Global Policy Forum

Beyond Pragmatism in the Post-2015 Agenda - GPF Europe Director in ICAE Virtual Exchange


The International Council for Adult Education (ICAE) is currently having a virtual exchange on the topic “Post-2015 Education Agenda: Advocacy Actions”. In a contribution, the director of Global Policy Forum Europe, Jens Martens, calls  for a holistic post-2015 development agenda that would go beyond mere pragmatism.

12 June, 2013 | ICAE Virtual Exchange

The International Council for Adult Education (ICAE) is currently having a virtual exchange on the post-2015 development agenda. The exchange under the title "Post-2015 Education Agenda: Advocacy Actions" will "[...] be the second stage in the process towards 2015, in order to make an evaluation of the Post-2015 consultation process, the achievements, and the strategies to continue influencing the post-2015 international education agenda, the Sustainable development goals-SDGs, and the EFA goals". (ICAE) The exchange is taking place in three languages, English, Spanish and French.

Jens Martens, the dirctor of Global Policy Forum Europe has contributed to the exchange with his reflections on the policy processes related to the post-2015 agenda.

Beyond Pragmatism: Call for a holistic Post-2015 Agenda

Remarks by Jens Martens (Global Policy Forum)
In the current debate about the Post-2015 Agenda, some have warned of a danger of overloading the Agenda and are calling for a limited focus on poverty eradication and social development in the countries of the South – and hence de facto for a continuation of the present MDG approach. In parallel, globally valid sustainability goals could be agreed that above all concentrate on the environmental sector.

However, a “pragmatic” approach of this kind would mean engaging in business as usual and holding out in the same patterns of dealing with problems sector by sector, which has so far prevented solutions to the global problems. This would be the wrong course to pursue and would not do justice to the multiple crises with its interdependences. Real sustainable development is not possible without disarmament; it requires fundamental reforms in the global financial system; and it must address consumerism, the limits of extractivism and unsustainable production patterns.

If the goal is a holistic development agenda, which is what the UN, governments and many civil society organizations have emphasized again and again, then this also has to be reflected in the discussion and negotiation processes taking place up to 2015. An integrative approach is required that would involve all departments and UN institutions and lead to new interdisciplinary alliances within civil society. This applies in particular to development, environmental, peace and human rights organizations.

Given the complexity of problems, it does no harm to have the international discussions and negotiations not take place within a single working group or commission right from the start. This commission would indeed be under excessive strain. Just like the eleven thematic consultations on the Post-2015 Agenda are carried out by various UN institutions and governments, a division of responsibilities can also be agreed for the various thematic strands of the Post-2015 Agenda. There is no need to duplicate the climate negotiations in a UN General Assembly working group; the discussions on disaster risk reduction are well accommodated in the existing process on the negotiation of a Hyogo follow-up framework; with its world conferences on education for sustainable development (Okayama, Japan, 4.-8.11.2014) and Education for All (expected to be held in April 2015), UNESCO will be providing crucial input for these topics for the Post-2015 Agenda. Parallel processes of this kind are feasible and make sense. What is important is that the processes are brought together in a coordinated and coherent manner for the “hot phase” of preparations for the expected World Summit in 2015.

The fact that the common denominator becomes smaller and smaller as the range of topics grows, is a further argument cited against a broad Post-2015 Agenda. Concern is not unjustified that a lack of political consensus with regard to a number of neuralgic topics (e.g. nuclear energy, regulation of financial markets, disarmament) could stall the negotiations as a whole. However, this argument must not result in controversial topics being excluded from the negotiations right from the start, which would mean completely ignoring any possibility of political learning processes as a result of changes in social discourses. Moreover, there are conflict-laden topics, such as the (re-)interpretation of the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and the resulting obligations for which agreement is the fundamental prerequisite for the success of any Post-2015 Agenda.

For this reason, the goal of a global political consensus on a comprehensive Post-2015 Development Agenda ought to be given top priority. However, the alternative to this need not be complete failure. “Consensus minus X” solutions would also be conceivable in which not all UN Member States would participate. Here, enhanced co-operation in the context of the EU could serve as a model. It enables a qualified sub-group of EU Member States to agree measures even if they are not being supported by all members. This was what happened, for example, in the case of the Financial Transaction Tax, the introduction of which was supported neither by all 27 EU members nor by all countries of the Euro zone. In the context of enhanced co-operation, a group of initially eleven Member States (and hence more than the nine countries required) gathered in October 2012 to now jointly introduce the Financial Transaction Tax.

Transferred to the UN level, this could result in a concept of “enhanced multilateralism”. Regarding the individual topics of the Post-2015 Agenda, groups of vanguard governments could be formed entering commitments going beyond a minimum consensus. In doing so, they would be subject to the same monitoring and accountability mechanisms applying to all governments in the context of the overall Post-2015 Agenda. Their initiatives would not be completely isolated from the intergovernmental processes of the UN but would be embedded in them, for example in the context of the new High-Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development. Thus the concept of enhanced multilateralism would offer an alternative to non-binding multi-stakeholder initiatives and so-called “coalitions of the willing” outside the United Nations on the one hand and diplomatic minimum consensuses of all UN members on the other.

Civil society organizations should not be intrigued by threats of intergovernmental negotiation blockages in any case but enter what they feel needed in their drafts for the Post-2015 Agenda and Universal Sustainability Goals. That they are making efforts to form new alliances explicitly considering social movements and marginalized groups and their interests in the wide range of discussion and consultation processes are positive signals.

Under all circumstances, the process towards a future development agenda and Universal Sustainability Goals offers civil society groups at all levels the great opportunity to initiate and promote discussion processes concerning the issues as to how societies seek to live in future given the planetary boundaries, how well-being and societal progress should be defined and how the principles of solidarity and global responsibility can be translated into action in society.

Therefore, the Post-2015 debates should not be restricted to the UN level. Sustainability goals can be discussed for every village, every town, every region and every country. What could a catalogue of sustainability goals look like for Mexico City, for Andhra Pradesh or for Germany that combines ecological boundaries with social rights and global responsibility? And what conclusions have to be drawn from this for politics at the respective levels?

Such discussion processes in society are not merely a side-effect of negotiations at global level. Rather, they form their basis and represent a necessary precondition for the Post-2015 Agenda to evolve from a true bottom-up process.

Jens Martens (12 June, 2013): Beyond Pragmatism - Call for a Holistic Post-2015 Agenda. ICAE Virtual Exchange "Post-2015 Education Aganda: Advocacy Actions". ICAE, Montevideo.

For more languages, please visit the ICAE website here.

Normal 0 21 false false false DE X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

The International Council for Adult Education (ICAE) is currently having a virtual exchange on the topic “Post-2015 Education Agenda: Advocacy Actions”. The director of Global Policy Forum Europe Jens Martens calls in his contribution for a holistic post-2015 development agenda that would go beyond mere pragmatism.

/* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Normale Tabelle"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0cm; mso-para-margin-right:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0cm; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.