International Development CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by CAFOD

Introduction

CAFOD has been a leading civil society voice on post-2015 in the UK and at global level since the early days of the debate. CAFOD is a founding member and Co-Chair of the Beyond 2015 campaign, which brings together over 400 organizations from more than 80 countries. Beyond 2015 advocates for a global overarching cross-thematic post-2015 framework, to be developed through a participatory, inclusive process that is responsive to voices of those directly affected by poverty and injustice.

CAFOD is the official Catholic aid agency for England and Wales. We work for a safe, sustainable and peaceful world, with more than 500 partners from around the world.

This submission is 2,542 words in length (excluding examples and footnotes).

Summary of Key Points

One of the key challenges for post-2015 is how to build on the strengths of the MDGs in times of crises when a rising tide cannot be assumed.

Processes to develop “SDGs” should be wholly merged with those to agree “development goals” and work towards one single post-2015 framework which encompasses both strands of thinking.

We do not think global goals and targets should be designed to tackle all the important issues in the world. CAFOD propose that the purpose of a post-2015 framework is to act as a prioritisation tool: i) keeping the issues that matter most to people living in acute poverty on the international agenda; ii) securing the highest level of political action and accountability; and iii) incentivising action that drives real progress on the ground.

Achieving the goals will require global action—and all countries should be monitored and held accountable for their efforts to achieve them. However, the goals should be “for” people living in acute poverty, most of them currently residing in Low and Middle Income Countries.

CAFOD’s long-standing work to ensure that people living in poverty are directly engaged in the process has started to pay off. The Participate project will bring knowledge from the margins to post-2015 policymaking. It will deliver products ahead of key decision-making moments in 2013.

The “target-based” structure of the MDGs was its most fundamental strength—underpinning their value as an advocacy tool and accountability mechanism at national level. Goals, targets and indicators should be maintained as structure.

The post-2015 framework offers an opportunity to draw from past experiences of international financing. However, the primary actions required to achieving post-2015 goals will not necessarily revolve around money. Taking action to change rules, incentives and power structures will be equally if not more important.

When it comes to the content of the post-2015 framework, CAFOD will step back and look at the big picture, rather than being confined to single issues. We would not allow a framework which delivers for the common good, and drives progress in the real world for people living in acute poverty, to be torn apart because we didn’t get “our” goal in the final agreement.

CAFOD is, however, committed to engaging in the tough questions on content. We have played a leading role in developing Beyond 2015’s strategy on content issues, which frames four key terms: vision, purpose, principles and criteria. Beyond 2015 will be developing shared civil society positions on these four key terms.

As an independent agency, CAFOD are also exploring three specific issues as potential goals: 1) the basic conditions for human flourishing; 2) enabling societies and 3) equitable economies.

Recommendations

CAFOD recommend that the UNGA Special Session in September 2013 is the launch point of one fully integrated process negotiating one single set of goals.

Through his co-chair role in the High-level Panel (HLP) on post-2015, the Prime Minister should work to ensure that bridges are built with the Open Working Group on SDGs and that core concerns that have emerged through “SDGs” discussions are encompassed within the post-2015 agenda.

CAFOD propose that the purpose of a post-2015 framework is to act as a prioritisation tool. The issues that matter most to people living in acute poverty should be prioritised because these groups have the least power, are most vulnerable to the vagaries of political will, and have the greatest need of an international framework to promote their interests. At the same time all countries need to be responsible for delivering on action. Based on these recommendations, targets and indicators should measure two things:

The impact of the framework on people living in extreme poverty (currently in middle-income and low-income countries).

The actions necessary to drive progress towards the goals (in high-income, middle-income and low-income countries).

The UK government, especially the Prime Minister in his role as co-chair of the HLP, should lead by example and commit to championing the interests of people living in acute poverty and to integrating their perspectives and priorities, for example as presented by Beyond 2015’s Participate research initiative, into the deliberations of the HLP and other decision-making fora.

CAFOD recommends a systematic overall approach to finance strategies: Analysing what actions are necessary to achieve the goals; agree whose responsibility these actions are; and then (for actions requiring finance) what the most appropriate mechanism is.

