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Event on “Strengthening the Post-2015 Agenda – Voices of Experience from the Front Line” calls for higher ambition in the post-2015 agenda, identifies red flags

arton4564This event on 24 September, drew more than 70 representatives from Member States, UN organizations and civil society for frank discussion on strategies to foster higher ambition in the post-2015 agenda. It was organized by Beyond 2015, Climate Action Network (CAN), the International Forum of NGO Platforms (IFP) and Participate, and co-hosted by the governments of Bangladesh, Colombia, Kiribati and Sweden, in partnership with UN-NGLS, Bond (UK) and CEPEI (Colombia).

Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) moderated the discussion, which began with presentations by regional civil society leaders on critical issues in their regions.

Alessandra Nilo, Executive Director of Gestos, Brazil, stressed, “The framework is still lacking ambition, and needs to go further. Without addressing rights, we do not address discrimination, or access to justice. This is our responsibility to the future.”

Sugeng Bahagijo, Executive Director of INFID, Indonesia, indicated that higher ambition is needed with regard to peaceful and stable societies. “To design good societies, we need to have impartial and just governments which protect human rights.”

On climate change, Pelenise Alofa, National Coordinator of the Kiribati Climate Action Network, underscored the importance of reinserting a target to hold global warming below a 1.5% Celsius temperature increase. She added, “Civil society has a place in implementing this – we are partners. Let’s work together in our international community to solve our problems.”

In terms of people’s participation in the design, implementation and monitoring of the post-2105 agenda, Rosette Mutambi of Participate, HEPS Uganda, and the Coalition for Health Promotion and Social Development, maintained, “People must be given the opportunity to speak for themselves, and this must be based on rights.”

David Nussbaum, Executive Director of WWF UK, highlighted key concerns from European civil society, which include the integration of the development and environment agendas. He also highlighted that each goal of the post-2015 agenda needs to have targets that address social, economic and environmental concerns in a holistic manner.

Sam Worthington, President and CEO of InterAction, USA, called for a truly universal post-2015 agenda. For civil society, a universal post-2015 agenda is not only about inclusion of all countries but also of all sectors, including business, civil society, governments and all people. It will require northern governments to make changes in their internal policies, and to their societies, in terms of, for example, their unsustainable models of consumption and production.

UN Member States, including the co-hosts, Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh’s Delegation to UNGA and UN Climate Summit, Kajsa Olofsgård, Post-2015 Ambassador for Sweden, and Marcela Ordoñez, Minister Counsellor of Colombia, discussed key civil society concerns, such as the challenges around streamlining the 17 goals and 169 targets, and how to implement the post-2105 agenda, including through ensuring that financial and non-financial resources are available to do so. Accountability was also discussed, with wide acknowledgement that more work is needed on this.

In response to civil society questions, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning, Ms. Amina Mohammed, told participants that it was a significant achievement that 70 countries were able to come to an agreement on the Sustainable Development Goals. Ms. Mohammed encouraged civil society to report on how to further raise the level of ambition in the wake of the Outcome Document of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals.

The press release of the event is available inEnglish,French, andSpanish. For Beyond 2015’s notes from this event, please clickhere.

Click here to access the Beyond 2015 article on the event.

Red Flags

Responding to Ms. Mohammed’s request, Beyond 2015 and other civil society organizations developed a set of “red flags” to provide standards for the post-2015 negotiations. If properly reflected in the post-2015 agenda, the demands and aspirations of millions of people throughout the world could be met. Below is the text of this “red flags” letter.

The post-2015 agenda will help guide political priorities over the next fifteen years. This is a once in a generation opportunity. As leaders prepare for the final phase of intergovernmental negotiations, Beyond 2015 calls for a higher level of ambition and raises red flags to ensure the post-2015 agenda is fit for purpose: enabling coherence and prioritization of action; securing commitment to action; and ensuring accountability for action.

Beyond 2015’s red flags reflect positions on priority areas. While issues like health, poverty eradication and education are critical to the post-2015 agenda, there is no perceived challenge to their inclusion and consequently, we do not feel it necessary to raise a red flag on these issues at this time.

The Equity Red Flag

1. Social, political, economic and spatial inequities and inequalities are not an inevitable outcome of progress. Equity and equality must be embedded at the core of the post-2015 agenda – it must have anexplicit commitment that no target should be considered met unless it is met for allsocial and economic groups.No one must be left behindby virtue of their gender, age, disability, income, geography, ethnicity or others, and data should be disaggregated to reflect this.

2. The post-2015 agenda must also address inequities and inequalities in fundamental power structures. It mustmeasure and address economic inequality between the richest and poorest, and reduce the extreme differences between the top and bottom quintiles of populations,both within and between countries, including through progressive tax systems and redistributive mechanisms at national and international levels. This must remain as a stand-alone goal, and be mainstreamed throughout the framework.

