Global Policy Watch Blog

The UN development system: important, yet inconspicuous to Civil Society

The United Nations – a 70-year-old institution – has reached an inflection point and like other institutions, is facing challenges in rapidly demanding times, challenges to which it must adapt in order to survive. Some Member States are asking if this important institution will maintain its relevance and credibility. They’re asking whether the UN development system will be able to be country-led and to deliver to all countries, and in particular demonstrate its commitment to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
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The UN to discuss Inequality and Taxes

In addition to its full programme (see below), the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations has called for a special meetings in the first six months of 2016 to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (ASD). The issues to be addressed require ambitious policy changes at national and global levels if the 2030 ASD is to be realized: Inequality and Tax Matters. Read more…

Technology and SDGs

One of the concrete commitments from the Addis Ababa Action Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 ASD) is the Technology Facilitation Mechanism (TFM). Spearheaded by Brazil and France, the development of the TFM has been described by Sérgio Rodrigues dos Santos of Brazil, as a “testimony to the strength of multilateralism through collective action.” Read more…

World Economic Situation and Prospects 2016

The United Nations has offered its annual assessment of prospects for 2016 in its World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) report. It opened with: “The world economy stumbled in 2015, amid weak aggregate demand, falling commodity prices and increasing financial market volatility in major economies.” In addressing the impact of the downward pressure on economies, UN ASG Lenni Montiel, explained that many countries, “specifically LDCs which rely on commodity exports, will be unable to sustain public spending on health, education, and climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.” With LDCs reliant on the commodity export – most averaging 16% of GDP from the commodity industry – LDCs will not reach sustainable development goal 8, target 8.1, of 7% economic growth per year in GDP. (See WESP 2016, Box I.1 for more detailed outline of economic prospects for LDCs.) Read more…

Where next for the United Nations Development System?

By Barbara Adams and Sarah Dayringer

The UN has released the advance unedited version of its report of the UN Development System (UNDS), lightly entitled the “Implementation of General Assembly Resolution 67/226 on the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review [QCPR] of operational activities for development of the United Nations system.” The UNDS comprises the activities of some 30 agencies – coordinated by the UN Development Group – and the intergovernmental bodies that provide guidance and oversight, such as the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and its commissions. This report is the key input for the ECOSOC Operational Activities Segment to be held at the UNHQ on 22-24 February 2016. Read more…

Is business action on climate change believable?

By John Probert

One of a series of Guardian Members’ events, hosted by Guardian Sustainable Business in partnership with Nordea Responsible Investments, the focus of this discussion, facilitated by a Guardian environmental journalist Karl Mathieson, was nominally on the “plethora of pledges from major businesses… in the lead-up to the UN talks”. Read more…

Philanthropic Power and Development – Who shapes the agenda?

A new GPF working paper, jointly published with Brot für die Welt and MISEREOR, examines the role and impact of philanthropic foundations in development. It addresses the impacts and side effects of philanthropic engagement by taking a closer look at the priorities and operations of two of the most prominent foundations, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in two crucial sectors, health and agriculture. So far, there has been a fairly willing belief among governments and international organizations in the positive role of philanthropy in global development. But in light of experiences in the areas of health, food, nutrition and agriculture, which are discussed in this working paper, a thorough assessment of the impacts and side effects of philanthropic engagement is necessary. The important role being allocated to the philanthropic sector in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda makes the discussion of its role a matter of urgency. Read more…

SDG Indicators and Data: Who collects? Who reports? Who benefits?

By Barbara Adams

As part of its mandate to develop an indicator framework by which to monitor the goals and targets of the post-2015 development agenda, the Inter-agency and Expert Group on SDGs (IAEG-SDGs) held its second meeting in Bangkok, 26-28 October 2015. The objective was to seek agreement on the proposed indicators for each target—keeping in mind that indicators alone can never be sufficient to fully measure progress on the goals. More specifically, it was to move provisional indicators marked yellow—needing further agreement—to either green—agreed by all parties—or grey—no agreement possible. As a result, there are now 159 green indicators (including 52 moved from yellow and 9 new ones), and 62 greys (including 28 moved from yellow plus 5 new ones). Read more…

SDG indicators: Counting the trees, hiding the forest

By Roberto Bissio

The Inter-Agency Experts Group agrees on 159 indicators for most of the SDG targets, but in too many cases what they suggest to measure is not what the governments agree to so. To acknowledge the difficulties in monitoring the Agenda 2030 because of the complexities of the issues, the lack of statistical capacity in many countries or even the ambiguities in the wording that made the agreement possible is sensible. To propose indicators that substantially rewrite key aspects of the consensus is simply unacceptable.

Can development goals help development finance? If so, how?

By Ingrid Harvold Kvangraven.
Last month, the “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs) were launched at the UN in New York. This is the outcome of two years of consultations, lobbying, and debate about what the “post-2015” agenda should look like. This agenda is likely to have far-reaching implications both for development finance and for the promotion of social and economic rights. However, why adopt goals at all? Any systematic effort to answer this seemingly elementary conceptual question has been disturbingly absent. What’s more, not only has this basic question not been answered, what is most striking is that it has hardly been asked. Read more…