Forum looks at development beyond 2015

The theme of the 2013 Commonwealth People’s Forum, which met at CHOGM, was ‘Equitable growth and inclusive development: beyond 2015’, which saw a focus on the next steps for international development after the conclusion of the Millennium Development Goals. 

The forum, organised by the Commonwealth Foundation, provides an opportunity for civil society representatives to meet Commonwealth leaders to discuss development issues. The forum takes place every two years in the run-up to CHOGM, with 2013’s meeting hosted by a consortium of Sri Lankan organisations. 

The keynote speech was given by Dr Jemilah Mahmood, member of the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination team and former chief of Humanitarian Response at the United Nations Population Fund. 

She reminded delegates that it is only just over a year until the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) mature, but warned of too much attention being given to the goals themselves at the expense of wider development issues. 

“One of the main problems with the MDGs is that there is so much focus on goals with not enough emphasis on getting the foundations right – this includes the processes and frameworks that build the enabling environment for people and nations to achieve their true potential and a sustainable end to poverty,” she said. 

Turning to the post-2015 development agenda, Mahmood introduced the idea of the ‘triple F crisis’ – finance, food and fuel. “Vulnerability is changing,” she said. “We have increasing numbers of localised disasters and crises – conflicts and geophysical events.” 

Many of the international agencies that provide aid during times of crisis fail to work together effectively, said Mahmood, with each agency having their own narrow focus. “Some deal with health, others with income, others with violence, others with children and others with the elderly. We are facing profoundly systemic problems, and we are dealing with them in these narrow and limited ways,” she lamented. “As well as better-shared data and analysis, we need to find better ways of breaking down disciplinary silos.” 

Civil society could bridge some of these gaps, she said. Young people, particularly, are the ‘digital cowboys’ who may help organisations find new solutions to working more effectively with governments. 

Commonwealth organisations could offer valuable input for the forthcoming Hyogo Framework for Action in Disaster Risk Reduction review and 2016’s World Humanitarian Summit, she added. 

“Civil society actors need to engage actively with all these different consultations, providing not only inputs to the final priorities, decisions and policies, but also clearly carving out civil society’s important roles. If we can do that effectively, we would have laid the foundations for transformative action.”


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