Post-2015 Agenda: The Challenge of Economic Transformation

The Post-2015 development framework should inspire a transformative agenda that addresses the root causes of poverty and marginalization. This is a politically challenging agenda as it involves significant redistributive action to promote inclusiveness, equity and sustainability.

Post-2015 Agenda: The Challenge of Economic Transformation. By Betty Maina and Stefano Prato*
This article was originally published in GREAT Insights, the ECDPM’s monthly magazine covering a wide range of topics related to economic development in Africa and the developing world.

Excerpt from the article
Over the past six months, the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda (HLP) has stimulated engagement by the development community with a myriad of initiatives, conferences, policy documents and blogosphere discussions to reflect on what should replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as they reach their established deadline in 2015, and how to reconcile this process with the outcomes of the Rio+20 review.

The HLP - co-chaired by President Yudhoyono of Indonesia, President Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, and Prime Minister Cameron of the UK – is one of many mechanisms meant to converge on the UN General Assembly, either directly or via the UN Secretary General, in order to advance the inter-governmental process and shape the new framework.

From an aid to a policy framework
The starting point of the post-2015 journey should be an assessment of what has really worked with the MDG framework and what has not. Unfortunately, this is no easy task as the debate has become an almost ideological confrontation between a pro-MDG party, who underline the simplicity, concreteness and results-orientation of the framework, and its opponents, who question what real progress is attributable to the MDGs and would not have happened even in their absence.

Beyond any valid criticisms of the MDG framework, the overwhelming energy to debate the post-2015 agenda confirms the ability of a global partnership framework like that of the MDGs – as imperfect as it might be – to rally support and engage constituencies in a common global processes. While this highlights the importance of the ‘communication and constituency building’ dimension of the post-2015 agenda, it also underplays the fundamental shift between the MDGs and whatever is meant to replace them.

The former was largely an aid-framework and had an important purpose to serve in aligning domestic political support in developed countries in order to maintain and possibly expand development cooperation budgets. The new agenda will be much more of a policy framework than an aid one and would therefore aim to inspire coherent policies at national and global levels within a new global partnership. While aid will remain important, particularly in the short term, resources are expected to be generated at multiple levels.

This pivotal shift in focus should ring an alarm bell as the ‘communication simplicity’ of the MDGs has sometimes translated into ‘policy simplicism’. In advancing discussions on the new framework, it is therefore important to de-couple policy considerations from communication strategies.
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*Betty Maina, member of the SID Governing Council, is the CEO of the Kenyan Association of Manufacturers (KAM) and a member of the High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Stefano Prato is the Managing Director of the Society for International Development and Betty’s Adviser on the High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

photo: flickr/Daniel Voyager