Early reactions to the High-level Panel Post-2015 report

by | May 30, 2013

Below, you can find my summary of the High-level Panel report on what should replace the Millennium Development Goals. Here’s a summary of reaction to its publication.

Ban Ki-Moon is grateful. Sweden has won a great victory. Save the Children – it’s pretty good. Sightsavers: more comprehensive and ambitious than I dared hope. UK – let’s finish the job on poverty. ODI happy disaster risk reduction is in. President Johnson-Sirleaf: “we can be the first generation to eradicate global poverty.”

Oxfam fuming: “The Panel has failed to recognize the growing consensus that high levels of inequality are both morally repugnant and damaging for growth and stability.” “Really HLP? You *don’t* think the world needs to reduce inequality?” One Campaign welcomes specific commitment to ending poverty. Op-ed from John Podesta (plus his 5 minute take on YouTube) – American panelist:

President Barack Obama believes it. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia believes it. I believe it, too: By 2030, we can eradicate extreme poverty.

This is not a hollow platitude. The generations living today are the first in human history that could eliminate extreme deprivation and hunger. It is critical that all nations strive to meet this goal. Not only for our own security, though we know that a more prosperous world is more stable, but because ending extreme poverty is the right thing to do.

UN Foundation: “a particularly significant and bold contribution to the development of a new framework to succeed the Millennium Development Goals.” DFID has a snazzy infographic. Grand Challenges Canada – it’s a smorgasbord. Patricia Espinosa (Mexican panelist): “Además de completar las Metas de Desarrollo del Milenio, la nueva agenda debe crear bases para la prosperidad de las generaciones futuras.”

WaterAid: “delighted that the Panel has heard the call for a goal on universal access to water and sanitation. We will only succeed in ending poverty if ambitious targets are also agreed that by 2030 everyone everywhere has access to water, sanitation and hygiene.” IISD analysis.

BBC leads with end poverty angle, but notes failure to include goal on income inequality:

Among 12 measurable goals set out in the report are an end to child marriage and equal rights for women to open bank accounts and own property. The panel also recommends bringing together development and environmental agendas, with targets for reducing food waste, slowing deforestation and protecting ecosystems.

It also stresses the need for countries to give citizens confidence in their governments by promoting the rule of law, free speech, transparency and cracking down on corruption.

Economist: towards the end of poverty (not always with us). Guardian focuses on lack of inequality:

Nice goals, but the elephant in the post-2015 room is inequality,” said Andy Sumner, a development economist at King’s College London. “We find in our number-crunching that poverty can only be ended if inequality falls so one should ask: where’s the inequality goal? Something resembling that elephant in the room [– on data disaggregation –] is in annex 1 of the report, but will anyone remember an annex note in 2030?

Claire Melamed – missed opportunity on global partnerships:

While getting global agreement on much of this agenda is notoriously difficult and the report can’t change that, the panel could have helped the politics along by linking the most difficult issues to specific outcomes – improved trade rules to job creation and equitable growth, for example, or financing commitments to outcomes in health or education (so, rather than a generic commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on aid, commitments to provide financing to meet specific objectives in other goals).

WRI – a major breakthrough on sustainability. UNFPA – welcomes goal to end child marriage. WWF: “there is finally recognition that poverty cannot be eradicated and the well-being of people across the globe cannot be secured without addressing the grave pressures on the environment and the natural systems that support human life on this planet.”


Among the recommendations, the 69-page report says large businesses should be obliged to report social and environmental impacts, in addition to their financial accounts.

Mark Leon Goldberg: important proposal for Global Partnership on Development Data. Charles Kenny:

The biggest positive of the report is the example it sets for the formal negotiations on post-2015.  The panel was a group 27 people including three heads of state and numerous others with very close ties to or roles in different national governments.  If they can agree twelve ‘indicative’ goals that are reasonably coherent, somewhat selective, and involve a lot of targets that are important, compelling, time bound and measurable, maybe (maybe) the UN General Assembly can manage something similar.

And Tearfund – making probably the most important point of all: “It’ll be interesting to see how quickly we can work together globally to break the political deadlock which has so far prevented this vision from becoming reality.”

A few more: US NGOs: “”The U.S. government is well-positioned to play a leadership role in developing the detailed post-2015 framework.” CAFOD: “ultimately, legitimate goals will hinge on a credible political deal, and global agreements are not easy.”  Sightsavers: “disability has for the first time been given the attention it deserves in global efforts to eradicate poverty.”

Transparency International: “important first step in ensuring that good governance and anti-corruption will be at the heart of the post-2015 agenda.” EU: welcomes comprehensive agenda that will apply to all citizens and countries. Health Poverty Action: inequality is totally invisible. People’s Goals: too much focus on business, not enough on poverty. HelpAge International: old people have been ignored. Saferworld – focus on peace and security is a big step forward.

John Norris – why the Panel chose a $1.25 poverty threshold, not a $2 one. Brendan Rigby: “there are plenty of eye-rolling statements and narratives, such as when you read that the panel discussed “the daily reality of life on the margins of survival”. In London.” Alex Cobham: “Most disappointing is the decision to ignore the consensus position that emerged from the UN consultation, in favour of a standalone goal on economic inequality.” Stephen Hale and Duncan Green: report ignores political constraints, but also fails to take on difficult issues such as inequality and planetary boundaries.


  • David Steven is a senior fellow at the UN Foundation and at New York University, where he founded the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children and the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, a multi-stakeholder partnership to deliver the SDG targets for preventing all forms of violence, strengthening governance, and promoting justice and inclusion. He was lead author for the ministerial Task Force on Justice for All and senior external adviser for the UN-World Bank flagship study on prevention, Pathways for Peace. He is a former senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-author of The Risk Pivot: Great Powers, International Security, and the Energy Revolution (Brookings Institution Press, 2014). In 2001, he helped develop and launch the UK’s network of climate diplomats. David lives in and works from Pisa, Italy.

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