representatives from 178 countries and some 17,000 participants. The principal outputs of UNCED were the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, Agenda 21 (a 40-chapter programme of action) and the Statement of Forest Principles. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity were also opened for signature during the Earth Summit. Agenda 21 called for the creation of a Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), as a functional commission of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), to ensure effective follow-up of UNCED, enhance international cooperation, and examine progress in implementing Agenda 21 at the local, national, regional and international levels.
UNGASS-19: The 19th Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) for the Overall Review and Appraisal of Agenda 21 (23-27 June 1997, New York) adopted the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 (A/RES/S-19/2) and assessed progress since UNCED.
WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: The WSSD met from 26 August - 4 September 2002, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The goal of the WSSD, according to UNGA resolution 55/199, was to hold a ten-year review of UNCED at the Summit level to reinvigorate the global commitment to sustainable development. The WSSD gathered over 21,000 participants from 191 governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, the private sector, civil society, academia and the scientific community. The WSSD negotiated and adopted two main documents: the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI); and the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development.
The JPOI is designed as a framework for action to implement the commitments agreed at UNCED and includes chapters on poverty eradication, consumption and production, the natural resource base, health, small island developing states (SIDS), Africa, other regional initiatives, means of implementation and institutional framework.
UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (Rio+20): The third and final meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), Pre-Conference Informal Consultations facilitated by the host country, and the UNCSD convened back-to-back in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 13-22 June 2012. During the ten days in Rio, government delegations concluded negotiations on the Rio outcome document, titled The Future We Want. Representatives from 191 UN member states and observers, including 79 Heads of State or Government, addressed the general debate, and approximately 44,000 people attended the official meetings, a Rio+20 Partnerships Forum, Sustainable Development Dialogues, SD-Learning and an estimated 500 side events.
Participants at Rio+20 were encouraged to make voluntary commitments for actions to implement the conference’s goals, with financial commitments from governments, the private sector, civil society and other groups. The Future We Want calls for the UNGA to take decisions on, inter alia: designating a body to operationalize the 10-year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production; identifying the format and organizational aspects of a high-level political forum (HLPF), which is to replace the CSD; strengthening UNEP; constituting an Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be agreed by UNGA; establishing an intergovernmental process under UNGA to prepare a report proposing options on an effective sustainable development financing strategy; and considering a set of recommendations from the Secretary-General for a facilitation mechanism that promotes the development, transfer and dissemination of clean and environmentally sound technologies.
In addition, the UNGA is called on to take a decision in two years on the development of an international instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea regarding marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. The UN Statistical Commission is called on to launch a programme of work on broader measures to complement gross domestic product, and the UN system is encouraged, as appropriate, to support best practice and facilitate action for the integration of sustainability reporting.
The text also includes text on trade-distorting subsidies, fisheries and fossil fuel subsidies. On SIDS, the text calls for continued and enhanced efforts to assist SIDS in implementing the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy of Implementation and for strengthened UN system support to SIDS to address ongoing and emerging challenges. It also calls for the Third International Conference on SIDS to be held in 2014.
UNGA-67: The 67th session of the UNGA adopted a resolution on the implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of Rio+20 (A/RES/67/203), which outlines the negotiation process for the creation of the HLPF, and recommends that the CSD hold a “short and procedural” final session following the conclusion of negotiations on the HLPF. The text also calls for the OWG on SDGs to report to the UNGA at its 68th session and to report regularly, taking into account the convening of the first HLPF, and the special event in 2013 to follow up efforts made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
AFRICAN REGIONAL IMPLEMENTATION MEETING: The African RIM took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 19-21 November 2012, together with the Eighth Session of the Committee on Food Security and Sustainable Development and adopted an Outcome Document for CSD-20. Recommendations focused on: arrangements for the HLPF; the SDGs, including Africa’s priorities, such as poverty eradication, food security and desertification, among others; and means of implementation. One of the recommendations called for the Africa-RIM to be elevated to a high-level regional forum to ensure effective engagement of African countries in the HLPF.
REPORT OF THE CARIBBEAN FORUM
Guillermo Acuña, ECLAC, welcomed participants to the Caribbean Forum. In her opening remarks, Forum Chair Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Guyana, stressed the importance of shaping the sustainable development agenda to address the Caribbean reality in the 21st century. She said historical growth rates in the Caribbean have lagged behind those in emerging markets and in SIDS as a whole, and urged addressing, in tandem, poverty, sustainability, threats from climate change and the challenge of food security.
Paula Caballero, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Colombia, said the post-2015 development agenda provides a unique opportunity for the region and the world, and stressed the importance of ensuring that the priorities and needs of Caribbean countries are taken into account.
Carlos Morales, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Colombia, stressed enormous potential for development in the region, as well as Colombia’s desire to strengthen its bilateral relationship with each of the Caribbean countries.
Diane Quarless, Director of the ECLAC Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean, said the Forum was convened to help prepare for the global consultations and processes that will lead to reshaping the development agenda, providing an opportunity to ensure that, in this evolving global discourse, the special needs of SIDS are considered and not lost in this “leviathan.” Mentioning the upcoming Third International Conference on SIDS to be held in Samoa in 2014, she asked how the Caribbean could etch a new paradigm that forges the necessary global partnerships for sustainable development. She discussed leveraging regional trading blocs, singling out the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
Crispin Gregoire, United Nations Development Group for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNDG-LAC), highlighted that the post-2015 development agenda should consider inclusive social development, economic and environmental sustainability, and peace and security dimensions. He called for convergence between the post-2015 development agenda and the SDGs, recalling that the Rio+20 outcome states that SDGs should be coherent with the post-2015 agenda. He called for a tangible sustainable development framework for the Caribbean region.
CARICOM Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque said that many Caribbean SIDS’ vulnerabilities and particularities are often overlooked particularly since most are considered as middle-income countries, emphasizing that “one size does not fit all.” He supported a post-2015 operational framework for sustainable development along with a financing mechanism that is flexible, sustainable and resource oriented.
SESSION 1: OVERVIEW OF PROGRESS TOWARDS ACHIEVEMENT OF THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS AND THE POST-2015 AGENDA WITHIN SIDS
Elizabeth Thompson, Former Executive Coordinator of Rio+20 and High Level Consultant for the post-2015 Development Agenda, highlighted the most relevant results of Rio+20 for SIDS and the Caribbean, including a green economy. She wondered to what extent Caribbean countries were creating enabling environments for affecting the transition to a green economy, pointing to key sectors, including agriculture, infrastructure, energy, fisheries, forests, manufacturing, transport and water. She also asked whether: the MDGs should complement SDGs; SDGs should replace the MDGs; or SDGs should work in tandem with the MDGs. She invited countries to consider how the 2014 Third International Conference on SIDS could provide an opportunity for developing a broad sustainable development strategy and leverage, inter alia, social and economic development, funding and business opportunities.
Discussion: Antigua and Barbuda drew attention to the challenge of translating ideas into concrete policy formulation and implementation. Guyana called for a synergistic approach to address different themes in creating the sustainable development agenda. Thompson highlighted the need to involve ministers of finance in sustainable development discussions, highlighting that the world is moving towards a green economy, a shift that is starting to happen in the market place and requires preparation by countries.
Chair Rodrigues-Birkett expressed concern over establishing a process for defining the criteria for green national accounting systems as it could result in new conditionalities for countries. She said the region should ensure that their interests are considered in the relevant discussions to define such criteria.
