Post-2015 Development Goals - International Development Committee Contents

2  Post-2015 Development Goals: the process

Progress of the UN High-level Panel

13.  The High-level Panel members were selected by the Secretary-General, in consultation with the Deputy Secretary-General, based on 'a process of consultation with member states, with different constituencies, so from civil society and from business.'[16] Subsequently, the Panel's co-Chairs appointed Dr Homi Kharas, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of the Global Economy and Development Programme of the Brookings Institution,[17] as Executive Secretary of the Panel and lead author of its report.[18]

14.  The Secretariat for the High-level Panel was due to be fully operational by September 2012. In practice, however, it was not fully operational until December.[19] In addition, we were told that the Secretariat would only have a core team of 'about seven or eight,' plus external support.[20] In contrast to the Commission for Africa, a similarly prestigious panel whose recommendations informed the 2005 G8 Summit at Gleneagles,[21] this is extremely small: the Commission for Africa's own Secretariat had 42 members.[22]

15.  Even if the High-level Panel's secretariat had been appointed on time it would have had much less time and far fewer staff than the Commission for Africa secretariat. The High-level Panel's conclusions and recommendations are therefore less likely to have secured international political 'buy-in' before they are published. It is imperative to win international commitments to implement post-2015 development goals and we recommend that the UK retain its cross-Whitehall Committee of officials which has supported the Prime Minister in his role as co-Chair as well as trying to seek international agreement with the other co-Chairs to keep a UN secretariat in place until the UN General Assembly agrees the post-2015 development agenda.

16.  The High-level Panel held an introductory meeting in New York in late September 2012, followed by its first substantive meeting in London on 31 October-2 November. [23] Over the course of three days, the Panel members were briefed by a number of experts, engaged in various outreach activities and discussed the Panel's future programme of work.[24] The Panel is due to meet next in Liberia from 29 January-1 February[25] and again in Indonesia in March. The Secretary of State for International Development, Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, told us that the Panel would discuss 'national development' at its Liberia meeting, and 'global partnerships' at its Indonesia meeting.[26] The final meeting is expected to take place in New York in May 2013, with the High-level Panel presenting its report to the UN Secretary-General on 31 May 2013.[27]

Figure 1: timeline of key events
2000Millennium Declaration adopted by UN General Assembly
2001Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) launched
May 2012UN Secretary-General announces intention to create High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, and appoints the British Prime Minister as one of its co-Chairs.
July 2012High-level Panel formally launched; full membership announced.
September 2012High-level Panel holds introductory meeting in New York
31 October - 2 November 2012 High-level Panel holds first substantive meeting in London
29 January - 1 February 2013 High-level Panel due to meet in Monrovia, Liberia
March 2013High-level Panel due to meet in Indonesia
May 2013High-level Panel expected to hold final meeting in New York; High-level Panel's report to be presented to UN Secretary-General
SubsequentlyPost-2015 framework to be developed based on intergovernmental negotiations

17.  The High-level Panel conducts some outreach work during its meetings: its recent meeting in London, for example, included engagement with civil society, with business and with young people.[28] However, it also holds private meetings[29] whose minutes are not published. The Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning told us that: 'The background papers will be open, but as far as the work goes, until such time as it is concluded, I believe that will remain internal to the Panel.'[30]

18.  We accept that the High-level Panel wishes to hold some of its meetings in private. However, it is regrettable that no notes of such meetings are available to the public. In an age where transparency is increasingly important, publishing a note of meetings would have helped to achieve public 'buy-in'.

Taking forward the Panel's recommendations

19.  Following the High-level Panel's report, an intergovernmental process will be launched to negotiate the post-2015 framework. This will be informed both by the High-level Panel's report and by a subsequent report from the Secretary-General himself.[31] However, the UN has not yet announced what form this intergovernmental process will take.

