Round table on the sustainability of the new development framework to celebrate the International Mother Earth Day

(Photo - UNAS)United Nations Association of Slovenia (UNAS) celebrated the International Mother Earth Day with a round table titled “Post- 2015 – how sustainable will the future development be?"; which was held on 22 April 2014 at the Faculty of Social Sciences in Ljubljana. At the round table, which was moderated by Ms. Maja Bučar, PhD, Vice-Dean for Research and Doctoral Studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences, participated: Mr. Janez Potočnik, PhD, European Commissioner for the Environment; Ambassador Mr. Jernej Videtič, MSc, Head of the Department for international development cooperation policies at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia, and Ms. Ana Kalin, MSc, Head of advocacy and policies at Sloga, Slovenian NGO Platform for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid. At the beginning of the round table the video address by Mr. Kandeh K. Yumkella, PhD, Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) for the “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative (SE4ALL) was played.

We are approaching the year 2015, which was defined as the milestone for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Before the expiry of this period, in which the international community has committed itself to achieve the eight Millennium Development Goals, discussions on the global level have been going on on a new development framework, which will enter into force after the year 2015. These discussions include among other also the consideration of the objectives of sustainable development as well as the up grading of development cooperation. The round table highlighted the international efforts to establish a developmental agenda for the period after 2015 and focused on the cooperation between various stakeholders involved in the process of creating the so-called Post-2015 agenda.

In the introductory video address Mr. Yumkella, who was named by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in September 2012 as his Special Representative for the “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative and thus became one of the six Special Representatives of the UN Secretary-General, stressed that sustainable development cannot be achieved without sustainable energy; therefore sustainable development cannot be defined, nor can the climate change be addressed without ensuring universal access to energy. The vision of the initiative of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) is to provide universal access to sustainable energy by 2030. The initiative has three interrelated objectives: to ensure universal access to modern energy services; double the rate of energy efficiency at the global level; and double the share of renewable energy in the world consumption of primary energy.

Mr. Potočnik stated that during the UN Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20 new global alliances were established. Within the European Union (EU), the European Commission issued in February 2013 the press release titled “A decent life for all: Ending poverty and giving the world a sustainable future”, which proposed a global framework of development policies after 2015, highlighting the fight against poverty and the promotion of sustainable development as two interconnected targets. He stressed that the access to drinking and sanitary water is of crucial importance in the fight against poverty and sustainable development, so the development policies must be based on the protection of sources. For the development it is needed to tackle the issues horizontally, on the basis of interconnected indicative targets and operational objectives. He highlighted as problematic areas of concern the control and management of climate change, as well as environmental objectives; the environmental agenda being the most untraditional as well as the most vulnerable of the group of different objectives. He concluded that the environmental dimension of the new development agenda should address biodiversity as well.

Mr. Videtič said that in the field of a new development agenda on the inter-ministerial level, the Republic of Slovenia has already defined a set of prioritized sustainable development goals. In the framework of development policies Slovenia is not active only in the UN and the EU, but also within the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), as a member of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC); it is actively engaged in discussions about the new definition of the Official Development Assistance. The Slovenian position on the new development agenda will not differ from the EU position; it will be based on a targeted approach to human rights.

Ms. Kalin pointed out that in the new development agenda, the question of 'what development actually is' should be put forward. The new development framework must be universal (it must include all states and also other actors, as the responsibility for a better future lies on them all) and a comprehensive approach is needed – which should address the causes rather than the consequences. The position of the Slovenian development, humanitarian and environmental non-governmental organizations regarding the Post-2015 framework is that the framework should be based on the following principles: universality, common but differentiated responsibility, comprehensive approach and interconnectedness of countries and challenges. As key goals she highlighted equality, sustainable development and decent life, institutional arrangements for the management of the economy, coherent policy without negative impacts on sustainable development and good governance and responsibility or accountability. Ms. Kalin concluded that the active participation of non-governmental organisations in the formation of the new development framework is crucial as the non-governmental organisations represent the main connecting link between citizens and decision-makers.

In the discussion, Ms. Bučar pointed out that communication and public awareness on development goals are of key importance and essential for the universality of the new development framework. The speakers agreed that it is important to develop a broad debate, as the new development framework will frame the common future of humanity.

Prepared by: Adriana Aralica; translation into English: Ajda Gracia Golob