Friday, February 1, 2013

The Open and Rocky Road Post-2015

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 31 2013 (IPS) - What values does a Yemeni journalist who fuelled the Arab Spring hold in common with a former principal of the U.S. National Security Council? And how in turn will they see eye to eye with a Jordanian queen, or the president of Indonesia?

The subjects of this riddle are meeting in Monrovia as part of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s 27-member High Level Panel of Eminent Person’s on the Post-2015 Development Agenda (HLP).

The purpose of the HLP is to lead the discussion around a new framework, the post-2015 development agenda, to replace the expiring Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The HLP’s work will culminate with an advisory report to Ban in May 2013.

The meeting, which takes place between Jan. 30 and Feb. 1, is the third in a series of four. Previous meetings took place in London and New York, and the forthcoming one will take place in Bali.

“This (meeting in Monrovia) is the HLP’s chance to hear the perspectives of a wide range of organisations and individuals in Africa about their priorities for a post-2015 agenda,” said Claire Melamed, head of the Growth and Equity Programme at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI).

“It’s important those perspectives are reflected in the final report,” Melamed told IPS.

ODI, in partnership with the World Wide Web Foundation and the U.N., developed an online survey to gauge the priorities of the world’s citizens. The survey, conducted through, inspired a running Twitter conversation on the topic (#post2015). The online platforms sparked international chatter that was absent during MDG discussions.

“As we witnessed in the historic events of 2011 – from the Arab spring to the rise of Occupy – the possibility of mobilising public opinion on a global scale is becoming ever-more urgent and realistic,” Rajesh Makwana, director of Share the World’s Resources (STWR), told IPS.

The airing of new voices does pose a challenge: how will 27 panellists harbour the hopes and concerns of so many people?

“My apprehension is that this process is moving in so many levels (that) there’s no priority on how these different conversations (will) come together in one place,” said Radhika Balakrishnan, executive director of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership and professor of women’s and gender studies at Rutgers University.

“There’s consultations happening all around the world… There’s not a clear way to see how these are going to come to fruition at the end,” Balakrishnan told IPS, noting that she is still hopeful, despite the challenges.