Setting the pace for a new era of development – Tearfund's Policy Blog

November 1, 2012 By Caroline Maxwell

UN debates on what comes after the MDGs are taking place.

Let the countdown begin. At this time of year you would think that I’m referring to Christmas. Now while I am looking forward to the  festive season the development enthusiast in me is also getting excited about what’s going to happen to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Yes I know I’m such a geek!

We’ve got less than 3 years until the eight global goals expire and today London takes the centre stage. As David Cameron welcomes a global panel of experts to the capital we get the feeling that the post-2015 locomotive is moving full steam ahead.

While the MDGs were very much the product of UN technocrats, the new High Level Panel (HLP) has been given a strong and clear mandate to make sure the voices of the poorest, vulnerable and marginalised are heard. Cue large scale CSO gathering as reps from different groups in the global South and North prepare their key messages, experiences and recommendations at the ready to influence Cameron and co.

So where do you start? There are so many important issues from gender equality to disaster risk reduction. And what about those Sustainable Development Goals – remember in Rio it was agreed that we’d have goals on food, water and energy – they need to be fully aligned with the new vision for development.

Poverty eradication and sustainable development are said to be the anchor of the new post-2015 agenda. Sounds great but we need to see progress that is consistent. Great strides made in economic growth are undermined if unsustainable consumption patterns emerge which ruin our natural resources.

And that means we all need to get involved with rich and poor countries setting targets under universal goals to tackle issues like health, education and equality. For example under global goals on sustainability and equality, high income countries like the UK might have targets to reduce carbon emissions and consumption as well as targets to address financial transparency and meeting its aid commitments. We all have a part to play in ensuring that the post-2015 framework works as Tearfund’s Chief Executive, Matthew Frost explains in the Huffington Post.

Whatever the goals the plan for what comes after the MDGs will require some tough decisions. Leaders must listen to civil society and be bold as they devise policies that ultimately ensure the poor get a better deal.

While global statements and declarations are all well and good what’s crucial is identifying the best way to drive that kind of commitment to action. A great discussion paper published by Oxfam shapes the debate on what kinds of instruments are most likely to influence decisions and deliver lasting impact.

It will be interesting to see how the HLP meetings progress in that respect. There are follow up gatherings planned in Monrovia and Bali to discuss national development and global partnerships respectively.

For now all eyes and ears will be on London. This is an opportunity for Cameron and co to set the pace for the post-2015 agenda that not only creates a more just world but a new way of doing development that is not afraid to tackle the deeper and more complex causes of poverty.