Category Archives: sustainable development

Les inégalités au cœur du développement (non) durable

This blog, written by Rémi Genevey and Laurence Tubiana, is part of the Wikiprogress series on Post-2015. The blog stresses the need to integrate the reduction of inequalities into the Sustainable Development Goals’ agenda in post-2015, because doing so is the key to making our development trajectories more sustainable.
Dans un peu plus de deux ans, les gouvernements de la planète devront définir des objectifs de développement durable « orientés vers l’action, concrets, concis et faciles à comprendre, en nombre limité, ‘aspirationnels’, d’envergure mondiale et susceptibles d’être appliqués universellement dans tous les pays », selon l’engagement pris au sommet de Rio en juin 2012. Le délai est extraordinairement serré au regard de l’ampleur de la tâche et de l’acuité des enjeux. Quels objectifs de développement durable seraient susceptibles de rallier tous les suffrages dans un délai si court ? Un problème commun à tous les pays émerge depuis dix ans, avec des conséquences néfastes sur la soutenabilité des modèles de développement : le creusement des inégalités. D’une manière ou d’une autre, le développement durable devra intégrer la réduction des inégalités dans son agenda. Non comme une fin en soi, mais comme un moyen de rendre nos trajectoires de développement plus durables. 
 Les effets du creusement contemporain des inégalités font l’objet d’un intérêt croissant des économistes. L’édition 2013 de Regards sur la Terre* rassemble quelques contributions saillantes sur la question. D’abord, l’évolution des inégalités de revenus dans le monde connaît un grand retournement depuis un peu plus de dix ans. Pendant deux siècles, les inégalités entre nations se sont accrues, tandis qu’elles se stabilisaient, voire déclinaient à l’intérieur des pays. Cette histoire pluri séculaire a pris fin au tournant du siècle : désormais, les inégalités de revenus entre pays se résorbent et les inégalités internes s’accroissent. 

Ce renversement sans précédent a des conséquences considérables sur l’état de notre planète et de nos sociétés. Le rattrapage économique s’accompagne d’une hausse des revenus et des salaires moyens, ce qui considéré sans plus de détails est évidemment une très bonne nouvelle ; mais il exerce également une pression accrue sur nos écosystèmes. La planète a ses limites qu’ignorent encore nos instruments de mesure tels que le PIB. À modes de consommation et de production inchangés, la course à la croissance – peu importe ici qui la gagne – est une course à l’épuisement. 

Ce renversement modifie également les rapports de force entre pays et les modalités des négociations multilatérales. On ne négocie plus entre quelques puissantes nations de l’OCDE, mais entre coalitions de pays du Nord et du Sud, de l’Est et de l’Ouest, à revenus convergents. Maintenant que les rapports de force s’équilibrent, négocie-t-on mieux ou moins bien l’infléchissement de nos trajectoires de développement ? Voici l’une des questions ouvertes par ce « grand retournement », qui reste sans réponse claire pour l’instant. Une chose est certaine,  ce rééquilibrage favorise des modes de coordination faibles, où l’autonomie des choix nationaux l’emporte sur la recherche de normes globales.

Les  conséquences des inégalités internes sont d’un autre ordre. Les modèles de croissance très inégalitaires semblent bel et bien les moins résilients, dans la mesure où ils affaiblissent le consensus des citoyens autour des biens communs au profit de l’appropriation privée. A l’opposé,  les modes de consommation des derniers déciles de revenus ont un effet d’entraînement mimétique sur les classes moyennes, la plupart du temps défavorable à l’environnement. La consommation accrue d’eau, d’énergie, d’aliments ou de biens matériels, quel qu’en soit le bénéfice réel, est perçue comme positive, tandis que la recherche d’efficacité, de découplage entre la croissance économique et la consommation de ressources, apparaît comme potentiellement régressive. Enfin, les inégalités et le sentiment d’injustice freinent ou rendent illégitimes les politiques environnementales, perçues comme un fardeau supplémentaire par les oubliés de la croissance.   

La question des inégalités occupe aujourd’hui une place centrale dans les débats sur le développement durable et ce que l’on nomme l’agenda de développement « post-2015 ». L’ignorer au nom du réalisme (réduire les inégalités est complexe…) serait se priver d’une de ses vertus essentielles : elle offre une clé au développement durable. Car elle n’est pas qu’une question sociale, elle a des conséquences sur  la résilience de nos modèles de croissance, sur notre capacité à protéger la biodiversité ou à mettre en place une transition énergétique et écologique. En bref, sur notre capacité à tenir nos engagements. 
Rémi Genevey, directeur de la stratégie à l’Agence française de développement (AFD)
Laurence Tubiana, professeur à Sciences Po Paris , directrice de l’Institut du développement durable et des relations internationales (Iddri)
 

This blog first appeared in Slate.fr Tribune on 18 July, 2013. 

