Lecture on Post-2015 Agenda for Sustainable Development Summer School

Jun 22, 2013

Dear Students,

I am delighted to have the opportunity to open the Summer School on Sustainable Development with a lecture on the Post 2015 Development Agenda.

In my speech I will touch upon three major issues:

First, Millennium Development Goals and the progress so far;

Second, Post 2015 Development Agenda and the preparatory process at the global and national levels;

Third, global vision so far and results of national consultations on the Post 2015 Development Agenda, i.e. Ukrainian people vision of the future they want to have.

1.     Millennium Development Goals and the progress so far

Launched in 2001 by Kofi Annan, then Secretary-General of the UN, as part of the implementation framework for the Millennium Declaration, the eight Millennium Development Goals are a powerful tool in mobilizing the international community around clear, concise and measurable development objectives to be fulfilled by 2015.

The MDGs encompass some of the most fundamental causes and manifestations of extreme poverty: preventable maternal and child deaths, the failure to get all children into school, hunger and malnutrition, gender inequality in all fields of life, low income and environmental degradation. Shifting the focus away from development approaches which in the 1980s and 1990s had prioritized efficiency, competitiveness and economic growth, the MDGs signal that while growth was still important, it is a means to achieving ends for human welfare.

The internationally agreed framework of the MDGs contains 8 Goals, 21 Targets and 60 Indicators to measure the progress. Thus, the MDGs is a set of time-bound, quantitative targets representing a common vision for development.

The process of establishing an MDG framework in Ukraine started in 2000, when the President of Ukraine signed the United Nations Millennium Declaration. In 2003, the global MDGs were adopted at the national level and the first National Report “Millennium Development Goals – Ukraine” determined the country’s long-term version for the development. The targets are indicators were revised in 2010 to take the new development challenges into consideration. Currently, the national MDG framework consists of 7 Goals, 13 Targets and 33 Indicators.

The national Goals for Ukraine are the following:

Goal 1. Reduce Poverty

Goal 2. Ensure Quality Lifelong Education

Goal 3. Promote Gender Equality

Goal 4. Reduce Child Mortality

Goal 5. Improve Maternal Health

Goal 6. Reduce and Slow Down the Spread of HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis and Initiate a Trend to Decrease their Scales

Goal 7. Ensure Environmental Sustainability.

Over the 13 year since the millennium the world has seen the fastest reduction in poverty in human history: there are half a billion fewer people living below an international poverty line of $1.25 a day. Child death rates have fallen by more than 30%, with about three million children’s lives saved each year compared to 2000. Deaths from malaria have fallen by one quarter. This unprecedented progress has been driven by a combination of economic growth, better policies, and the global commitment to the MDGs.

In terms of Ukraine, the progress with achievement of MDGs is uneven. The country has reduced poverty partially (depending on the methodology of measurement) and made further progress in education, maternal health and child mortality. There are good news in the area of HIV and tuberculosis: in 2012, for the first time since the epidemic, the number of new incidences of HIV has started to decline. Reducing gender inequality continues to be modest and meeting the environmental goal is still a challenge.

Poverty Reduction: Ukraine has demonstrated significant decline in the scale of poverty according to the absolute criteria. Share of people living on 5 USD per day in PPP terms reduced to 1.7%. The poverty according to the relative criteria has fallen as well. The share of people who live under the poverty line reached 24.3%. The share of poor among children has perceptibly decreased to 32.0%, whereas the share of poor among employed persons reached 19.6%.

Ensure Quality Lifelong Education. Despite the significant progress in the area of secondary general education (enrolment rate is almost 99%), pre-school education remain to be an issue with the coverage about 60% of children. Another area of the great concern is higher education: it does not correspond to the demands of the labour market which result to the high employment rates among the youth (17.3% in 2012). Internet coverage in schools – which measures the quality of education – is not high either, 76%

Promote Gender Equality. Achieving gender parity within representative authorities and public administration remains to be a crucial task for Ukraine. Although women’s representativeness among the members of the Ukrainian Parliament slightly increased (now it is 9.4%), meeting the target by 2015 (30/70) seems to be a challenge. Women accounted for 12% among oblast council members, 23% - rayon council members, 28% - city council members, 51% - rural council members, and 46% - settlement council members. A gap in average wage between women and men (about 30%) is another manifestation of gender inequality.

