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2015 and Beyond: Considering the New Development Agenda

Posted on the 12 January 2015 by Center For International Private Enterprise @CIPEglobal

“The year 2015 offers a unique opportunity for global leaders and people to end poverty, transform the world to better meet human needs and the necessities of economic transformation, while protecting our environment, ensuring peace and realizing human rights. We are at a historic crossroads, and the directions we take will determine whether we will succeed or fail on our promises,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon in the synthesis report on the post-2015 agenda.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are rooted in an agreement reached during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012, otherwise known as Rio+20, and the adoption of the outcome document, “The Future We Want.” As a cornerstone for the post-2015 development agenda, the 17 SDGs begin where unfinished work of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) left off, with aspirations of poverty eradication, inclusion, human rights, equality, and sustainability.

The Center for International Private Enterprise together with Creative Associates International recently held a forum with Pauline Baker of the Fund for Peace, Tony Pipa of United States Agency for International Development (USAID), J.W. Wright of Creative Associates, and Amb. James Michel, author of “Shaping the New Development Agenda” (available in full or abridged versions), which guided the conversation.

Amb. Michels highlighted the need for internal synergy and focus on inclusive growth, democratic governance, investing in transformative innovation, building local systems, and constructing a multi-stakeholder platform. This mindset reflects the Busan Partnership agreement which outlines principles, commitments, and actions that offer a foundation for effective co-operation in support of international development. The Busan Partnership document specifically highlights a set of common principles for all development actors that are key to making development cooperation effective:

  • ownership of development priorities by developing countries;
  • focus on results;
  • inclusive development partnerships;
  • and transparency and accountability to each other.

At this crossroads, we must ask: Are the poor and middle income countries participating more or less within the global community? And a step further, more or less effectively? As Amb. Michel noted, the development community must be responsive:

“First, I’m convinced that a virtuous circle of inclusive growth and improved governance is going to be essential as a foundation for pursuing the goals in the new development agenda. And second, I’m convinced that international support for this new agenda will need to be more responsive to the complex factors that influence each society’s path towards stability, justice and prosperity. We can’t work linear – to put this input in and get this output out and not recognize the differences in the needs, priorities, cultures, economies, and politics of the places where we’re working.”

Drawing from her work with fragile and conflict-affected states, Pauline Baker of the Fund for Peace highlighted crucial elements that, while broadly mentioned in the SDGs, should be spelled out more clearly. Fragile states have been lumped in with other states, and in doing so are either left in limbo or worse, behind. Development goals require special consideration of the unique factors within these countries, for example – poor data collection, demographic change (i.e. youth bulge and soaring birth rates), and the movement of people (refugees and those displaced).

What is more, conflict is closely linked to competition for resources, and political legitimacy for stabilizing countries and group grievance must be accounted for. Finally, Baker underlined that “women can be state-builders and are fundamental to development,” but equity goes beyond quotas and empowerment and means access to education and financial resources, protection from physical abuse and violence, and political security through legally enforced rights.

Globally, women and youth form a large portion of those confined to operating in the informal economy. With entrepreneurship ecosystems and governance among its core focus areas, CIPE’s work has focused on engaging the large percentage of the world’s labor force working off the books. Locked out by a wall of red tape, entrepreneurs don’t pay taxes, have unregistered businesses, and receive limited legal protection or access to credit. This allows only for operating at a subsistence level with little opportunity to thrive or grow.

CIPE Executive Director John D. Sullivan highlighted two of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) foundational in creating the conditions for economic growth are goals 8 and 16. Goal 8 calls for the promotion of inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all. Goal 16 recommends building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions to support sustainable development.

The roots of the large informal sector in most developing countries lie in the lack of strong legal institutions and laws that protect citizens and businesses. Governments and the private sector have a crucial role in creating pathways for businesses into the formal sector as well as building a better enabling environment for entrepreneurship. In turn, these environments mobilize and attract both international and domestic investment and reinvest into infrastructure needed to spark inclusive economic growth.

Comparing the stories of Steve Jobs, whose father was Syrian but who grew up in the United States and co-founded Apple, with that of Mohammad Bouazzi, a Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire in protest of the confiscation of his cart, illustrates the difference an effective enabling environment can make.

Undoubtedly, the ambitious SDGs will present challenges: international support for implementation of new goals, asymmetry of competing interests, the necessity for a data revolution, and the challenge of policy coherence, as outlined in Amb. Michel’s ”Shaping the New Development Agenda.” But in the words of USAID’s Tony Pipa, “this upcoming year is going to be a significant year for how we as an international community think about what it means to develop.”

Stephanie Bandyk is Program Assistant for Global Programs at CIPE.

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