SESSION 2: CONSIDERATION OF THE MDGS, THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA AND RIO+20 FOLLOW-UP INITIATIVES
Gisela Alonso, member of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda (HLP) and President of the Cuban Agency of Environment, provided an overview of the Panel’s work, noting its aim to offer a vision for the post-2015 development agenda, which she said must take into account the differing needs, development levels and laws of countries. She stressed that each country must be able to freely choose its own development model, and determine how its natural resources are used. While noting increasing South-South cooperation, she said it does not replace North-South cooperation or ODA. Speaking for Cuba, she noted challenges for the Caribbean related to climate change, food safety and salinization.
Alva Baptiste, Minister for External Affairs, International Trade and Civil Aviation, Saint Lucia, spoke as the only Caribbean country and one of the 50 countries currently participating in national consultations on the MDGs, briefing participants on the process in his country. He said the aim of the consultations is to guide each country’s own national development strategy and noted that the consultations would be undertaken through, inter alia, face-to-face town hall meetings, focus group discussion, rap sessions, one-on-one interviews and social media, which could involve the diaspora community. He also highlighted dissemination of the results of the consultations in, among others, the print media and online.
George Talbot, Permanent Representative of Guyana to the UN and ECOSOC Chair, discussed progress made on establishing the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) and the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG). Noting the importance of interlinkages among processes and their eventual convergence for the post-2015 development agenda, he mentioned other relevant ongoing processes, including strengthening ECOSOC, the expert group on financing sustainable development, upgrading UNEP, preparing for the 2014 Third International Conference on SIDS, and the HLP on the post-2015 development agenda. Regarding the OWG, he said the process to agree on composition and membership has been “long and torturous” and the group has yet to commence its work, but that the first meeting is scheduled for 14-15 March. He mentioned numerous proposals for SDGs, including food security and agriculture, water and sanitation, energy and education. Regarding the HLPF, he noted ongoing consultations over whether it will sit under the UN General Assembly (UNGA) or under ECOSOC. He mentioned consideration of a possible hybrid arrangement, whereby ministers could meet annually under ECOSOC and every few years under the UNGA in September world leaders would participate.
Garfield Barnwell, CARICOM, discussed critical issues for the Caribbean in preparation for the 2014 Third International Conference on SIDS. He said the SIDS agenda should be the platform on which the Caribbean articulates its approach towards other elements of the development agenda. He said a key challenge for the Caribbean relates to implementation, and stressed development of international partnerships, public-private partnerships (PPPs) at all levels, and the private sector.
Janice Miller, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Jamaica, introduced the Declaration on the application of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, signed by some Latin American and Caribbean countries, noting it is open to all countries for signature. She also described a meeting of focal points held in November 2012, where a roadmap for establishing a Principle 10 instrument in Latin American and Caribbean was agreed. She underscored potential benefits of having a regional convention on Principle 10, including the strengthening of democracy, accountability of decision makers and enhancement of sustainable development.
Discussion: Guyana wondered how all the current international processes will converge, particularly those regarding the definition of SDGs and the post-2015 development agenda, and whether such convergence should happen after or before 2015, given that two more years for achieving the MDGs remain. Cuba encouraged building upon agreements already adopted and avoiding repeating old discussions.
Barnwell clarified that the dominant scenarios in considering the post-2015 development agenda for the Caribbean include possibly focusing on: meeting the elements not yet achieved in implementing the MDGs; developing SDGs on the basis of areas not covered in the MDGs; and turning attention to the platform for the SIDS Programme of Action for the 2014 Third International Conference on SIDS to inform the SIDS position for the post-2015 development agenda. He said the 2014 meeting should be used as an opportunity to ensure a greater level of coherence and synergies on the SIDS agenda. Minister Baptiste highlighted that Caribbean SIDS are now considered middle-income countries and no longer qualify for certain development assistance.
Participants also discussed the need to further involve the private sector in sustainable development discussions and whether an instrument on the overall right to access to information would be better than one covering only environmental information.
SESSION 3: ADVANCING DEVELOPMENT IN ADDRESSING THE VULNERABILITY OF CARIBBEAN SIDS THROUGH RESILIENCE BUILDING
THEME 1: HUMAN DEVELOPMENT, CITIZEN SECURITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE CARIBBEAN: Moderator John Maginley, Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Antigua and Barbuda, introduced the session. On human development, he stressed varying levels of development in the Caribbean region, and establishing a plan that can work across all development levels. On citizen security, he stressed involvement of citizens in decision making, and said social violence, including the use of firearms, is the primary source of insecurity in the region. He said the Caribbean has one of the highest incidences of gender-based violence globally. On human rights, he stressed, inter alia, democracy, participation, equality and social inclusion.
Jacqueline Sharpe, International Planned Parenthood Federation, emphasized a people-centered sustainable development agenda. She stressed the importance of: sex and reproductive health; and comprehensive age-appropriate sex education. On citizen security, she discussed gender-based and domestic violence. Regarding human rights, she stressed, among other things, social justice, sexual and reproductive rights, and rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. She recommended strengthening PPPs to scale-up services that are mainly driven by civil society, especially for vulnerable populations.
Anthony Harriott, University of the West Indies, said Caribbean countries regard ordinary criminal violence as a top priority for action by governments. He stressed the need for reducing social vulnerabilities, and ensuring that state agencies are more responsible to and protective of the people. He said small states are able to more easily open up channels for participation, highlighting, for example, community-based policing.
Carissa Etienne, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), said health is critical to human development and security, and a basic human right enshrined in many government constitutions, and can be an effective way of measuring progress in sustainable development. She stressed the need to guarantee access to health services and for all types of care. She indicated that universal health care as an overarching goal should accommodate health priorities according to countries’ specific health needs.
Discussion: Participants raised issues related to: equality of education; focusing on chronic non-communicable diseases; universal access to sexual and reproductive health; affordability when addressing universal health care and the idea of cost-sharing; whether access to health care is sufficient; addressing preventative care and lifestyle changes; the importance of improving teacher education; and equitable distribution of resources for education.
A representative of UNAIDS called for: a commitment across the region to address the needs of the most vulnerable, and ensuring their inclusion in development initiatives going forward; a declaration of human rights for CARICOM; and partnerships between government and civil society to better reach vulnerable populations. One participant noted discussions at a recent meeting in Barbados on a regional health insurance mechanism, and that options to support universal access were on the table. Moderator Maginley noted that universal access means care for all, not for everything. Trinidad and Tobago noted diverging views in some societies regarding comprehensive age-appropriate sex education in schools, and sexual and reproductive rights. Moderator Maginley noted a change in expectations from past generations, and said the state is often a “slow moving beast” in catching up with the changing times.
THEME 2: PROMOTING INCLUSIVE GROWTH THROUGH DIVERSIFICATION, CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION: Arnaldo Brown, Minister of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Jamaica, said that the current development model fails to undertake the structural changes needed for a 21st century economy, resulting in social problems, increased debt and unemployment. He said a new economic model is required to promote inclusive growth based on diversification. Highlighting the need for promoting innovation, he suggested, inter alia: an institutional mechanism to channel innovation; addressing the intellectual property rights regime; accessible and lower interest rates for loans; and promotion of indigenous technology. He also suggested a regional system of innovation, stimulation of a culture of long-life learning and further promotion of renewable energies.
