Post-2015 Development Agenda Requires Viable Data Component to Succeed, Lopes tells UN High Level Panel

Monrovia, Liberia, 05 February 2013 (ECA) - The UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has made an urgent appeal to members of the UN-mandated High Level Panel of Eminent Personalities on the post-2015 Development Agenda to ensure that any development framework that eventually replaces the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) pays due attention to the availability and use of viable data.

Mr. Carlos Lopes who was addressing a session of the Panel in Monrovia at the weekend made a personal but insightful analysis of why some of the MDG targets could not be fully attained by African countries, suggesting that the absence of up-to-date data for clear measuring mechanisms might even have obscured achievements in some countries.

“The success of the post-2015 agenda will hinge on how effectively it tackles the data constraint” that many African countries have, he said, adding that these countries could probably have achieved more of the MDG targets if desired development outcomes had been accompanied by specific means of implementation.

His comments come at the time when the 2015 deadline for the current Millennium Development Goals has led to a flurry of activities on what the post-2015 development agenda for Africa should look like.

“A successor framework to the MDGs must rectify the current focus on development outcomes without enablers” Mr. Lopes recommended. He explained that this could help to avoid what he likened to someone “identifying a destination without providing a roadmap”.

He said that although it is important that countries have the latitude to develop their own roadmaps, some generally accepted enablers of development such as peace and security, institutional strengthening and infrastructure development “can be instrumental in unlocking the binding constraints to development at national and regional levels”.

He called on the Panel Members to take a closer look at the MDGs, as they plan for a new framework because “the lesson learnt from the MDGs provide a good basis for designing an even more effective development agenda for the future”.

Lopes who has taken every opportunity to stress on the importance of viable data for development planning since he became the Executive Secretary of ECA last September, criticized the failure of MDGs to “anticipate the data challenges associated with monitoring their achievement”.

“A number of indicators (of the MDGs) are simply not being monitored due to data limitations and weak institutional capacity for data gathering and analysis”, he said, adding that this had forced countries to use customized targets and indicators to their specific contexts and constraints.

He also pointed to some significant shortfalls of the MDGs such as their inherent appearance as a-UN-prescribed agenda. This consistently led to weak ownership, accountability, little or no attention paid to service delivery and quality, as well as over reliance on donor funding for the achievement of most of the goals.

Mr. Lopes addressed members of the High Level Panel during the second day of the meeting and revisited some of the successes of the MDGs, such as leveraging economic and political support, framing the policy discourse, informing national development frameworks and influencing global partnerships and development financing.

Earlier, on 31 January 2013 Mr. Emmanuel Nnadozie, Director of the Economic Development and NEPAD Division at ECA unfolded some of the findings from the African Regional Consultations on the Post 2015 Development Agenda jointly spearheaded by ECA, in collaboration with the African Union (AUC), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

He revealed that the consultations are pointing toward a development framework that emphasizes economic structural transformation, technological innovation and quality education and a broadened and fast-tracked approach to human development.

He said that the regional consultations showed that “Africa is playing an active role in shaping the post 2015 development agenda and working towards crafting a unified position on this issue”.
A final continent-wide consultation is planned for Tunis, Tunisia in March of this year to validate the existing Outcome Document that will form the basis of an African Common Position to be presented at the 6th Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development in Abidjan Cote d’Ivoire in March 2013.

It will be considered and adopted at the 21st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union in May 2013.

The African Union will be presenting the Common Position to inform the discussion during the 68th United Nations General Assembly in September 2013.

The High Level Panel of Eminent Persons met in Monrovia from 30 January to 1 February 2013 to provide independent recommendations on what international development framework might succeed the MDGs, after their expiration in 2015.

It is co-chaired by Ms. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia; Mr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of Indonesia; and Mr. David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. It also includes leaders from civil society, private sector and government.

It has already met in New York and in London to deliver on its mandate. The general theme of the Monrovia meeting was “National Building Blocks for Sustained Prosperity” with special emphasis on economic transformation.

The next Panel meeting will be held in Bali, Indonesia in March, 2013, with a focus on global partnerships, before reconvening and presenting its findings in New York in May, 2013.

In July 2012, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the 27 members of a High-level Panel to advise on the global development framework beyond 2015, the target date for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).


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