Reduce Child Mortality. A decrease in child mortality was observed during 1995-2012: from 14.7 to 8.4 per 1,000 live births in 2012. However, the trends were not unambiguous: whereas mortality among children aged between one and five showed a very substantial decline, by almost 60%, success is somewhat more modest in infant mortality reduction – about 29%.

Improve Maternal Health. Maternal mortality in Ukraine decreased in 2012 to 12.5 per 100,000 live births. All women undergo regular medical examinations at early pregnancy stages (less than 12 weeks); the coverage rate is more than 90%. However, an unsatisfactory state of pregnant women’s health in general is a huge issue.

Reduce and Slow Down the Spread of HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis and Initiate a Trend to Decrease their Scales.  The HIV epidemic in Ukraine remains to be one of the most severe among the countries of East Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States. According to estimates, 230,000 HIV-positive persons live in the country (HIV prevalence rate among the adult population is 0.58%). In 2012, for the first time, the number of the newly diagnosed HIV incidences has started to decline (1.6% decrease comparing to 2011). Thus, the number of people newly diagnosed with HIV has fallen to 45.5 per 100,000 population in 2012. The level of HIV mother-to-child transmission has also declined to 2%.

Ensure environmental sustainability. The impact of human activities on biological resources remains high in Ukraine. Environmental issues that require urgent attention includes conserving and improving land and water resources, atmosphere and biodiversity, increasing the efficiency of energy use, among others. Addressing the problems of access to quality drinking water and stabilization of emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases into atmosphere remain an urgent issue for Ukraine. Due to anthropogenic load, about 70% of surface waters and a substantial share of ground water reserves have lost their significance as a source of drinking water supply. In 2012, 4.3 m t of pollution agents was emitted into the air basin; in that quantity, emissions of methane and nitrogen oxide, which are greenhouse gases, were 886.9 and 12.5 thousand tons, respectively. Apart from these substances, 202.2 m t of carbon dioxide was emitted into atmosphere. More than two-thirds of pollutant emissions into atmosphere from stationary sources accounts for three oblasts: Donetsk, Luhansk, and Dnipropetrovsk.

2.     Post 2015 Development Agenda

The MDGs are making a real difference in people’s lives and, with strong leadership and accountability, this progress can be expanded in most of the world’s countries by the target date of 2015. After 2015, efforts to achieve a world of prosperity, equity, freedom, dignity and peace will continue unabated.  The UN is working with governments, civil society and other partners to build on the momentum generated by the MDGs and carry on with an ambitious post-2015 development agenda.

At the September 2010 MDG Summit, UN Member States initiated steps towards advancing the development agenda beyond 2015 and are now leading a process of open, inclusive consultations on the post-2015 agenda. The outcome document of the 2010 High-level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly on the MDGs requested the Secretary-General to initiate thinking on a post-2015 development agenda. The outcome of the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development that took place in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil initiated an inclusive intergovernmental process to prepare a set of Sustainable Development Goals. There is an agreement on the need for close linkages between the two processes to arrive at one global development agenda for the post-2015 period.

Since August 2012 the United Nations system has facilitated an unprecedented series of consultations with people around the world to seek their views on a new development agenda after 2015.

This global conversation responds to a growing call for active participation in shaping the “world we want”. Taking place before governments sit down to negotiate and finalize such a new agenda, the consultations underway provide evidence and perspectives to governments on the challenges people face in improving their lives and those of their families and communities.

The Secretary-General established the UN System Task Team, chaired by the United Nations Development Programme and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, which bring together the efforts of more than 60 UN agencies and international organizations.

Secretary-General announced the 27 members of a High-Level Panel to advise on the global development framework beyond 2015. President Yudoyono of Indonesia, President Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom are co-chairs of the Panel, made up of civil society, private sector and government leaders. Results from the global consultations and the inputs from online and offline platforms feed into the work of the High-level Panel. The Panel has delivered its report to the Secretary-General in May 2013 (I will speak about it a bit later).