Rosina Wiltshire, CARICOM, called for revisiting the fundamentals of the governance systems in Caribbean countries, noting that the colonial framework established a top-down governance system controlled by a few, and highlighted that current government systems need a more inclusive and holistic approach. She added that the educational model should focus on promoting creativity and cultural diversity.
Douglas Camacho, Insurance Association of the Caribbean, provided a private sector perspective on the difficulties of investing and doing business in Caribbean SIDS, saying that a regional response on how to do business would facilitate investments in the region.
Discussion: Antigua and Barbuda said that bringing business and governments together in the region would be helpful, but stressed their differing values. He criticized business people that request enabling environments for investment, but only focus on obtaining economic benefits, rather than contributing to society. Participants also discussed recommendations to: enhance investments in research and development in the region; generate the funds needed to commercialize inventions; enhance infrastructure, human capital and education; and address the energy crisis in the region by, for example, promoting renewable energies.
THEME 3: BUILDING RESILIENCE AND SOCIAL COHESION BY LEVERAGING CULTURAL CAPITAL AND COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT: Moderator Winston Moore, University of the West Indies, opened the discussion by explaining that: the economic downturn has had a significant impact on exports from the region; youth unemployment is above 30%, which is linked to crime and violence; and ecosystems have been degraded. As a response to climate change, he mentioned the region’s catastrophe risk insurance facility.
Garfield Barnwell, CARICOM, highlighted three major factors that contribute to instability and vulnerability in the region: climate change, natural disasters, and transnational crime and violence. He said because Caribbean economies are small, disasters have disrupted social and economic systems, and caused some countries to lose their competitiveness. He said the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center has developed a regional adaptation strategy, and that the frequency of disasters in Caribbean SIDS is higher than in other SIDS regions.
Cletus Springer, Organization of American States (OAS), recommended setting up a facility in the Caribbean that helps future planning to foresee possible events that might take place. He noted the ongoing transition away from the banana and the wider agricultural sector to the service sector, and said that the Caribbean economies had failed to respond to rapidly changing economic conditions. He called for evidence-based social policies, and taking an integrative approach, and said one college graduate in every household can lift a household out of poverty over time.
Discussion: One civil society participant said while good legislation and regulation exist, enforcement is weak. Other issues discussed related to: applicability of Rio Principle 10 to the Caribbean region; costs associated with evidence-based policy making; and reconsidering local governance structures as the foundation on which community power can be built. A civil society representative lamented that hotels are still being built too close to the shore and marshlands are cut down to build housing, to which Springer responded that the state is encouraging such development by providing incentives to hotels that also happen to dump waste in the ocean. He said incentives must be tied to sustainable practices.
In conclusion, Moderator Moore identified key points, including: the inability to make hard decisions sometimes worsens vulnerability; the need to emphasize potential strengths of the poor when doing poverty assessments in the region; examining areas where social protection intersects with innovation; and strategic planning in all sectors.
Upon learning of the passing of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Chair Rodrigues-Birkett said Chavez was a champion of the poor and believed in regional integration, and that their prayers were with the Venezuelan people in this time of sadness.
SESSION 4: ENHANCING INSTITUTIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE AND GOVERNANCE FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN THE CARIBBEAN
THEME 4: ENHANCING INSTITUTIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE AND GOVERNANCE FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN CARIBBEAN SIDS: On Wednesday morning, Cletus Springer, OAS, introduced the report “Caribbean Forum: Shaping a Sustainable Development Agenda to Address the Caribbean Reality in the Twenty-First Century,” which addresses progress achieved in the region since the 1992 Rio Summit. He indicated the report identifies challenges as well as recommendations for the region, including suggestions to: enhance participatory governance; establish instruments for participatory decision making; reconcile social planning with economic growth objectives; and adopt innovative measures for increasing financial flows.
Gisela Alonso, Cuba, provided examples of how her country is dealing with sustainable development challenges, highlighting intense work on planning, including environmental, social and economic considerations, and integrating relevant scientific information. She emphasized the need for science-based decision making, as well as to use the technology available, such as geographic information systems (GIS), to implement decisions. She emphasized the need to support a decentralized government and give a stronger role to the local governments.
Gordon Bispham, Civil Society, emphasized the need to ensure a shared vision among stakeholders and a high level of synergies for facing sustainable development challenges. He underscored challenges for the region, including: inadequate evidence-based approaches; low level of advocacy and activism; lack of sustainable development indicators to bridge gaps in statistics and information; and the need for better national reporting and bridging the information divide between science, policy, practice and institutions. To have an inclusive vision for “the Caribbean we want,” he suggested, inter alia: an inclusive and transformational common vision, including scientists and parliamentarians in the process, and establishing national councils on sustainable development.
Discussion: Moderator Springer noted that GIS and other tools are underutilized by governments, and called for a learning or sharing mechanism in the region. Barnwell noted constraints in the use of tools, such as environmental impact assessments, due to lack of capacity, and urged a greater level of science-policy interface. Participants further discussed: the need for ministers and cabinet members to make decisions based on the technical expertise presented to them, and the importance of translating this information for their use; and policy implementation as the greatest challenge. On engaging the diaspora as part of the consultative and governance process, Bispham noted efforts in Barbados through possible joint ventures and investment. ECLAC urged economies to move towards a full accounting system that links the present with the future, and called for a timetable and roadmap for internalizing external costs, such as those related to atmosphere and ecosystems. He said this was a “low-hanging fruit” for the MDGs and SDGs. He discussed a “promising” model from Chile, whereby a country that has historically ignored the external costs of global warming has opened a line in their accounting for carbon costs. He said accounting for global warming costs could open the door to other historically ignored externalities. Noting the drive to bring as many tourists as possible to the region, Elizabeth Thompson called for analyzing the carrying capacity of fragile ecosystems in the region in order to plan tourism around what can be sustainably managed.
Regarding the international environmental architecture for the Caribbean, Moderator Springer noted lack of engagement of capitals in this process. Bispham underscored difficulties in achieving a comprehensive, consensus decision on this issue. CARICOM stressed the importance of national coordination prior to international coordination. Guyana called for further exploring how CARICOM can better express itself in both a new universalized UNEP, given that member countries do not have missions in Nairobi, and the HLPF.
THEME 5: FINANCING FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN SMALL, MIDDLE INCOME CARIBBEAN COUNTRIES: Moderator Winston Dookeran, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trinidad and Tobago, said the integration movement in the Caribbean region has lost its momentum and has not provided mechanisms for a people-driven approach. He highlighted national programmes to develop economic shock absorbers and the need to develop a resilient financial sector over the long term. He stressed the need to facilitate people’s involvement in driving the production process of countries and countries need to convert their financial assets into productive opportunities, including through ensuring that banks provide loans for producers and equity. He urged adoption of measures to improve the flow of funds into and from the region, including public and private funds, and identified diaspora bonds as having great potential in this regard.
Amina J. Mohammed, Special Advisor of the Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning, presented on progress in the post-2015 development agenda process, noting numerous ongoing consultations around the world. She highlighted that the process of consultations will contribute to building an ambitions but also realistic set of goals. She underscored the relevance of addressing means of implementation, considering means beyond ODA, such as innovative partnerships, and looking into challenges at the national level, including governance of finance and accountability. She said the undergoing process in the HLPF contributes to efforts to enhance coherence and coordination in the work between the UN and countries.
