Eradicating poverty, transforming economies

Wednesday, 12 June 2013 00:24 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

On 30 May, the High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, established by the UN Secretary General and co-chaired by Indonesian President Yudhoyono, Liberian president Sirleaf and British Prime Minister Cameron, released the report titled ‘A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development’.

This report sets out a universal agenda to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030 and deliver on the promise of sustainable development. The report was presented to the United Nations Secretary-General, as an input in the process of consultations being conducted by the UN in crafting the development agenda to succeed the Millennium Development Goals, following the 2015 deadline for their achievement.

The report calls upon the world to rally around a new Global Partnership that offers hope and a role to every person in the world. Calling for new post-2015 goals, the report identifies five big transformation shifts for this purpose:

Leave No One Behind – ensure that every person has basic economic opportunities and human rights.

Put Sustainable Development at the Core – integrate the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability, particularly slow the alarming pace of climate change and environmental degradation.  Transform Economies for Jobs and Inclusive Growth – more diversified economies with equal opportunities to drive social inclusion especially for young people and foster sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Build Peace and Effective, Open and Accountable Institutions for All – recognise peace and good governance as a core element of well being and not an optional extra.

Forge a New Global Partnership – based on common understanding of shared humanity and be centred round people.  Commenting on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the report notes that the 13 years since the Millennium have seen the fastest reduction in poverty in human history and credits this success to the progress driven by a combination of economic growth, better policies and the global commitment to the MDGs. Therefore, as agreed by world leaders at Rio in 2012, the work started by MDGs must be finished with new goals and targets, said the report. This new development agenda is expected to carry on and finish what the MDGs started and most of all, attempt to eradicate extreme poverty from the world with sustainable development and sustained prosperity for all.

If the High Level Panel’s report is to be implemented properly, governments, businesses, civil society and all other agencies have a major role to play. Noting that the developing countries have also financed their own development, the need for developed countries to do their part by honouring their aid commitments, reforming their trade, tax and transparency policies, by paying more attention to better regulating global, financial and commodity markets and by leading the way towards sustainable development is stressed ,while noting that the world’s largest companies are leading the transformation to a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.

When studying the recommendations, it is apparent that while governments are called upon to build peace and effective open and accountable institutions and transparency, and encourage the rule of law, the role of businesses in implementing these recommendations is vital. Harnessing innovation, technology and the potential of private business to create more value by diversifying economies and creating job opportunities especially for youth and women and help them invest, start up businesses etc. are as important as what governments are expected to do. Dynamic global partnerships are also required to reduce corruption, illicit financial flows, money, laundering, etc., while championing free and fair trade.In order to observe how these goals are achieved, the report calls for an independent monitoring system and a data revolution which will improve the quality of statistics available to people with information on the progress towards the targets.

While these recommendations are made to be implemented globally, there should not be much problem in countries benefiting from these recommendations at a domestic level. Already in Sri Lanka, there are some companies, although not many, doing their part to protect the environment, making a determined effort to provide youth and women job opportunities. This trend should be encouraged.

Before building global partnerships, governments can build effective domestic partnerships with businesses to bring about more trade opportunities by diversifying the economy and uplifting the poorer segments of society. This will lead to the gradual implementation of the High Level Panel’s report within the country which would be the initial step in building global partnerships.

(Manel de Silva holds an Honours Degree in Political Science from the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya and has engaged in professional training in Commercial Diplomacy at ITC and GATT. She has served as a trade diplomat in several Sri Lankan Missions overseas and was the first female Head of the Department of Commerce as Director General of Commerce.)

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