CMMD Perspectives — Major 2015 Agendas Move Along

As 2015 is a turning point year, we are monitoring developments on two parallel tracks where progress is occurring “on schedule” and two tracks where it is not yet showing the necessary momentum to get things done on a 2015 schedule. In New York, there are negotiations under way for both the Post-2015 Development Agenda and the Third Conference on Financing for Development. These seem to be on schedule, even though there remain significant differences on key issues. In Geneva, the progress on a new Work Plan for the Doha Development Agenda at the World Trade Organization is less encouraging, and in Bonn, the negotiations on a new framework for climate change are under way but with concerns that a “sense of urgency” seems not to be taking hold. 

  • The Post-2015 Development Agenda

The “zero draft” of the outcome document for the UN Summit to adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda has just come out (2 June 2015). This reflects the compilation by the two co-facilitators of the interactive sessions from January through May 2015 of the preparatory process for the UN Summit (to be held in New York on 25 to 27 September 2015). We were in New York for the last of these consultations, which were two days of informal consultations with the Major Groups and Other Stakeholders (all of the non-state actors, as it were) on 26 and 27 May 2015 in the UN General Assembly. The zero draft is premised on the 17 goals and 169 targets that were developed by the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals in 2014, but it has an interesting introduction that consolidates these 17 goals into nine clusters as follows:

  • End poverty and hunger;
  • Secure education, health and basic services for all;
  • Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls;
  • Combat inequalities between and within countries;
  • Foster inclusive economic growth, shared prosperity and sustainable lifestyles for all;
  • Promote safe and inclusive cities and human settlements;
  • Protect the planet, fight climate change, use natural resources sustainably and safeguard our oceans;
  • Strengthen governance and promote peaceful, safe, just and inclusive societies; and
  • Revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development.

We think this will be challenged by those who want to protect the combination of 17 SDGs and 169 targets, but we do consider it a useful approach to consolidating the SDGs into a manageable list. The zero draft does continue with the full array of SDGs and targets, of course, while it also pays deference to the role of the Third Conference on Financing for Development (FfD3), scheduled for Addis Ababa on 13 to 17 July 2015, on the means of implementation. There are several additional items in the zero draft – an illustrative framework for follow-up and review, an annex summarizing proposed revisions in the targets to fill in the gaps and make them consistent with international agreements, and another annex for the possible contours of a “Technology Facilitation Mechanism”. This latter is related to the negotiations in the FfD3 process. The first round of negotiations on this zero draft will occur on 22 to 25 June 2015, and it is hoped that negotiations will produce a final outcomes draft by the end of July 2015.

  • The Third International Conference on Financing for Development

Since mid-April 2015, the FfD3 process has been working with its own “zero draft”, updated on 7 May 2015 with some revisions by the two co-facilitators of this separate process on 22 May. Negotiators have been going through the draft paragraph by paragraph, and completed 47 paragraphs at its latest week of negotiations, on 26 to 29 May 2015 in New York. We sat in on one of those days when the debate was on paragraph 17 regarding a platform for infrastructure financing. A complete report of progress made in this past week is available from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) here. The negotiations are continuing this week from 1 to 5 June 2015, and the target is completion of the outcome document for FfD3 by 19 June 2015. At this stage, it seems that negotiators are airing their positions on wording, but no final agreement is yet being reached where differences have been identified. As reported by IISD, these include tensions on the very basic issue of the role of the FfD3 process for the Post-2015 Development Agenda, as well as various provisions involving foreign direct investment. But we do have the impression that the process is on track to reach agreement by 19 June 2015.

  • The State of Affairs at the World Trade Organization

The seventh meeting in 2015 of the full membership of the World Trade Organization was convened on 1 June 2015 by the Director-General Roberto Azevêdo and the Chair of the General Council, Ambassador Fernando De Mateo of Mexico to provide an assessment of progress on agreeing a work programme for the Doha Development Agenda by the end of July 2015. This is intended to serve as a “springboard” towards the Tenth Ministerial Conference in Nairobi in December 2015. The Director-General expressed concern that, in spite of “good engagement” and even progress in “some areas”, the key areas in agriculture, industrial products and services are not progressing as needed to meet the end of July deadline. The news release does not include any further details. Meanwhile, we do look forward to WTO efforts to engage with the Geneva community – an open WTO Day on Sunday, 14 June to say “Merci Genève”- and with the non-state actors in a public forum on the theme of Trade Works on 30 September to 2 October 2015, for which there is a new 17 June 2015 for submitting proposals. We also note that Fifth Global Review of Aid for Trade will occur on 30 June to 2 July 2015. Registration is open for this event only until 19 June 2015.

  • Bonn Hosts the Start of Serious Negotiations for the Paris Climate Change Summit

In a brand new Conference Centre in Bonn, the various parts of the negotiating process for new instruments for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are meeting from 1 to 11 June 2015. The nomenclature of three parallel tracks can be confusing. There is the main track for drafting an outcome document for the Paris Climate Change Summit, also known as COP 21 or the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC. This track is called the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action or ADP, and the June session for this track is entitled ADP2-9. ADP2-8 was held in Geneva in February and produced the draft text for this outcome document that builds on the “Lima Call for Climate Action” (adopted at COP 20 in December 2014). That is to say, this new draft text has all of the different options that member States have introduced for further negotiations. However, there are also negotiations going on in the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). These are numbered SBI 42 and SBSTA 42 for the June session. IISD is also reporting in detail on these negotiations, including an observation that many participants are describing as the “absence of a sense of urgency” among the delegates. See the latest reporting here.

The main goal here is to adopt a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It will be recalled that the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in the 1990s to supplement the UNFCCC with commitments to reduce GHGs by developed countries only. To replace this Kyoto Protocol by 2020, agreement is needed at the Paris Climate Change Summit in December 2015 for a new “legal instrument”. However, there are also efforts to do more than this through promotion of both adaptation and mitigation, intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) to GHG reductions, national adaptation plans, reducing deforestation (REDD+), establishing a Green Climate Fund, and agreeing on some form of technology transfer to developing countries. The Bonn Conference encompasses a cacophony of negotiating processes, workshops and side events. We will try to update progress and link it to the objectives articulated by the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to achieve a universal, legally binding agreement; compile the INCDs; promote finance, technology and capacity-building (the means of implementation); and the role and contributions of non-state actors. See the UNFCCC reporting on these negotiations here.

From the CMMD Geneva Observer 1 June 2015

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