The Third International Conference on Financing for Development in July presents a unique opportunity to agree on a global plan to finance sustainable development, paving the way for a successful UN Summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda and a universal agreement on climate later this year. As the countdown continues with a series of preparatory events, the global community is getting ready to invest ahead – for people and planet.
Drafting sessions; hearings with business sector and civil society; spring meeting events of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and of the World Bank and IMF; and regional consultations – these are some of the many recent events taking place as preparations intensify for the Financing for Development Conference to be held in the Ethiopian capital on 13-16 July.
“The resources are there, they need to be effectively mobilized, channeled and used for the purpose of sustainable development”
UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General
“Financing the new sustainable development agenda is a challenge, but it is possible,” said Wu Hongbo, UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General and the Secretary-General of this upcoming conference. “The resources are there, they need to be effectively mobilized, channeled and used for the purpose of sustainable development,” he said at a press briefing held in conjunction with the ECOSOC Special high-level meeting on 20-21 April with the World Bank, IMF, WTO and UNCTAD. He also pointed to some of the obstacles yet to overcome, including corruption, tax evasion and illicit financial flows.
Partnerships crucial for successful outcome
“Too much is at stake,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said as he addressed the opening of the event, underscoring the need to identify and tackle the root causes of the biggest challenges to economic growth. He also urged governments, the business sector and civil society to work closely together to push forward the post-2015 development agenda.
“The post-2015 development agenda is ambitious. The financing needs are enormous. They can be met if we work together but we will not succeed unless we forge a partnership and learn the lessons of the current global economy,” he said, also describing the opportunities of the Addis Ababa gathering to devise a politically inclusive development agenda.
Ban Ki-moon also highlighted three things which the outcome must provide. “First, a cohesive and holistic financing framework for sustainable development; second, concrete deliverables, particularly in crucial areas such as infrastructure, agriculture, social needs, and support for small- and medium-sized enterprises; and third, a strong follow-up process to ensure that no country is left behind.”
Back to back events to prepare for the Conference
April has been an intensive month with back to back events arranged to prepare the world community for the upcoming Addis Conference and the agreement expected to be reached there. Regional consultations have continued with events in Amman, Jordan on 7-8 April and in Jakarta, Indonesia, on 29-30 April.
Taking place in parallel with the high-level ECOSOC event, a special session was also held at UN Headquarters on 21-24 April. UN Member States then considered proposals to align the Conference outcome with the new sustainable development agenda that will be adopted this September. At the core of this new agenda, which will be valid until 2030, are 17 proposed sustainable development goals.
Despite the financial crisis, opportunities are there to mobilize resources to fund this agenda. According to the recent report of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing, global savings from public and private sources totals $22 trillion a year. The report suggests that “even a small shift in the way resources are allocated would have an enormous impact.”
At the IMF / World Bank Spring meetings in Washington D.C. on 17-19 April, the UN Secretary-General and Mr. Wu raised the profile and importance of the Financing for Development Conference and secured the support and cooperation of key partners to push for an ambitious outcome in Addis Ababa.
Ban Ki-moon highlighted the main goal of this year of global action: “to eradicate poverty and create shared prosperity.” He also pointed to the expected gains of this transformation saying that “it can be a catalyst for [economic] growth that is cleaner, more sustainable and more equitable. As leaders of public finance, you can help plant the seeds of this transformation.”
The way forward for financing for development and the expectations that the world community has for the upcoming conference, were also discussed by Mr. Wu and other panellists at the IMF seminar “Financing for Development: The Way Forward,” held on 17 April as part of the Spring Meetings.
Negotiating ways to finance sustainable development
On 13-17 April, negotiators from 193 countries convened for the second drafting session of the ‘zero draft’ of the outcome document of the Conference – known as the Addis Ababa Accord, sharing their comments and providing concrete suggestions on the text. The process is “moving towards a conclusion,” said Ambassador George Talbot of Guyana, one of the two co-facilitators of the preparatory process. He called upon UN Member State representatives to “keep the level of ambition high” to ensure an “ambitious outcome” in Addis Ababa this July.