20.  We know that the High-level Panel's report will be followed by an intergovernmental process, but it is currently unclear what form this process will take or how the Panel and its secretariat will mobilise and lobby internationally to win political support for its proposals. To ensure that the current levels of momentum and public interest are not lost, we hope that this uncertainty can be resolved as soon as possible. We urge our Prime Minister, and the Panel, to set out clear proposals for an international campaign to secure support for the Panel's proposals during the intergovernmental process.

21.  Within the context of this intergovernmental process it will be important to ensure that the recommendations made by the High-level Panel are taken forward. Following the Commission for Africa's first report in 2005, the UK Government invested great time, effort and political capital in persuading the heads of government of both donor and developing countries to implement its recommendations.[32] If the High-level Panel's recommendations are to have a similar degree of traction, our present Prime Minister should make it one of his personal priorities to build international political support for the High-level Panel's proposals. Following publication of the High-level Panel's report, the Prime Minister and his fellow panellists should focus on building international political support for its recommendations with a view to ensuring that they are incorporated in the post-2015 framework. To this end, it will be important to engage with heads of government from both donor countries and developing countries.

22.  The UK has assumed the Presidency of the G8 for 2013.[33] This presents another parallel with the Commission for Africa: in 2005, when the Commission for Africa's first report was published, the UK also held the G8 presidency.[34] On that occasion, the UK Government was able to use its G8 Presidency to win important commitments from a number of other G8 countries: deals were agreed for a $50billion increase in development assistance and for large-scale debt cancellation.[35] However, some states failed to honour their commitments.[36] Through its Presidency of the G8 in 2013, the present UK Government has an excellent opportunity to challenge its fellow G8 members to honour their existing commitments, and to push for further commitments. The UK Government, during its Presidency of the G8 in 2013, should encourage its fellow G8 members to make further, specific commitments to development.


23.  For all their successes, the MDGs were born out of a process which was by nature unconsultative. As Lawrence Haddad, Director of the Institute of Development Studies, pointed out to us, the process 'did not really engage many people who [were] actually suffering in poverty.' [37] In an attempt to ensure that the same is not true of the post-2015 framework, the UN is conducting various public consultations on the post-2015 process:

a)  A number of country consultations in developing countries (due to report in March 2013)—see Box 3;

b)  eleven thematic consultations[38] (due to report in June 2013, and hence aiming to inform not the High-level Panel but the subsequent intergovernmental process)—see Box 4.[39]

Box 3
UN country consultations
  • The initial number of participating countries was 50 - a 'stratified sample of countries from different regions, of different income levels.' Subsequently a further seven countries have joined,[40] and any others which wish to join are free to do so.[41]
  • These consultations will be led by the UN Development Group (UNDG) teams in each participating country;
  • The consultations will seek the views of NGOs, community-based organisation, universities and research institutions, private sector entities, interest groups (trade unions, employers' organisations, advocacy groups), national human rights institutions or ombudsmen, and political decision-makers.[42]

Source: Qq 40-3; ONE (Ben Leo with Khai Hoan Tram), 'What does the world really want from the next global development goals: Ensuring that the world's poor define the post-2015 framework, 2012, p 3.

Box 4
UN thematic consultations
  • Consulted parties will include academics, media, businesses, trade unions, and civil society.
  • Each consultation will be led by the UN agency most relevant to the thematic area, and co-chaired by two Member States (one developed country and one developing country).[43]
  • The eleven thematic areas are inequalities; governance; health; education; growth and employment; conflict and fragility; food security and nutrition; energy; water; environmental sustainability; and population dynamics.[44]

Source: ONE (Ben Leo with Khai Hoan Tram), 'What does the world really want from the next global development goals: Ensuring that the world's poor define the post-2015 framework, 2012, p 3; Overview of ongoing Thematic Online Consultations, held in the Framework of the UN's Post-2015 Development Agenda, United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service, 30 November 2012,

24.  Additionally, DFID has agreed to fund the 'Participate' initiative, which is to be convened jointly by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and by the 'Beyond 2015' civil society campaign. This initiative will seek to assimilate participatory research (both existing research and research which is currently ongoing) from a variety of sources, in an attempt to ensure that 'the most vulnerable and marginalised communities' have their voices heard.[45]