In addition, eleven thematic consultations are being conducted around the world in such areas as: inequalities, health, education, growth and employment, environmental sustainability, governance, conflict and fragility, population dynamics, hunger, food and nutrition security, energy, water. Their objective is to organize formal and informal meetings with different stakeholders around current and emerging challenges.

Moreover, national consultations are currently under way in 83 countries, with an aspiration to reach 100 countries during 2013. These are being organized by UN Country Teams, under the leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator, and are working with a wide range of stakeholders including governments, civil society, the private sector, media, universities and think tanks. The consultations generate inputs into global policy making from individuals and groups through meetings and conferences, online discussions, and larger public debates. National consultations follow several objectives:

1.       to help countries build a national position, which can later on facilitate the negotiation for the future framework;

2.       to increase countries’ empowerment of the future framework. It took several years before the current MDGs, which were not designed in an inclusive way, were recognized by advanced and developing countries;

3.       to help build national and international consensus on a range of issues.

Processes have been designed to engage with groups and communities who would not normally have access to these discussions, those who are excluded and marginalized, and with young people who will assume responsibility for the planet and its people within the lifetime of the next development agenda.

A global on-line conversation is taking place on the worldwewant2015.org website, on Facebook and other forums in various countries, as well as through the MY World survey which enables individuals to rank their own priorities.

MY World is a global survey for citizens led by the UN and partners. Through online and offline methods, MY World asks individuals which 6 of 16 possible issues they think would make the most difference to their lives, and offers space for respondents to write in suggestions. The 16 choices were identified through existing research and polling exercises and cover the existing MDGs plus issues of sustainability, security, governance and transparency.

Complementing the MY World survey is the World We Want Platform. The web platform, www.worldwewant2015.org, is a repository for both the thematic and the national consultations. It allows people from all over the world to participate in the global conversation on the issue they want to highlight in the post-2015 development debate.

Around 10 000 Ukrainians took part in the global survey MY WORLD, and I encourage all of you to go to www.myworld.org and vote for the 6 issues you believe are important for the Post 2015 Development Agenda.

3.     Global Vision So Far and Results of National Consultations

As I have mentioned previously, the High-level Panel recently has issued its Report. It concludes that the post-2015 agenda is a universal agenda. It needs to be driven by five big, transformative shifts:

1. Leave no one behind. The world must keep faith with the original promise of the MDGs, and now finish the job. After 2015 countries should move from reducing to ending extreme poverty, in all its forms. It should be ensured that no person – regardless of ethnicity, gender, geography, disability, race or other status – is denied universal human rights and basic economic opportunities. Goals that focus on reaching excluded groups, for example by making sure we track progress at all levels of income, and by providing social protection to help people build resilience to life’s uncertainties, must be designed.

2. Put sustainable development at the core. For twenty years, the international community has aspired to integrate the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of sustainability, but no country has yet achieved this. Countries must act now to halt the alarming pace of climate change and environmental degradation, which pose unprecedented threats to humanity. Countries must bring about more social inclusion. This will require structural change, with new solutions, and will offer new opportunities. Developed countries have a special role to play, fostering new technologies and making the fastest progress in reducing unsustainable consumption.

3. Transform economies for jobs and inclusive growth. A quantum leap forward in economic opportunities and a profound economic transformation to end extreme poverty and improve livelihoods are needed. This means a rapid shift to sustainable patterns of consumption and production – harnessing innovation, technology, and the potential of private business to create more value and drive sustainable and inclusive growth. Diversified economies, with equal opportunities for all, can unleash the dynamism that creates jobs and livelihoods, especially for young people and women. This is a challenge for every country on earth: to ensure good job possibilities while moving to the sustainable patterns of work and life that will be necessary in a world of limited natural resources. It should be ensured that everyone has what they need to grow and prosper, including access to quality education and skills, healthcare, clean water, electricity, telecommunications and transport. There is a need to make it easier for people to invest, start-up a business and to trade.

4. Build peace and effective, open and accountable institutions for all. Freedom from fear, conflict and violence is the most fundamental human right, and the essential foundation for building peaceful and prosperous societies. At the same time, people the world over expect their governments to be honest, accountable, and responsive to their needs. It is a call for a fundamental shift – to recognize peace and good governance as core elements of wellbeing, not optional extras. Responsive and legitimate institutions should encourage the rule of law, property rights, freedom of speech and the media, open political choice, access to justice, and accountable government and public institutions. A transparency revolution is needed, so citizens can see exactly where and how taxes, aid and revenues from extractive industries are spent.

