UN and Azerbaijan collaborate to determine sustainable development goals beyond 2015

While presenting the findings identified during the first round of Post-2014 National Consultations in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan, along with 189 Member States, endorsed the Millennium Declaration at the UN Summit in September 2000 which embodied eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) defining a common framework for making a difference in people’s lives by 2015. As the deadline for the MDGs draws closer, the United Nations has been working with governments, think tanks, private sector, civil society and other partners to help build a collective vision that will be used by the UN and world leaders to plan a new development framework beyond 2015.

The MDGs were brought into the mainstream of government policy making and, since then, have been transforming the quality of life for hundreds of millions of people in the world. Using a time-bound and outcome-oriented approach, the MDGs have had a deep effect on international development policies. By focusing on a limited set of measurable targets, the MDGs have helped to increase and channel more efficiently development aid, set global and national priorities, mobilize action, and achieve remarkable results.

The eight specific and ambitious MDGs include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary school education, reducing maternal and child mortality rates, and fighting killer diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS. In most countries, some of those goals are expected to be achieved by the 2015 deadline, and in some countries all or most will be met. According to the UN figures and the World Bank’s estimations, global extreme poverty rate has been cut in half and the goal will be met, as the population share of extremely poor people in developing countries is projected to fall from 29% (1990) to 12% (2015). The world has achieved parity in primary education between girls and boys and has also met the target of halving the proportion of people without access to improved sources of water – two billion people have gained access to safe drinking water.

Post-2015 Development Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals

At the September 2010 MDG Summit, UN Member States initiated steps towards advancing the development agenda beyond 2015. The research work on post-2015 agenda started after the discussion on this subject at ECOSOC in March 2011.

Member States discussed practical measures for implementing sustainable development at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and agreed to launch a process of formulating a set of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will build on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals and converge with the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Since August 2012, a wide range of discussions, reflections, and consultations on identifying a new generation of sustainable development goals has started on many fronts.

The UN has facilitated an unprecedented series of global thematic and national consultations with people from 189 countries to seek their views on formulating the development targets beyond 2015. To engage as many people as possible in the process, the Post-2015 Development Agenda conversations are taking place through a mix of digital media, mobile phone applications and conferences. The consultation participants continue to contribute their ideas through the World We Want website (http://www.worldwewant2015.org) within eleven thematic consultations on a variety of development issues such as governance, growth and employment, food security, access to water, which will help guide thinking on how to include emerging and pressing issues in the post-2015 development agenda. People are also welcome to vote for six out of 16 priorities through the MY World online surveys (http://www.myworld2015.org) (or, as an alternative, a printed ballot card).

The main perspectives coming through the global and national consultations are that the current MDGs remain highly relevant, but they need to be expanded upon and deepened, both in terms of their quality and inter-linkages among them.

The collected ideas and priorities generated by the global consultations have been reflected upon in the Report of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, which was handed over to the Secretary-General two weeks ago. The Report outlines a broad vision of one universal framework that builds on the MDGs, puts poverty eradication at the center, and recommends the full integration of the economic, social and environmental strands of sustainable development, and addresses issues of governance and peace and security. The Report suggests that the following five transformative changes should be set out to deliver on the new development agenda: i) leave no-one behind; ii) put sustainable development at the core; iii) transform economies for jobs and inclusive growth; iv) build peace, and effective, open and accountable institutions, and vi) forge a new global partnership.

National consultations in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan joined the 87 countries which launched the post-2015 national dialogues. Consultations commenced in March 2013 and will continue in June, engaging a wide range of stakeholders to define a vision of the world the people of Azerbaijan want to live in.

The national consultation process is aligned with the development priorities that are articulated in the Azerbaijan: Vision 2020 strategy document which will guide the Government’s policies over the next eight years, with the goal to double GDP per capita by 2020 and transform Azerbaijan into a high income country, rising into the group of top-ranked countries of high human development.

Over the past three months, the UN system in Azerbaijan, for the first time in its history, has provided unique venues for the people to articulate their views and share their aspirations for the world and future they want for themselves. Broad and intensive consultations brought together academia, international development partners, think tanks, private sector, entrepreneurs, business associations, journalists, NGOs, and engaged people from every walk of life, with a specific focus on vulnerable groups, youth and women (particularly, in rural areas), children, persons with disabilities, IDPs, to address a plethora of development issues. They included economic diversification and shared growth, social cohesion, gender equality and rural women’s empowerment, youth empowerment (especially in rural areas), private sector, employment (and education that leads to employment) and jobs creation, food security, nutrition, and rural development, population dynamics, migration and human trafficking, and health issues (including reproductive health, non-communicable diseases, TB, HIV, malaria).

The consultation process ensured that a diversity of voices was heard in determining the new development framework which will aim to help people enjoy a life of prosperity, equity, and dignity. The hundreds of people in Azerbaijan who participated in the post-2015 national consultations were encouraged to express their views and many of them noted the progress made towards the MDGs in Azerbaijan, acknowledging that a broad range of national policies and continuous economic development have created a conducive environment for the country’s meeting most MDGs, even a few of them (such as MDG1 and MDG2) ahead of time.

The consultation participants were unanimous that the efforts should be strengthened to further sustain the country’s rapid growth and achievements made over the last decade to transform Azerbaijan into a dynamic excellence hub in the years to come.

The consultations stirred up lively debates, and the initial fusion of ideas, suggestions and the most essential issues that have emerged from the three-month dynamic and inclusive national consultation process reflect a diverse range of perspectives of the sustainable development in Azerbaijan. The collective ideas and recommendation will be made available on the post-2015 country website www.post2015.az.

The evidence and suggestions generated by the people will be synthesized at the workshop next Friday, 21 June. This workshop will serve as a forum to share thoughts and key messages arising from the exchange of diversified opinions and will help capture recommendations for setting both global and national priorities for policy makers, illustrating the world the people of Azerbaijan want to live in beyond 2015.

Way forward

The post-2015 consultation process is the beginning of an historic journey which will help us move closer to a new framework that can build and expand on the MDGs, as well as the progress made at Rio+20, and make a difference for generations to come.

Findings from the global and national conversations will be delivered to the UN Secretary-General, Heads of State and Government attending the UN General Assembly in September 2013 and other processes. The Secretary-General will consider the recommendations of the Report of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda in preparing his own report to the General Assembly, for discussion by Member States at the Special Event on the 25th of September 2013.

The Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals (OWG), established as a result of the Rio+20 Conference, will continue gathering information between now and February 2014, when Member States will begin preparation of the OWG report and recommendations to 2014 General Assembly.

The High Level Political Forum on sustainable development will replace the Commission on Sustainable Development as it is mandated to follow-up on sustainable development. The Forum will play an important monitoring role for a future framework.

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