The 2030 Agenda: Leaving behind the promise of sustainable development
Posted on 5 August 2015
IBON International Updates #4
New York City, 3 August 2015 – On August 2, 2015, Ambassador Macharia Kamau of Kenya declared that delegates from 193 countries of the United Nations had finally arrived at a consensus behind a new development agenda for the next 15 years. After almost three years of consultations among various stakeholders and deliberations among Member States on a successor framework to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that expire this year, a post-2015 development agenda was finally agreed after feverish negotiations that extended two days beyond the target date of completion.
Ambassadors Kamau and David Donoghue of Ireland co-facilitated this drawn out process to its completion and will now send the final text to the UN General Assembly for formal adoption by Heads of States and Governments in a Summit scheduled on September 25-27 at the UN Headquarters in New York City.
Delegates from Member States present last Sunday evening welcomed the outcome document titled “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, with a standing ovation and sighs of relief.
Unheard in the applause, however, was the frustration over the non-transparent and unprincipled negotiating tactics applied by developed countries led by the United States and European Union during the final 48 hours of negotiations.
Behind closed-doors, developed countries were able to wrest more concessions on major issues of concern to developing countries.
As in other multilateral negotiations in recent years, the central point of contention among Member States in this process is the fair burden sharing of responsibilities. The G77 and China insist that the burden of achieving sustainable development should not be the same for all countries. Those who have developed their economies faster through colonialism and the overexploitation of the global commons should be expected to bear more in terms of providing finance, technology and technical capacity for transitioning to a more sustainable path of development for all. This is encapsulated in the principle of “Common But Differentiated Responsibilities” (CBDR) stated in the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.
The US, EU and other wealthy countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on the other hand insist that the Post-2015 Development Agenda must be a shared responsibility of all countries. They deny the heavier historical responsibility of the advanced industrialized countries and highlight the rapid economic growth and increase in climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions of China, Brazil and other so-called middle-income countries in recent years.
In the end, the US and other developed countries got their way. The CBDR is acknowledged only once and in a very circumscribed manner in the declaration of principles of the 2030 Agenda. Indeed, other parts of the document demonstrate the determination of the US and other rich countries to shift the burden of responsibility to developing countries and the private sector. For instance, the outcome document states, “Maintaining sustainable debt levels is the responsibility of the borrowing countries.”
Indeed there is nothing in the