5. Forge a new global partnership. Perhaps the most important transformative shift is towards a new spirit of solidarity, cooperation, and mutual accountability that must underpin the post-2015 agenda. A new partnership should be based on a common understanding of our shared humanity, underpinning mutual respect and mutual benefit in a shrinking world. This partnership should involve governments but also include others: people living in poverty, those with disabilities, women, civil society and indigenous and local communities, traditionally marginalized groups, multilateral institutions, local and national government, the business community, academia and private philanthropy. Each priority area identified in the post-2015 agenda should be supported by dynamic partnerships. It is time for the international community to use new ways of working, to go beyond an aid agenda and put its own house in order: to implement a swift reduction in corruption, illicit financial flows, money-laundering, tax evasion, and hidden ownership of assets. Countries must fight climate change, champion free and fair trade, technology innovation, transfer and diffusion, and promote financial stability. And since this partnership is built on principles of common humanity and mutual respect, it must also have a new spirit and be completely transparent.

As for Ukraine, the total number of people who participated in the national consultations amounts to approximately 25 thousand of people. These are both the participants of the crowdsourcing platform and people who were engaged into the direct face-to-face and online interviews.

The majority of those engaged in the national consultation process positively assessed the fact of holding consultations and involving a broad spectrum of participants that represented various groups and population strata.

Discussions on the post-2015 development goals were based on critical assessment of Ukraine’s achievements over the years of independence, analysis of problems, reflections on the reasons of existing problems, and vision of ways for solving them.

According to consultations outcomes, more than 80% of the participants are not satisfied with quality of life in Ukraine whereas ¾ is not satisfied with the possibility to influence decision-making. A considerable share of the participants emphasized problems of inequality in its various dimensions and manifestations, non-observance of human rights, authorities’ self-dissociation from issues that concern most of the people. Most of the discussions touched upon problems of corruption and inequality before the laws, as well as problems of employment and decent work, need to increase wages and pensions, deteriorated quality of education and mismatch between education and labour market needs, decrease of the general educational and cultural level. Experts and students actively discussed such issues as energy security and environmental safety, attraction of foreign investments, and the need for resuming economic development. Elderly persons and members of non-governmental organizations, including those working with people living with HIV and persons with disabilities, are considerably dissatisfied with the health care situation in the country and with low quality of medical services. Business representatives voiced the necessity of improving tax policy and conditions for doing business.

Based on these consultations, the following areas were identified as key development priorities:

Ø creating conditions for self-realization and building an equitable society;

Ø professional, responsible authorities;

Ø reforming the education and vocational training systems, enhancing the society’s educational attainment, developing life-long education;

Ø improving quality of health care and medical services;

Ø securing human rights in all aspects of life: state support for vulnerable groups, poverty reduction, provision of equal opportunities for all;

Ø ensuring full employment and decent work, targeting vocational education on labour market needs;

Ø modernizing production, securing sustainable economic development, improving tax policy, promoting mobilization of investments, and implementing innovative technologies;

Ø reducing inequality in various manifestations, including by reducing the gap between poor and rich ones;

Ø addressing the problem of energy supply and energy independence;

Ø protecting environment and fostering environmental consciousness;

Ø developing civil society, strengthening social solidarity.

Creating conditions for self-realization and building an equitable society. Impossibility of self-realization is a key reason for passivity, apathy and mass labour migration, according to the participants’ opinion. Hence overwhelming majority mentioned the need for building a state policy that would create conditions for self-realization of youth and of an active part of the population. This policy must create enabling conditions to support talented persons, develop entrepreneurial activity and creative potential, and implement innovative, creative ideas in various fields.

Unequal opportunities for job placement and career promotion, situation when problems are solved with the help of social connections and the money characterise inequity in the Ukrainian society. Developing an equitable society securing equal chances for every citizen requires a high level of public administration transparency as well as establishment of a state governed by legislation.

