Summary Report of Comments Received on the Online Request for Feedback on the Government of Canada’s Post-2015 Development Priorities

Overview

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) conducted an online request for feedback on the Government of Canada’s Post-2015 Development Priorities from April 7 to May 8, 2015. In response to this request, DFATD received 74 comments from a range of participants (please see the Annex for a list of respondents). Overall, the opportunity to comment on Canada’s priorities was well received. Respondents welcomed the opportunity to provide their views, and showed strong support for the sustainable development goals (SDGs). However, it was pointed out that this formal opportunity to share written feedback was made available after negotiations on the new Agenda in New York had already started. Participants also appealed to the government to continue the dialogue with all relevant stakeholders throughout the negotiation of the new SDG framework, as well as during the implementation of the adopted Agenda.

Comments on Canada’s Core Priorities

Respondents praised Canada for its commitment to maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH), and encouraged the government to continue its efforts in this area in the new Agenda. While Canada’s leadership on MNCH was recognized, comments also pointed out that key factors in MNCH outcomes, such as health system strengthening, and access to safe and affordable family planning and the full range of sexual and reproductive health services, were not articulated in Canada’s priorities. The feedback focused on a range of specific targets and indicators related to MNCH, and recommended key areas for Canada to support. Respondents raised the issue of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), noting that it is an integral part of the health and development of women and girls. Canada was called on to support the strengthening of civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems to ensure effective monitoring of MNCH outcomes, and provide legal protection against harmful practices, including child, early and forced marriage (CEFM). Comments noted the particular needs of mothers and disabled women, and asked Canada to champion a greater focus on them. The critical role of strengthening local institutions in delivering the necessary basic services, including MNCH services, also surfaced.

Canada was reminded of the need to emphasize health more broadly beyond MNCH. Comments raised the crucial role that access to quality health care for all will play in achieving the SDGs, and remarked that this was a missing piece in Canada’s priorities. Respondents invited Canada to support the strengthening of health systems, including ensuring adequate numbers of trained health care providers, and well-equipped facilities. Canada was asked to promote publicly financed universal health care, and address non-communicable chronic diseases, mental health, and neglected tropical diseases. WASH beyond MNCH was also raised as an important element to the improvement of health outcomes, particularly for rural populations.

Participants lent broad support to Canada’s job creation and sustainable economic growth (SEG) priorities, but also reminded DFATD that not all economic growth is sustainable, and it does not always lead to poverty reduction. Respondents acknowledged the important role played by the private sector in job creation and SEG, but also noted that it can act as a multiplier of economic inequality. On this point, comments conveyed that the government needs to tackle the multiple dimensions of inequality, including by encouraging progressive fiscal, wage and social protection policies that target the most marginalized. Responses recommended that Canada support measures to ensure that companies act responsibly where development impacts are concerned. Comments also addressed the need for Canada to support a range of other areas. Meaningful employment through the creation of decent jobs, workers’ rights, and small business development was the focus of several responses. Social enterprises, microfinance and trade policy can play an important role in the new Agenda. Responses mentioned that local authorities can play a critical role in promoting inclusive growth, but need more resources to do so. DFATD was reminded of the expertise that Canadian municipalities have in promoting SEG, including through their international programs. Participants drew the government’s attention to investments in the agriculture and livestock sectors as an effective way to promote economic growth that benefits the poor.

The importance of environmental sustainability for the Post-2015 Development Agenda was also a common theme across many responses. Comments noted that this area is considerably less well reflected in Canada’s priorities than the other dimensions of sustainable development. Responses also highlighted the cross-cutting nature of environmental sustainability, and appealed to the government to support conservation, healthy ecosystems, environmental rehabilitation, and efficient approaches to addressing waste management and pollution. Participants mentioned that energy was not addressed in Canada’s Post-2015 priorities, and encouraged DFATD to promote local and alternative energy programs for the realization of the SDGs. Comments repeatedly articulated the critical role that climate change and disasters can play in reversing development gains and impacting future development outcomes. They noted that these two areas were missing from Canada’s priorities, and urged Canada to take a stance. In particular, comments advocated for a strong commitment from Canada to climate change adaptation and mitigation measures. In the same vein, respondents communicated that culture could be included as a fourth pillar of sustainability.

