Publications

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 principles 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

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 thematic chapters

The world faces an unprecedented coincidence of global crises. They testify to the failure of the dominant model of development and economic progress that is oriented on a technocratic modernisation path, is blind to human rights and the ecological limits of the global ecosystem, confuses growth of Gross Domestic Product with progress in society, and regards poverty as a primarily technical challenge in which categories of inequality and social justice are neglected.

The Civil Society Reflection Group on Global Development Perspectives brought together 18 civil society activists and scholars from different disciplines from around the globe. Its members jointly drew lessons from the current crises, looked beyond conventional development concepts and goals, questioned the models and measures of development and social progress, and presented alternatives.

This report is the main outcome of the joint deliberations. It describes the root causes of the multiple crises, reconfirms the framework of universal principles and rights, reconsiders development goals and indicators, and draws conclusions for the post-2015 development agenda. It seeks to stimulate debates about alternative development paths, participatory and inclusive governance structures, and the transformation in politics and societies that future justice for all will require.

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.

Over the years since the Millennium Summit, the MDGs have proved to be an instrument of development policy that is both effective as publicity and suitable for campaigns. They are easy to understand and to communicate to a broader public. The civil society and UN campaigns on the MDGs have contributed to enhancing public awareness of the problems of poverty and hunger in the countries of the South – including not only those people especially concerned with development. Under the guiding motto of the MDGs, the UN, IMF, World Bank and OECD have overcome inconsistencies among their diverging development concepts and strategies – or at least they have managed to cover them up. Thanks to their unambiguous quantitative and timebound targets and the political commitments they entail, the MDGs provide a set of instruments to increase accountability of governments towards the people and check the effectiveness of their policies – in North and South. However, the last ten years have also shown up the problems linked to focusing the development discourse on combating the most extreme forms of income poverty and hunger and providing basic social services for the population. The MDGs bear a number of weaknesses and deficits resulting in terms of both their conception and their implementing strategies. The discussion about the Post-2015 Development Agenda, i.e. about the question what the future of the MDGs is going to look like after the year 2015, will have to yield answers to these weaknesses and deficits.