Right to development highlighted in Open Working Group’s deliberations

Sixth session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals

The sixth session of the Open Working Group (OWG) on sustainable development goals concluded on Friday, 13 December after five days of discussion. In their closing remarks, the Co-Chairs of the OWG, Mr. Csaba Kõrösi, Permanent Representative of Hungary, and Mr. Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya, highlighted some of the points made repeatedly during the session.

The Co-Chairs stated that there had been broad agreement that ambitious goals could not be set without considering how they will be achieved and what it will need in terms of political will, financing, technology, capacity building and partnerships, policies and institutions. Many parties had called for defining means of implementation for each of the goals to be proposed. Science, technology and innovation were seen as imperative for future SDGs.

“Science is vital for sustainable social and economic growth of society. Science improves the welfare of people, builds capacity in developing economies, and fosters peaceful international co-operation between nations and cultures,” said Rolf-Dieter Heuer, the Director General of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), as he delivered his opening remarks on 9 December.

“Science is vital for sustainable social and economic growth of society”
Rolf-Dieter Heuer
Director General, CERN

Discussions showed that Official Development Assistance was broadly seen as continuing to play a critical role in supporting development, particularly but not only in LDCs. Domestic resource mobilization was also recognized as a critical element of public financing, though this is reliant on growth. A strengthened and more global partnership was seen as requirement for the implementation of future SDGs.

Such future SDGs would also need to address key vulnerabilities and help build resilience of countries in special situations. Robust, inclusive, and sustainable growth must be promoted in all countries. “While we all can agree on certain basic principles of sound economic management, there is no single recipe for addressing vulnerabilities,” said Co-Cahir Kõrösi . “Still, we know that certain types of interventions can go a long way – among the most important is investing in education and skills development,” he added.

“There is no one-size-fits all regarding sustainable development. Different approaches are needed for different countries,” said Mahmoud Mohieldin, the World Bank Group President’s Special Envoy on the MDGs and Financial Development, as the meeting engaged in views on countries with special needs and in special situations.

There was agreement among the members of the OWG that human rights and fundamental freedoms are essential for everyone to lead a life in dignity. “The right to development must be clearly and centrally reflected in the post-2015 framework,” said Ambassador Kõrösi.

The themes of the sixth session of the Open Working Group (OWG) on sustainable development goals were: Means of implementation (science and technology, knowledge-sharing and capacity building) and global partnership for achieving sustainable development; needs of countries in special situations, African countries, Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries, and Small Island Developing States, as well as specific challenges facing the middle-income countries; and human rights, the right to development, and global governance.

“The right to development must be clearly and centrally reflected in the post-2015 framework”
Ambassador Csaba Kõrösi, Permanent Representative of Hungary and OWG Co-Chair

Involvement of Major Groups and other Stakeholders was central from the beginning and there were a number of ways for them to engage during the session. Representatives from the Major Groups attended the session as official observers, and the Co-chairs met with them every morning for a one-hour session.

They took the floor to address a number of issues, also related to the drafting of the SDGs. Concerns were raised from the Major Group representing NGOs, pointing to the lack of development finance and technology transfer. The Indigenous Peoples Major Group underscored the importance of viewing their communities and peoples as possessors of knowledge rather than objects of research and the Business and Industry Major Group highlighted the need to enable SMEs to become engines of growth in developing countries. The importance of SDGs that promote gender equality was highlighted a number of times.

The Open Working Group is scheduled to convene again for its seventh session on 6-10 January 2014. Sustainable cities, transport, production and consumption will be among the topics for discussion.

A summary of the sixth session of the Open Working Group along with a wealth of information and resources about and from the session are available on the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform website (see the links below).

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