Little or no data on 2015 will be available in 2015, and for this reason we suggest that the baseline for the new framework should be set as 2010. From a 2010 baseline, we suggest that new goals should have a deadline of 2040, with interim goals at five year intervals which are vital for accountability.

In order to fulfil its purpose as a prioritisation tool, CAFOD recommend that the final framework should have between eight and 12 goals.

Facts and Figures

CAFOD’s 100 Voices1 report found that three-quarters of CAFOD’s Southern partners judge the MDGs to have been “a good thing”, and nearly 90% want to see some kind of successor framework after 2015.

IDC INQUIRY ON POST-2015
CAFOD SUBMISSION

 Lessons learned from the adoption of the International Development Targets and the Millennium Development Goals: in particular how effective has the MDG process been to date

1.1 The pros and cons of the MDG approach have been thoroughly explored. CAFOD’s own 100 Voices2 report, and our recent paper, 1,000 days,3 covers the issues in detail—adding to a now extensive literature on the subject. The Beyond 2015 campaign, which CAFOD co-chair, keeps an extensive online library of publications, research and policy papers relating to post-2015.4

1.2 The balance of evidence suggests that despite their problems, the MDGs were a positive influence on international development. There has been modest to significant progress on nearly all the goals, albeit in a patchy and uneven way, and the framework prompted significant improvements in monitoring and data collection against key indicators. Three-quarters of CAFOD’s Southern partners judge the MDGs to have been “a good thing”, and nearly 90% want to see some kind of successor framework after 2015.5

1.3 The simple, measurable nature of the framework underpinned its most valuable use: as an advocacy tool for keeping focus on key development issues. The MDGs are widely acknowledged as having galvanised development efforts and sustained engagement over an extended period, and the structure of goals and targets ensured decision-makers could be held to account against their commitments. Despite their problems, the goals improved coordination of development work at local, national, regional and global levels—and became a reference point of shared objectives in bilateral and multilateral work.

1.4 Whilst these are clear ways in which the MDG framework added value, it should not be taken for granted that MDG related “achievements” are wholly attributable to the MDG framework itself. Progress against the indicators was often in the context of a rising tide, and it is challenging to clarify precisely how far the MDG framework accelerated progressive trends as opposed to simply recording them. One of the key challenges for post-2015 is how to build on the strengths of the MDGs in a historical context where a rising tide cannot be assumed.

 How should the “Sustainable Development Goals” be established following Rio +20 relate to the “Development Goals” being considered by the High-Level Panel?

2.1 Processes to develop “SDGs” should be wholly merged with those to agree “development goals”. There should be one, single post-2015 framework which encompasses both strands of thinking. We recommend that the UN Special Session in September 2013 is the launch point of a fully integrated process.

2.2 Our rationale is as follows:

The essence of sustainable development is to bring social, economic and environment spheres together:6 Having one set of goals which deals with the first two issues, whilst another framework deals with the latter contradicts what sustainable development really stands for.

Environmental and climate change issues are intimately connected with poverty issues. The poorest and most marginalised suffer first and hardest from environmental destruction, and it will not be possible to broker key international deals on climate change without safeguarding the rights of developing countries.7 Siphoning off the environment to an SDG framework risks making a “development goals only” framework irrelevant and out-dated.

Having two parallel processes would split the political momentum, leaving both frameworks weakened and less likely to be implemented. A “race to the bottom” may develop, where the framework which receives the widest multilateral backing is the one which requires the least from national governments.

It would double the burden on stakeholders seeking to engage in what is already a complex and multifaceted arena, and weaken the chances of either framework being agreed through an open, inclusive and legitimate process.

2.3 The fundamental challenge is a political one. A lack of trust in the international system, coupled with successive disappointments at international summits, has left key governments8 with little confidence that an integrated process will deliver their priorities. There is also a perception that under a universal “SDGs” type framework, Low and Middle Income Countries might be losing out on aid funding as the scope for spending aid could widen to all countries; and Low and Middle Income Countries could even be asked to contribute to aid funding as part of their shared responsibilities.

2.4 The High Level Panel will report several months before the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals, and therefore has an opportunity to start building bridges. Through his co-chair role, the Prime Minister should work to ensure that core concerns that have emerged through “SDG” discussions are encompassed within the post-2015 agenda, and build a compelling case for addressing the issues as a coherent whole.

