22 March 2013
We, members of the Campaign for People’s Goals for Sustainable Development, coming from grassroots organizations, labour unions, social movements and non-governmental organizations, make the following statement on the occasion of the fourth and final meeting of the High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Agenda, in Bali, Indonesia.
As the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) come close to their target date, a new, transformative and “people-centred” development agenda is being discussed in a world far different from that which contextualized the Millennium Declaration.
The unresolved problems of poverty and underdevelopment are compounded by financial, food and environmental crises which are presenting new challenges for people all over the world. Therefore, we underscore the pressing need for a wholly new development agenda that produces concrete processes to achieve outcomes framed by principles such as equity, social justice, human rights, participation, accountability and non-discrimination.
Half of the world’s population live on less that US$2.50 per day. Nearly 1 in 7 people live in hunger while 1 in 5 are obese, and some 2 billion live in multidimensional poverty, a measure incorporating nutrition, education and sanitation. Inequality, discrimination, and widespread human rights violations, especially against marginalised groups such as women, workers, small-scale farmers, indigenous peoples, children, youth, disabled persons, LGBT, ethnic and religious minorities are a blight on the world and a rebuttal to proclamations of progress on poverty made under the MDGs. The wealthiest 20 percent of humankind enjoy more than 80 percent of total world’s wealth while the bottom 20 percent share only 1 percent.
Global economic expansion for the minority, and the unsustainable modes of production and consumption especially in Northern industrialized countries, have brought us to the brink of a planetary emergency – humanity’s ecological footprint now exceeds the planet’s bio-capacity by over 50%.
Persisting inequalities and pressure on resources are driving injustice, insecurity, poverty and conflict across the world. People’s movements have risen up in protest at the absence of respect, protection and fulfilment of human rights, stark inequality, persisting discrimination and an absence of opportunity as well as full and effective participation in the decision-making processes that govern their lives and livelihoods. Social and economic inequalities are mirrored in the democratic deficits in many countries and in the multilateral system.
The neoliberal framework of development has been discredited, and it is time to step-up to the challenge of committing to a truly transformative agenda that prioritizes processes to redress the inequities, injustices and discrimination of the current development paradigm – crucially, these processes must be of, for, and by the people. It is the world’s poorest and most marginalized who are the targets of sustainable agenda, and it is their goals that must shape sustainable development; it is their ability to claim their rights that must be a marker; it is their voice that must be heard in a people-centred agenda.
As the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons (HLP) prepares to meet in Bali for the final time, we urge the HLP members to live up to the challenges of our era by laying down a bold and visionary agenda for transforming our societies and the international system. While the hard choices will ultimately be made by the member states of the United Nations, the HLP has the unique opportunity and duty to call attention to the fundamental challenges we are facing and the need for far-reaching changes that address the structural barriers to a decent life and a sustainable future for all of humanity.
The Campaign for People’s Goals affirms that sustainable development must be based on the principles of human rights, equality and non-discrimination, self-determination, social, gender, and ecological justice, and culturally sensitive approaches that value diversity, harmony and wellbeing.
We call on the HLP to recall and prioritize positions made by civil society at various consultations, in particular civil society calls for:
- A coherent framework for post-2015 that is open, inclusive, transparent, consultative, and transformative
- a new development agenda that is based on the principles of social justice, ecological justice, solidarity, human dignity, and freedom from all forms of discrimination
- a rights-based approach that strengthens citizenship, participation and empowerment of people, especially from disadvantaged and marginalized communities (children, women, youth, disabled persons, small-scale farmers, indigenous peoples, ethnic minorities and workers) to become agents of change
- An agenda for addressing inequalities within and between countries that also guarantees decent employment and universal social protection for all.
On Global Partnerships
We also call on the HLP to address the injustices of the multilateral system, and ensure that there are more equitable partnerships between countries and between institutions and countries. This requires universal commitment to a new and fairer international economic architecture which benefits all countries.
Indeed one of the major criticisms of the MDGs was that it placed the burden of achievement on developing countries without fully taking into account the role of the international system in undermining countries’ abilities to meet the needs of their citizens, especially the poorer countries. For instance financial speculation is one of the leading drivers of food price inflation; illicit financial flows are bleeding many of the poorest countries of resources for development; the intellectual property rights regime is preventing many countries from fostering infant industries including low-carbon alternatives; unfair trade rules have led to the bankruptcy of millions of small farmers and entrepreneurs in developing countries; and investment liberalization has encouraged a race to the bottom in labour rights and working conditions. Economic policies and plans have been imposed in a one size fits all approach developed and led by international financial institutions which have restricted states from being able to respond to economic crises in a manner suitable to their political and economic context. This has in fact led to underdevelopment in many countries which followed IFI prescriptions.
Thus the themes of the Bali HLP are central to creating an international framework for a new development agenda. Global partnerships are necessary for a just, democratic and sustainable development agenda. However, global partnerships must be based on principles of solidarity, common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capacities, and democratic participation and accountability. They should also be grounded on universal human rights norms and standards including the Right to Development.