Many comments highlighted the critical role of accountability in the new Agenda. Participants welcomed Canada's efforts to promote a robust, realistic accountability framework, and Canada’s indication that it will support efforts related to the data revolution. Respondents expressed that clear, measurable and disaggregated targets and indicators will be key to ensuring that the goals translate into concrete results, and that they can be monitored effectively. In this regard, comments stated that the main focus of the new Agenda must be the most marginalized, vulnerable and hardest-to-reach populations, and that Canada will itself be held accountable for how it is delivering on the SDGs, given the universal nature of the Agenda. Participants remarked that no Canadian should be left behind, and called on the government to work through an inclusive, consultative, multi-stakeholder approach to implement the SDGs at home. They also affirmed that this would require adequate resources. Comments regularly referenced the need to include the most vulnerable (e.g. First Nations populations, people living with disabilities and migrants), tackle income and gender inequality, and address poverty in Canada in a systematic way.

Comments on Canada’s Cross-Cutting Priorities

Several supportive responses focused on Canada’s child protection and CEFM cross-cutting priorities, although some also expressed the sentiment that there was too much focus on children in Canada’s priorities. Respondents praised Canada for including these areas as cross-cutting priorities, and appealed to the government to support strong language in targets that were measurable and require countries to take action. Comments identified areas where Canada could increase its attention and support to children. These included improving children’s access to safe and quality education, eliminating the worst forms of child labour, and protecting children from violence, exploitation and abuse. Specifically on CEFM, several respondents shared Canada’s commitment to end this harmful practice, and urged the government to support strong language in the Post-2015 targets to ensure that CEFM is addressed and fully captured in the new Agenda. Feedback noted that CRVS systems can help provide children with legal protection against harmful practices such as CEFM, and also commented that emphasis on women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights can play a critical role in ending this practice. Respondents noted the priorities lacked an explicit reference to youth; they reminded the government that greater emphasis on, and investments in, youth will be critical for the Post-2015 framework to succeed.

Participants lauded Canada for its leadership on the empowerment of women and girls. They encouraged the government to continue its important work in this area, including advancing women’s human rights and strengthening the rights-based approach to the empowerment of women and girls. Respondents pressed the government to focus on ensuring the full equality of women, given the positive impacts on all areas of sustainable development, and to strengthen women’s participation in governance and decision-making processes. Comments expressed that in order to effectively work towards empowerment, all forms of violence and abuse against women and girls must be addressed. Responses requested that the government specifically highlight the vulnerabilities faced by older women. Finally, they drew attention to livestock as one of the most important productive assets for women’s livelihoods, and asked that this be considered in the new Agenda.

Comments on Canada’s Other Priorities

A number of comments addressed the broader range of other Post-2015 issues on which Canada is engaged. Respondents acknowledged Canada’s work to advance democratic governance, and noted the importance of transparency, participation and accountability for the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Comments referenced the importance of rule of law to Canada’s priorities, and encouraged the government to give it more prominence. Participants both applauded the government for placing special emphasis on fragile and conflict affected states, and expressed that more emphasis should be placed on the complex development context in these states. They advocated for Canada to support more open and accountable governance in order to enable those experiencing poverty and marginalization to participate in governance at all levels. The feedback recommended that DFATD include governance in the broader sense beyond democracy, justice and security more clearly in its priorities, including enabling more effective institutions. Canada was also invited to implement actions to reduce and prevent the risks, impact and incidence of armed violence.

Participants also provided their views on the need to promote food security, agriculture and nutrition in the new Agenda. They mentioned that this would be an effective way to combine several of the priorities that Canada and other countries have identified, such as reducing poverty and hunger, improving nutrition for mothers and children, and promoting economic growth. Canada was particularly encouraged to deepen its support for small-scale farmers around the world. Comments drew links between disasters and the livelihoods and food security of populations, advising Canada to take into consideration the outcomes of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and to support local capacity building to protect agricultural livelihoods and assets during disasters, thereby reducing their impact.