25.  Furthermore, a global survey called My World has been developed by UNDP, the UN Millennium Campaign, ODI, the ONE Campaign and the World Wide Web Foundation. Its purpose is to ask people around the world which issues are most important to include in the post-2015 framework: each participant will be asked to choose six out of sixteen possible goals, with the additional option to suggest his / her own. The survey is accessible in a variety of formats: via a website, via a smartphone app, via social media, via SMS, and in paper form.[46]

26.  DFID has agreed to provide US$1.6million in funding for My World. Other sources of funding are as follows:

a)  Around US$1million from the UN

b)  Around US$700 000 from a 'mobile implementing partner'

Additional funders are still being sought.[47]

27.  Some of these consultations will be completed before the High-level Panel's report in May 2013, and will thus be able to inform this report. Others will not be completed until later, and will thus be seeking to inform the subsequent intergovernmental process rather than the High-level Panel per se.

28.  It is vital that the post-2015 development framework reflects the needs of the poorest. We welcome the many consultation processes which have been launched: such processes will help the world's poor to contribute to the debate. We commend DFID for providing funding for the 'Participate' and 'My World' initiatives. As the post-2015 process continues to develop, during and beyond the lifetime of the High-level Panel, the outcomes of these consultations should be taken fully into account. We urge the Prime Minister and the High-level Panel's other members to remain engaged with the process after their report is published and to continue to mobilise public opinion and to press Heads of Government to support their post-2015 agenda.

16   Qq 3-4 Back

17   "Homi Kharas of Pakistan appointed to lead Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Post-2015 Development Agenda", Press Release SG/2185 BIO/4418 DEV/2955from the UN Secretary-General, 19 September 2012  Back

18   Q 6 Back

19   Ev w130 Back

20   Q 26 Back

21   Still our Common Interest, Commission for Africa Report 2010,, p 3 Back

22   Q 28 Back

23   Q 18; "Press Statement from High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on Post-2015 Development Agenda, at conclusion of its first meeting, 25 September", United Nations Press Release DEV/2959, 26 September 2012,; "High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda: at the conclusion of the Panel's second meeting", United Nations Press Statement, 2 November 2012,  Back

24   Q 100 Back

25   "Extreme poverty could end within 20 years, Save the Children says", Save the Children press release, 8 January 2013 Back

26   Q 101 Back

27   Q 18 Back

28   Q q 10, 100 Back

29   Q 21 Back

30   Q 20 Back

31   Millennium Development Goals and post-2015 Development Agenda, United Nations Economic and Social Council, Back

32   Still our Common Interest, Commission for Africa Report 2010,, p9; Q 33 Back

33   Ev w69 Back

34   Still our Common Interest, Commission for Africa Report 2010,, p6 Back

35   Still our Common Interest, Commission for Africa Report 2010,, p9 Back

36   Ev w41, w132 Back

37   Q 83 Back

38   Q 40 Back

39   ONE (Ben Leo with Khai Hoan Tram), 'What does the world really want from the next global development goals: Ensuring that the world's poor define the post-2015 framework, 2012, p 3. Back

40   Q 40 Back

41   Qq 41-3 Back

42   ONE (Ben Leo with Khai Hoan Tram), What does the world really want from the next global development goals: Ensuring that the world's poor define the post-2015 framework, 2012, p 3. Back

43   ONE (Ben Leo with Khai Hoan Tram), 'What does the world really want from the next global development goals: Ensuring that the world's poor define the post-2015 framework, 2012, p 3.  Back

44   Overview of ongoing Thematic Online Consultations, held in the Framework of the UN's Post-2015 Development Agenda, United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service, 30 November 2012, Back

45   Ev 82. Participatory research involves 'engaging the most marginalised and vulnerable groups, helping them to directly communicate the reality of their lives and what is most important to them.' Back

46   Ev w128 Back

47   Ev w129 Back

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© Parliamentary copyright 2013
Prepared 22 January 2013