 The coverage of future goals: should they be for developing countries only or should progress be monitored in all countries?

3.1 The goals should be “for” people living in what we currently think of as developing countries. But achieving the goals will require global action—and all countries should be monitored and held accountable for their efforts to achieve them.

Example 1: Purpose Statement

CAFOD propose that the purpose of a post-2015 framework is to act as a prioritisation tool:

(i)keeping the issues that matter most to people living in acute poverty on the international agenda;

(ii)securing the highest level of political action and accountability; and

(iii)incentivising action that drives real progress on the ground.

3.2 A prioritisation tool can, by nature, only focus on a few key issues. We argue the issues that matter most to people living in acute poverty9 should be prioritised because these groups have the least power, are most vulnerable to the vagaries of political will, and have the greatest need of an international framework to promote their interests.

3.3 It is unrealistic to imagine that post-2015 goals and targets could effectively address all the important issues, for all the people on the planet. CAFOD have no interest in a “good on paper framework” that fails to deliver genuine change in the real world.

3.4 Today, the majority of people living in acute poverty do so in middle-income countries (MICs), with a lesser but still substantial number living in low-income countries (LICs).10 Monitoring the impact of the framework should therefore be focused on middle-income and low-income countries11

3.5 Whilst domestic action in these countries is key, High Income Countries (HICs) have a critical role in perpetuating acute poverty in MICs and LICs, and in helping to alleviate it. The continuing failure of HICs to take action on climate change and the environment, for example, is having an enormous impact on poor communities in Middle Income Countries (MICs) and Low Income Countries (LICs) and will do so even more in the future. Inadequate business regulation, unfair trade rules, and economic, foreign and defence policies led by HICs and increasingly MICs have wide-ranging effects on the lives of people living in extreme poverty, whilst aid plays a vital role in helping alleviate their suffering. Monitoring of the action necessary to drive progress on acute poverty should therefore focus on high-income countries, as well as middle and low-income ones.

3.6 CAFOD are supportive of a global framework in the sense that all countries should be required to take action—but we do not think global goals and targets should be designed to tackle all the important issues in the world.

3.7 This position is underpinned by our theory of change (see example 2).

Example 2: Theory of Change for a Post-2015 Framework

The value-add of an international framework of goals is to inspire and to have impact across borders. The framework should be the spark which incentivises and reinforces action at national level—and gives advocates stronger backing to make their case.

How will it work?

Global goals and targets will establish shared priorities which all countries are responsible for bringing about. To achieve the goals, action is required by HICs, MICs and LICs. When one country takes action, this incentivises other countries to act—through showing leadership; through the competitive advantage that countries gain through action; and because of the efficiencies that can result when nations act in concert. Thus, the international framework will prompt action that parallel efforts in individual countries could not.

Experience would suggest that cross-border action has a relatively modest power to incentivise national action in comparison with domestic political processes. This is why a post-2015 framework should set international priorities which strengthen the hands of advocates working at national level. The MDGs were valuable advocacy tools because they gave national level advocates levers with which to lobby for action and hold governments to account; giving examples of what is possible; holding up external mirrors to national processes; and creating influencing windows for action. The post-2015 framework should enable national level advocates in HICs, MICs and LICs to draw on international commitments and targets as they hold their governments’ feet to the fire. Thus, the international framework will give national level advocates levers for change that would not be available to them in other ways.

Real world precedents

...where action in one country has inspired and had impact across borders:

Dodd-Frank legislation, passed in the US in 2011, required companies to report on the tax payments they are making on a project by project basis. The legislation meant that citizens in developing countries were able to see what payments extractive industry companies were making to their governments—giving them greater scope to hold their governments to account on how these revenues were being spent. The US legislation prompted the EU to look at the issue, and their work in fleshing out the detail of what is required has made it more likely that the EU will implement similar legislation.

China’s vigorous investment on the “green economy” has prompted other countries to examine whether or not they are missing out on a competitive advantage by not pursuing green economy policies themselves. From a self-interest perspective, the action of China made others re-evaluate the direction of their investments.

The MDGs have been widely acknowledged as valuable advocacy tools, which provided greater scope for monitoring and accountability at national level. Whilst there is significant room for improvement in this respect (eg by ensuring that proper national targets, rather than just global ones are set), the MDGs are an example of how action taken in one country built momentum for action in others.