Comments emphasized the key role that quality education and training will play in helping to deliver the SDGs. Respondents were supportive of Canada’s efforts in this area, but highlighted that Canada should underscore education and training more prominently in the new framework. They also stated that universal, free, quality education from early childhood through to secondary education, and lifelong learning for all, were critical aspects of the new Agenda. The feedback raised additional areas that need a stronger focus, such as institutional capacity building in developing countries, and training and employment for people as basic needs providers in key health and education sectors.

Several comments addressed natural resource development. They conveyed that Canada should support the sustainable use of the world’s natural resources and the involvement of local populations in resource extraction in order to ensure that they gain lasting benefits from these activities. Respondents highlighted the opportunities Canada has to share its well-known expertise in capacity building, such as in the area of natural resource financing and capital raising. DFATD was reminded of the importance of holding mining companies to account on their human rights records, and of taking action against biodiversity loss.

Ways of financing the new Agenda received significant attention in the comments. While respondents recognized the important role that ODA continues to play in development, they appealed to Canada to support other types of financing initiatives, such as domestic resource mobilization based on progressive taxation, increasing the resource royalty rates paid to developing countries, and stemming illicit financial flows. Participants also expressed that, while Canada is developing new mechanisms to promote private sector investment in developing countries, these should not replace ODA. On the topic of ODA, comments conveyed strong views about Canada’s low ODA figures, and urged the government to reverse the falling trend of its current ODA/Gross National Income level. Overall, comments pointed out that the new Agenda will require long-term, predictable funding that emphasizes sustainable economic growth.

Comments on Additional Issue Areas

A number of comments addressed the issue of growing inequalities both within and between countries, and suggested that Canada should continue its efforts to close social and economic gaps for the most marginalized. Respondents flagged that these gaps also exist in Canada, particularly as they relate to our First Nations communities. Comments expressed concern over the lack of visibility of vulnerable populations in the Agenda, including in Canada’s priorities. These groups included refugees and internally displaced people, people living with disabilities, and the elderly.

The critical role that partnerships between all actors will play in implementing the new Agenda surfaced throughout the comments. Respondents applauded Canada’s launch of the International Development and Humanitarian Assistance Civil Society Partnership Policy in February 2015 as a step in the right direction. Comments emphasized the central role that capacity building will play in assisting developing countries in implementing the SDGs, including developing and strengthening enabling policies and legislation. Expertise, training and access to clean technologies were mentioned as a key means of implementing the new goals, and it was noted that technology transfer was one of the greatest contributions that developed countries, including Canada, could offer developing countries. A solid evidence base through development research and evaluations of international development policies and programs was brought forth as a fundamental element of robust implementation and monitoring of the SDGs. Canada was encouraged to support the realization of global minimum standards to ensure that the poorest, most vulnerable and most marginalized globally are not left behind. Comments also noted that given the breadth of issues elaborated in the new framework, some form of prioritization will be required by development partners to realize the goals. Respondents drew DFATD’s attention to the need for greater coherence between Canada’s trade, foreign affairs and international development policies and the new SDG framework. Finally, participants conveyed that there was broad interest in continuing an ongoing, open dialogue with the government on implementation of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Conclusion

In addition to this online request for feedback, DFATD held an in-person consultation during the annual Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC) – Canadian Association of International Development Professionals (CAIDP) Conference in Gatineau, Quebec on May 12. The summary report of this consultation is available on DFATD’s website.

Canada highly values the contributions made by the respondents through this feedback process. We also appreciate those received through the in-person consultation and through informal discussions between interested stakeholders and officials in Ottawa/Gatineau as well as at the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations in New York. To further enhance multi-stakeholder participation in this process, the Government of Canada has included representatives from CSOs and the private sector as part of the official Canadian Delegation to the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in July.