Jaevion Nelson, Civil Society, drew attention to the need to address and invest in key issues, such as health, now to avoid future negative consequences in areas such as the economy. Noting the current economic status of Caribbean countries is difficult, he called for using this as an opportunity to make the needed reforms and find more efficient ways “to borrow less and produce more.” He underscored successful national experiences in Jamaica with HIV programmes, which provide lessons learned regarding collaborative work between civil society and government. Moderator Dookeran added that civil society is the missing link in ensuring development, stressing that equality is the driver to economic growth.
Rueanna Haynes, Trinidad and Tobago, discussed the Rio+20 outcome on finance, noting it does not call for new or additional ODA sources, but for greater transparency in how current ODA is delivered. She pointed to the intergovernmental process under the UNGA, which, among other things, will consider the possibility of creating a new financing mechanism to achieve sustainable development objectives, but said negotiations on how this new body will be constituted were just beginning. She discussed work undertaken, including by ECLAC, to measure progress using criteria beyond commonly used indicators, such as gross domestic product (GDP). She also suggested that: green economy policies in developing countries should not constitute a pretext for trade conditionalities; lessening dependency on ODA and using more innovative financing, such as an international transaction tax; redirecting foreign direct investment (FDI); and making use of the diaspora community.
Discussion: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines said the prescriptions of the international financial institutions are mainly driven by the United States Treasury and the “Washington Consensus” and constitute “one package of medication” to the developing world. Participants also discussed: utilizing diaspora bonds; mobilizing funds at the regional level irrespective of political boundaries; reforming the international financial architecture to obtain the type of financing that is required to meet sustainable development objectives; maintaining commitments by developed countries; increasing contributions to the UN; having a concrete plan for mobilizing finances when and if they become available; and lack of venture capital in the subregion. UN Women reiterated the need for people-centered development that does not constrain people’s ability to access resources or undermine development. Bispham urged resource efficiency in the utilization of existing resources, and said PPPs must trade off some profitability for sustainability.
SESSION 5: PLENARY SESSION TO CONSIDER A CARIBBEAN STATEMENT ON THE FOLLOW-UP TO RIO+20, THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS AND THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA
Chair Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett introduced draft summary conclusions based on ideas taken from the discussions held during the Forum. She explained that governments were encouraged to consult with civil society. Participants addressed the proposal paragraph-by-paragraph, first addressing the section on principles.
On principles, following a clarification that planetary boundaries refer to recognizing the boundaries of ecosystems, and environmental management rather than exploitation, participants agreed to add the following principle: finite natural resources of the subregion.
Participants next turned to the approximately 30 priority areas identified during the Forum for further attention. Participants agreed to paragraphs on: conveying the full externalities in investment and other economic decisions; and converting excess liquidity in the private banking and financial sector into loans and equity for productive enterprise. Regarding green economy policies, participants added “that such policies be implemented on a voluntary basis and in accordance with national priorities.”
There was some discussion on distinguishing between knowledge-based and resource-based economies, with one participant emphasizing that Caribbean economies tend to be more knowledge-based as they are small and without large natural resource bases. Participants also added specific areas related to: addressing the challenges of communicable and non-communicable diseases, while ensuring universal access to primary health care services for promotion, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation; and strengthening measures to address disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in order to build resilience.
SUMMARY CONCLUSIONS: The conclusions note that the subregion regards the post-2015 development agenda as embracing the MDGs and SDGs, which complement each other, and providing countries with the flexibility to identify their respective avenues for development within a coherent and single vision for the Caribbean.
The conclusions further state that the subregion will be guided by the following: poverty eradication, with specific focus on vulnerable groups, inter-generational poverty, and ensuring the sustainability of gains made in poverty reduction; participation of all relevant stakeholders; sustained, inclusive and equitable growth that benefits all citizens; people-centered development; applicable regional and global agendas; a comprehensive development agenda; recognition of the vulnerabilities of SIDS; enhanced and inclusive governance; and the finite natural resources of the subregion.
The Forum also proposed the following priority areas for attention, inter alia:
- increasing investment in research and development and furthering the patenting of inventions in the region;
- upgrading education systems from early childhood through tertiary;
- bridging the science-policy interface to inform evidence-based policymaking;
- ensuring the availability of education and employment opportunities for youth;
- prioritizing policies and actions to address citizen security, focusing on youth and gender-based violence;
- enforcing legislation in the area of sustainable development;
- adopting a more integrated sustainable development strategy;
- strategic assessment and planning in key sectors;
- utilizing a future-based approach in identifying potential threats and opportunities;
- creating a sustainable development technical group to provide advice to key regional bodies;
- designing a mechanism to assess the carrying capacity of the tourism industry;
- strengthening the capacity for preparation of cost-benefit analyses, environmental impact assessments and feasibility studies that convey the full externalities of investment and other economic decisions;
- examining best practice models in participatory decision-making;
- identifying emerging windows of opportunity in the international sphere for advancing the sustainable development agenda of Caribbean SIDS;
- promoting the convergence model of development finance to convert excess liquidity in the private banking and financial sector into loans and equity for productive enterprise;
- devising mechanisms to minimize and adapt to the effects of economic shocks;
- promoting partnerships, including PPPs;
- examining ways in which the UN system can support countries in implementing sustainable development initiatives;
- advocating that special consideration be given to small, heavily indebted middle-income countries by international financial and development institutions;
- advocating for the application of measures of development that address the vulnerability of Caribbean SIDS;
- attracting more innovative sources of FDI;
- exploring innovative ways to increase engagement of the diaspora in subregional development, including through diaspora direct investment in line with national policies and priorities;
- ensuring that implementation of green economy policies is supported by finance, innovative finance sources countries’ need, and such policies be implemented on a voluntary basis and in accordance with national priorities;
- addressing more seriously the challenges of energy, food and water security;
- exploring innovative approaches to social protection and mobility;
- pursuing more aggressively the creation of knowledge-based economies;
- addressing the multidimensional challenges of communicable and non-communicable diseases in a holistic manner, including through ensuring universal access to primary health care services for promotion, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation; and
- strengthening measures to address disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in order to build resilience.
Chair Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett thanked all participants for their active engagement in the discussions. She also read a statement, on behalf of the Caribbean Forum, regarding Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, expressing profound sadness at his untimely passing, noting his unceasing willingness to challenge the status quo and stand against injustice, as well as his support for the Caribbean region.
Colin Granderson, Assistant Secretary-General, CARICOM, highlighted the productive exchanges held during the Forum, saying the Forum statement reflects subregional realities and provides an indicative roadmap for future discussions at the regional and global levels.
Heraldo Muñoz, Chair, UNDG-LAC, drew attention to the ongoing post-2015 development agenda processes, including: the consultations that are taking place at national, regional and thematic levels; the open working group streams to address mandates coming out of Rio+20; and the 2014 Third International Conference on SIDS, which should provide a unique platform for the Caribbean region to gain political traction. He also highlighted existing positions on how to address the post-2015 agenda, including: a minimalist position to fulfill the MDG mandates; and a wider one to address new and emerging issues.
Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary, ECLAC, underscored the critical messages that the Caribbean countries discussed during the Forum and are reflected in the outcome statement, including the region’s high vulnerability, lack of economies of scale, unemployment and the need to move to an integration process that goes beyond trade. She also underscored the need for a paradigm shift to an internal development that is beneficial for people. She said ECLAC and the UN system are committed to increasing Caribbean countries’ empowerment in global and regional negotiations.
