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Pondering the Post-2015 Agenda

by Terra Lawson-Remer
November 21, 2012

Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (L), Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (C), and Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (R) speak to the media following a UN High Level panel meeting at Number 10 Downing Street, London, November 1, 2012 (Leon Neal/Courtesy Reuters). Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (L), Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (C), and Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (R) speak to the media following a UN High Level panel meeting at Number 10 Downing Street, London, November 1, 2012 (Leon Neal/Courtesy Reuters).

Over the past few weeks I have attended a number of meetings on the post-2015 development framework, organized and sponsored by groups including the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Development Programme, and CFR, where two of my colleagues, Stewart Patrick and Yanzhong Huang, have hosted recent events on the topic. Some of the main themes emerging from these meetings include:

  • Equity, inequality, and non-discrimination are critical topics to consider within whatever global development goals emerge post-2015. This could mean “mainstreamining” attention to group disparities throughout all the goals (for example, including measures of health outcomes disaggregated by gender and ethnicity), or establishing a stand-alone goal on this issue. However, the discussion on this topic may become a politically fraught battle, as not all countries want a spotlight shown on which groups are being left out and left behind by growth that is neither equitable nor inclusive.
  • National and international statistical capacities must be strengthened. The era of “big data” has arrived. Unlike 2000, when targets and indicators for the Millennium Development Goals were largely constrained by the very spotty existence of reliable cross-national data, this time around data production could be “demand-led.”  In other words, reliable data can be developed in response to the anticipation of a need for indicators in the post-2015 framework. The proliferation of mobile technologies and computer advances has, from a technical standpoint, made it much easier to gather reliable socioeconomic data through household surveys. Some experts are arguing that a central priority of development funders and practitioners over the next few years should be to strengthen the data collection and statistical capacities of national governments, in order to provide reliable indicators to measure progress on a broad range of post-2015 goals.
  • In the arena of governance and rule of law, there is now a considerable focus on corruption, transparency, and access to justice, among other issues.  Fifteen years ago these challenges were thought important but impossible to measure, as well as politically toxic. Since then, the proliferation of governance and rule of law indices suggests that with better statistical capacity (see above), governance and rule of law goals technically can and normatively should be an integral part of the post-2015 framework.

This is just a small snapshot of the conversations now unfolding, which will continue to evolve as 2015 approaches.

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