* Regards sur la Terre 2013, de Rémi Genevey, Rajendra Kumar Pachauri et Laurence Tubiana, éditions Armand Colin, paru le 10 avril 2013, 384 pages.

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Renewable Energy : Why the Definition Needs to be Revised

This article by Almuth Ernsting, European Focal Point of the Global Forest Coalition and Co-director of Biofuelwatch is part of the Wikiprogress Environment Series.

Climate change mitigation and sustainability are the key rationales for increasing the share of renewable energy.  Yet definitions of renewable energy used by policy-makers are so broad that subsidy regimes and other policies to promote renewable energy are able to result in highly negative climate, environmental and human impacts. 
According to the International Energy Agency, renewable energy is “derived from natural processes…that are replenished at a faster rate than they are consumed”.  In reality, North America’s and Europe’s renewable energy policies are heavily focused on large-scale wood combustion for electricity and heat – which depends on increased logging and the expansion of monoculture tree plantations – and on greater use of transport biofuels. 
The fact that soils, freshwater, and ecosystems are being destroyed rather than replenished in this process is ignored. Also overlooked is the growing volume of evidence that industrial bioenergy – both biomass combustion and transport biofuels – commonly cause more greenhouse gas emissions than the fossil fuels they might replace. A growing volume of peer-reviewed studies documents the scale of those emissions, which result from indirect land-use change, increased fertiliser use and other causes.
In the US, bioenergy accounts for 44% of all energy classed as renewable – more than any other technology.  The US Energy Information Administration expects its share to grow much faster than that of the renewables sector overall until 2040.  In Canada, the share of bioenergy amongst ‘renewables’ is surpassed only by that of large-scale hydropower.
In the EU, according to Member States’ 2010 renewable energy plans, bioenergy would have a 54.5% share of the 2020 renewable energy target. Most of this would come from burning 80-100 million tonnes of wood a year.  This is likely to be an underestimate:  in the UK alone, companies have announced power station plans which would require around 90 million tonnes of wood annually – nine times as much as the country produces.
The result of these ‘renewable energy policies’ is a massively increased demand for wood, vegetable oil, cereals and, crucially, for land.  Biofuels still only account for 3% of global transport fuel, yet, according to a report by the International Land Coalition, they were responsible for 59% of all land-grabs between 2000 and 2010.  By pushing up the price of cereals and vegetable oils, they have led both to greater hunger and malnutrition, and to the increased destruction of forests and other ecosystems – including peatlands – for palm oil, soy and other plantations. 
Those impacts are being intensified with the rush towards industrial wood-based bioenergy. In the longer term, industry and governments expect much of the wood for EU power stations to come from new tree plantations in South America and Africa, threatening yet more land-grabs and ecosystem destruction. The demand for land for tree monocultures also exacerbates shortages of land for food production and causes rural depopulation further compromising national food sovereignty (see: http://nyti.ms/10fAGsC). Women, Indigenous Peoples, pastoralists and small farmers – particularly those without formal land titles – suffer most from these land grabs and from the resulting food shortages, as well as from associated water depletion and ‘water grabs’.
In response to growing awareness of the harms resulting from bioenergy, industry and governments are developing ‘sustainability standards’.  However, these ignore the fact that deforestation and forest degradation, as well as other impacts, are primarily driven by excessive demand for wood and agricultural products.  A study published in Science projected that climate change mitigation policies, which tackle only fossil fuels and ignore the wider land-impacts of bioenergy, could lead to the destruction of all remaining forests, grasslands and most other ecosystems worldwide by 2065. Another study has shown that, even if bioenergy sustainability standards were enforced worldwide and bioenergy expansion relied on agricultural intensification, sub-Saharan Africa would lose 38% of its forests and wooded savannah and large amounts of grassland, while Latin America would lose 20% of its forests and savannah.
Given the volume of evidence of the serious negative impacts that industrial biofuels and large-scale biomass have on climate, forests, biodiversity, soil, water, and people, including them in the ‘renewable energy’ definition can no longer be justified.
Almuth Ernsting,
Almuth Ernsting is European Focal Point of the Global Forest Coalition and Co-director of Biofuelwatch.