Make Finance Work for the People and the Planet
Neoliberal policies have advanced financial liberalization and deregulation and increased the flow of credit for short term and speculative purposes and not for long-term sustainable development in the real economy. Financial liberalization and deregulation has encouraged excessive risk-taking and fraud and has increased the instability and volatility which is linked to the financial crises of 2008. The neoliberal policies which informed the current financial system were promoted by the IMF and World Bank which fail to represent the interests of developing countries.
- Create a strict global regulatory framework for banks and financial activities. Finance must be controlled to serve the real economy. There must be strict limits to commodity price speculation. There should be a work plan to abolish tax havens.
- Resources for sustainable development should be mobilized through progressive taxation, debt cancellation, debt restructuring, financial transactions taxes, new taxes on polluting and harmful corporate activities, redirecting harmful subsidies, the creation of a sustainable development fund, and others.
- Banks and financial institutions that are “too big to fail” should be placed under public control. Alternative monetary and development lending organizations must be established which respond primarily to broad development objectives. They should be established based on fair lending terms, transparent and accountable practices and equal voting and negotiating rights.
- Multilateral development banks, international financial institutions, and the Basel Committee on Banking Regulation should be reformed to increase transparency, accountability and decision making democratized instead of remaining under the control of bankers and shareholders.
- Sovereign debts should be subjected to social audits. Countries should not be forced to pay for illegitimate debt.
- The global financial system must move to a global reserve and payments system which is not based on one country’s currency and which supports countries out of payment crises through growth and employment.
Establish Fair and Equitable International Trade and Investment Rules
Unfair trade rules have restricted policy space for poor countries to use trade and investment policies to promote domestic economic development as well as social and environmental goals. The current trade regime has permitted rich countries to maintain significant protection of their domestic sectors while opening developing countries to their exports. The trade regime has also strengthened the monopoly protection of corporations over medicines and allowed patenting biodiversity and increased the freedom of multinational firms to profit and exploit labour and exploit the environment. Patterns of trade and restrictive trade rules lock developing countries in activities which keep them poor.
- We need to reform trade agreements and regulations to ensure that they are pro-poor and development oriented. Trade agreements which unduly restrict poor country policy space must be revised. Countries must be able to choose appropriate trade, investment and industrial policies along with social and environmental policies.
- Infant industries in developing countries must be supported in multilateral trade agreements and as necessary, developing countries must be allowed to protect their fledgling industries.
- Intellectual property rights should not interfere with open access to technology, information or other resources that are deemed essential for development or for meeting sustainable development goals and there must be open sharing of technology and knowledge between countries to support sustainable development.
- All trade agreements must comply with an international human rights assessment and trade agreements which will breach human rights agreements must be revised.
- Trade agreements must support decent work conditions and protect and promote labour rights. Trade agreements which repress labour standards must be revisited.
Democratize Global Governance
The global governance system, despite being a major proponent of ‘good governance’, is hindered by a critical democratic deficit –the wealthiest countries dictate the global governance agenda, its norms, targets, and implementation, whether through bilateral or multilateral relations or institutions. This imbalance of power, absence of transparency and accountability, and inequity in participation in global governance is distorting multilateral processes and limiting their ability to respond to the needs of developing countries. There needs to be major reform global governance systems to make them responsive to the demands of sustainable development, which are equitable, democratic and based on human rights for all institutions.
- The United Nations. Issues affecting the common good of humanity must be ultimately addressed at the UN General Assembly, not the G8, the G20, the international financial institutions or the Security Council. This includes protection and management of the global commons and global public goods. At the same time, the UN should be reformed to ensure full and effective participation of civil society, transparency and accountability to citizens.
- Public Participation Create mechanisms for public participation and co-determination in global governance structures. Ensure that civil society has full and effective participation free from discrimination in the new high level political forum – a model example is the new Global Partnership for Development Effectiveness Cooperation. Create the means for effective consultation and participation in policy development and implementation for traditionally underrepresented groups including smallholder farmers, women, workers, indigenous peoples, youth, LGBT persons, disabled persons, religious minorities, migrants, refugees and other marginalized groups
- Transparency: Global governance institutions should ensure public access to information. Ensure that the decision-making process for agreeing development agendas at all levels is transparent, and all negotiation texts and agreements are published and widely accessible.
- Accountability Mechanisms: Mechanisms for compliance to Human Rights norms and standards should be strengthened with penalties and means of redress at the national, regional and international levels. Freedom of expression and assembly is a prerequisite for developing effective accountability mechanisms and there must be global commitment to protect and achieve these rights at all levels. Establish participatory accountability mechanisms through which the people’s voice, including smallholder farmers, women, workers, indigenous peoples, youth, LGBT persons, disabled persons, migrants, refugees, religious minorities, can be reflected, and independent monitoring of goals, targets and indicators can be conducted at national, regional and global levels.
Recent international summits have failed to address the critical sustainable development challenges faced by the world. Individual states’ short-term interests have superseded strong, decisive outcomes; commitments made on paper going back 20 years have not been adhered to in practice; the world is failing to meet the needs of current generations and imperilling the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Developed States are also increasing backtracking on commitments to promote genuine sustainable development as seen on negotiations to reverse climate change.
The world is at a critical juncture and we must all rise up to the challenge of our time. The world is looking to the High Level Panel on Post-2015 to produce bold and visionary recommendations to inspire a transformative development agenda. The people demand no less from the High Level Panel. #
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