Global leaders arrive in New York – can they make progress on a new set of development goals?

Steve Lewis is the Head of Global Health at RESULTS UK, an ACTION partner. This blog was originally posted on the RESULTS UK blog, which you can follow for Steve's updates from the UN.

From Monday onwards, Presidents and Prime Ministers will arrive in New York City for the annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Among the issues they will grapple with are two of special interest to RESULTS UK and the wider development community – firstly how to tackle climate change, and secondly to make progress on fixing a new set of development goals.

Alongside political leaders, leaders of all the major development institutions will be in New York, among them many of the agencies that RESULTS works with on a daily basis. Institutions such as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), and, the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement wil hold events to publicize new successes or discuss innovations. RESULTS UK will aslo be at UNGA, along with ACTION partners from Canada, the European Union, India, and the USA.

An international consortium of NGOs called “Beyond 2015” have been working together to urge global leaders to set ambitious targets for the next set of Development Goals, to start in 2016. The current Millennium Development Goals run from 2000 to 2015.  Last week, Beyond 2015 in the UK asked Development Minister Lynn Featherstone to explain what the UK is hoping to achieve from the UN discussions.

The post 2015 negotiations will be one of our top priorities in New York,” said Ms Featherstone. “UN negotiations so far have made some good progress, but there is much work to do. The current draft set of goals needs to be more concise, compelling and implementable.”

“The UK has shown leadership on setting strong development goals. But efforts to combat poverty will be totally undermined if Climate Change is not reversed. If the global climate does rise by 2 degrees we will face a very challenging situation – crop failures, steeply rising hunger, mass migration, to name just a few examples of what the world will face”.

The UK will be represented in New York by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. The government is proud of recent progress on UK aid. A bill is moving through Parliament to guarantee in law the current 0.7% of Gross National Income for international development. The second reading of the bill was supported by 166 MPs, with only 6 votes against. This will be used in New York as a ‘good example’, to encourage other countries to raise the aid contributions. As Lynn Featherstone described it: “We need to broaden the shoulders of the aid effort…. at present the same countries are supporting most of development programmes. We need a wider set of contributors.”

RESULTS and other Beyond 2015 agencies will be listening closely to sessions next week to keep the UK to its word, and to try to encourage other countries to also increase their commitment. We are insistent that the next development framework includes ambitious goals – and that this time the goal is not a reduction in poverty but an end to extreme poverty by 2030.