U.S. Special Coordinator for the Post-2015 Development Agenda, Bureau of International Organization Affairs
New York City
July 24, 2015
Thank you, Mr. Co-Facilitator. We appreciate this opportunity to address follow-up and review.
Over the past several days, we have in essence been developing the outline for a story that we collectively expect the global community to write for itself over the next 15 years, one that ends extreme poverty and finishes the unfinished business of the MDGs while sustaining and protecting the planet. The political declaration provides the vision; the goals and targets set out the key milestones for us as protagonists; and the means of implementation provides the narrative arc of how we get there.
It is our follow up and review processes that over the next 15 years will fill in that outline with the actual story – how it happened, what successes and challenges we encountered, how we adjusted when the story took a twist we didn’t expect. These processes must do so accurately, robustly, and transparently.
As we said in June, we think the follow up and review framework needs to be flexible rather than overly prescriptive. Getting this right will be an iterative process, and we anticipate that the development and operationalization of reporting and review processes at all levels will take time and require fine tuning based on initial learning and experiences.
This section of the outcome should establish the basic principles and reconfirm the broad outline of the institutional architecture we need to ensure the framework’s effectiveness. In general, we think you have struck the right balance in capturing the convergence of the many ideas from member states. We will therefore focus our remarks on a few key areas where we still see room for improvement.
We began our statement in June on follow up and review with a vivid illustration of why we see this topic as an opportunity to be embraced, rather than a task to be grudgingly completed. We cited the example of how the monitoring of progress against MDG4 indicated a shortfall that empowered collective efforts to issue the 2012 Child Survival Call to Action, an initiative which saved the lives of 500,000 children in two years and helped six of its priority countries fulfill MDG4.
I recall this example to make the simple point that the language in the first paragraph of this section must aim higher. It should seek to inspire by capturing the power of our commitment to follow up and review, in ensuring that our actions are producing results.
Paragraph 57 nicely captures the general principles that should guide follow up and review. We suggest adding to point f that follow up and review should be informed not only by data, but also by evaluations. We need to strengthen not only national data systems, but also national evaluation systems, to ensure capacity to understand best practices, what works and what doesn’t at the country level. This will enable greater learning and syntheses of such evaluations at the global level and will better inform the HLPF.
We commend the additional language in paragraph 59 on the importance of using all sources of data, and believe it important to strengthen that by also emphasizing that data should be transparent and publicly available, and we agree with the G77 that it should be reliable and timely.
Also, as many have noted, civil society plays a key role on follow up and review. Thus we would suggest that the reference in paragraph 61 at the national level be strengthened by changing “can benefit” to “should include” their contributions. Civil society contributions lower the administrative burden on member states, provide a diversity of voices, and create a stronger sense of ownership of the agenda among the broader population.
We’re pleased that the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG indicators has already begun work on a global indicator framework, to be presented for review and approval to the UN Statistical Commission next March. We thank the technical representatives from Italy and the Philippines for their leadership, and the statistical experts from many other member states and other stakeholders working diligently to meet that deadline.
Paragraph 58 provides an accurate description of that process and what we expect in terms of an outcome. It would be helpful to make clearer that only one set of indicators will be collected at the national level and reported “universally” by all countries to allow for a review at the global level. Additional indicators at the regional or national level will be supplements, not a substitute, for those universally measured indicators.
We agree with the section’s overall organization into national, regional and global levels, but think it would be beneficial to add a short paragraph before the beginning of the national level which outlines the general consensus on the institutional structure of the follow up and review framework. In essence, this could be as little as two or three sentences which describe the concept of “a global network of review processes,” later referred to in paragraph 64.
This language should include the idea that the entire structure consists not only of the HLPF, but also the pillars that the HLPF rests on the subnational, national, and regional reviews as well as the functional commissions, subsidiary bodies, and segments of ECOSOC.
It is important to describe the multilevel nature of the network – that processes receive input from lower levels and aggregate and synthesize them before passing them on as inputs to higher levels. The High Level Political Forum, at the apex of the system, should extract the most important issues for discussion by senior political figures, including best practices, emerging trends, common challenges, etc., relying on the various inputs and the analysis contained in the Global Sustainable Development Report.
As we noted in our statement at the recently concluded HLPF, the structure of this systemic follow up and review framework is already in place. We need to fill in further details to improve the coherence of ECOSOC’s activities, ensure that national and regional analyses can be easily aggregated and analyzed, define who will write the Global Sustainable Development Report and how often, and encourage DESA to better align its structure and planning in supporting the HLPF.
We do not believe that the outcome document should reach such a level of detail, but we would support language that calls on the President of ECOSOC to conduct consultations in an open and transparent manner with member states, with a view towards answering these questions as part of a roadmap to next year’s HLPF. We also reaffirm the mandate of resolution 68/1 for ECOSOC to select its annual theme, as well as the call in resolution 67/290 for the HLPF’s theme to be aligned with ECOSOC’s and to be consistent with the agenda. We continue to support themes that are crosscutting, rather than clusters of goals.
We also appreciate the substantive discussions on follow up and review at the recent HLPF and in ongoing informal meetings, and we hope that it will also include the topic of reorganizing the work of the second committee of the General Assembly to take into consideration the new agenda.
We have heard some delegations call for the inclusion of language on the technology facilitation mechanism in the follow up and review section. We welcome the agreement on the technology facilitation mechanism as part of the means of implementation, but do not believe it is appropriate to single it out for specific mention in the follow up and review section, as we are confident it will receive the attention necessary alongside all the other key elements on which we will be assessing progress through these processes.
We have also heard other delegations asking for specific additions to paragraph 71. We do not agree with these, particularly the request for system-wide reporting on SDG implementation from the UN development system, as it has its own established system for receiving guidance and reporting on results. This is rooted in the QCPR resolution and realized through annual reporting to the General Assembly, ECOSOC, and individual Executive Boards. We must avoid creating an expensive, duplicative, and parallel reporting stream of uncertain value, especially only one year before the QCPR addresses the exact same topics. Thus we strongly support keeping paragraph 71 as is. An alternative would be to drop it altogether.
We have some smaller specific language proposals that we will share with you directly. Many thanks once again for your work in capturing the common elements of the previous discussions, and we look forward to continuing dialogue on this topic. Thank you.