Chair Rodrigues-Birkett gaveled the Caribbean Forum to a close at 6:41 pm.
REPORT OF THE CONFERENCE ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
Opening the meeting, María Ángela Holguín, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Colombia, welcomed participants to Bogota. She emphasized the need for the post-2015 development agenda to be based on one set of goals, universal, focused on achievement, centered on poverty eradication in the context of sustainable development, based on equity, and coherent at the international level.
Calling for sustained, inclusive and equitable growth, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Guyana, underscored the need to ensure participation, particularly of civil society and the most vulnerable, and reported on the outcomes of the Caribbean Forum. She also noted the need for the post-2015 development agenda to recognize the special vulnerabilities of SIDS.
Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary, ECLAC, highlighted UN interagency collaboration on the post-2015 development agenda, calling for a view of development that transcends poverty eradication. Bárcena observed that no “unique recipe” exists and that every country must choose its own development model. She called for moving beyond GDP per capita as a measure of development and for policies focused on employment, security and environmental sustainability.
Heraldo Muñoz, Chair, UNDG-LAC, discussed: the move towards a renewed vision of development, with emerging topics and a new financial architecture; and avoiding the imposition of a top-down approach in the new development agenda. He discussed both completing work done since 2000 on the MDGs, and the emergence of comprehensive positions that transcend such a minimalist agenda, where the topics of poverty reduction and the multiple outcomes of Rio will converge.
Amina J. Mohammed, Special Advisor of the UN Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning, expressed condolences from the Secretary-General on the recent passing of President Hugo Chavez. She stressed adaptability as “one size does not fit all” and said what we have today is “not fit for purpose.” She called for one cohesive, bold and ambitious global agenda, with one set of goals that properly integrates both people and the planet.
Philipp Schönrock, Colombian Federation Board of NGOs, reported on the outcomes from the civil society dialogue held on 6 March, emphasizing, inter alia: equal opportunities, such as universal access to education and health services; policies that consider the aging population; ethnic and cultural diversity; protecting children and adolescents and ending violence; sexual and reproductive rights, such as access to safe and legal abortion; full implementation of Rio Principle 10; and developing new indicators that take natural capital, well-being and biodiversity into account. He lamented limited civil society participation and called for avoiding closed-door negotiations. Regarding establishing a regional Principle 10 instrument, he urged all Latin American and Caribbean countries to sign on.
Juan Gabriel Uribe, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Colombia, highlighted his country’s inclusion of sustainable development considerations on the national agenda and the relevance of a bottom-up approach. He stressed that the post-2015 development agenda should be universal and oriented towards poverty eradication and equity.
Delegates elected Colombia as Chair, and Argentina, Cuba, Guatemala, Guyana and Mexico as Vice-Chairs.
Participants then observed a minute of silence in honor of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Cuba, for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), paid tribute to Chavez, noting that he dedicated his efforts to poverty eradication and the achievement of a united Latin American and Caribbean region.
FOLLOW-UP TO THE DEVELOPMENT AGENDA BEYOND 2015
REGIONAL OVERVIEW AND THE MDGS: ECLAC Executive Secretary Bárcena introduced the preliminary version of the report, “Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean: Follow-up to the UN development agenda beyond 2015 and to Rio+20,” prepared by ECLAC and 19 international organizations. Providing an assessment of the achievement of the MDGs in the region, she underscored, inter alia: significant progress in reducing extreme poverty and child mortality, and in providing access to safe drinking water; and some progress in reducing malnutrition and inequality. She highlighted that the region still has the highest rate of inequality in the world. Noting that the public spending in the region has increased by 7% since 1990, she underscored programmes with small investments and positive results in enhancing nutrition, education and health, such as Bolsa Familia in Brazil. Calling for a development agenda that goes beyond poverty eradication, she said a holistic agenda that builds social resilience will contribute to achieving sustainable development. She urged a fiscal pact that enables a progressive tax structure and raising revenues for financing sustained development in the region.
HIGH-LEVEL PANEL ON THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA: On the post-2015 development goals, Gisela Alonso, HLP member, Cuba, highlighted the role of education in achieving the required transformation, as well as South-South cooperation. She also noted the need for studies on risk and vulnerability.
Patricia Espinosa, HLP member, Mexico, advocated a more inclusive, broader approach for the post-2015 development agenda, emphasizing that the credibility of the multilateral system will depend on what it produces in terms of outcomes and well-being. She called for considering tools and instruments required at the national level to advance the development agenda, and the role of international bodies in its achievement.
Amina J. Mohammed, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning, asked participants to identify the major issues for the region regarding a new agenda with sustainable development at the core, and urged: looking at means of implementation in a multidimensional manner; revisiting GDP to consider inclusion and equality; developing a matrix that delivers not only goals, but results as well; and establishing good baseline data and statistics.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Co-Chair of the HLP, via video, discussed the Panel’s work to date, highlighting South-South cooperation, new ways of financing, and regional organizations, which she said are the building blocks of global cooperation. She said much could be learned from the Latin American and Caribbean region in this regard.
NATIONAL PERSPECTIVES FOR THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA: Guatemala urged that prevention and reduction of violence against women and children and universal access to justice for all to be included as goals in the post-2105 development agenda. Jamaica said the special concerns of SIDS, including peace and security and climate change, must be taken into account in any new framework, and that innovative sources of financing must be found.
Costa Rica said the development agenda must prioritize sustainable consumption and production (SCP) regarding the use of natural resources. Trinidad and Tobago noted the need for synergies between the post-2015 development agenda and the Rio+20 mandate, and for incorporating the views of SIDS in the HLP discussions in a comprehensive manner. Highlighting the decreasing trend in net flows of ODA, Chile noted that new forms of development would require funding from private sources. He also said corporate social responsibility should be part of the post-2015 development agenda.
Bolivia called for redefining development and developing a global financial approach based on the principle of equity. Argentina highlighted poverty eradication, social inclusion and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and described how the MDGs contribute to developing her country’s development agenda. She said SDGs must be developed closely with the post-2015 development agenda.
Mexico said the post-2015 agenda must, inter alia: be people-centered; incorporate equity; mainstream sustainability; be unified; and ensure convergence between the post-2015 development agenda, including the follow up to Rio+20, SDGs, social development and the follow-up to the MDGs. Cuba said the new development agenda must: fully respect national sovereignty over natural resources; acknowledge common but differentiated responsibilities; and ratify and renew ODA commitments.
Peru called for a new development model based on structural changes, sustainable use and conservation of natural resources, and low-carbon development. Ecuador called for: a universal declaration of the rights of nature; a new financial architecture; including culture as the fourth pillar of sustainable development; and ensuring the rights of, inter alia, disabled people, the LGBT community, indigenous peoples, and people of African descent.
RIO+20: SDGS IN THE FRAMEWORK OF THE “FUTURE WE WANT”
OUTCOMES OF THE GLOBAL CONSULTATIONS ON SDGS: Providing an overview of global consultations on the post-2015 development agenda, George Talbot, Guyana, observed that Rio+20 had led to a rethinking of the development agenda, with the key outcome being the launch of an intergovernmental process to develop SDGs, incorporating in a balanced manner all three dimensions of sustainable development. He highlighted: how to make the SDGs universal, yet responsive to the diversity of realities that define the world today; what to do with unfulfilled MDGs; and the interface between Rio+20 and the post-2015 development agenda, with the expressed wish for a single development agenda.
