Governance Beyond 2015 / The global power shift

This week I will attend a seminar in Brussels organized by the civil society platform Beyond 2015. It is a global civil society campaign pushing for a strong and legitimate successor framework to the Millennium Development Goals. The seminar will meet hundreds of civil society representatives from all around the world during two days discussing and thinking on several issues related with how this new framework has to be build. There will be several workshops focused on more concrete topics and one of them is about “governance”. The organizers asked me (as UBUNTU) to prepare some ideas in order to organize the debate. And here you have the result. This document would have been impossible without the help of Blanca.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century the MDGs were presented at the UN in an international context completely different from the present one. Today the changes in the international structures and its power dynamics, in the position of the Northern countries due to the impact of the economical and financial crisis, and in the transfer and access of information, make the model of 2000 completely obsolete. When thinking on development needs, these must be understood beyond the framework of the MDGs and the time horizon of 2015. Other needs such as climate change or how the various development goals are going to be financed must be present in the new development model that has to be discussed within the UN (the G193).

During last years, the shifts of power within the international system have been reflected in three key issues which shape the future of world governance:

  • The international rise of the G20 and some regional agreements (BRICS, IBSA, Shanghai Cooperation, etc.) as opposed to the UN;
  • Due to the huge economical and financial crisis in the North, the financing for development has suffered a severe drop, reducing, consequently, the weight and influence of Northern countries in this sector;
  • The demands for more and better democracy around the world (Arab Spring, Indignados, Occupy Wall Street, etc.) in relation with the socialization of the access to information through new technologies, has contributed to open new “doors” to modify the ancient North-South relations.

These changes pose new challenges to the institutional architecture of development that must be addressed to meet the needs of billions of people. There has to be a change on governance and a new thinking on the elaboration of effective and real development models adapted to nowadays context that exceed the classical dichotomy between the national and global interest.

Under this context it is imperative a comprehensive revision of the financing for development model, one of the pillars in which the governance on development issues has to be sustained. As it has been mentioned earlier, the economic and financial crisis has struck with particular force the OECD’s DAC members, who are reducing drastically the percentage devoted to ODA. This old governance model of development is based on the hegemony of the DAC countries, and clashes with the role that the emerging countries (mainly the BRICS) are playing in the last years. The emergence of these countries has led the way out of poverty to millions of people and has also challenged the old North-South distinctions as well as the role of the OECD or the G8. At the same time the emergence of private initiatives such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, implies the entry of a new kind of actor who also participates in the governance of development issues.

Another issue which has to be addressed is the hierarchy of values at the global level and how it shapes the policy-making. The role that corporations and lobbies have; the transparency and access to information; and the participation of all the actors involved in development policies, are also crucial topics to elaborate a model that faces effectively the global challenges and that have development as one of its core priorities. There still exists a dominant position of Northern states, transnational companies and financial sector which has to be readdressed and adapted to nowadays international dynamics. The strength of the emerging countries, of civil society and private initiatives requires a paradigm shift in the governance of development issues.

All the above raises the question of how the development model and its governance are going to be built according to the new reality, and to know which is going to be the position that development issues are going to have in this new international context. The debate on the post-2015 scenario has to include these issues and has to be addressed through a new conception of the institutional architecture also based on coherence. This coherence should avoid the overlap of functions within the international system as it occurs in food issues (FAO, WTO, IFAD, WFP, etc.). The new governance, requires that the change in the distribution of power (reflected in the role of emerging countries, the South-South cooperation and of civil society), was articulated properly without entailing a rupture of the multilateral relations who have, with all its caveats, the United Nations at its core. A United Nations which must be reformed in order to become the body where all the development issues are addressed from a global perspective, appropriate to the current context and that guarantees an effective participation of all the stakeholders involved, specially women.


PS: Finally and in relation with this new post, do you know what TED is? Sincerely I recommend you to take a look at its webpage. Today I have found this presentation by Paddy Ashdown titled “The global power shift”


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About Hernán Cortés Saenz

Nacido un frío diciembre de 1982 en Barcelona, hijo de padre colombiano y madre catalana, mi nombre es Hernán. Resido en un pequeño pueblo de la Costa Daurada con un encanto espectacular y a orillas del Mare Nostrum. Soy licenciado en Ciencias Políticas por la Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, y estoy especializado en Relaciones Internacionales, cursando un Doctorado sobre la materia. He trabajado como Policy & Executive Officer en UBUNTU - Foro Mundial de Redes de la Sociedad Civil analizando temas relacionados con el sector financiero, alimentación, gobernanza mundial y desarrollo. Actualmente estoy en Nueva York (EUA) como investigador asociado con la Initiative for Policy Dialogue de la Universidad de Columbia y la Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung investigando sobre las protestas globales acontecidas como respuesta a la crisis y las medidas de austeridad.


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