This article first appeared in the Outreach Magazine 
2

Climate Change and Health Beyond 2015: The Sustainable Development Agenda

This blog is part of the Wikiprogress Environment Series
Global Health Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison
The Outcome Document from the recent Rio+20 Summit, “The Future We Want”, recognises that health is both a precondition for, and an outcome of, sustainable development. Climate change affects health through a myriad of exposure pathways, each presenting simultaneously both challenges and opportunities for sustainable health and development.
Interventions targeting either adaptation or mitigation of climate change, therefore, can have multiple health and societal benefits – the key is to find root points of leverage where a single policy might have numerous beneficiaries.
The relationship between health and all three original (1992) Rio Conventions – on Climate Change, Biological Diversity, and Desertification was recently documented in “Our Planet, Our Health, Our Future”, a collaborative effort between the World Health Organization (WHO) and all three Rio Conventions. In particular, the report revealed both risks and interdependencies. Climate change will directly lead to net negative health impacts, including through extreme weather events, spread of vector-borne disease, diarrhoeal disease, food security and malnutrition. Natural capital, such as biodiversity, underpins ecosystem services – upon which health and societal wellbeing depend – but are threatened by climate and land use change. Just a few measurable benefits that ecosystems provide mankind include flood protection, disease regulation, and water purification. Desertification leaves populations vulnerable to water quality degradation, water scarcity and droughts, decreases agro-ecosystem productivity and increases food scarcity/malnutrition.
If human society could advance from a carbon-intensive economy to a green economy, human health opportunities would abound. For example, reducing fossil fuel combustion might not only reduce the extent of climate change, but more immediately such intervention would improve air quality, and if done in the transportation sector, could potentially increase ‘active’ transport that subsequently would lower the risk of obesity and associated chronic diseases. This is just one policy example of how addressing climate change can both enhance sustainable development and save lives.
Sustainable development remains the central context of the post-2015 development agenda. Yet, at this juncture it is critical to acknowledge how health is inextricably linked to ecosystems and our earth’s climate; this awareness is especially salient in the UNFCCC process toward developing a set of post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With the centrality of health as both an input and outcome, and climate change as a cross-cutting issue, a new level of inter-sector awareness and collaboration is warranted, especially as revised targets and indicators are being drafted for the SDGs.
Furthermore, establishment of appropriate indicators will help ensure that interventions in any sector will lessen, rather than add to, the disease burden. WHO, in fact, is now strongly advocating a holistic “Health in All Policies” approach which accepts that population-wide health is determined by many sectors beyond solely health. The role of weather variability and health is obvious for thematic areas such as water and sanitation, food security and nutrition, and disaster management, as well as climate change specifically. Outcome indicators might include: annual mortality rates from climate-sensitive diseases (i.e. the sum of all vector-borne disease, diarrhoeal disease, malnutrition, and weather-related disasters etc.); household dietary diversity scores as an output indicator for food security; and percentage population with access to weather/climate-resilient infrastructure (such as water sources and hygienic sanitation facilities for example).
Health should also be a key consideration for other areas. Representative outcome indicators in the area of energy, for example, might include the percentage of households using only modern, low-emissions heating, cooking and lighting technologies that meet emission and safety standards; or measuring the burden of disease attributable to household air pollution could be another outcome indicator. Indicators for the reliability of energy supply to health facilities are also important. In jobs, healthy workforces are a precondition for sustainable development, and indicators such as the proportion of workplaces that comply with national occupational health and safety standards (an output indicator), or measuring occupational disease and injury rates (an outcome indicator) merit consideration.
Clearly the health of our human population depends on the healthy conditions across all societal sectors and natural systems. Climate change, now solidly tied to our  carbon-intensive economy, challenges all communities working on core elements of sustainable development. Human health has been relatively sidelined in the UN Framework Conventions, but now needs to be better interwoven into the process of defining the next set of global development goals.
Professor Jonathan Patz
This article first appeared on Outreach Magazine 

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Financing our Future: Sustainable Development Financing Strategy

This blog by Amy Cutter, Stakeholder Forum is part of the Wikiprogress Environment series.

As discussions to develop a set of sustainable development goals (SDGs) build momentum, attention is starting to shift towards not only what the world should try to achieve, but also how to go about it. This in large part means starting to think about where the money for the proposed transformative action is going to come from. 

Finance is one of the most frequently cited barriers to the implementation of sustainable development, and the need for significant mobilisation of resources to support countries in their efforts to promote sustainable development, including the achievement of SDGs, was acknowledged in the Rio+20 Outcome Document (para. 254).4080473349 8a7de00fdd o 

This sentiment was reiterated at a high-level meeting convened at the end of last month by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), The World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), where governments and other stakeholders exchanged views on financing sustainable development in the context of the outcomes ofRio+20, and ECOSOC President Néstor Osorio highlighted the need for an effective strategy for raising finance from a variety of sources in the follow-up to the conference.