SDGS AND FOLLOW-UP TO RIO+20: Ambassador André Corrêa do Lago, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brazil, discussed the MDGs following Rio+20. Describing the SDGs as “sons of Rio,” he noted clear differences between the MDGs and SDGs and the need for a single development agenda. He cautioned against prejudging the outcomes of the OWG’s work and of whether one or two sets of goals would emerge. He stressed the need for ensuring means of implementation for poverty eradication and the post-2015 development agenda.
SYNERGIES BETWEEN THE POST-2015 AND THE SDGS PROCESSES: Paula Caballero, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Colombia, supported a single agenda and a single set of goals and discussed how they can be defined. She said the agenda must be universal, but allow for differentiation, with equity as a centerpiece. She stressed the MDGs will not be abandoned after 2015, discussed their continued relevance, and said separating the MDGs and SDGs would, inter alia, create a divide between poverty and sustainable development, fragment efforts at both regional and global levels, lead to unmanageable overlaps regarding finance and infrastructure, and create difficulties in monitoring, reporting and accountability.
She then introduced a conceptual model illustrating how the two agendas could be integrated, and how interlinkages among issues could be addressed to incorporate the MDGs, but under “a different lens and through much larger optics.” She provided examples using the issues of food security, water, health, infrastructure and education. She stressed that a single agenda requires: a differentiation method that addresses global challenges, while taking into account regional, national and local specificities; and balance between top-down and bottom-up approaches. She suggested countries develop their own goals, indicators and benchmarks, but that a dashboard would be developed at the international level that countries could adapt and modify.
She emphasized convergence would ensure, inter alia: sustainability within planetary boundaries; irreversibility of gains achieved; and conservation of the MDGs.
Discussion: On Thursday afternoon, Chile highlighted inequality as a key issue for the region in the new development agenda and in the pursuit of inclusive development. Mexico observed that the process to define SDGs should converge with the process for assessing implementation of MDGs, and that both processes should converge into a coherent post-2015 development agenda at the appropriate time to be defined. He said that the Rio+20 outcome clarified that SDGs, inter alia, should not divert the attention or efforts from MDG implementation, adding that development of SDGs must integrate global data, be based on science, and be accountable on a voluntary basis, as is the case for the MDGs.
Costa Rica said the process of developing SDGs should be open, inclusive and allow for inputs from countries that are not OWG members. He added that the SDGs should not replace the MDGs or be an obstacle for their pursuit. Bolivia said that the SDGs must coexist with the MDGs and not replace them, as the SDGs require a structural change over the long term, while the MDGs address urgent issues of poverty reduction, health and education. Pointing to the European Union’s proposal on SDG themes, he observed a strong focus on climate change mitigation issues, and cautioned against accepting objectives that become conditionalities for developing countries’ national priorities and rely only on developing country efforts. He emphasized the relevance of addressing consumption patterns, food waste, developed countries’ subsidies and means of implementation as key themes.
On challenges, Paraguay noted the need to adapt the current economic development model to facilitate social inclusion. The Dominican Republic underscored governance and rule of law as essential requirements for sustainable development, economic growth and the eradication of poverty and hunger. Argentina underlined the need to: reformulate consumption models; and ensure complementarity of the MDG and SDG processes. El Salvador said SDGs must not be used to avoid commitments taken in the context of the MDGs and drew attention to the need for means of implementation.
OAS highlighted the role of civil society in the process of building a development agenda and the need to integrate into these discussions everyday decision makers, such as legislators and judges. The Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization said sustainable development in the region must consider the Amazon River basin and his organization’s long trajectory in the area as a potential contribution for sustainable development planning in the region.
A representative of Women urged giving attention to, inter alia: gender equality, including through goals and specific indicators; access and control of resources by women; access to social protection; a life free of violence; and sexual and reproductive rights. Beyond 2015 emphasized: talking about rights, not needs; and continuing open and participatory spaces for civil society. The International Council for Adult Education stressed education as a human right, and considering adult education and education for life.
In conclusion, Talbot discussed the need for a complementary approach between MDGs and SDGs to ensure urgent challenges are addressed while an irreversible, sustainable agenda over the long term is constructed. Corrêa do Lago said sustainable development must be supported by civil society.
On Friday morning, resuming discussions, Chair Patti Londoño, Colombian Vice-Minister for Multilateral Affairs, asked participants to focus the day’s discussions on regional priorities that could be taken to the global level. Underscoring consensus that the MDGs should be maintained, she asked how the MDGs can be continued, noting a spectrum of visions regarding how and when, and for ideas on means of implementation beyond ODA.
Mexico emphasized clarifying the role of UN agencies in the post-2015 development agenda in supporting priorities identified by countries. With Chile, Cuba and Bolivia, he stressed the importance of changing SCP patterns. Brazil emphasized the 10 Year Framework of Programmes (10YFP) on SCP, noting that making changes in consumption and production patterns should be viewed as an opportunity and not as a negative impact on the quality of life. He added that SCP should be considered a crosscutting issue rather than as a goal in and of itself. Colombia emphasized SCP is deeply related to attaining equity, and should not be based on conditionalities, but centered on identifying responsibilities and opportunities for everyone. She stressed the importance of considering the influence of price fluctuations and market volatility on consumption and production patterns, not only at the local level, but also at the regional and international levels. She also highlighted linkages between food security, education and health to consumption and production, calling for a focus on these linkages, especially by the UN.
UNEP called for looking at environmental sustainability as an opportunity, and highlighted the 10YFP on SCP. On waste, she observed that 200 kilograms per person per year is produced in the region, primarily due to excess consumption, but stressed work was ongoing in the region for achieving more sustainable consumption and production.
On sustainable cities, Brazil advocated a bottom-up approach, calling for focusing on solutions, which have already been found in the developing world. Cuba called for, inter alia, rational use of natural resources, equitable distribution of income, sustainable management of water resources, and food and nutritional security. Ecuador suggested promoting, inter alia, sustainable agricultural production, a knowledge society, the fight against crime, including transnational crime, and intercultural gatherings and diversity. Chile, Ecuador, Guyana and others underlined education as essential for development, in particular education for sustainable development. The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) observed that, in moving closer to 2015, the right to quality primary education still has not been guaranteed and access to it has stagnated since 2000. A representative from the Red de Educación Popular entre Mujeres underscored inclusive education as the “engine of development.”
UN Office for Project Services highlighted sustainable infrastructure and the need to share good practices. Bolivia called for, inter alia: increasing civil society participation, including in the development of SDGs; including a cultural pillar in sustainable development that emphasizes education; considering development as the desire to live happily and in harmony with nature, and not only from an economic perspective; ensuring sustainable cities that focus on communities and not only on modernity; and linking education with science and technology. Mexico reflected on developing a general reference framework for the post-2015 development agenda to guide governments and international organizations, and underscored the continuing relevance of ODA and means of implementation for countries in the region, including for implementing the development agenda. Brazil cautioned against a post 2015-development agenda more focused on natural resources than people, observing the negative implication of the notion of “planetary limits,” and suggested focusing on how we can all live in a sustainable way. He also emphasized that the poverty eradication agenda will only have sustainable results if countries plan in advance how those people taken out of poverty will continue to live well in the future.
Trinidad and Tobago supported reflecting the unique needs and vulnerabilities of SIDS and middle-income countries in a new development agenda.
