Summary Report of the Discussion on the Government of Canada’s Post-2015 Development Priorities
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
- There were strong views about the universal nature of the Agenda. Many participants expressed that the sustainable development goals (SDGs) are not only relevant for developing countries but for Canada as well. DFATD was encouraged to meaningfully involve other government departments and all relevant stakeholders in discussions on the implementation of the Agenda.
- Participants voiced a concern that climate change is notably absent from DFATD’s focus, but that it is linked to every other issue in the Agenda (women, migrants, etc.) and should not be ignored. The Government of Canada was encouraged to analyse the effects of climate change and develop mitigation strategies. At the same time, the government should also be asking how it can ensure that developing countries have the capacity to deal with the effects of climate change.
- Many participants felt strongly that Canada should increase its Official Development Assistance (ODA) to meet the 0.7% ODA/GNI target.
- Participants expressed the view that development assistance today is not the same as it was in the past. Relationships now should not be built on charity, but mutual respect, sharing experiences and working together to achieve effective development cooperation. Participants also encouraged Canada to approach development in a way that ensures recipient governments are more accountable to their populations than they are to donors. This approach would require ownership by local populations, long-term focus, and support to national development plans.
- Participants believed that a human rights-based approach is important for development and the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Canada was encouraged to promote citizen participation, including among vulnerable groups, and education that enables civic participation. Civil society should also be engaged in educating the public on their rights. A human rights-based approach is also seen as essential for any accountability system to work.
The Role of Civil Society in the Post-2015 Development Agenda
- Participants believed that Canadian civil society organizations (CSOs) should play a much greater role in negotiations, including through formal representation at international negotiations that will set the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
- Participants expressed that the public must be able to hold their governments accountable. Canada can be a model of accountability though creating an enabling environment for CSOs and citizens to hold their government to account and participate in policy development.
- The importance of CSOs’ advocacy role in achieving lasting development results was raised by many participants. There was concern that CSOs are not able to offer support to southern partners in their advocacy work because of the lack of funds for this type of work. The SDG process is an opportunity to strengthen and support civil society in their advocacy and capacity building.
Monitoring and review in the Post-2015 Development Agenda
- Participants expressed support for a system of monitoring that will engage a diverse range of stakeholders. This would require that the capacity of donors and practitioners to conduct participatory/beneficiary-focused monitoring and evaluation be increased.
- The monitoring and review framework in the Post-2015 Agenda should allow failure to be reported on and learned from. In this regard, donors should be open to hearing about failure from non-state actors and encourage them to share lessons with respect to challenges, not just achievements.
- CSOs also believed they are in a good position to help develop indicators for implementation and monitoring of progress. Canada should continue to play a role in building the capacity of national statistical offices and supporting CSOs and governments to collect and monitor data.
The Private Sector in Development and Private Sector Accountability
- Participants voiced concern with the transparency and accountability of the private sector. Given that the Canadian government is championing both private sector engagement and accountability in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, participants mentioned the need to bring the two issues together and consider how to hold private sector accountable. It was mentioned that Canada could lead in the establishment of accountability measures for the private sector as a development actor.
- There was concern about the privatization of development and risk of the private sector crowding CSOs out of their role without necessarily having the same development values. Several participants stressed the limitations of the private sector in that its primary motive is profit, and voiced concern that the concept of “innovative finance” is not clearly defined.
- CSOs made a strong recommendation for Canada to be a leader on tax justice issues including tax evasion and tax avoidance (e.g. transfer pricing).
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.
- Date Modified: