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Goals for the Rich - Indispensible for a Universal Post-2015 Agenda

New Discussion paper for the Civil Society Reflection Group on Global Development Perspectives | March 2015

  • The Post-2015 Agenda with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as one of its key components is intended to be truly universal and global. This requires a fair sharing of costs, responsibilities and opportunities among and within countries. The principle of »common but differentiated responsibilities« (CBDR) must be applied. Coupled with the human rights principle of equal rights for all and the need to respect the planetary boundaries, this necessarily translates into different obligations for different categories of countries – as well as individuals within these countries.
  • The rich and powerful have special responsibilities. For them we can broadly distinguish three types of goals and targets: those that are of particular relevance to the internal affairs of all including rich countries, requiring changes in their domestic policies (»domestic sustainability targets«); those that address the need to change domestic policies in order to reduce negative external effects beyond a country’s borders (»do-no-harm targets«); and those that zero in on their international duties and responsibilities (»international responsibility targets«).
  • Three specific »goals for the rich« are particularly important for sustainable development worldwide. In the list of 17 SDGs proposed by the Open Working Group of the UN General Assembly these are: The goal to reduce inequality within and among countries (goal 10), the goal to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns (goal 12), and the goal to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for development (goal 17). The Post-2015 Agenda will only succeed if these goals include specific and time-bound targets and commitments for the rich that trigger the necessary regulatory and fiscal policy changes

Find out more in the new discussion paper for the Reflection Group on how nobody should be left out of the Post-2015 Agenda. Not even the rich.

Download "Goals for the Rich" here (pdf, 320 kB).


Comments by the Reflection Group on UN Secretary-General's report "A life in dignity for all"

The UN Secretary-General’s (SG) report “A life in dignity for all” (A/68/202) calls for a “new post-2015 era […] a new vision and a responsive framework […] a universal agenda that requires profound economic transformations and a new global partnership.” Unfortunately that new vision and the new partnerships proposed by the SG derail our ability to meet the challenges we face today.

For this reason, the Civil Society Reflection Group issued a series of com ments on the report und its underlying assupmtions.


Fit for whose purpose?

Read/download the comment here.

One of the most prominent features of the SG’s report is the high degree of trust and hope he puts on new so-called partnerships between state and non-state actors and corporations in particular. Multi-stakeholder partnerships can bring a number of risks and side effects with them that must be considered carefully in the further discussions on the Post-2015 Agenda. The following questions should be addressed:

  • Growing influence of the corporate sector in political discourse and agenda-setting: Do partnership initiatives allow corporations and their interest groups undue and unsupervised influence over agenda setting and political decision-making by governments?
  • Undermining accountable and transparent multilateralism: Will the proliferation of partnerships contribute to the continued institutional weakening of the UN system and hinder comprehensive development strategies?
  • Weakening democratic public institutions: If partnerships create the equivalence of equal rights among stakeholders, do they undermine the political and legal position occupied legitimately by accountable public bodies (governments and parliaments)? Given the inequality amongst participating actors, how can conflicts of interest be avoided and checks and balances amongst the participating actors be ensured?
  • Unstable financing – a threat to the sufficient provision of public goods: Will the funding of the Post-2015 Agenda become increasingly privatized, dependent on voluntary and unpredictable channels of financing through benevolent individuals or private philanthropic foundations? Are the financial resources committed in the existing partnership initiatives effectively increasing available resources (para. 69)? Do the financial commitments of governments constitute new and additional funding?
  • Lack of monitoring and accountability mechanisms: What instruments are in place to guarantee that partnerships as well as the proposed United Nations Partnership Facility will be open, transparent, and accountable?

Misdirecting finance – who benefits

Read/download the comment here.

This comment calls into question the gaps and misconceptions in the UN-SG’s report concerning macro-economic and financial issues. It leads to series of question that need to be raised in order to avoid a misguided post-2015 agenda leaving many core structural issues unadressed.

  • As private finance follows market trends leading to a concentration of resources, what regulatory framework or policies could ensure that it delivers development objectives?
  • Analysis by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) has shown that “leverage ratios do not have a one-to-one relationship with additionality”. How can we be sure that these mechanisms really leverage additional resources?
  • With private investment increasingly taking the decisions that determine development funding, how can the UN ensure transparency and accountability and regular reporting?
  • Should mechanisms be promoted when they may increase developing countries’ debt burdens to unsustainable levels?

The two comments have been prepared for the Civil Society Reflection Group on Global Development Perspectives and are part of a series of reflections on the ongoing deliberations around the post-2015 agenda. The following members of the Reflection Group contributed to this draft statement: Barbara Adams (Global Policy Forum), Chee Yoke Ling (Third World Network), Gita Sen (DAWN), Hubert Schillinger (Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung), Danuta Sacher (terre des hommes), Tetteh Hormeku (Third World Network Africa),Ziad Abdel Samad (Arab NGO Network for Development, ANND), Roberto Bissio (Social Watch), Mariama Williams (South Centre), Jens Martens (Global Policy Forum), Wolfgang Obenland (Global Policy Forum).


Discussion paper "Towards a Framework of Universal Sustainability Goals as Part of a Post-2015 Agenda"

usg fesFor a conference in Bonn, Germany on the future of the Post-2015 agenda members of the Reflection Group had prepared a discussion paper on a framework of "Universal Sustainability Goals". 

The debates on an agenda for international co-operation and development beyond 2015 offer the opportunity to (re-)address in a holistic manner well-being and justice in societies. Given the economic, social and ecological challenges in the world, this is urgently needed.

The present framework of international development goals centering on the MDGs and the related strategies do not provide adequate answers to the global problems, be they accelerated global warming, the growing gap between rich and poor, the financialization of the world economy or the disrespect for human rights.

Given these problems we require changes in the economic and social systems.A development agenda focusing only on poor countries and not on the rich ones is inadequate.

This does not mean such an agenda should prescribe top-down identical goals, responsibilities and political recipes following a one-size-fits-all approach.A future development agenda ought to be based on common principles providing for a differentiation of countries according to their economic performance, social needs and ecological responsibilities. Similarly, the agenda ought to contain a differentiated catalogue of political commitments. Embedded between the general prin- ciples and the political implementation measures, Universal Sustainability Goals would be an essential albeit one element of the Post-2015 Agenda.

The discussions about any Post-2015 Agenda must address the structural obstacles and political barriers that prevented the realization of the MDGs. Without an honest assessment of these obstacles and barriers any so called “new” development goals will remain a paper tiger.


A Spanish version is now ready for download as well: "Hacia un marco de Objetivos Universales de Sostenibilidad como parte de una Agenda Post-2015"


Keine Zukunft ohne Gerechtigkeit - Report of the Reflection Group now available in German

keinezukunftThe German supporting organizations of the Reflection Group had commissioned a German version of the Reflection Group’s report which was published already in February and is now available for download here.

Rather than just a translation, the German edition is adapted for use of European readers and abbreviated for better readability.

The German report was co-edited by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, terre des hommes and the Global Policy Forum Europe and is available for download here.








Workshop at the WSF 2013: "Global Sustainability Goals - The way forward in shaping transformation towards a more equitable, just and sustainable world?"

WSF 2013 Logo

At the upcoming World Social Forum in Tunis, March 26-30, the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation together with Global Policy Forum Europe, Social Watch and DAWN has organized a workshop titled "Global Sustainability Goals - The way forward in shaping transformation towards a more equitable, just and sustainable world?". It will take place on 28 March from 13:00 to 15:30 at the Université de Tunis El Manar, Faculté de droits, salle de lecture n°1. Members of the Reflection Group as well as colleagues and friends will be present at that event. Roberto Bissio (Social Watch), Anita Nayar, Nicole Bidegain (both DAWN), Jens Martens (GPF Europe), Ziad Abdel Samad (ANND), Jean Saldanha (CIDSE) and Sara Burke (FES New York) have confirmed their presence.The event will be a great opportunity for you to meet and discuss with members of the Reflection Group.

The present framework of international development goals centering on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the strategies based on them do not provide adequate answers to the global problems, be it global warming, or the growing gap between rich and poor. Both the debate over a ‘post-2015 agenda’, as well as the agreement by governments at the Rio+20 Conference to start an intergovernmental process of formulating Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) now offer the opportunity to readdress holistic concepts of prosperity and progress in society. How could an integrated system of Global Sustainability Goals look like? What are the principles and normative foundations of a Post-2015 agenda? What lessons can be learned from the MDG experience? How could Global Sustainability Goals be embedded in a rights-based approach to development and a system of fair burden-sharing? And what accountability mechanisms must be put in place?

A draft discussion paper "Towards a Framework of Universal Sustainability Goals as Part of a Post-2015 Agenda", prepared for the Reflection Group can be downloaded here.

Le cadre actuel des objectifs de développement mondial tournant autour des Objectifs du Millénaire pour le Développement pour 2015 n’apporte pas de réponses adéquates aux défis globaux, que ce soit le réchauffement climatique ou l’accroissement des inégalités. Aujourd’hui, le débat sur un agenda global post-2015 et l’accord de la conférence de Rio sur la formulation d’Objectifs de Développement Durable Mondial offrent une opportunité de se repencher sur les concepts globaux de prospérité et de progrès des sociétés. A quoi pourrait ressembler un système intégré d’Objectifs de Développement Durable Mondial? Quelles sont ses bases normatives? Au-delà des objectifs: quels mécanismes de responsabilisation peuvent être installés? Comment intégrer ces objectifs dans une approche du développement basée sur les droits et un système équitable de partage des efforts?

The invitation is ready for download here.

Find more on the program of the WSF here.


Report of the Civil Society Reflection Group on Global Development Perspectives: No future without justice

ReportUppsala/New York/Beijing/Manila/Montevideo/Berlin, 5 June 2012: A group of 18 leading civil society activists and scholars from around the globe releases today a joint report titled „No future without justice“. Two weeks before the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) the report calls for fundamental changes to tackle the root causes of the multiple crises in the world and demands

“to draw lessons from the environmental, social and economic crises, to look beyond conventional development concepts and goals and to rethink fundamentally the models and measures of development and social progress – in the North and the South. Rio+20 and the emerging discussions on a post-2015 development agenda provide a unique window of opportunity to reconsider the current development paradigm and to changing the course towards a holistic, rights-based development approach that is based on equity and common but differentiated responsibilities.”

“Governments failed to bring their policies into line with the agreed principles of sustainability and human rights. Instead, policies are still too often sectorally fragmented and misguided, with an overreliance on economic growth and self-regulation of the ‘markets’. New concepts like ‘green growth’ are at best attempts to treat the symptoms of the problems without tackling their root causes. Instead, fundamental changes at three levels are needed:

  • Changes in the mindset, the guiding concepts and indicators of development and progress.
  • Changes in fiscal and regulatory policies at national, regional and international levels in order to effectively overcome social inequalities and the degradation of nature and to strengthen sustainable economies.
  • Changes in institutions and governance mechanisms at national, regional and international levels.”

The Reflection Group makes specific proposals for fiscal and regulatory reforms oriented by a set of globally shared principles and values. It suggests a profound strengthening of democratic governance structures at national and global level and defines a future framework and core principles for Global Sustainability Goals.

The full report is published in the Development Dialogue series of the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation (Development Dialogue No. 59/ June 2012) in cooperation with Social Watch, Third World Network, Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN), the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Global Policy Forum and terre des hommes. Download the full report here.

The executive summary of the report is published by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in its International Policy Analysis series (June 2012). The executive summary is also available in Portuguese: Não há futuro sem justiça.

The report is launched officially at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday, 16 June 2012, 11:30h, Room T8, RioCentro. It is also presented jointly with the first Global State of Civil Society report by CIVICUS at the Cape Town International Book Fair on 17 June at 11:00h.

Full Report
Executive Summary

For more versions, check the website of the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation.


Social Watch Report 2012: The Right to a Future


The Social Watch Report - with contributions by Members of the Reflection Group - is also available in Español, Français, Português, Arabic and Russian.

Growing inequalities and unregulated finances are expropriating people everywhere from their fair share in the benefits of global prosperity. The Social Watch Report 2012 concentrates on the effects of present mismangements and false recepies on the rights and well-being of future generations. “The ‘right to a future’ is the most urgent task of the present,” writes Roberto Bissio, coordinator of Social Watch, member of the Reflection Group and editor-in-chief of the study. “It is about nature, yes, but it is also about our grandchildren, and about our own dignity, the expectations of the 99% of the world’s 7 billion men and women, girls and boys that were promised sustainability two decades ago and have found instead their hopes and aspirations being melted into betting chips of a global financial casino beyond their control.”

The lengthy study, based on the contribution of citizens’ organizations in 66 countries from all over the world that produced their national reports, concludes that “growing inequalities and unregulated finances are expropiating people everywhere from their fair share in the benefits of global prosperity”. “Our children will inherit the burden of deforestation, desertification, erosion of biodiversity and climate change. To revert this trend, the promise of universal dignity brought by human rights has to be enforced and the rights of future generations need to be recognized and properly defended,” concludes this 16th edition of the Social Watch Report.

The book includes thematic chapters written by members of relevant social and academic organizations, such as the Reflection Group on Global Development, Third World Network, Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), Social Development Network (SODNET, Kenia), Eurostep, Feminist Alliance For International Action (FAFIA, Canadá), Global Policy Forum and terre des hommes.


The thematic chapters


The report also contains the data of the most recent measurement of the Basic Capabilities Index (BCI), indicator that combines infant mortality rates, the number of births attended by trained personnel and enrolment rates in primary school. This year Japan is in the top position and Chad at the bottom. The global BCI shows progresses between 1990 and 2011, although in general the progress slowed down between the previous decade and the next one. Since 2000, the BCI moved up just 3 points (100 is the maximum value), while world CO2 emissions, that had fallen in the last decade of the 20th century, moved up from 4.1 tons per capita to 4.6 tons. World trade and per capita income also grew faster than the social indicators.

All chapters, including the statistical data, country reports etc. can be downloaded here.

This year's edition includes the Gender Equity Index (GEI) and the new Social and Economic Rights Fulfillment Index (SERF Index), that determines the extent to which countries are meeting their obligations to fulfill five human rights enumerated in the International Covenant of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights: the right to food, the right to adequate shelter, the right to healthcare, the right to education, and the right to decent work.


Input by the Reflection Group for the Compilation Document of the Rio 2012 Conference



On 31 October 2011 the Reflection Group submitted a statement to the secretariat of the Rio+20 Conference to be held in June 2012. It was prepared during a drafting session in October in New Paltz, NY and highlights some of the issues and proposals that will come up in the final report of the Reflection Group again. The final report will come out in spring of 2012 after a final meeting of the Group.

The statement to the Rio+20 conference can be downloaded here.

Also, take a look at the statements by other stakeholders to the compilation document on the UNCSD website.





Fourth Meeting of the Reflection Groupdhf

For its fourth and - if things go as planned - final meeting, the Reflection Group is kindly hosted by the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation in Uppsala, Sweden. While there is a lot do for the group on the three days from the 16th-18th of September, the group will also listen to this year's "Dag Hammarskjöld Lecture" delivered by Jan Eliasson, former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden and former President of the UN General Assembly.


Already on Thursday, September 15th, 19.15h, members of the group will join for public panel debate on "20 Years After Rio – Global Development Perspectives" at Uppsala University Building, Hall IX. Roberto Bissio (Uruguay), Yoke Ling Chee (Malaysia), Jorge Ishizawa (Peru), and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Philippines) will discuss under the moderation of Henning Melber.



Third Meeting of the Reflection Group in Manila

The Reflection Group met for the third time in direct succession to the Social Watch Global Assembly in Manila, Philippines. The discussions brought many new insights. With the meeting in Uppsala coming up shortly, the group started working on the final outcome, that was decided to be in the form of a report on the "development" and well-being.


To get an idea of the meeting, visit our picture gallery.


Urgent Appeal to Change the Mindset

At their second meeting in New York City, 4-6 March 2011, the members of the Reflection Group formulated the following appeal. The appeal can be downloaded as a pdf-file here. A Spanish version is available for download as well.

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development - Rio 2012, must change the dominant mindset by:

Restoring public rights over corporate privileges

after thirty years of strengthening the power of investors and big corporations through deregulation, trade and financial liberalization, tax cuts and exemptions, and weakening the role of the state; and after the market-driven financial meltdown.

The principles and values of the Rio Declaration and the UN Millennium Declaration, adopted by heads of states and governments, are threatened and urgently need to be re-established. They include Human Rights, Freedom, Equality, Solidarity, Diversity, Respect for Nature, and Common but Differentiated Responsibilities. Corporate interests do not uphold these principles and values.

Taking equity seriously

after thirty years of policies that further widened the gap between rich and poor and have exacerbated inequities and inequalities, not least regarding access to resources.

Unbridled market forces have favored the strong, thereby widening the economic divide. This requires the state to redress the imbalance, eliminate discrimination, and ensure sustainable livelihoods, decent work and social inclusion. Intergenerational justice requires restraint and responsibility of the present generation. It is urgent to establish more equitable per capita rights towards the global commons and to the emission of greenhouse gases, taking fully into account historical responsibility.

Rescuing nature

after more than sixty years of global warming, loss of biodiversity, desertification, depletion of marine life and of forests, a spiraling water crisis and many other ecological catastrophes.

The environmental crisis is hitting the poor much more than the affluent. Knowledge-intensive solutions including technologies are available to restore natural systems, and dramatically reduce pressures on climate and the environment while improving human well-being. A “green economy” is attainable but must be embedded in a holistic concept of sustainability. What we need is a change of lifestyles.

