Group says poorest countries can play major role in new global sustainability goals

The IIED said the poor nations need to re-define themselves.

The world’s least developed countries (LDCs) can play a critical role in ensuring that the new global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which the international community aims to have in place by 2015, are both fair and effective, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) has said.

To ensure this happens, however, these nations will need to redefine themselves according to their strengths, act to improve governance, and promote greater solidarity both with each other and with more developed nations, the institute said in a communiqué today.

The Sustainable Development Goals have the potential to steer international collaboration to deal with the challenge of improving the lives of the poorest people while also reducing the harmful human impacts on ecological systems and resources. A successful and fair outcome will require listening to a diversity of voices and credible research, including voices and research from the least developed countries.

IIED said the Independent Expert Group, an independent group of thinkers which aims to provide ideas and challenges that support a more ambitious effective and global set of goals for environmental sustainability and human development, arrived at these conclusions, and will share them and more, in a new briefing paper and a series of meetings next week in New York City.

The expert group aims to influence the UN’s efforts to define global sustainable development goals to take effect from 2015, when the Millennium Development Goals expire.

Members of the group work in research institutes, media, civil society organisations and government agencies in 11 of the LDCs which include Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Eritrea, Gambia, Haiti, Mali, Nepal, Senegal and Uganda.

Tom Bigg of IIED, who coordinates the group’s activities, said the Least Developed Countries are in many ways the weakest but they also have strengths such as, their local knowledge and institutions, their culture and values and their resilience to uncertainty.

“The LDCs can be leaders in the post-2015 process by promoting new forms of international cooperation that enables greater solidarity and sharing of knowledge and responsibilities. They can act to redefine development assistance by working harder to use their national wealth to meet the priorities of the poor and they can do more to share their lessons and experiences of how to measure development and manage environmental resources”, he said.

Members of the Independent Expert Group will be in New York City from June 24-26 to provide input into a series of meetings about the post-2015 development agenda.

Essam Mohammed, a researcher with IIED and member of the Independent Expert Group said the Group sees solidarity, rather than partnership, as being the key to effective international collaboration in the post-2015 framework as it implies shared interests and responsibilities rather than the out-dated donor-recipient relationship.

The UN process provides opportunities for the Least Developed Countries with low levels of socio-economic development to frame international agendas and demonstrate leadership in developing a post-2015 agenda. The Independent Expert Group was formed in response to that opportunity.

The Independent Expert Group’s mission is to ensure that UN-led processes to set international goals for development and sustainability take account of the perspectives and priorities of the LDCs, and promote leadership from the LDCs at the UN level.

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