Professional, responsible authorities. The state as an institution, particularly governance and performance of various levels of authorities, was criticized the most. Most participants stressed on the need for change and rotation of authorities and for ensuring a high level of professionalism. Implementation of the principles and mechanisms of authorities’ responsibility to people, securing transparency of their work, accountability of authorities and individual leaders are important aspects expressed by people. Institutionalization of corruption in the Ukrainian society created parallel mechanisms. This requires a comprehensive action programme to combat corruption that should include measures for stronger accountability for corrupt practices as well as envisages change in consciousness of Ukrainians.

Reforming the education and vocational training systems, enhancing the society’s educational attainment, developing life-long education. The education system plays important role in improving the quality of human potential. Over the years of independence quality of education and vocational training has deteriorated; existing curricula fail to meet modern needs of the society and do not respond to challenges posed by rapid changes and globalization processes. Radical opinions were expressed as to changing the educational paradigm to focus it on bringing up a conscious and active person, shaping a social demand for continuous enhancement of educational attainments, and acquiring new skills on a life-long basis. The participants pointed to importance of developing the life-long educational institution and forming motivations and needs for such learning. Most participants mentioned the need for improving the general level of people’s education and culture, focusing specifically on youth and future generations. They pointed on the role of school (general secondary) and teacher, and emphasized that school must ensure not only transfer of a certain knowledge but also form a multi-developed personality.

Improving quality of health care and medical aid. People should admit that there is no free medicine, abandon Soviet approaches, and ensure access to quality primary health care regardless of their place of residence and income levels (abandon such restrictions to access of health care as registration, availability of documents, compulsory charitable fee, etc.). A full-scale health care reform is required including inventory of existing health care facilities and considering their efficient use and partial renovation. It is necessary to introduce an insurance medicine and upgrade medical equipment at facilities; to increase the funding from the state budget; to change the funding system – i.e. abandon “bed-based” principle of financing and shift to service-based principle; revert to comprehensive preventive medical examination of the population; increase wages of health care staff; popularize the doctor profession; improve medical education and improve professionalism of doctors. Elderly persons and PLWH complained about lack of tolerance of health care staff and contemptuous attitude to patients. Disability-related questions became a separate topic. It was proposed to introduce changes into the system of disability confirmation. Participants mentioned the need for an active state policy to shape and promote healthy lifestyle standards.

Securing human rights in all aspects of life: state support for vulnerable groups, poverty reduction, provision of equal opportunities for all. All discussions were dominated by the human rights issue, including the need to ensure observance of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. First of all, relevance of this issue was stressed by representatives of the national minorities, people living with HIV, LGBT, youth and elderly persons, and unemployed ones. Experts also expressed opinions concerning the need to improve the state policy on poverty reduction, support vulnerable groups (first of all persons with disabilities and elderly persons), promote equality of opportunities in all aspects of life, simplify bureaucratic procedures and reduce bureaucratic and social restrictions that hinder economic activity and social mobility. The state must secure stable and equal access to key human development resources – education, healthcare, social protection, labour market, financial services, housing and information – as well as ensure freedom of speech, freedom of association, and legal support.

Ensuring full employment and decent work, targeting vocational education on labour market needs. Decent employment is a key requirement expressed by all groups to authorities and business. Shaping a flexible labour market, including development of flexible forms of employment, economic and social support for labour resource mobility; creating jobs with decent labour remuneration rates; providing opportunities for upgrading, modernization of jobs in Ukraine and for bringing them into the most advanced progressive conditions; de-shadowing of labour payments – were mentioned by the participants of the national consultations.

Special attention should be paid to the development of SME that will in turn create new jobs needed in the society. This requires state programmes, regional strategies, local strategies for development of territories and regions, attraction of investments in such projects, as well as elimination of corruption.

Respect for a working person should be cultivated; prestige of labour as such should be improved; it is necessary to promote motivation for productive work and foster higher prestige of worker occupations and occupations that do not require higher education.

The following was recommended: reforming labour laws to meet international standards in the world of work, and enforcing them properly; developing and practically implementing state and regional programmes for development of employment, and special employment programmes for certain social groups (persons with disabilities, persons of pre-retirement age, etc.); improving mechanisms of social protection; adapting services and proposals in education to meet demand in labour market; encouraging advanced training, skills development and retraining for specialties in growing demand; developing cooperation between the public employment service and non-governmental structures operating in the labour market.