In recognition of this need, Member States at Rio+20 agreed to establish an intergovernmental committee of experts to evaluate and propose options for effective financing for sustainable development. 

The Permanent Representatives of Kazakhstan and Norway have been appointed to facilitate the process of establishing the Expert Committee on a Sustainable Development Financing Strategy, which will comprise of 30 experts nominated by regional groups (with equitable geographical representation), and will assess financing needs, consider the effectiveness, consistency and synergies of existing instruments and frameworks, and evaluate additional initiatives, before proposing options to facilitate the mobilisation of resources and their effective use in 2014.

The committee has a huge task ahead of it. Estimates of the additional investment needed to fund sustainable development in developing countries are as high as $1 trillion per year for the coming decades; and then there are the politics to consider, of course.

In order to be successful, the committee will need to utilise and build upon the commitments and expertise that have been developed through previous experience financing development and the environment, including the Monterrey ConsensusDoha DeclarationBusan Partnership, and efforts to raise finance for climate change. There will also be a need to respond to changes in the global financial system and the development aid landscape by innovating new solutions and mechanisms to leverage resources.

Financing for development has changed significantly since the establishment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were underpinned by a model based largely on domestic resource mobilisation and official development assistance (ODA). For instance, there has been rapid growth in new forms of development finance, including South-South cooperation, philanthropy and climate finance.

It is therefore vital that the process of developing a sustainable development finance strategy is open and inclusive of a wide range of actors, including non-Development Assistance Committee donors, NGOs, philanthropic organisations, private sector, and other stakeholders, all of which will be instrumental to the mobilisation and delivery of funds.

The co-facilitators have now begun the process of recruiting experts to the panel. In March they invited the Chairs of the regional groups to nominate experts by 31st March 2013 and circulated an indicative list of possible expertise to be included in the panel – including ODA and aid efficiency, domestic resource mobilisation/tax, climate financing, asset management, and innovative financing – to aid the groups in their decision-making.

Despite a commitment in the Rio+20 Outcome Document to establish the process in “open and broad consultation with relevant international and regional financial institutions and other relevant stakeholders” (para. 255), stakeholders don’t appear to have been included in the process so far. This could be, however, partially due to the fact that the group, and the process, has not yet been fully constituted and designed. Furthermore, it is up to individual countries to select their own experts.

However, it is also worth noting that, although non-exhaustive, the contribution of NGOs and philanthropy in financing sustainable development is notably absent from the indicative list of experts.

Over the next few months it will be important to follow this process closely and ensure that stakeholders are not stonewalled, as has been seen in the climate finance talksAs with the negotiations to design a set of SDGs, ensuring the process to develop a strategy to finance sustainable development is inclusive, transparent and draws upon broad multi-stakeholder input and expertise will be vital if we are to successfully finance the future we want. 

Amy Cutter, Project Officer, Stakeholder Forum

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A Sustainable Human Development Index in the Post 2015 era

‘Only one thing matters: sustainability’. This may very well make people frowning and provoke lots of question marks. However, when one realises what sustainability is all about, one can only agree. The famous Brundtland Commission has defined sustainability – already nearly 25 years ago – as follows:
A sustainable society is a society
  • that meets the needs of the present generation,
  • that does not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
To avoid any possible misunderstanding whether all three wellbeing dimensions are included or not, this definition can be extended with a third sentence
  • in which each human being has the opportunity to develop itself in freedom, within a well-balanced society and in harmony with its surroundings.
The Brundtland definition leaves no doubt with respect to the necessity of both intra- and intergenerational solidarity and equity of Human Wellbeing (HW) around the globe and across the years. Many international treaties, among these the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, lead to the same conclusion. In order to ensure the possibility of a reasonable level of HW in the near and distant future, a reasonable level of Environmental Wellbeing (EW) is an absolute precondition. And again, many international agreements have been signed in which many if not all countries commit themselves to take the utmost care of our environment. Thus there are two main goals: Human Wellbeing and Environmental Wellbeing. HW without EW will be a dead end, EW without HW makes no sense, at least not from an anthropocentric point of view.
Since the achievement of HW and EW requires a reasonable level of Economic Wellbeing (EcW), the latter has to be taken care of also. This requires that not only the two main goals, HW and EW, are to be achieved, but also EcW, the latter not being a goal in itself, but the precondition to achieve a reasonable level of HW and EW. That will be the challenge for the UNDP now it is considering to extend the valuable Human Development Index (HDI) with the main sustainability issues into an Sustainable HDI (S-HDI).

