People should h…

People should have ownership of their own development.

– The Centre for Sustainable Rural Development

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Post 2015: What’s next for International Development?

If you’re passionate about international development or anything that can loosely fall under this category than you have most heard of the Millennium Development Goals, if you have no clue what the MDGs are or want to learn more about them please click here.

What I’m particularly interested in is what happens after 2015? We all know that the MDGs won’t be entirely successful; in fact the most recent indicates that none of the goals will be universally successful across all geographic regions. Now this shouldn’t take away from the successes of the MDGs, but it demonstrates that there is still a lot of work to be done, namely with regards to maternal health (least success across the board), gender equality and the empowerment of women, and universal primary education. These goals had some of the least success (apart from equal girls’ enrolment in primary school) and in some instances actually showed a decline. In addition to this, there are worrying trends with regards to poverty and hunger and environmental sustainability as we continue to cycle through periods of extremely volatile food prices leading to higher populations that are food insecurity and with the rapid rates of population growth and urban sprawl it is incredible difficult to promote and maintain sustainable environmental practices.

All this being said, what’s going to happen in three years and sixty-six days when the MDGs expire?

There are two suggestions that have a significant amount of overlap: the Bellagio Goals and the Sustainability Goals. Now for some background information:

The Sustainability Goals suggestion came out of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June, 2012 by Colombia, Guatemala and Peru. The SDGs look to combine goals on economic growth, social equality, and environmental sustainability into a concise goals and indicators for development. The SDGs have broad goals which cut across manner factors and include: poverty eradication, environmental sustainability, and sustainable consumption and production. These goals could be achieved through many dimensions, themes, approaches, and priority areas and will be threatened by many challenges. The SDGs have received criticism due to their similarities to the MDGs as many people believe that they neglect developed countries, maintain ‘donor-driven’ programs, and fail to consider actual needs of developing countries.

The Bellagio Goals came out of a post Rio+20 conference in Bellagio, Italy that discussed some of the principles from the SDGs. The Bellagio Goals are somewhat more inclusive (yet still not firmly determined) and include Inclusive Growth, Food and Water, Education and Skills, Health, Gender Equality, Environmental Sustainability, Resilient Communities, Infrastructure, Civil and Political Rights, and Global Governance. These goals would be applicable to developed and developing countries and would involve global targets, regional targets, and national targets; instead of being determined globally, national targets would be determined by the nation to which they apply based on a pre-determined minimum level. The indicators would also be determined nationally and regionally which allows for increased ownership and more applicable aims and results. These goals are intended to be multidisciplinary with actions overlapping multiple goals – this will help to distribute funding and work and develop a more sustainable approach overall.

What do you think? Are these types of goals the answer? Is it possible to develop global goals or are national approaches better? Do you agree that ‘developed’ nations should have targets and be held to a standard?

Sustainable Forest Governance

As you know (or should by now) I’m currently working in Vietnam at the Centre for Sustainable Rural Development, or SRD and am placed in Ha Noi.

What I didn’t know coming into this placement was that I’d be working primarily with forestry related things: forest governance, forest management, land-use law, land allocation problems, forest trade, forest licensing, forest monitoring, civil society’s participation in forest policy drafting, etc. However now that I’m here I’m finding that my role is involving lots of policy drafting, capacity building, and networking about forests.

In my first week at SRD, I attended a workshop on Capacity Building for Civil Society Organizations on FLEGT/VPA and REDD+. Its quite a mouthful. FLEGT is Forest, Law, Governance, and Trade and is legislation drafted by the EU for countries that they trade in timber with. VPA is the Voluntary Partnership Agreement which is a bilateral trade agreement between a country and the EU (in this case, Vietnam). REDD+ is one of the products of the Cancun Climate Change talks and stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation. All of this can be coordinated to work together, but as the Vietnamese government is in the midst of developing all the policies, the local and international NGOs are working on trying to get input from civil society and figuring out the best way to do this.

If you are curious and want to know more, you can check out the condensed version of the report that I wrote here.