 Are the right voices being heard? What are the opportunities for and constraints to global consensus?

4.1 It’s too early to say whether the UN process will deliver the open and inclusive process it has committed to—but concerns have been growing in recent months.

4.2 Specific plans for the national and thematic consultations have still not emerged fully, and keep being modified.12 The thematic consultations look like they will be of variable quality. Very little of the funds raised for the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) process appear to have filtered down to the major civil society platforms who are being asked to broker involvement in these processes. As the volume of requests for involvement multiplies, but without full information or resources being offered, many civil society actors have identified the risk that civil society is co-opted for “legitimisation” purposes, without being truly respected as a partner. It is vital that swift action is taken by UNDG to publish full information on their plans and provide resourcing for civil society groups to engage meaningfully.

4.3 We share the concerns raised by Beyond 2015 in relation to the launch of the UN High Level Panel on post-2015,13 and note the heavy representation of economists, state representatives and aid experts in this group. Whilst it would be impractical to rebalance or expand this panel, we recommend that panel members make a special effort to engage those outside their narrow grouping, and that they personally undertake immersions in poor communities to hear views from people living in poverty directly.

4.4 On a more positive note, CAFOD’s long-standing work to ensure that people living in poverty are directly engaged in the process has started to pay off. We are working with the Institute of Development Studies to coordinate the Participate project, which will bring knowledge from the margins to post-2015 policymaking. This qualitative, participative work will deliver products ahead of key decision-making moments in 2013, complementing quantitative and survey-based work. It includes organising immersions for key decision-makers enabling them to experience poverty issues first hand, and creating a “Ground Level Panel” to mirror the High-Level Panel’s work.

 Targets: was the MDG “target-based” approach a success? Should it be retained? How should progress be measured?

5.1 The “target-based” structure of the MDGs was its most fundamental strength—underpinning their value as an advocacy tool and accountability mechanism. The structure of goals, targets and indicators should be retained.

5.2 For CAFOD, the target-based structure of a future framework is the difference between talking about a successor to the MDGs, and a much wider discussion about what kind of future interventions we want in the world going forward. We believe the post-2015 debate should be focused on agreeing global goals and targets which will be as effective as possible in delivering change. The post-2015 agenda should not mean a discussion of all forms of international cooperation after 2015.

Example 3: Post-2015 doesn’t mean Anything and Everything

Many things will happen after 2015. The sky will be blue and the birds will sing. There will be an array of different advocacy tools, ideas and proposals for international cooperation that will compete for success—as they do in any period of history. It’s sensible to bear in mind that one of these proposals might become so successful that it eclipses a post-2015 framework—but it is not sensible to consider that absolutely any idea that pertains to international policymaking after 2015 could become the official successor to the MDGs.

5.3 Based on our recommendation that the primary beneficiaries of the framework should be people in acute poverty living in MICs and LICs, but all countries should be responsible for delivering it, we propose that post-2015 targets and indicators should measure two things:

(a)The impact of the framework on people living in acute poverty (currently in middle-income and low-income countries).

(b)The actions necessary to drive progress towards the goals (in high-income, middle-income and low-income countries).

5.4 The original MDGs omitted to monitor the actions necessary to achieve them, and had no specification at all on how the goals were to be achieved. CAFOD suggest this is a critical gap to address in a future framework. We are not advocating a blueprint approach, and emphasise that monitoring of actions should stress the measurement of progress rather than dictating what each country should do. In the new global context where a “rising tide” of poverty indicators cannot be assumed, spelling out and monitoring the actions necessary to achieve goals is a key strategy for ensuring a framework is credible and realistic.

5.5 Agreeing targets for actions should be a key focus of interim summits, which would monitor progress towards the goals at five yearly intervals (see section 7).

 Financing global goals: are new mechanisms needed?