Framework HDI 

The current HDI comprises
  • Life expectancy
  • Education (mean years of schooling, expected years of schooling)
  • Income (Gross National Income per capita, PPP)
It has already been suggested to extend the current HDI with 
  • CO2 emissions
  • Water consumption
  • Land area / crop area
  • Ecological Footprint – EF 
  • Biodiversity (Red List)
  • Adjusted Net Savings – ANS 
  • Inequality (expressed by income distribution)
  • Employment
This certainly is not a complete list. Further indicators will soon be suggested. However, take care – for reasons of transparency and easy communication – that the number of indicators remains limited.

Clustering

The current as well as the already suggested indicators vary a lot in nature. One can cluster them – and probable further indicators – into the three wellbeing dimensions:

HW
EW
EcW
1. Education
2.Life expectancy
3.Income distribution

1. CO2 emissions
2. Water consumption
3. Land area
4. EF
5. Biodiversity
1. GDP
2. ANS
3. Employment

This will result in a transparent framework, which comprises a limited set of indicators and shows at a glance the actual situation for each indicator as well as the actual level of wellbeing for HW, EW and EcW. One might consider to also calculate one overall figure for the level of sustainability for each country as well as for the world as a whole.

Nine planetary boundaries

Beside the indicators which will be included in the S-HDI, it is most valuable to regularly report the actual situation of the nine planetary boundaries, which have been determined by Rockström et al. Within these boundaries humanity can expect to operate safely. According to the authors, three boundaries already have been transgressed: climate change, biodiversity loss and changes to the global nitrogen cycle. The impact of an individual country on some boundaries (CO2, water consumption and loss of biodiversity) can be measured and expressed in the S-HDI. For other boundaries this can only be done with great difficulty and uncertainty. Therefore, a separate presentation of the state of the art of the planetary boundaries, beside the S-HDI, is preferable. This will have a high added value.

Post 2015 era

Will it be possible to connect S-HDI with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) after 2015, when the MDGs will be renewed and replaced by Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? And if possible, does it makes sense to do so? Both instruments, S-HDI and SDGs, are aiming at the same goal: The future we want, thus enhancing and accelerating progress towards a sustainable society. The paths followed by the two instruments are similar, though maybe not completely equal. Until now the HDI comprises a very limited number (3 – 4) of indicators, whereas the MDGs include 60 indicators to monitor progress. As said above, most probably the number of indicators for the S-HDI will be quite a few more than the current 3 – 4. And it is very possible that the number of indicators for the SDGs will be substantially less than the present 60. It will make the SDGs more transparent. Even more important is that less detailed targets (and indicators) offer countries the opportunity to decide themselves where to give priorities in improving for instance a country’s health: by reducing child mortality, or by combatting HIV/AIDS, or by measures against malaria etc.
Thus it might very well be that S-HDI and SDGs will converge in the near future. Until that stage has been achieved, it is preferable to keep both instruments, the S-HDI and the Monitor of the SDGs. Don’t throw away a valuable instrument until one can be sure that the new one lives up to one’s requirements and expectations.
The most important measure will be to regularly – yearly – publish the results of the monitoring process, not only in a global report but also in a – public – report for each country separately; the country report to be sent to the Government and the Parliament. Keep the pressure high. No country can accept to be blamed for its poor performance on the long run, be it Afghanistan or Zimbabwe or any country in between A and Z.
And finally, let’s not forget the urgent call of the Stiglitz Commission: we need up to date and reliable data. A challenge for governments and their statistical offices.
March 7th, 2013
Geurt van de Kerk
Sustainable Society Foundation

The SDGs e-Inventory: Stakeholders outline their visions for post-2015 global goals

This ProgBlog article written by Jack Cornforth, Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future, is part of the Wikiprogress Post-2015 series. 