Modernizing production, securing sustainable economic development, improving tax policy, promoting mobilization of investments, and implementing innovative technologies. One of the central areas of the consultations was ensuring sustainable economic development. The following was suggested: economic reform that envisage structural changes in economy; identify priority sectors and enterprises and provide state support for their development; provide state support to high-tech enterprises; reduce energy and material intensity; improve the investment climate; combat corruption; legalize and de-shadow corporate incomes; streamline the tax base and increase the tax collection rate; implement an efficient judicial reform to secure owners’ rights; encourage research and development activities by the state and implementing those providing economic benefits.

Reducing inequality in various manifestations, including by reducing the gap between poor and rich ones.  The issues of inequality in various manifestations were raised in the course of discussion of various problems. These issues are closely connected with observance of human rights, provision of equal opportunities, development of an equitable society, and corruption in various aspects of society. Most acute problems include a growing gap between rich and poor, inequality in access to power and to life resources. Some female participants emphasized existing gender inequality at work. Recommendations provided include increasing the share of women in governing bodies, combating corruption, providing equal changes in various aspects of social life and access to services regardless of nationality, age, language of communication, property status, residence, etc.

Addressing the problem of energy supply and energy independence. Growing prices of energy carriers and Ukraine’s energy dependence were mentioned among problems of economic development. Participants noted the need to abandon energy-intensive production that does not create a competitive product, and to implement energy-saving technologies as well as pointed on a close connection with environment protection and finite natural resources. One participants’ opinion, replacement of consumption of imported gas and oil products with alternative fuels is an urgent issue for the entire world and for Ukraine in particular. The participants stressed on  the need of implementation of innovative and modern technologies, state support for such programmes, capital investments in promising areas of scientific and technological progress, which would promote lower resource intensity (including energy intensity) of production.

Protecting environment and fostering environmental consciousness. Economic development should be closely linked with the rational use of resources and minimization of environment damage; hence it should envisage harmonic combination of social development needs and preservation and reproduction of the country’s natural potential. In order to ensure this, political will, legislative initiatives, and strict state control of environment conditions, of assessment of environmental impact caused by enterprises, productions and economic sectors, of the operation of utilities are needed.

Urgent steps include: conducting independent environmental audit of industrial processes; implementing a tougher system of supervision over emissions into environment; providing state support for innovative, environmentally advanced technologies; ensuring development of modern environment-saving technologies; encouraging business to implement clean technologies; implementing domestic waste utilization and processing technologies; establishing environmentally safe, waste-free production complexes; developing exclusion zones; forest preservation programmes; drinking water programmes; implementing stricter economic and environmental laws; stimulating environmentally clean production technologies.

Developing civil society, strengthening social solidarity. The participants expressed a consolidated opinion on importance of creation in Ukraine of a civil society where each of its members recognizes himself as a holder of sovereignty, a source of power, a conscious subject of political activity, a person responsible for consequences of his actions, for the future of his country and of the entire world community. Without high civil activity, modernization processes in Ukraine are deemed to fade away. In its turn, it calls for deeper work of all mechanisms shaping such activity, which include the institution of family, political and economic institutions, institution of education, institution of religion as well as elections, volunteering, etc. For civic activity to grow in Ukraine, the work of civil society organizations must be supported. For this a number of specific tasks should be undertaken: promote capacity building of civil society associations for protection of interests not only of their members but of wider social groups as well as socially worthwhile interests; pay special attention to enhancement of people’s civic activity at the place of residence; augment state financial support for civil society organizations, and increase the scope of application of that support; intensify work to shape people’s political culture, raise the public conscience level, and overcome social passivity; strengthen popularization among the population of involvement in the work of civil society organizations; ensure provision of legal advice to people on establishment and operation of civil society organizations. It is necessary to ensure that people can consciously influence policy-making, decision-making, and budget prioritization at the local level.

The results of the national consultations become the basis for the National Report to be issued jointly by the UN System in Ukraine and the Government of Ukraine and Presented by the President of Ukraine at the General Assembly this September.