Last week saw hundreds of people gather for the UN General Assembly debates on the post-2015 agenda. Member states agreed on an outcome document that outlines the process for getting to an agreement. That will still take two years. First, a group of countries comprising the Open Working Group will consider what the agenda should be. They are expected to deliberate until February next year, and then negotiate a text during the summer to present to the 2014 General Assembly. Then, the Secretary-General will be tasked with presenting a draft for member states’ consideration and eventual agreement at the 2015 General Assembly.
So much for process. But what about substance? Already, some of the contours of the new agenda are emerging. It will be a single agenda, merging the efforts to eradicate poverty and to promote sustainable development. It will be a universal agenda, with actions to be taken by all countries. It will probably include consideration of personal safety, of strengthening institutions, and of infrastructure, jobs and growth, none of which are currently part of the Millennium Development Goals. Gender equality is likely to be emphasized more. There is much talk of a new global partnership, although that means making progress on things like agricultural subsidies, the global trade talks, and other international agreements on which progress has stalled. These themes have emerged in a number of reports that were considered by the UN at various special events last week. Among those reports is the report of the High-Level Panel on the post-2015 agenda (Disclaimer: I was the Lead Author for that report.)