List of Respondents

  1. Association québécoise des organismes de coopération internationale
  2. Athavale, Ashok
  3. Bellefeuille, Jean; Responsable JPIC National, Conférence religieuse canadienne
  4. Black, David
  5. Burnett, Wayne
  6. Burton, Elizabeth, Political science major, St. Francis Xavier University
  7. Canadian Association of International Development Professionals / Regroupement des Professionnels Canadiens en Développement International
  8. Canadian Council for International Co-operation
  9. Canadian Federation of University Women
  10. Canadian Lutheran World Relief
  11. Canadian Society for International Health
  12. Carrefour Tiers-Monde
  13. Chester, Jim; President, Canadian & International Project Management Ltd.
  14. Clarke, Michael
  15. Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine
  16. Confédération des syndicats nationaux
  17. Corbridge, Richard; Director, International Programs, War Child Canada
  18. Côté, Lise
  19. Development and Peace
  20. Downes, Stephen
  21. effect:hope (The Leprosy Mission Canada)
  22. Federation of Canadian Municipalities
  23. Gagnon, Denise; Directrice, Solidarité internationale, FTQ (CTC)
  24. Hagerman, Paul; Director, Public Policy, Canadian Foodgrains Bank
  25. Hamilton, Ian; Executive Director, Equitas – International Centre for Human Rights Education
  26. Handicap International
  27. Harris, Joyce; Chair: Social Justice Committee, Sisters of St. Ann, British Columbia
  28. Harvey-Sanchez, Amanda; Media Coordinator, Toronto350.org
  29. Hershkovitz, Linda; Independent Consultant and Gender Equality Specialist, Sinolog Consulting, Toronto
  30. International Institute for Child Rights and Development
  31. Jeannotte, M. Sharon; Senior Fellow, Centre on Governance, University of Ottawa
  32. Johnson, Elizabeth Mujawamaliya, Co-Founder, Grace Rwanda Society
  33. Keating, Michael; Founder, The Sustainability Report
  34. Kennell, Sarah; Public Affairs Officer, Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights
  35. Kindornay, Shannon; Adjunct Research Professor, Carleton University
  36. Kopinak, Janice
  37. Kornelsen, James
  38. Labonte, Ronald; Professor and Canada Research Chair, University of Ottawa
  39. Laverdière, Hélène; Official Opposition Critic for International Development, New Democratic Party / Porte-parole de l'Opposition officielle pour le développement international, Nouveau parti démocratique
  40. Lukowski, Mark; CEO, Christian Children's Fund of Canada
  41. Matlow, Melissa; Legislative and Public Affairs Manager, World Animal Protection
  42. McKibbon, Bev; Co-Chair, Grandmothers Advocacy Network
  43. Mennonite Central Committee Canada
  44. Mer et Monde
  45. Ordre Franciscain Séculier
  46. Pagnan, Jeanne; Vice President, Twin Dolphins Inc.
  47. Proulx, Kristina
  48. Ramirez, Ricardo
  49. Ravon, Lauren; Senior Policy Advisor, Oxfam
  50. Redway, Andrea; Director, International Initiatives, Canadian Bar Association
  51. RESULTS Canada
  52. Roberts, Richard; Program Manager, Africa Community Technical Service
  53. Save the Children
  54. Scott, Mary
  55. Sood, Priya; Program Director, The Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption
  56. Sisters of Saint Anne Social Justice Office
  57. Stager, Heather
  58. Tadeson, Grace; Student, Millennium Kids
  59. Tadeson, Rebekah; Student, Millennium Kids
  60. Tamblyn, Giulliana, UNA Canada, Prince George Branch
  61. Tardif, Jean-François
  62. Thompson, Shirley; Associate Professor, NRi, University of Manitoba
  63. Traversy, Val; Director General (retired), Government of Canada
  64. UNICEF Canada
  65. United Nations Association in Canada – Saskatoon Branch
  66. Vallerand, Charles; Directeur général, Coalition pour la diversité culturelle
  67. White, Mary Heather
  68. Women, Peace and Security Network – Canada
  69. World Vision Canada
  70. Citizens
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