TWN Info Service on UN Sustainable Development (Jul15/21)
31 July 2015
Third World Network

Post-2015 development agenda debate on Means of Implementation (Part 2 of 2)

Linked and yet distinct:  Hot debate persists on the relationship between the 3rd FfD outcome and the post-2015 agenda

by Bhumika Muchhala, Third World Network (New York, 31 July 2015)

(Part 1 of 2: To annex or not to annex FfD3 outcome, that is the question)

The debate on Means of Implementation (MoI) for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the operational and universal cornerstone of the post-2015 development agenda, continues unabated.  At the core is the relationship with the outcome document of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development that took place on 13-16 July in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The final scheduled negotiations of the post-2015 outcome document end today (20 – 31 July).

The developing countries are on one side of the debate, arguing that the Addis Ababa Financing for Development (FfD) outcome document should not constitute the instructions of the MoI.  The developed countries are on the other hand, arguing that every MoI of the SDG targets and Goal 17 on MoI are reflected in the Addis Ababa outcome document.

The United States is again on the extreme end, arguing that the Addis Ababa outcome document should comprise all the MoI of the post-2015 agenda and should thus be imported straight into the post-2015 text.  The middle ground is found in the European Union’s statements.

The key issue at hand is actually the very difference between the nature of the Addis Ababa outcome document and the nature of the SDG text endorsed by the UN General Assembly in 2014.  The former expounds on the key MoI issues, such as international and domestic finance, private finance, debt, governance and systemic issues, including technology, in a broad and conceptual fashion. The latter is comprised of explicit targets and that are far more decisive in language and operational in practice.

The Group of 77 and China (G77) defined once more its key priorities. First, the 17 SDGs are indivisible and therefore the MoI goal 17 and myriad MoI targets are to be seen as one inseparable package. Second, chapters 2 and 3 of the post-2015 outcome document can be linked with a new paragraph following paragraph 38. Third, paragraph 64 in the outcome document that welcomes the Technology Facilitation Mechanism should be retained as it is. And fourth, there is no need to include the Addis Ababa Action Agenda as an annex.

The G77 repeated yet again on 30 July that the SDG text should not be reopened. This is now presented as a principled position. The G77 said it was pleased that the latest draft of the post-2015 outcome document (30 July) retained the goals and targets of the SDGs, which reflect the development priorities of all countries, particularly developing countries. The Group said it has no intention to engage on any of the substance and content of SDGs beyond the technical revisions the Co-Facilitators of the negotiations have proposed.

The Least Developed Countries (LDCs) said that the concerns and proposals of LDCs are still not reflected in the outcome document. Developed countries must deliver on their commitment of ODA at 0.7% of GNI, and out of this 50% must go to LDCs. Aid for trade to LDCs is also important and a numerical target is required for this. Duty-free and quota-free market access is also vital.

The LDCs welcomed the Addis Ababa outcome document for its decision to adopt and promote investment regimes for LDCs. The best way to do so would be to build a one-stop arrangement under the auspices of the UN for a full and timely operationalization of an international investment promotion center for LDCs.

A technology bank for LDCs is also key, the Group stressed. Developed countries need to devote at least 0.1% of their ODA to an LDC technology bank.

The LDCs highlighted that many of their countries are crippled with extraordinary debt burdens. Their scarce resources are being spent on servicing outstanding debt which could instead be used to finance their SDGs. The LDCs thus called on the international community for full cancellation of debt, or full debt relief. 

India said that the MoI goal 17 and each MoI target contained in the SDGs should not be left behind.  This would be a “non-option” for India. Paragraph 61 which welcomes the Addis Ababa outcome document and recognises the important inter-linkages between the implementation of the Addis agenda and the realization of the SDGs and its targets is viewed by India as more than sufficient to address the Addis outcome.

India further clarified that in its view, in UN parlance, documents of separate conferences are linked to the text by using a paragraph. Annexing does not mean using a paper clip. At the risk of repetition, the Addis outcome has always meant to support the MoI targets of the SDGs, it said.

India also stated that if developed countries decide that the MoI for the post-2015 development agenda is to remain only in one place, then it should remain in Chapter 2 which contains the entire text of the SDGs.

India also does not see any need to reopen or renegotiate the substance of the Global Partnership. It is confusing to hear the EU calling for a new global partnership as India understands that this issue has long been discussed and that Member States are now working with a revitalized global partnership.

(Developed countries maintain their position that the global partnership is about state responsibility and relations, while non-state actions are complementary.)

Furthermore, India warned that reopening paragraph 19 of the Addis outcome would be tantamount to renegotiating the Addis outcome. India noted the irony that all of a sudden there is much fondness from the developed countries over the Addis outcome, when the conference itself was not desired by these very countries.