Highlighting well-being for all people as a post-2015 vision, PAHO emphasized the need for countries to be able to provide conditions for health, such as education, affordable food, safe water; and quality services for early diagnosis and treatment. She also highlighted universal health coverage as an operational goal, which will include access to all key interventions.
Uruguay indicated key recommendations identified in a recent national consultation undertaken with civil society participation on SDGs, including to: address the causes of inequality and poverty; consider lessons learned from the MDGs; and incorporate themes, such as infrastructure, energy for all and access to loans for small enterprises.
UN Women highlighted the need to consider both local and international priority areas, including: education, health, food production, energy, family and community, religious traditions, and equal and full participation of women in decision-making.
The World Food Programme said SCP should be at the core of the post-2015 agenda and in articulating MDGs and SDGs, and called for a stand-alone, bold goal on food and nutritional security, and ensuring strong sectoral linkages among, inter alia, nutrition, education and health. Honduras said, inter alia: the participation of women is critical in moving forward; the Colombian proposal on convergence is attractive and deserves further exploration; and technology is critical to democratize health care.
The International Maritime Organization discussed the launch of consultations on sustainable maritime goals for the maritime transport sector, and the establishment of a task force to work on key issues, such as maritime education, security and anti-piracy, and global standards. Guyana underscored: people as actors and agents of change in the post-2015 development agenda; the right to development and respect, as well as responsibilities to each other; the need to address the challenges of climate change; and learning from the developed world’s mistakes to ensure more equitable and sustainable development.
Argentina underscored decent employment as a key tool for enabling social inclusion, and national consultations on SDGs, which will provide inputs on relevant SDG themes. She added the focus on poverty reduction should not be lost when considering production patterns.
UN Population Fund highlighted regional trends in population dynamics, noting the region is experiencing a demographic “bonus,” with the highest number of working age people in the population, but is heading towards an aging population. Brazil highlighted that this demographic bonus represents an opportunity that should be seized upon for development.
The Global Movement for Children stressed the need to involve youth in the discussions and ensure that violence against children is addressed. UNAIDS highlighted that AIDS continues to be a challenge in the region, with 260 new infections per day, and highlighted successful experiences, such as in people-centered AIDS strategies. The World Society for Protection of Animals urged considering animal protection in the post-2015 agenda, as animal well-being is key to stimulate development.
CARICOM highlighted the Caribbean challenges for sustainable development, such as vulnerability to climate change, high level of indebtedness and lack of access to concessional finance. Among core themes, he highlighted climate change, food security and financing. A representative of HLP member John Podesta, US, said climate change will change the way poverty alleviation is addressed. He said one set of goals should emerge from the process, and supported Brazil’s view of treating SCP as a cross-cutting issue. A representative of HLP member Naoto Kan, Japan, said a human security approach is essential to sustainable development, and called for universal appropriate and affordable health services, addressing disaster risk reduction and climate change, and technical cooperation for institution building. She said Japan is planning to host a conference on sustainable cities later this year. A representative of an HLP member from Sweden observed that the region is a key player in the post-2015 development agenda based on the role the Latin American and Caribbean region played in the lead up to Rio+20 and welcomed leadership from the region in the process.
On Friday morning, in honor of International Women’s Day, Amina J. Mohammed, Special Advisor of the Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning, conveyed a message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who highlighted violence against women and girls who are gang raped, commit suicide out of shame and are shot at close range for daring to seek an education. He urged converting “outrage into action,” through prosecuting crimes against women, and transforming the minds of those who allow such crimes to continue. He said all women and girls have the fundamental human right to live free from violence.
CARIBBEAN PERSPECTIVES AND PREPARATION FOR THE THIRD INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF SIDS (2014)
George Talbot, speaking on behalf of Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Foreign Minister, Guyana, spoke on Caribbean perspectives and preparations for the Third International Conference on SIDS in 2014, as well as on outcomes from the Caribbean Forum, held on 5-6 March. Noting accomplishments in the subregion, he said existing social protection programmes are insufficient to meet new demands on health and welfare systems as populations live longer, and crime and violence increases. He explained that Caribbean economies remain undiversified and service-oriented, and susceptible to natural disasters and the impacts of climate change. He commented that because of their middle-income status, Caribbean countries are unable to access concessionary financing or preferential trade arrangements. He hoped that the Third International Conference on SIDS would forge the necessary global partnerships that will help Caribbean countries overcome these challenges.
Talbot then highlighted priority areas identified during the Caribbean Forum, including: accessing the diaspora community; innovative financing for middle-income countries; patenting innovations in the region; determining the carrying capacity of the region’s tourism industry; addressing communicable and non-communicable diseases; implementation of green economy policies on a voluntary basis; strengthening measures for climate change and disaster risk reduction; and addressing food and energy security.
Discussion: Colombia observed that all topics being discussed should be seen through the lens of the particular vulnerabilities of SIDS, stressing the need for “two-way street” discussions between Latin American and Caribbean countries on a regional vision. On vulnerability, Trinidad and Tobago called for a “window of support” to absorb external shocks.
EVALUATION OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (PARTICIPATION AND MONITORING)
HOW TO MEASURE PROGRESS: Ivo Havinga, UN Statistics Division, presented on measuring progress in the context of the post-2015 development agenda and SDGs. He emphasized the need for early engagement with the statistical community for defining a monitoring and reporting mechanism for development goals. On lessons from MDG monitoring, he observed that statisticians had not been involved in defining development goals, with the result being a weak link between the economy and the environment. Havinga stressed the importance of ensuring that development goals can be translated into relevant numerical targets, with statistical capacity building as part of the post-2015 development agenda.
Havinga highlighted international initiatives including: the Stiglitz Report of the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress; and Beyond GDP: The Need for New Measures of Progress. He noted the need to focus on going beyond GDP to include broader measures of current well-being and sustainability, and to consider aspects of distribution rather than just GDP per capita. He also discussed objective and subjective well-being, observing, however, that this changing emphasis does not mean dismissing GDP and other economic measures. Havinga also highlighted the system of environment-economic accounting for producing international comparable statistics to measure the environment and its interaction with economy. He said linking environmental and socio-economic data is essential for policymakers to analyze the impact of economic policies on the environment.
PRINCIPLE 10 OF THE RIO DECLARATION ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT: Amb. José Luis Balmaceda, Chile, discussed the ongoing process to establish a Principle 10 instrument in the region, underscoring the valuable role played by civil society. He stressed that everyone must have access to environmental information and justice, and that people have a right to be informed and participate in decisions affecting them. He said 11 countries in the region, thus far, have supported the Declaration on the application of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, adopted in Rio in 2012. He said the first focal points meeting was held in Santiago last November and agreed on a roadmap to begin dialogue with civil society, and ECLAC was asked to act as technical secretariat. He stressed that many environmental conflicts are the result of insufficient interaction with all stakeholders involved in projects with large social impacts, noting the example of conflicts in the mining sector, which could have been prevented with better dialogue and participatory mechanisms. He stressed the process was open to all countries in the region, and reiterated the call for countries to join the Principle 10 Declaration.
Discussion: Trinidad and Tobago became a signatory to the regional Declaration and Honduras announced their intention to become a signatory. A representative of the Family Planning Association, on behalf of civil society, called for: a more open and participatory process involving civil society at all levels; strengthening partnerships between Latin American and Caribbean countries; elaborating common goals for the region; and continuing to implement Principle 10 and advancing the process for a regional instrument. She called for one global sustainable development framework beyond 2015, taking the Cairo+20 (on population and development) process into consideration. A civil society representative said a Rio Principle 10 instrument should be legally binding and that it would improve governance in the region, noting its importance for transparency, access to information and environmental justice. She called on those who have not signed on to sign on to the Declaration.