The Rio 1992 Summit adopted legally-binding instruments and embraced Civil Society. The Johannesburg Summit 2002 celebrated partnerships relying on a self-regulated Private Sector. The Rio 2012 Summit must re-affirm the State as the indispensable actor setting the legal frame, enforcing standards of equity and human rights, and fostering long-term ecological thinking, based on democratic legitimacy.

This appeal was formulated by the following members of the Reflection Group on Global Development Perspectives:
Albert Recknagel, terre des hommes Germany; Alejandro Chanona, National Autonomous University of México; Barbara Adams, Global Policy Forum; Beryl d'Almeida, Abandoned Babies Committee Zimbabwe; Chee Yoke Ling, Third World Network; Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, International Resource Panel; Filomeno Sta. Ana III, Action for Economic Reform; George Chira, terre des hommes India; Gigi Francisco, Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era; Henning Melber, Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation; Hubert Schillinger, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung; Jens Martens, Global Policy Forum Europe; Jorge Ishizawa, Proyecto Andino de Tecnologias Campesinas; Karma Ura, Centre for Bhutan Studies; Roberto Bissio, Social Watch; Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, Tebtebba Foundation; Yao Graham, Third World Network Africa

Endorsements can be added online at

A Spanish version of the appeal is available for download as a pdf-file.


Workshop at the WSF 2011: "Thinking Ahead: Towards a New Development Paradigm"


First Meeting of the Reflection Group

The first meeting of the Reflection Group took place January 12-14 in Berlin. The meeting was a great start for the work of the group with a shared sense of urgency and commitment by the members. A report on the meeting will be available soon. Filomeno S. Sta. Ana III has already written an essay on the meeting that was published in the January 17, 2011 edition of BusinessWorld. Also, to get an impression of the meeting, please have a glimpse at some photographs.


Thinking Ahead - Development Models and Indicators of Well-Being Beyond the MDGs

As a first small input to the debate within the Reflection Group, the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation and Global Policy Forum published a paper titled "Thinking Ahead -Development Models and Indicators of Well-being Beyond the MDGs", written by Jens Martens.

After identifying a number of deficits and weaknesses in the MDG approach and discussing three options for the future of the MDGs, the paper looks at different projects of alternative models and measures of well-being and development.

It finally provides an outlook on a way forward towards the definition of a new set of global development goals.

The paper is available for download from this website. Just follow the link below.


Rethinking Development and Progress

Alliance of Civil Society Groups, Networks and Foundations launches Reflection Group on Global Development Perspectives

Beijing/Berlin/Montevideo/New York/Uppsala, November 15, 2010 – Today, an alliance of civil society groups, networks and foundations, including Third World Network, Social Watch, DAWN, the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation, Global Policy Forum, terre des hommes, and the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, launched the Civil Society Reflection Group on Global Development Perspectives.

The group consists of about 15 leading civil society activists, experts and academics from around the globe. The group will assess conventional and alternative models of development and well-being, reconsider development goals and indicators, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), draw conclusions for future development strategies and provide specific policy recommendations for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development 2012.

We find ourselves at a crucial point in time – fast approaching the 2015 deadline for the MDGs, while preparing for the 2012 Conference on Sustainable Development. Today’s unprecedented coincidence of global crises – economic, financial, food and climate – reveals the dead end to which the dominating models of development have led us. It is now time to break old ground, to draw lessons from these crises and to fundamentally rethink our goals and measures of development and social progress – in North and South.

The time between the Summits 2010 and 2012 provides a unique window of opportunity to reconsider the current development paradigm and to develop strategies towards a holistic, rights-based approach of global development and well-being.

Four meetings of the Reflection Group are scheduled to take place throughout 2011. The expected outcome will be presented in a report to be published prior to the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.

Group Members

Barbara Adams (Global Policy Forum, US), Beryl d’Almeida (Abandoned Babies Committee, Zimbabwe), Alejandro Chanona Burguete (National Autonomous University of México), Chee Yoke Ling (Third World Network, China), Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker (Germany), Filomeno Santa Ana III (Action for Economic Reforms, Philippines), George Chira (terre des hommes India), Gigi Francisco (Development Alternatives with Women for the New Era, Philippines), Henning Melber (Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, Sweden), Jorge Ishizawa (Proyecto Andino de Tecnologias Campesinas, Peru), Karma Ura (Centre for Bhutan Studies, Bhutan), Roberto Bissio (Third World Institute/Social Watch, Uruguay) Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Tebtebba Foundation, Philippines), Yao Graham (Third World Network-Africa, Ghana), Jens Martens (Global Policy Forum Europe, Germany), Hubert Schillinger (Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation, Germany), Danuta Sacher (terre des hommes Germany).