New Year Review

Happy New Year! At last, we’ve entered the pivotal year in development – 2015 – and it is incumbent on us to review the achievements of 2014 and the upcoming opportunities we must seize.

Top 10 Milestones of 2014

Twenty-fourteen was an agonizing year for many – with Ebola as well as new and continuing violence in many parts of the world. And there were very few big flashy announcements in the global effort to end hunger and poverty.

Yet – away from the headlines – the quiet efforts of thousands of activists and political leaders achieved key milestones in creating a bold, Post-2015 agenda as the basis for a more just and sustainable future. Here are my top 10.

  1. Six ElementsSDGs: The intergovernmental Open Working Group, launched at the 2012 Rio+20 conference, submitted its final draft set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in July including elements key to THP missing from the MDGs. In September, the General Assembly adopted the draft as the basis for its 2015 negotiations. In his December synthesis report, the Secretary General cast these 17 goals in a framework of six interlocking elements.
  2. COP20: The decisions at the 2014 climate change conference in Lima “pave the way for the adoption of a universal and meaningful agreement in 2015” stated the UN Secretary-General, as he called for major power to submit plans well in advance of the Paris COP21. The US-China Joint Agreement was considered particularly important. Indigenous movements seized the opportunity to protest illegal exploitation of resources on indigenous lands, including the murders of activists.
  3. ICN2: The second International Conference on Nutrition in Rome, organized by WHO and FAO recognized the importance of multisectoral action to overcome not only stunting and wasting but the epidemic of obesity. The Pope tied the injustice of malnutrition to inaction on climate change.
  4. GNR: The first-ever Global Nutrition Report was released, in response to global commitments made at the 2012 Nutrition for Growth Conference. Among its findings are examples of remarkable progress in reducing stunting in six countries, including the Indian State of Maharashtra.
  5. Resilience, with two international conferences in May, became the top new buzzword, emphasizing an empowerment, multi-sectoral and community-led approach to coping with shocks (both climate-change and politically induced) to bounce back better than before.
  6. IYFF: The International Year of Family Farming seemed to cement global recognition that the future of ending hunger rests with empowering small-scale farmers, not a transition to industrial agriculture – although the debate continues.
  7. CAADP 2.0: 2014 was officially Africa’s “Year of Agriculture.” The Africa civil society coalitions were very pleased that the AU Summit in Malabo significantly strengthened mechanisms for accountability and civil society engagement in the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme.
  8. Africa Leaders Summit: The US President’s conference with 50 African heads of state marked an important recognition of Africa’s growing economic power – home to many of the world’s fastest growing economies.
  9. Dutch Commitment to Advocacy Funding: Bucking the trend of most bilateral donors, the Dutch government commitment to fund advocacy work by NGOs could prove to be a wonderful platform for the future.
  10. Narrative Project: A Gates-funded initiative by US and European NGOs to reverse the decline in public support for development, and transform the way the sector talks about itself – to emphasize self-reliance and the moral case.

 Top 10 Prospects for 2015

This pivotal year, with the completion of the MDGs and launch of the SDGs, many of the key policy negotiations are already tightly scheduled. However, we can look for surprises in a number of key areas such as health, gender, local democracy and peace-building. At this point, the Top 10 prospects (with links) look list this.

  1. SDGs. The UN General Assembly begins formal negotiations to finalize the Sustainable Development Goals in January.
  2. Beijing+20: The 20th anniversary of the 1995 Beijing Women’s Conference is seen as a key year-long opportunity to emphasize both progress and gaps in fulfilling the Beijing Platform of Action. It will be the theme of the 2015 Commission on the Status of Women, at which The Hunger Project will present a session on progress of women in Bangladesh.
  3. COP21: The world is counting on the “final” climate change summit in Paris to deliver a definitive action plan.
  4. FFD: Financing for Development Summit in Addis, 13-16 July 2015. The Center for American Progress has an excellent analysis of the process leading up to the Summit, at the link listed below.
  5. Africa Year of Women’s Empowerment. The Theme of the 24th Africa Union Summit, 23-31 January 2015 is “Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”
  6. Evaluation_Tourch_2015_r1International Year of Evaluation. The “Torch of Evaluation” will be passed from event to event this year – important given the key role of a Data Revolution in the SDGS, and The Hunger Project’s staff for “Data for the People.”
  7. Europe “Year for Development” and German G7 PresidencyWith Germany’s ruling party taking charge of aid policy for the first time, the German Government intends to “lead by example” in shaping the Post-2015 agenda. The EU hopes to use its “Year for Development” to galvanize citizen support.
  8. Expo Milano 2015 – 1 May to 31 October – A world’s fair with the theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.” The Barillia Foundation created Milan Protocol to promote policies to fight hunger, malnutrition, halting food waste and climate change.
  9. Commonwealth Local Government Forum Conference in Botswana, 13-16 June: With its 50-country membership and a strong mandate for local democracy in its charter, the Commonwealth is an important international forum.
  10. Turkey G20 2015 Presidency: Turkey has announced its priorities as “inclusion, investment and implementation” for economic growth, and envisions the G20 will exert a stronger voice for the Lower-Income Development Countries during its presidency.

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