Regarding Principle 10, Mexico: reiterated his country’s commitment to the process; called for all countries to join the initiative; supported civil society involvement in defining the new development agenda; called for awareness raising and dissemination of information regarding the post-2015 development agenda; and supported ECLAC’s and UNEP’s efforts in supporting this initiative.
Bolivia said the development discourse should go beyond placing the human being at the center of development and focus instead on the virtuous relationship between the human being and nature. He welcomed the presentation on how to measure development, in particular the proposal to include both objective and subjective dimensions in development indicators, in order to provide a wider perspective when assessing people’s quality of life and their relationship with nature.
Trinidad and Tobago highlighted the region’s concerns and the need for Latin American and the Caribbean to strengthen solidarity to move forward to a new development paradigm that is people-centered.
REPORT BY THE CHAIR OF THE CONFERENCE: Chair Londoño provided a summary of the previous days’ discussions, noting participants had shared many perspectives on the post-2015 development agenda. She referred to the Caribbean Forum, the special vulnerabilities of and challenges faced by the Caribbean SIDS, and the region’s solidarity with them. Among the many issues raised, she highlighted the need: to achieve irreversible well-being and poverty eradication; to transition toward a new mindset that puts human beings at the center of development; for all to act; to address aspects, such as international trade, finance and migration; for an agenda that addresses global challenges, while considering needs and priorities at the regional, national and local levels; and for a framework that provides differentiation that will enable countries to take ownership of the agenda.
She emphasized: SCP as a cross-cutting issue in the new agenda and as a prerequisite to attaining equity; the central role of education to achieve development and inclusive growth; decent jobs as necessary for equitable growth; and democratic trends and urban development. She also discussed the importance of means of implementation, including ODA, South-South and triangular cooperation, fiscal policy, the private sector’s role and public investment. She called attention to a spectrum of views regarding achievement of the MDGs in a new development agenda, from maintaining the MDGs separately from SDGs, to fully integrating the MDGs into SDGs. She underscored the region’s enormous leadership potential and urged devising creative ways to work together as a region.
Regarding the establishment of goals, Ecuador suggested that the region first define its own vision of development. Cuba underscored that discussions highlighted the need for equality and solidarity in the region.
Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC, expressed appreciation to the government of Colombia for hosting the meeting and to participants for their contribution. She said the meeting had given rise to encouraging proposals and an “enormous fertility of ideas,” creating an environment committed to the construction of a regional shared vision for the future. Highlighting the priority of reducing inequality in the region, she cited Simon Bolivar, who said “without equality, all freedoms and all rights perish.”
Reflecting on “focused and productive discussions,” Alva Baptiste, Minister for External Affairs, International Trade and Civil Aviation, Saint Lucia, observed that moving to a higher trajectory of development would require progress on, inter alia, employment creation, education and poverty reduction. He said that with a mutual purpose, a new period in history could be created, calling for substantial engagement in the decision-making process of “all the actors in the drama of development.”
Noting that President Hugo Chavez was an “enthusiast of integration,” Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota, observed the unity and solidarity demonstrated, urging the region to continue working together. He noted: dialogue between Brazil and CARICOM; advances made through the Brazilian government’s Bolsa Familia social welfare programme in reducing poverty; and increased participation of women. He discussed: continuity in efforts towards achieving the MDGs, while also implementing the results of Rio+20, including SDGs; and a sustainable development paradigm that goes beyond poverty; and aiming, in the post-2015 agenda, to fully eradicate extreme poverty in a defined period of time.
Colombian Minister of Foreign Affairs María Ángela Holguín called for a “daring, ambitious and bold” approach to developing a new transformational development agenda. She urged, inter alia, profound changes in behavior and mentality, participation of all stakeholders, and an agenda of implementation with unprecedented financial resources. She suggested holding an annual meeting on sustainable development, so the region can stay united and continue helping each other, and that ECLAC could assist in this regard. She said: the high level of ministerial participation indicated the great interest in this topic; the positive spirit of this conference should be taken to New York next week for the first OWG meeting; and the conference would provide input into the deliberations at the upcoming HLP meeting in Bali. She adjourned the meeting at 1:05 pm.
Open Working Group on SDGs: The first meeting of the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), established on 22 January 2013, will convene in March. dates: 14-15 March 2013location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: UN Division for Sustainable Development email: [email protected] www: http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/
High-Level Consultation on Environmental Sustainability: As part of the Post-2015 Development Agenda Global Thematic Consultations, this High-Level Leadership Meeting will discuss and define agenda recommendations on environmental sustainability for the Post-2015 Development Framework in March. dates: 18-19 March 2013 location: San José, Costa Rica www: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/sustainability2015
Mexico Regional Consultation on Energy: This meeting is part of a series of global consultations meetings to discuss the links between energy and the Post-2015 Development Framework. dates: 20-21 March 2012 location: Merida, Yucatan, Mexico www: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/sustainability2015
Fourth Meeting of the High-Level Panel on Post-2015 Development Agenda: The fourth meeting of the UN High-Level Panel of the Post-2015 Development Agenda (HLP), hosted by the Government of Indonesia will focus on “Global Partnerships.” dates: 25-27 March 2013 location: Bali, Indonesia contact: HLP Secretariat www: http://www.post2015hlp.org/
Economic Commission for Europe 65th Meeting: As part of this meeting, there will be discussions on the development of sustainable development goals and follow-up to Rio+20. dates: 9-11 April 2013 location: Geneva, Switzerland contact: ECE Secretariat phone: +41-22-917-4444 fax: +41-22-917-0505 email: [email protected] www: http://www.unece.org/commission/2013/65th_index.html
Economic and Social Commission for West Asia Regional Implementation Meeting: This meeting will be convened to inform the development of sustainable development goals and follow-up to Rio+20. dates: to be confirmed location: to be confirmed contact: ESCWA Secretariat www: http://www.escwa.un.org/information/meetings.asp
Towards a Post-2015 Development Agenda: Regional Consultations in Latin America and Caribbean: This meeting is part of a series of regional consultations for the post-2015 agenda and will include participation of civil society, the private sector, academia and parliamentarians. dates: 17-19 April 2013 location: Jalisco, Guadalajara, Mexico contact: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mexico email: [email protected].
Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific Regional Implementation Meeting: This meeting will be convened to inform the development of sustainable development goals and follow-up to Rio+20. dates: to be confirmed location: Bangkok, Thailand contact: ESCAP Secretariat email: [email protected] www: http://www.unescap.org/esd/calendar/
20th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development: The 20th and final session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD 20) is tentatively scheduled to take place in May. dates: 6-10 May 2013 (to be confirmed) location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: UN Division for Sustainable Development email: [email protected] www: http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/csd.html
Third International SIDS Conference - Caribbean Subregional Preparatory Meeting: In 2013, national and regional preparatory meetings will convene to develop inputs for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), to be held in 2014. These preparatory meetings will be held in the Atlantic, Indian Ocean, and South China Sea (AIMS) region, Caribbean region and Pacific region, as well as inter-regionally. dates: 2-4 July 2013 (tentative) location: Jamaica www: http://www.sids2014.org