6.1 The post-2015 framework should provide a unifying structure to monitor whether governments have delivered on the promises they have already made. Whilst there are huge gaps, especially regarding climate finance, the post-2015 framework is not starting from scratch. The post-2015 framework offers an opportunity to address longstanding shortcomings in the quality (not just the quantity) of international financing, and must ensure that developing countries have a proper role in the governance of funds. Past experience on issues like allocation, country ownership, transparency, and tied finance will be valuable far beyond traditional aid flows.14

6.2 The overall strategy should be to work systematically: Analysing what actions are necessary to achieve the goals; agree whose responsibility these actions are; and then (for actions requiring finance) what the most appropriate mechanism is. It should not be assumed that the primary actions necessary to achieving post-2015 goals will revolve around money. Taking action to change rules, incentives and power structures will be equally if not more important.

7. Timescale: what period should the new framework cover? Was the 15-year timescale for the MDGs right?

Example 4: Baseline Data Requires a Back-dated Timeframe

It is inaccurate to say that the MDGs had a 15 year timescale. The architects of the MDGs in fact took 1990 as their baseline year, setting a 25 year timescale for the whole framework in order to mirror the timespan of a generation.

Whilst today’s information revolution is changing the picture radically, global statistics typically still have a three to five year time lag. Little or no data on 2015 will be available in 2015, and for this reason we suggest that the baseline for the new framework should be set as 2010.

7.1 From a 2010 baseline, we suggest that new goals should have a deadline of 2040, with interim goals at five year intervals.

7.2 The MDGs took many years to become fully established and the investment of time and energy required to agree strong and legitimate new goals means this is not a process to repeat too frequently. A longer, 30-year time-span will enable more ambitious goals to be set with less compromise on realism, and provide the continuity of focus necessary to tackle more complex, entrenched challenges.

7.3 It is vital for accountability, however, that this longer term time-span is combined with interim goals set at five yearly intervals. There should be five-yearly international summits to monitor progress against the goals, and hold global leaders to account against the targets. Five years is roughly the span of an election cycle in many countries, and it is also a realistic period within which new monitoring data can be gathered and synthesised at national and global level.

7.4 The interim targets would be important in terms of ensuring that a post-2015 framework is coherent with existing time-bound commitments which are working on shorter time-scales. Some key challenges (particularly in the climate arena) require shorter term goals,15 and interim targets should ensure that there is no lowering of ambition.

7.5 The five-yearly intervals would be a valuable opportunity not only to evaluate whether the international community is “on-track”, but also to verify the relevance of particular targets. A particular priority at interim summits should be to check what “action” targets and indicators are necessary, and ensure necessary steps are taken to accelerate progress where goals are lagging behind. Without repeating the whole political process of establishing goals, interim summits could also check that targets make sense in the context of any shocks or unforeseen events that have arisen16—and take advantage of new, improved data sources or monitoring systems that will have emerged.

 The content of future goals: what would be a good set of global goals? What continuity should there be with the MDGs, and how should the unfulfilled MDGs be taken forward?

8.1 Like every agency, CAFOD have issues that are particularly close to our hearts and that we would like to see as priorities for international action in the future. However, CAFOD’s advocacy on post-2015 will step back and look at the big picture, rather than being confined to single issues. Learning from the tale of Judgement of Solomon (1st Kings 3:16–28), we would not allow a framework which delivers for the common good, and drives progress in the real world on issues that matter to people living in acute poverty, to be torn apart because we didn’t get “our” goal in the final agreement.

8.2 CAFOD is, however, committed to engaging in the tough questions on content. We have played a leading role in developing Beyond 2015’s strategy on content issues, which frames four key terms: vision, purpose, principles and criteria as the lynchpins of the debate (see Example 5). Over the next 12 months, Beyond 2015 will be working to develop shared civil society positions on these four key terms.

Example 5: Vision, Purpose, Principles and Criteria

It is critical to have clear thinking on the core rationale and conceptual underpinnings of post-2015 framework, in order to have a sensible discussion on specific goals. Beyond 2015 addresses the lynchpin issues under four key terms:

1. The “vision”

This is the broader state that we want the world to be in, and that we want the post-2015 framework to be working towards. The framework should contribute to the vision, but it does not have sole responsibility for bringing it about.

2. The “purpose”

This is the particular role that the framework has—describing exactly how the framework is going to contribute towards the vision. The framework should be designed in such a way so it can fully achieve this purpose.

3. The “principles”

These are characteristics that should underpin the whole framework and be reflected throughout its whole structure. The principles should support the design of the framework so it will achieve its purpose.