Brazil repeated the now well-known position of developing countries that the Addis outcome cannot substitute Goal 17 on MoI nor the goal-specific MOI targets. The SDG Open Working Group’s outcome of 17 goals and 169 targets for Brazil is indivisible and no longer on the table for negotiation.

Brazil expressed surprise at how quickly developed countries forget their commitments. If the deletion of SDG Goal 17 on MoI is really an option, then any of the other goals and targets in the SDGs could be deleted. Brazil reminded Member States that a global partnership is comprised of commitments between states.

The mention of civil society, Brazil stressed, should also come before the mention of private sector with due preference to civil society throughout the post-2015 process.

With regard to the lingering ‘to annex or not to annex’ question, Brazil invoked the modalities for the third FfD conference. There was an understanding in these modalities, which was reaffirmed in the Addis Ababa outcome document itself. This understanding is that the Addis outcome is to support the global partnership for sustainable development, not to form an integral or fundamental component of the post-2015 development agenda

(Paragraph 19 of the Addis Ababa outcome document says: “The post-2015 development agenda, including the sustainable development goals, can be met within the framework of a revitalized global partnership for sustainable development, supported by the concrete policies and actions as outlined in the present Action Agenda” – emphasis added.)

Indeed, Member States have always understood the Addis outcome to be supportive and complementary to the post-2015 outcome document. The FfD conference is an outcome in and of itself, but attaching it in full as an annex to the post-2015 development agenda will not do justice either to the SDGs or to FfD itself as it would dilute the relevance of specific processes.

Argentina stressed that SDG Goal 17 cannot be replaced with the Addis Ababa outcome document and Indonesia reiterated that the Addis Ababa outcome is not a substitute for MoI, rather it complements and supports the global partnership for sustainable development.

Liberia said that annexing the Addis Ababa outcome document will bring into question other documents that have not yet been referenced. That is why it’s important that the Addis Ababa outcome is taken as a standalone document that has been approved.

Mexico said that the post-2015 development agenda and the Addis Ababa outcome each come from their own distinct lifelines. Strong links can be made between the two processes while maintaining the integrity of each.

Egypt also cautioned against the annexation of the Addis Ababa outcome document saying that the MoI chapter in the post-2015 outcome document has two key paragraphs that captures the agreement in Paragraph 19 reached in Addis Ababa.

The Ethiopian ambassador also invoked Paragraph 19, saying that their national position on the matter of the relationship between FfD and post-2015 is governed by the understanding in Paragraph 19. 

On the other hand, the European Union said that both the SDGs and the Addis Ababa outcome document comprise the full set of MoI necessary for the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda, and both must be explicitly reflected in the draft. This requires the attachment of the Addis Ababa outcome to the annex.

The EU said that the current draft does not reflect the fact that the Addis outcome supports the implementation of post-2015. Member states should not agree to anything in the text that lowers the ambition from the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, urged the EU. Domestic enabling environment, domestic policy reform, domestic resource mobilization, private finance and the private sector are all important issues.  

The EU and its Member States remain committed to its ODA targets and supporting developing countries through capacity building; however, the ODA language in the post-2015 declaration is problematic because it is a significant departure from the language agreed to in Addis. If the Addis text were annexed it would avoid many problems.

The United States said that while they agree that the Addis Ababa outcome document is not perfect, it provides countries with the most forward-looking tool, that is both ambitious and comprehensive and achieved through careful negotiations with expert input that was not available during the Open Working Group process on the SDGs. Coherence is ensured by the fact that nearly every SDG MoI appears in the Addis document. There has been some skepticism among Member States on this approach but it should be seriously considered, the US urged.

Canada expressed that the post-2015 outcome document is extremely imbalanced. The question of ODA and debt receive too much attention, which is not in line with extensive discussions in the FfD context. The text also omits the relevance of domestic resource mobilisation and private finance.

Canada also stressed that annexing the entire Addis outcome document would give MoI the clarity and prominence it deserves.  MoI for the post-2015 agenda will require the mobilisation and effective use of financial resources, a vibrant domestic business sector, a universal multilateral trading system, and the transfer of technologies as mutually agreed. The “important role of a diverse private sector” should also be acknowledged.

Australia said they see considerable opportunity to streamline sand strengthen the MoI text, with the intention to safeguard the delicate language achieved in the Addis Ababa outcome document and to support the MoI language. The Addis document is part and parcel of how the post-2015 development agenda is going to be achieved, and the MoI for it should accurately and respectfully describe the relationship between FfD and the SDGs. +