UN Country Teams in Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica and Suriname, as well as PAHO staff in Saint Lucia, linked online to hosts at UN Information Centre in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, for a Town Hall with Amina Mohammed, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning this month.
Ms. Mohammed opened the interactive 90 minute session by introducing the major principles driving the post-2015 development process, including equity and balance (empowering all groups), inclusiveness (“leave no one behind”), and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in an integrated way. Her comments emphasized the need “to grow and invest in economies, but not to the detriment of people and planet.”
Moderated by UNIC Port of Spain Director, Juan Miguel Diez, participants requested an update on SDG indicators and targets – including their refinement, and tools for their measurement, evaluation and reporting of achievements. They also raised concerns about the overall capacity of the SDG framework – as an improvement on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) model, and in its potential support for the UN’s technical work on human rights, peace and security, and other thematic issues such as gender equality, youth empowerment, and climate change. Questions were also raised about the role of the private sector, and whether the Goals could address donor resistance to high middle-income countries.
In response, Ms. Mohammed stressed the political nature of the post-2015 negotiations among Member States over the past three years, and that it reflected countries’ own identified development needs: “The post-2015 agenda addresses the sustainable well-being of the entire planet in a holistic way: [it’s] not just about us talking a bit of development or a part of it or a Band-Aid on it, it’s about us talking about the whole.”
This approach, she continued, would ensure sustainability and that “we don’t reverse the gains” of development in one area by fighting crises in another (such as had happened with the Ebola epidemic). All States needed to use the SDG framework in support of their respective country development plans, while financial partners were equally responsible for assisting the process through aid and technical assistance. UN country teams would also have a crucial role in assisting implementation of the Goals over the next 30 years.
Participants were also reminded of the three significant markers in this final phase of the Post-2015 Agenda process – the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa in July, the SDG summit at UN Headquarters in September, and the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December – and their importance in getting the necessary commitments for eliminating poverty and reaching attendant development goals within this generation.
The meeting, a first for linking-up online all Caribbean country teams, was made possible with the technological support of the Department of Public Information’s (DPI) Information Centre Service. The complete session (1’ 31”) can be viewed on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiyVvrV4hxE&feature=youtu.be
Around 130 persons including UN staff, government technocrats, academics, parliamentarians, students, and civil society attended the region-wide meeting. DPI is exploring upcoming sessions to continue the online Caribbean UN collaboration.