Summary Report of the Discussion on the Government of Canada’s Post-2015 Development Priorities

Background

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) convened a half-day discussion on the Post-2015 Development Agenda in partnership with the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC) and the Canadian Association of International Development Professionals (CAIDP) before their annual International Cooperation Days conference. This event was held on May 12, 2015 in Gatineau, Quebec, and brought together representatives from civil society, the private sector and academia to discuss Canada’s role in, and priorities for, the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Following a keynote address by the Minister of International Development and Minister for La Francophonie, the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Strategic Policy Branch set the context for the dialogue. Participants then divided into three breakout groups where they discussed: 1) prioritization in the Agenda; 2) accountability, monitoring and follow-up; and 3) implementation of the goals, including financing for development. Key points raised during the roundtable discussions were documented on flip chart papers that were placed throughout the room. Participants were invited to indicate their priority issue areas through a voting exercise by placing coloured dots next to specific themes on the flip chart papers. Below is a summary of participants’ comments that received broad support through the voting exercise. Together with the comments received through the online request for feedback on the government’s Post-2015 development priorities, this discussion has helped inform Canada’s approach to the negotiation and implementation of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. 

Priority Areas as Identified by Participants

Many of the most important issues appeared in several of the break-out groups. These are the recommendations that received the highest support across the three sessions through the voting exercise:

Priorities for the Post-2015 Development Agenda

Development Cooperation

The Role of Civil Society in the Post-2015 Development Agenda

Monitoring and review in the Post-2015 Development Agenda

The Private Sector in Development and Private Sector Accountability

Summary and Conclusions

This event provided a forum for participants and DFATD to exchange views on both the Post-2015 Development Agenda and the Financing for Development processes. Across the three breakout sessions, participants expressed their views about issue areas such as the importance of addressing climate change, increasing official development assistance, and the universal application of the Post-2015 Agenda. Discussions also recommended that DFATD take a human rights-based approach to development, wherein citizen participation (especially of vulnerable groups), local ownership and long-term commitment are important.

Comments also reflected that citizens need to be able to hold their governments to account for development outcomes, and that Canada can be a model for civil society participation. Providing support to the advocacy and capacity building work of CSOs was mentioned as critical in helping build accountability in developing countries – even when there is less recognition of this work and it does not fit into traditional planning models. Participants also expressed their desire to see a Post-2015 accountability framework that engages a diverse range of stakeholders, is participatory and beneficiary-focused, and allows failures and challenges to be reported on.

Though participants were open to the idea of working with the private sector, they expressed several concerns. The accountability of the private sector as a development actor was a leading concern, as were the limitations of the private sector as a development actor if its primary motive is profit. If CSOs are to be involved in supporting innovative financing, participants stressed their need for a clearer definition of the concept.

Government of Canada negotiators took many of these recommendations into account in negotiations. They highlighted areas such as: a rights-based approach; multi-stakeholder engagement, particularly around accountability mechanisms; the protection of civil society space; and a positive, rather than punitive approach to monitoring. DFATD would like to thank those who participated in this discussion and contributed to a constructive consultation process.

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