This response is based on in-depth participatory research with people living in poverty and marginalisation, from 18 organisations working in over 30 countries worldwide, which together form the Participate initiative’s Participatory Research Group network. The research has included people with disabilities, older people, people with mental health issues, urban dwellers, people living in slums, rural communities, indigenous communities, farmers, people affected by natural disasters, youth, vulnerable children and children outside of parental care, marginalised women, sex workers and sexual minorities.
Citizens at the Centre
It is encouraging that the Panel has evidently listened closely to some of the issues raised by people living in poverty and marginalisation. The focus on eradicating poverty, promoting sustainability, addressing conflict and violence, and protecting human rights and dignity are welcome. The strong stance on gender equality reflects the gendered nature of poverty and discrimination articulated by people participating in this research across the world. The acknowledgement that strong accountability and the participation of the poorest and most marginalised is essential but most of all, the commitment to ‘leave no one behind’ marks a potential shift in the global approach to development.
However, ultimately the High Level Panel report does not go far enough in its focus on those most affected by poverty and marginalisation. A ‘people-centred’ agenda is one in which the transformation of societies is led by citizens themselves—including the poorest and most marginalised. This must be the guiding principle that underpins the new global development framework.
Whilst the report emphasises transformative shifts, it does not fully recognise the most important transformative shift of all—recognising the ability of those living in poverty and marginalisation to act to address their own situation, and then building a global development framework that supports them rather than reinforcing existing powerful interests. Going forward, the UN process needs to take the perspectives of those living in greatest poverty much more seriously in how the agenda is set.
The High Level Panel Report proposes 5 ‘transformative shifts’, needed for the new global development framework. If these transformative shifts were seen through the perspectives of those living in greatest poverty and exclusion, there would be some important differences.
Participate’s full response to the High Level Panel report analyses how the post-2015 framework must go further if these shifts are truly going to be ‘transformative’:
- ‘Leave no one behind’—but don’t lose sight of who is getting ahead
- ‘Put sustainable development at the core’—but don’t force people to make impossible choices
- ‘Transform economics for jobs and inclusive growth’—but growth isn’t always good
- Build peace and effective, open and accountable institutions for all’—but don’t ask if you won’t really listen
- ‘Forge a new global partnership’—but it must be led by citizens
Participate offers further critique on the agenda proposed by the High Level Panel around their proposals for data disaggregation; the need to understand intersecting inequalities, and challenge discrimination and unequal social norms; and the need to address gender equality across the development framework.
The High Level Panel report provides a welcome input to the global discussions on the post-2015 agenda. As advocates in this process, Participate looks to the Panel members to continue to articulate the importance of inclusion of the poorest and most marginalised people in on-going debates and processes of policy formulation, as well as the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the successor framework to the Millennium Development Goals.