4. The “criteria”

The criteria are the means by which we can evaluate specific proposals for goals. These should facilitate a basic but systematic assessment of whether a proposed goal is a strong option for a post-2015 framework.

These terms are designed to slot together like a jigsaw, without overlap or repetition.

8.3 As an independent agency, CAFOD are also exploring three specific issues as potential goals: 1) the basic conditions for human flourishing; 2) enabling societies and 3) equitable economies (see Example 6). We intend to publish more details on specific candidate goals over the coming months.

Example 6: CAFOD’s Emerging Proposals for Specific Goals

Goal 1: Basic conditions for human flourishing

This goal would ensure that every individual has the basic building blocks they need to freely participate in social, political and economic life. Essential services such as health and education, water and sanitation and a minimum level of financial security would be made universal under this goal. Resonating with thinking around the need for a social protection floor and to follow through existing MDG commitments, this goal would deliver the fundamental basics that humans need to escape acute poverty and flourish.

Goal 2: Enabling societies

It’s not enough for individuals to have the basic conditions for human flourishing, they also need to operate in a wider environment that facilitates their contribution to society. This goal would promote the ability of citizens to fully participate in public life. It would safeguard the rights of civil society groups to organise, promote the inclusion of those who are most marginalised, and ensure that individuals have the freedom to express themselves and hold decision-makers to account.

Goal 3: Equitable economies

Inequitable economic structures are deepening the gap between those in acute poverty and those in privileged groups, and are undermining the ability of poor and marginalised groups to make their full contribution. This goal would ensure fair markets where corporate power is appropriately regulated and would ensure individuals have the opportunity to pursue their own creative potential without power imbalances stacking the odds against them.

8.4 In order to fulfil its purpose as a prioritisation tool, CAFOD recommend that the final framework should have between eight and 12 goals. These should be emblematic and inspiring, but we must acknowledge the impossibility of creating a framework that is both wholly comprehensive, and also concise enough to drive concrete progress in the real world.

8.5 For this reason, the fight for justice, rights and sustainability must continue far beyond the boundaries of one single multilateral initiative.

September 2012

1 See www.cafod.org.uk/100voices

2 See www.cafod.org.uk/100voices

3 See http://www.cafod.org.uk/content/download/141954/1523020/version/1/file/1000daysdocument.pdf

4 See http://www.beyond2015.org/content/relevant-research

5 See www.cafod.org.uk/100voices

6 Our Common Future.Brundtland Report (1987) United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development.

7 What is the Green Economy? Is it good or bad for poor men and women? CAFOD Discussion paper, May 2012 available at:
http://www.cafod.org.uk/content/download/2996/21687/file/Green_Economy_FINAL.pdf

8 For example, Nigeria, South Africa and Bangladesh have been very vocal in being pro-MDG and anti-SDG; whilst Brazil and Colombia have been very pro-SDGs.

9 For CAFOD, acute poverty is more than just income poverty. Acute poverty is a multidimensional concept of deprivation, referring to all men and women who do not enjoy the minimum standard of the basic conditions that humans need to flourish. This includes income but also incorporates access to essential public services, political rights and cultural freedoms.

10 This is true both by multidimensional acute poverty measures (see http://www.ophi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/OPHI-MPI-Brief-2011.pdf?cda6c1) and by dollar per day poverty lines (http://www.ids.ac.uk/idsproject/the-new-bottom-billion . Social safety nets, governance structures and justice systems in high-income countries (HICs) are typically strong enough to prevent large populations living in acute poverty.

11 If the global geography of poverty changes in the future, then impact monitoring should be adapted to track progress wherever people living in extreme poverty are living.

12 For example, the original “50 Country Consultation” process is now apparently being extended to 100 countries—but no details have been released on which additional countries are being included, or what the specific timelines and process look like at country level.

13 See http://www.beyond2015.org/news/beyond-2015-gcap-comment-post-2015-high-level-panel-0

14 Alex Wilks, A just allocation of resources, Discussion paper for CAFOD, July 2010

15 For example, many NGOs are arguing that Ban Ki Moon’s initiative on universal energy access should have a 2020 deadline.

16 A similar process of checking targets has been undertaken in trade agreement processes.

Prepared 21st January 2013