This month Stakeholder Forum has launched a new online tool to crowdsource stakeholder proposals for global goals for the post-2015 period. The Sustainable Development Goals e-Inventory provides all stakeholders with a platform to outline their visions for new universal goals for development, whether they be individuals, organisations or networks, from developed or developing countries, or representatives from NGOs, the private sector, or any other stakeholder group.
With the target date for the Millennium Development Goals fast approaching, attention has turned to what will happen beyond 2015 and several international processes are now working towards determining a new development agenda with new set of global goals. One such process is the negotiation track to create a universal set of sustainable development goals (SDGs), which aims to integrate the development and environment agendas under one framework.
Acting as an online repository, the e-Inventory aims to support stakeholders, including governments and intergovernmental organisations, to become better informed about the wide range of proposals, expectations and evidence-based arguments on SDGs, and other global goals for development, that are being proposed as part of the ongoing discussions on the post-2015 development framework.
Crucially, the SDGs e-Inventory is interactive, allowing stakeholders to submit their own ideas, update their submissions, and provide feedback and comments on other proposals as the discussions on the Post-2015 Development Agenda and the SDGs develop. Stakeholders visiting the site are encouraged to propose specific goals, together with targets and indicators, or they can simply emphasise the principles and themes that they think the new framework should be based upon and address.
The e-Inventory is targeted at sustainable development  practitioners, and aims to provide  users with the resources to develop their thinking, and the space to outline and disseminate their experiences of, research on, and recommendations for, global goals. Accordingly, the SDGs e-Inventory includes a capacity building component (currently being populated) to help stakeholders to fill knowledge gaps around the intergovernmental process, develop their own proposals, build alliances, and develop advocacy strategies.
There are a number of other consultation processes already underway – such as the My World campaign, which is soliciting broad priorities from the general public – which aim to gather stakeholder inputs for post-2015 development agenda. However, the e-Inventory is one of the first projects aiming to source recommendations for global goals directly from stakeholders and to feed into the intergovernmental process on SDGs via the Rio+20 mandated Open Working Group (OWG). Whilst the modalities for the OWG are still being determined, it is ultimately this UN process that will outline an overall vision for SDGs for Members States to consider in the General Assembly.
It is important to emphasise that the SDGs e-Inventory, as a project, is itself not aiming to make prescriptive recommendations for goals based upon the submissions it receives. Rather, it aims to provide an evidence base to support stakeholders and governments to reach well-informed positions on SDGs, and see that the eventual outcome takes stakeholder recommendations into account. As well as encouraging users to utilise the information housed in the e-Inventory to support their own advocacy activities, Stakeholder Forum will also conduct and disseminate regular analysis of the data. 

Reaching a large and diverse cohort of stakeholders, whilst ensuring that the most marginalised sectors of society are not excluded, will be one of the main challenges the project must overcome to be successful. To do so, Stakeholder Forum has partnered on the project with organisations and networks covering all geographical regions. These partners will not only be integral to ensuring the wide dissemination and use of the SDGs e-Inventory, they will also play a key role in seeing that the capacity building resources provided are tailored to the different needs of a wide range of stakeholders; that the information the inventory houses is optimal for advocacy purposes; and that the project receives strategic input from organisations and network with different areas of focus (both environment and development), as well as a full range of regional perspectives.
To further increase accessibility and use by parties around the world, we also plan to translate the user interface – which is currently only available in English – into French and Spanish.

Overall, it is hoped that tool will increase the likelihood of achieving a SDGs framework which fully integrates the three dimensions of sustainable development (social, environmental and economic).
To find out more, search existing proposals, or make your own submission, visit: www.SDGseInventory.org

Jack Cornforth


The OECD Global Forum on Development would like to hear your opinions on the following major themes.
  • Post 2015: Effective partnerships for development in a changing world. Click here to discuss
  • Beyond Poverty reduction: The challenge of social cohesion in developing countries. Click here to discuss
  • Measuring poverty, well-being and progress: Innovative approaches and their implications for statistical capacity development. Click here to discuss
  • The global-national nexus and country-level policy action. Click here to discuss


    In Global Downturn, Sustainable Development Begins at Home

    In preparation for the Global Forum on Development 2013, Lova Rakotomalala of Global Voices discusses how to better link remittances and sustainable development.

    As Western economies struggle with rising debt and unemployment, their approach to development and cooperation with low-income countries and emerging markets has taken a twist. It is becoming more clear that sustainable development should not be based on external wealth or redistribution, but must instead be generated at home.

    Foreign investment and remittances have long been identified as a crucial source of revenue for poor populations in countries like Mali or Cape Verde. Entire villages have been built out of remittances in Mali, for instance, mainly from immigrants to France. However, this does not mean that these countries are being helped to develop sustainably.

     Preparing a new thatched roof in Mali. Photo by Jean-Marc Desfilhes on flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
    For most African countries, the positive ability to attract capital is often negated by lenient fiscal policies towards foreign investors that strip countries of public revenues to build up their economies. This trend seems was still on the rise worldwide in 2007 according to an OECD report “Tax Effects on Foreign Direct Investments”.