During this session, Conference Secretary-General Wu Hongbo also presented the new conference website as well as the new logo. Further consultations on the ‘zero draft’ document will be held in May, ahead of the third and final drafting session which will take place in New York between 15 and 19 June.
“2015 is perhaps the most important year for development since the founding of the UN 70 years ago”
The views and inputs from the business sector and civil society were also heard and taken into consideration during informal interactive hearings on 8-9 April. Their involvement in outlining a successful new agenda and being part of the creation of a financing framework was stressed at this event.
“I urge private sector leaders — including CEOs — to join us in Addis Ababa, and to consider new commitments for investment in sustainable development – including in the vital area of infrastructure,” Ban Ki-moon said at the opening of the hearings.
Taking all the necessary actions to get ready, the United Nations, its partners along with the international community, are now approaching the first of this year’s milestone events. It has the potential of unlocking much needed resources, bringing us closer to the future we want.
The expected significance of this year, for generations to come, has also been stressed by the Secretary-General on numerous occasions. “2015 is perhaps the most important year for development since the founding of the UN 70 years ago,” he said at the recent Spring Meetings in Washington D.C.
Recognizing that forests are vital for global sustainable development, all 197 Member and Observer States of the United Nations Forum on Forests will gather for its eleventh session on 4-15 May. This session is a political milestone in multilateral forest policy, as Members of the Forum will deliberate and agree on the post-2015 International Arrangement on Forests (IAF) and define priority action areas for international forest policy for the next 15 years.
The Forum is the only intergovernmental body that addresses all issues related to the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests at the United Nations.
“Some 1.6 billion people — including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures — depend on forests for food, fuel, shelter and income. Three quarters of freshwater comes from forested catchments”
Since its inception in 2001, the Forum has catalyzed actions by countries to reduce deforestation; to improve the livelihoods of people who depend on forests for their sustenance; to increase the area of forests under protection; and to facilitate assistance to developing countries to foster sustainable forest management.
The main theme of UNFF11, which will be held at UN Headquarters in New York, is “Forests: progress, challenges and the way forward for the International Arrangement on Forests”. The objective of this session is to: (a) review the effectiveness of the current IAF; (b) review progress towards achievement of the Global Objectives on Forests (GOFs) and implementation of the Forest Instrument, and (c) review the contribution of forests and the IAF to internationally agreed development goals.
There will be two official negotiated outcomes for UNFF11 namely, a Ministerial Declaration and a resolution on the International Arrangement on Forests (IAF) beyond 2015.
Forests are integral to the post-2015 development agenda
2015 is a critical year for forests and global sustainable development. This is the year the United Nations will set the framework for action for the development agenda of the next 15 years. Forests’ contributions to global sustainable development are being widely recognized, as evidenced by their integration in the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their associated targets.
UNFF11 is a timely opportunity for the forest community to provide their input in the ongoing deliberations on the post-2015 development agenda. When the Forum concludes its session, there will only be 133 days left until the United Nations Summit for the Adoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, in September, at UNHQ in New York.
“To build a sustainable, climate-resilient future for all, we must invest in our world’s forests. That will take political commitment at the highest levels, smart policies, effective law enforcement, innovative partnerships and funding”
Strengthening political commitment for forests
UNFF11 will include a High-level Segment that will be held from 13 to 14 May to deliberate on the future International Arrangement on Forests and its integration in the broader context of the post-2015 development agenda. The High-level Segment (HLS) will adopt the UNFF11 ministerial declaration through which Ministers will outline their vision for transformative actions and commitments on the future International Arrangement on Forests.
The UNFF11 High-level Segment will feature statements by Ministers and Heads of Delegation as well as interactive discussions. On 14 May, two round tables will be held on: “Integration of forests in the post-2015 development agenda”; and “Renewed commitments to the implementation of the international arrangements on forests beyond 2015”.
The HLS will also include a High-level Dialogue on “Transformative Partnerships for Forests, beyond 2015” with the heads of the member organizations of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), the heads of the regional organizations and senior representatives of major groups.
In addition, some 23 side events will also take place during the Forum session. Some of these events will touch upon issues such as biodiversity and forest conservation, food security, community forestry, landscape restoration, financing for sustainable forest management, regional cooperation, governance and forest tenure.
