You Could Have It All – Day 5 and Report of OWG12

by khristian méndez //

The 12th session of the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals has come to an end. At 5pm on friday, co-chair Kamau wrapped up the informal session of negotiations of the OWG, and opened the formal consultations, to be wrapped up 30 minutes later. During all of Friday, we heard the positions from 20+ member states on the final proposed SDG: Means of Implementation.

Means of Implementation (MOI) is not only high on the priority list for many countries, it is indeed a deal breaker for many of them. In general, the day proceeded slow, which some statements taking up to 25 minutes. Given the controversial nature of this proposed goal, there were of course several speakers on the list, so the chairs asked everyone to be brief. Find out more after the jump!

The rubber band was pulled in all directions in this conversation: G77+China wants targets for each goal.  UK/Netherlands/Australia had a lengthy statement about what they thought best: the keep some targets under each goal, then keep another ones under a global partnership goal, and basket the rest. They expressed that their troika was now reaching similar opinions, and asked everyone to respect the process on international finance. For Argentina MOI are a sine qua non position for the SDGs, and they replied to the UK/NL/AUS troika: “If you want to hear about a similar opinion, we are 133 countries with the exact same opinion.”

Japan echoed the troika asked everyone to wait for the Finance for Development conference. They also highlighted that spelling out implementation was done for Agenda 21, which was a mistake.

Guatemala asked countries to move beyond the North-South divide. Echoed by Germany, who asked for a paradigm shift. Egypt agreed, and asked that we move towards a model which enables and empowers. They replied that Agenda 21 was not a mistake, it was simply a commitment that wasn’t upheld.

The co-chairs asked for countries to provide their rationales before expressing whether they agreed or not with the each target (given that it has 46 targets). The main consensus was for some of this targets to be kept under this goal, a few to be lumped under each goal, and several others -which duplicated efforts- to be merged or basketed in an annex along with the other targets that will not make the final report.

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The OWG only has 8 working days left to finish the report. In these 8 working days, the co-chairs have to address a series of concerns raised across the group. The SDGs were not meant to be written to direct technical or -worse- bureaucratic approaches to sustainable development. The Future We Want (the outcome document of Rio+20) calls for the following:

“We also underscore that sustainable development goals should be action oriented, concise and easy to communicate, limited in number, aspirational, global in nature and universally applicable to all countries while taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities. We also recognize that the goals should address and be focused on priority areas for the achievement of sustainable development, being guided by the present outcome document. Governments should drive implementation with the active involvement of all relevant stakeholders, as appropriate.”

Hence, the members of the OWG and indeed all member states sitting at the ECOSOC chamber have to come to terms between what the SDGs are to do, and what they want – as of now, the proposed SDGs are neither concise nor easy to communicate, and certainly not limited in number. Universality of goals and targets has been questioned, and other larger questions such as monitoring and accountability have not been addressed yet. We look forward to what the next (and last) round of negotiations will bring.

After the 13th Open Working Group, the co-chairs will take in the reactions from the new text, and produce the final report, to be submitted to the UN General Assembly for its Session later this year. The SDGs will then also be accompanied by the outcome of other parallel fora on sustainable development, such as the High Level Political Forum, and these will form the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Stay tuned for more in the coming days!

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