    A report by Matthew Martin and Nils Bhinda from Development Finance International shows that in Tanzania, for instance, the influx of private capital from global mining companies increased the volume of gold and diamonds sales. However, this failed to produce the expected social benefits, such as increased government revenues or public investment in social infrastructure. In fact, various tax exemptions and fiscal incentives ended up costing Tanzania $140 million USD from 2005-2008.
    Remittances: Money at what cost?
    A growing number of poor households worldwide are subsisting on remittances, according to the World Bank. Still the question remains: can these seemingly successful flows of migrants and money secure sustainable development and reduce poverty in the most affected countries?
    Remittances from abroad to Mali amounted %3.7 of the countries GDP for the year 2005-2006, and according to some estimates remittances significantly decreased the number of poor in Mali and also reduced inequality. Cape Verde is another nation that has seemingly benefited from emigration as the country with the highest per capita remittances of any African country. With remittances amounting to 8% of the country’s GDP, it has even overcome the challenge of establishing banking institutions for the poor on its many islands thanks to financial capital from migrants in Portugal, Brazil and the USA.
    Because of such statistics, many international development institutions have attempted to design development policies based on remittance flows, by trying to convert this “subsistence” money into capital for infrastructure. There are some caveats to consider though.
    Despite the growth of remittance flows, one should keep in mind that the very concept of remittances originates from a major outcome of global poverty: economic migration. Those who choose to leave their country are often exposed to risks and dangers during the transition (illegal border transfer, human traffickers, social and cultural isolation).
    Moreover, remittances from migrants are highly dependent on the economic growth of the host countries. When unemployment in host countries rises, it frequently affects the type of labor available to most immigrants, putting both them and families back home at further risk of precariousness. Finally, the peer-to-peer nature of remittances is both a blessing and a curse. As Hein de Haas writes in an article for Third World Quarterlyin 2005:

    The much-celebrated micro-level at which remittances are transferred is not only their strength, but also their main weakness, since this also implies that individual migrants are generally not able to remove general development constraints.

    Because of the lack of incentives for locally-produced added value, it appears that remittances based on value created abroad can never be the sole base of a sustainable development strategy for low income countries.
    Good measures for sustainable development
    There are some measures that can be implemented to support foreign direct investment and remittances towards a more sustainable world.
    First, transparency and accountability. With respect to foreign investments, governments should offer proper projections of the benefits for public finance, or projects should not be allowed to take place. Financial policies should encourage a permanent check and balance system for both private and public flows with an obligation of transparency for the source of the revenues and their further use. Transparency, in the form of regular and mandatory publications to civil society should be mandatory.
    Low income countries often resort to the setting up Industrial Free Zones(IZF) to spur industrialization and create jobs in strategic locations with mineral resources. The creation of these zones have often led to economic and social instability through a constant race to lower costs, geographical mobility and low-quality production. Therefore if a government chooses to implement an IZF, it should also plan for a rapid conversion of labor and production capacity to evolve with markets.
    This concept is all the more important because so far there has been no concerted effort to integrate local products of low income countries and services in global trade. Inter-regional trade should remain the main goal because it provides geographical proximity and reduces vulnerability to the whims of highly mobile multinational companies.
    With respect to migration and remittances, a drawback of global inequality is the tendency of qualified students from low income countries to remain in richer countries to pursue careers, a phenomenon also known as the “brain drain“. As the recession takes its toll on employment in Western countries, a “reverse brain drain” effect has emerged for Nigeria, Ghana, Morocco and other countries where there are competitive salaries and working conditions.
    It would make sense for policymakers worldwide to start to embrace a simple idiom to ensure sustainable development: the creation of wealth through added value and redistribution must start at home. Policies based on short term incentives, social inequities or external wealth injection might spur growth temporarily, but it is doubtful that they will sustain poverty reduction in the long run.
    Lova Rakotomalala of Global Voices
    This blog first appeared on the OECD Global Forum on Development 2013 site, here.
    The OECD Global Forum would like to hear your opinions on the major themes.
    • Post 2015: Effective partnerships for development in a changing world. Click here to discuss
    • Beyond Poverty reduction: The challenge of social cohesion in developing countries. Click here to discuss
    • Measuring poverty, well-being and progress: Innovative approaches and their implications for statistical capacity development. Click here to discuss
    • The global-national nexus and country-level policy action. Click here to discuss

    “I am fighting for my future”

    In just over ten days, from June 20-22, representatives from world governments, civil society and the private sector will come together in Rio de Janiero for the Rio+20[1] conference, to discuss and address the multiple environmental challenges facing the world today. The objective of the conference is to attain renewed political commitment to sustainable development, ‘while addressing new and emerging challenges’.

