On June 3rd, the African Union Commission gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to officially launch the Common African Position (CAP) a document created to encapsulate the continent’s post 2015 development goals.
CAP outlines a consensus on Africa’s key priorities to aid in thepost 2015 negotiation process.
“CAP reflects the aspirations of the African people” observed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia and Chair of the High Level Committee.
The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Carlos Lopes hailed CAP as “a concrete step towards mainstream[ing] all the key issues at the global level but with an African perspective addressing all the Sustainable Development Goals.”
This document is a direct result of the work undertaken by a High Level Committee (HLC) set up by the African Union last year in May. Their process involved several consultative and technical meetings to review a list of priorities developed by institutions around the continent in order to reach a consensus among Africans on the proper framework to succeed the Millennium Development Goals.
CAP states, “We therefore commit ourselves to speak with one voice and to act in unity to ensure that Africa’s voice is heard and is fully integrated into the global development agenda.”
Scaling up the transformative agenda in Africa
Africa’s development priorities are grouped into “six pillars”, namely: Structural economic transformation and inclusive growth; Science, technology and innovation; People-centered development; Environmental sustainability, natural resources and disaster management; Peace and security; and Finance and partnerships.
“The overarching goals of CAP are to eradicate poverty and ensure human development, which are anchored in the six pillars” stated Anthony Maruping, Commissioner of Economic Affairs of the AUC who presented the document.
African countries have pledged to strengthen their productive capacities in order to foster industrialisation and to promote processing of primary commodities by developing value chains across sectors and beneficiation policies, especially in the extractive sectors of their economies.
CAP stresses the need to modernize agricultural sectors and enhance agricultural productivity to enhance food self-sufficiency. Additionally CAP emphasizes the role of services and infrastructure development in facilitating economic transformation.
The Millemium Development Goals are often criticized for their disproportionate focus on the social sector and for adopting a quantitative rather than qualitative approach to development, some observers remark.
“The common position embodies a shifting of the development model from socially-oriented planning to one focused on value addition and properly taking advantage of resources” explained Ibrahim Mayaki, head of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the development arm of the AU.
In the next phase of its work, the HLC will begin negotiations with other regions of the world as well as development partners to ensure Africa's vision is included in the post-2015 global development agenda.
EU bets on sustainable development to tackle poverty
Prior to the CAP launch, the European Commission (EC) issued a communication outlining Europe’s development aspirations for the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
For the EC, eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development are fundamentally interrelated.
The EC communication features “poverty”, “inequality” and “food security” as the first three priority areas in a total of 17 and indicates the EU’s plan to cluster them based on interlinkages.
The EC also recognizes the role of trade liberalization for poverty eradication and sustainable development. “We encourage our partners, notably developed and advanced developing economies, to provide Duty Free and Quota Free (DFQF) and market access for products originating from LDCs as well.”
The Communication recognizes the value of universality, but also acknowledges the need for differentiation based on national circumstances saying, “It [the new development framework] should be global in aspiration and (…) universally applicable to all countries while (…) taking into account different national contexts capacities and levels of development.”
According to the document, such differentiated treatment requires a consideration of appropriate starting points and capacities of each country, and the need to ensure achievability, ownership and measurability.
Additionally, Brussels believes the post-2015 framework should ensure a “rights-based approach” to promote sustainable development by ensuring “justice, equality and equity, good governance, democracy and the rule of law, peaceful societies and freedom from violence”.
Finally, the Communication stresses the EU's commitment to a strengthened global partnership, including the EU's role as a one of “the driving forces behind mobilizing action internally and worldwide
The launch of CAP coincides with the “zero draft” on the SDGs proposed on June 2nd by the Open Working Group– a UN group tasked with formulating the SDGs, which will replace the current eight MDGs next year. A report on the SDGs is scheduled for presentment to the UN General Assembly by September 2014 (See article in Biores, 2 June 2014).
The creation of the SDGs is a central part of the framing of the post-2015 development agenda which will be negotiated by the UN General Assembly until September 2015.
Some experts have suggested the value of the sustainable development agenda lies in its ability to identify connections between many issues. However, in terms of practical implementation, this is proving easier in theory than in practice.
NB: Press Cutting Service
This article is culled from daily press coverage from around the world. It is posted on the Urban Gateway by way of keeping all users informed about matters of interest. The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and in no way reflects the opinion of UN-Habitat