Indigenous peoples suffer great risk of suicide. For example, in some regions the suicide rate among young indigenous women and men is five to six times the rate of non-indigenous youths. Some communities report even higher rates. The alarming over-representation of suicide among indigenous youth was one of the main topics during the two-week long 14th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which concludes on 1 May.
Around the globe today, one out of five people is between the ages of 15 and 24. Among the estimated 370 million indigenous people in the world, there are over 70 million indigenous youth. Their situation received special attention during the forum, when the issue of indigenous youth suicide and self-harm was addressed.
“Our current reality does not reflect the necessary elements that produce physical, spiritual, emotional and mental health,” stated E’Sha Hoferer and Ida Ophaug on behalf of the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus. “We are continually faced by extreme poverty, loss and rejection of identity, destruction of traditional languages and cultural practices,” they stressed, also pointing to examples of threats undermining the health and future of indigenous youth.
Injustices affecting health
Historical injustices, as a result of colonization and dispossession of their lands, territories and resources, that many indigenous peoples have suffered and continue to suffer, have to a major extent not been resolved. This has had an impact on indigenous peoples in many ways including on their physical and mental well-being.
“It is entirely shameful that indigenous children and youth are not afforded the same opportunities, support and services that non-indigenous children and youth are provided”
Interim Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations
In addition, indigenous youth are often frustrated because of additional challenges they face when balancing between the culture of their family and of the non-indigenous majority, seeking inclusion and acceptance in both. Many end up feeling marginalized from both of these communities, resulting in a sense of socio-cultural isolation.
The marginalization of indigenous peoples has, in many cases, triggered drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and a host of other traumatic conditions. These conditions are then ultimately suffered by indigenous youth and present themselves in many forms, including self-harm and suicide.
“Before we reach adulthood we see in our community and among our friends and family premature death, jail, substance abuse and physical abuse that lead to those feelings of helplessness and depression that in turn lead to self-harm,” said Natan Ambrams, representative of the youth of the Seneca Nation of Indians.
Isolation hindering healthcare
Due to geographic and cultural isolation, indigenous youth are less likely to receive adequate health care, including mental health care.
“It is entirely shameful that indigenous children and youth are not afforded the same opportunities, support and services that non-indigenous children and youth are provided,” said Mrs. Kimberly Jonathan, Interim Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations.
Many indigenous youth have lost faith in services that could help them, such as counseling services. They often have doubts about the cultural competence and generally do not believe they can be helped. Representatives of the Swedish as well as Norwegian Samis stressed the need of healthcare-institutions with indigenous competence.
“There is empirical evidence suggesting that treatment of mental health issues is most effective when the therapist belongs to the same culture as the patient; communicates in the same language; and knows the patient’s cultural conditions,” said Mr. Runar Myrnes Balto, Sami Parliament of Norway.
Striving to ensure life of dignity for all
“Let us strive to ensure that the economic, social and cultural rights of indigenous peoples are fulfilled – rights that are essential to basic dignity and even to survival”
Every suicide has a wide impact, affecting many people, not only among the deceased person’s family and loved ones. But feelings of loss, grief and mourning are spread throughout the community.
”We are incredibly tired of having to live with the feeling of who is going to commit suicide next. We do not want to bury more of our friends and colleagues. We do not want to see more young people suffering from mental illness,” said Mr. Per Jonas Partapuoli, Chair for the Sami youth organizaion Sáminuorra in Sweden.
Decision-makers must learn about the realities of indigenous peoples in order to make their human rights a vital part of the post-2015 development agenda. The Forum of Indigenous Issues gives the indigenous people a say in their own future.
During this year’s session, the forum has also addressed topics including the follow up on the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, the post-2015 development agenda and the situation of indigenous peoples living in the Pacific region.
“Let us strive to ensure that the economic, social and cultural rights of indigenous peoples are fulfilled – rights that are essential to basic dignity and even to survival,” stressed Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson as he spoke at the opening of the forum. “I count on all of you – Member States, Indigenous Peoples and other partners – to make change happen and stand up for a life of dignity for all.”