3. Theimpacts of environmental degradation, climate change and unsustainable patterns of consumption and production on increasing inequities and inequalitiesmust be acknowledged and clearly addressed. Equitable access to and participatory management of resources (including natural, financial and ecosystem services), especially for Indigenous and rural communities must be guaranteed.

The Human Rights Red Flag

1. Goals, targets and indicators of the post-2015 agenda, as well as its financing mechanisms and monitoring and accountability frameworkmust reflect and express a clear commitment to human rights norms, standards and commitments. The post-2015 agendamust secure the full spectrum of human rights– including the right to development, to information, free media, and the protection of civil society organizations’ ability to organize and engage.

2. Women’s full legal, political, social and economic rights have been enshrined in international agreements for more than three decades but against which the world is still failing to make adequate progress. Without the respect and realisation of such rights, includingequal influence in all forms of decision making, equal right to access and own economic resources, finances, property and land, inheritance and credit, as well as full recognition of sexual and reproductive health and rights, we cannot achieve gender rights and equality.

3. The post-2015 agenda must guarantee the right of Indigenous Peoples to Free, Prior and Informed Consent and overall decision-making over natural resource extraction in their lands and territories.

The Planet’s Red Flag

1. The post-2015 agenda must enable all people to live a good life,within their fair share of the planet’s resources. The post-2015 agenda must meet the needs of the world’s poorest who under-consume and are denied their fair share of the world’s resources, and tackle over-consumption in many countries.

2.The post-2015 agenda must ensure that all subsidies for fossil fuel consumption and production must be completely phased out by 2030, while protecting low income and vulnerable populations from negative impacts and prioritizing their access to clean, safe, affordable and sustainable energy sources.

3. The post-2015 agenda must demonstrate coherence through a well-balanced integration of the environmental, economic and social dimensions within each goal, thus reflecting the interlinkages between the environment and all aspects of our lives.

4. The post-2015 agenda must express the commitment towards addressing climate change, respecting the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibility. It musthold global warming below a 1.5/2 degree centigrade increase,and include measures to address the effects of climate change.

The Participation Red Flag

1. The participation of people, CSOs and social movements which articulate their priorities, must be guaranteed inALL phases of the processleading up to and following the post-2015 Summit in September 2015 – the design, implementation and monitoring of the post-2015 agenda.

2.Participation must be recognized as an end in itselfof the post-2015 agenda, catalysing a shift to more participatory and accountable governance at all levels that secures all people’s opportunity to meaningfully participate in the design, implementation and monitoring of public policies and programs from local to national to global levels.

The Accountability Red Flag

1. True accountability is more comprehensive than a system of monitoring and reporting. The post-2015 framework must be underpinned by a robust and comprehensive accountability mechanism, incorporating commitments to monitor, evaluate and report on progress, share learning and knowledge, and build capacity. It must address the ‘who’, the ‘for what’ and the ‘how’ of accountability.

2.The post-2015 agenda must be truly universal: all countries have a responsibility to achieve all goals within their own countries as well as to contributing to progress beyond their borders. The post-2015 agenda must apply to all countries, to all actors, to all people.

3. Strong global accountability can only come from strong local accountability, which means accountability must be towards people. The accountability framework of the post-2015 agenda must include clear directions for governments to provide a conducive environment for all people and their organizations to hold governments to account.

4. The post-2015 agenda must establish strong human rights and environmental accountability by developing specificex antecriteria, based on human rights and environmental standards to determine whether a specific private sector actor is fit for a partnership in pursuit of the post-2015 goals, to hold companies accountable for their impact on human rights and the environment and to prevent any such negative impacts. It must also introduce mandatory, independent assessments and periodic public reporting of the cross-border human rights and sustainable development impact assessments of governments, businesses and international financial institutions, on issues such as agriculture, extractives, tax, trade and finance.

The Economy Red Flag

1. The economic pillar of the post-2015 agenda must contribute to a re-examination of the current reliance on sustained economic growth. The post-2015 agenda must therefore institute amove away from GDP as a measure of progress in a country to a measure based on well-being, which would reflect elements from all three pillars of sustainable development.

The Peace Red Flag

1. The post-2015 agenda must address the fact that violent conflict, insecurity and abuse has consequences for sustainable development outcomes everywhere. Targets on reduction of such violence are critical, but the post-2015 agendamust address the drivers of violence, including through targets on access to justice, reducing corruption, promoting participatory decision-making, and upholding civil and political freedoms. Targets must also address theglobal factors that drive violence, including the irresponsible and illicit flow of arms, finance and conflict commodities, and the illicit drug trade.


This article is also available in French.

The UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) is an inter-agency programme of the United Nations mandated to develop constructive relations between the UN and civil society organizations.


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