    Rio+20 follows on from the Earth Summit held twenty years ago in Rio de Janiero, where in recognition of the role of children to the process of sustainable development, a chapter titled ‘Children & Youth in Sustainable Development’ was included in the ‘Agenda 21’ workplan and adopted with the following wording:

    “Youth comprise nearly 30 per cent of the world’s population. The involvement of today’s youth in environment and development decision-making and in the implementation of programmes is critical to the long-term success of Agenda 21”.

    Twenty years later young people continue to be involved in preparations and through the Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY) they will be involved in sustainability negotiations at Rio+20.

    Balancing the needs of the current generation with those of the future is argued to be a matter of urgency. This message was clearly conveyed at the 1992 Earth Summit, by a 12 year old Canadian girl named Severn Suzuki. In a speech to delegates Suzuki stated that she was there ‘fighting for her future’ and soberingly communicated her fears and concerns for the world while calling on adults to ‘change their ways’.  

    Suzuki’s speech resonated with delegates to the point of reducing some to tears. She came to be known as ‘the girl who silenced the world for 5 minutes’ (see the video here) and the impact of her speech reverberated throughout the world.

    With over 20 million views on You Tube, Suzuki’s speech continues to be heard as do its core messages of protecting the environment for future generations and of addressing the extreme inequality present throughout the world. Nevertheless, in a world where governments, public and private sector organisations face competing and urgent priorities, the same statement of ‘I am fighting for my future… ‘  could equally be made by Suzuki’s children today.

    The consistency of these messages is encouraging, as is the increasing acceptance of the argument for including children’s subjective perceptions in processes of social change and action. Change takes time, sometimes generations. It is easy to become fatigued with the slow pace and in this respect the perspective of children can play a refreshing and encouraging role as well as remind us of the responsibilities we as adults carry for future generations.

    A Kenyan proverb, quoted by Archibishop Desmond Tutu is pertinent to this point, “The world was not given to you by your parents; it was lent to you by your children.”
    Hannah Chadwick
    Wikichild Coordinator



    [1] The United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development, also known as the Earth Summit, was first held twenty years ago in Rio de Janiero.

    The week in review

    Hello, glad you could join us for the Wikiprogress week in review – a handful of headlines that have caught our eyes over the last week. You can find all news articles and blog posts on the progress community in the Wikiprogress Community Portal .    

    On wikis
    2012 Top 100 NGOs: #1 Wikimedia Foundation (The Global Journal 26.01.2012)
    The Wikimedia Foundation is best known for its most famous initiative, Wikipedia. The Foundation operates under the belief that information is a not-for-profit commodity; the Wikimedia Foundation has been instrumental to the global phenomenon of user-generated content and the mass sharing of information.
    See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on wikis

    On growth and development
    Sustainable Humanity (Project Syndicate 31.01.2012)
    Developmental Economist Jeffrey Sachs calls for the mobilisation of new technologies shaped by social values in ensuring sustainable development incorporates equality in economic growth and protection of natural resources.
    See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on sustainable development

    On measuring progress
    The OECD recently produced the video, How’s Life: Measuring Progress – asking experts, “What well-being and sustainability measures are needed to go ‘Beyond GDP’”?
    See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on the Better Life Initiative

    On social development
    UN Commission on Social Development kicks off with focus on poverty and youth (UN News Centre 02.02.2012)
    In 2011 there were 75 million youths without a job; UN figures show that young people are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults. Over the next 10 days the UN Commission on social development will focus on youth unemployment, poverty eradication and socially inclusive policies.
    See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on employment rates

    On gender equality
    Land rights for women can help ease India’s child malnutrition crisis (Guardian 20.01.2012)
    India has developed significantly over the past decade; however malnutrition rates are among the worst in the world with 45% of children under 5 suffering from malnutrition. New research shows that allowing women ownership of the land they farm could drastically reduce these figures.
    See more and contribute to the Wikigender article on access to land

    In the Spotlight: UN High Level Panel Report on Global Sustainability – Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing (United Nations 30.01.2012)

    A 22-member Panel was established by the Secretary-General in August 2010 to formulate a new blueprint for sustainable development and low-carbon prosperity. The Panel’s final report, “Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing”, contains 56 recommendations to put sustainable development into practice and to mainstream it into economic policy as quickly as possible.
    Read more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on sustainable development.

    We hope you will tune in the same time next week. In the meantime, if anything interesting passes your desk that you would like to see in the next Wikiprogress week in review, please tweet it to us  @Wikiprogress  or post it on our  Facebook page

    Yours in progress,

    Philippa Lysaght