The Office of International IDEA to the European Union and the Mission of Switzerland to the European Union co-organized on 23 June in a Round-table on ‘Accountability, Follow-up and Review Framework for the Post-2015 Development Agenda’
The Round-table was the occasion to consider and discuss how the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) inter-governmental process is currently addressing the follow-up and review framework for monitoring progress on the implementation of the post-2015 Development Agenda. Although generally acknowledged that the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will depend on the translation of the agreed goals into comprehensive national, regional and global strategies, it will be important from a national perspective that these strategies take into account also the articulation of the broad goals and targets framework at the sub-national level.
The Round-table was opened by H.E. Dr. Roberto Balzaretti, Ambassador of Switzerland to the EU, and local Chair of the Council of Member States of International IDEA. In his opening remarks, Dr Balzaretti informed the participants that the topic, ‘Accountability as a central element of deepening democracy’, was selected as the key theme for the Swiss Chair of International IDEA during 2015. This topic will also be the theme of the 2015 International IDEA Annual Democracy Forum, which will be hosted by the Swiss authorities in Bern, Switzerland on 24-25 November 2015.
The Round-table focused on, inter alia, the following key questions:
- How can we enhance the capacities, resources, willingness and incentives of government officials to manage popular demands for equal access to public services?
- What role should bottom-up collective actions have in follow up and review mechanisms?
- How can governments at the various levels facilitate the formation of multi-stakeholder strategic partnerships?
- How can adequate follow up and review mechanisms address the needs for context-specific analysis at the sub-national level?
- How can accountability for gender equality be ensured throughout the post-2015 sustainable development framework from both the demand and the supply sides of accountability?
- How can spaces for action-oriented and evidence-based political dialogue be promoted among political actors, service providers and citizens?
- How can we ensure the production of disaggregated, open data, and indicators as well as support the use of ICTs in monitoring and implementing of the post-2015 Agenda?
Andrew Bradley, Director of the Office of International IDEA to the EU, moderated the Roundtable, and presentations were made by the following speakers: Jan Vandemoortele, Independent Researcher; Katja Weigelt, Policy Officer Post-2015 Team, Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, European Commission; Leo Williams, Beyond 2015 – International Coordinator, CONCORD and Harald Schenker, Program Officer, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.
Salient perspectives shared by speakers and participants, including representatives of the African Union Commission, Council of Europe, EU institutions, diplomatic community and democracy support actors, were the following:
- Accountability is about participation and transparency, and is people-centered and inclusive;
- The word, ‘Accountability’ is in some quarters sensitive, and in the ‘zero draft’ report of the post-2015 Agenda, preference is given to the phrase, ‘follow-up and review’;
- It is important to agree on an overarching framework for the Agenda, which combines universality with differentiation;
- Effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the national level calls for the development of national sustainable development strategies through participatory and inclusive processes;
- The important role of women for the successful implementation of the SDGs was underscored;
- The need for follow-up and review frameworks at all levels to be transparent, inclusive, efficient and accountable;
- The active role of civil society in the follow-up and review frameworks is crucial, and where needed, adequate capacities for civil society need to be developed;
- Acknowledgement of the inter-linkage between the 3rd International Conference on Financing for Development (Addis Ababa, July 2015), UN Summit to adopt the post-2015 Agenda (New York, September 2015), and the World Climate Summit (Paris, December 2015);
- A monitoring, follow-up and review framework is about effective implementation, and not naming and shaming of underperformers;
- The need to make full use of ICTs in monitoring and implementation of the Agenda, and to maximize the use of existing frameworks and monitoring mechanisms (not to re-invent additional mechanism/frameworks).
The Office of International IDEA to the European Union and the Mission of Switzerland to the European Union, together with participants of the Roundtable, will follow attentively the final discussions on the SDGs the next few weeks and months. The UNGA will take place in September. As a Permanent Observer to the United Nations, International IDEA is strongly committed to ensure the consideration of accountability mechanisms and a follow-up and review framework within the new development goals.