Pacific voices should be heard strongly on the Post MDGs Agenda

May 17, 2012

(Suva, Fiji) - The voices of the people from the Pacific must be reflected strongly in the post Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agenda, the United Nations Assistant Secretary General and UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Regional Director Asia Pacific, Dr Ajay Chhibber said.

“From the time when the MDGs were first established, the world has changed and the world’s priorities have changed. Issues like climate change and sustainability have become far more important. I need not remind anybody in the Pacific of how important those issues are because in many of your countries, the very survival depends on how the world addresses these issues.”

He made these remarks while speaking via a video address to more than 100 youths, students, academics and development practitioners, present at the inclusive Pacific consultations facilitated by UNDP around Pacific Perspectives on the Post 2015 Development Agenda in partnership with the University of the South Pacific (USP) and the Pacific Youth Council yesterday evening. These consultations were in the form of debates.

Dr Chhibber said the post 2015 development agenda should look at bringing sustainability on the agenda.

“The MDGs were a set of criteria or targets for the developing world. But we have one planet to share. We know that what happens in the developed world is going to make a huge difference as well. There was quite a debate when the current MDGs were established. As you look at the issues of sustainability, that debate and the set of choices that you have in establishing targets and criteria are going to be even more intense,” he said.

“It is very important that the voice of the Pacific be reflected in that debate in a very strong way, so that your countries, the countries whose very future very much depends on the outcome is better reflected, he said.”

Dr Chhibber’s address was followed by Pacific youths debating on the post development agenda.

Inclusive Consultations Say Pacific Youth
Four student teams from three faculties of the university made well researched and passionate presentations at the debates.

The team from the Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment argued for the motion “MDGs succeeded in creating international consensus and focusing global efforts on concrete and measurable developmental goals.”  The team highlighted the gains made by the MDGs in poverty alleviation, maternal health and environmental protection. The opposing team from the Faculty of Business and Economics made a very strong case about the non inclusiveness of the consultations around the MDGs as well as the lack of relevant data to accurately measure the achievement of the MDGs and won the debate through a popular audience vote of 62 percent.

The second debate was on the motion “In light of the global efforts to achieve MDGs targets over the last decade, there is a need to formulate a post-2015 agenda on development that will mobilize action for positive change.” The team from the Faculty of Arts, Law and Education argued the motion citing the global economic crisis and the dwindling funding sources to finance any new set of development goals.  The second team from the Faculty of Business and Economics made a strong case for need for a development agenda that would be developed through a bottom up approach and would be more reflective of emerging issues like youth unemployment and climate change. The team from the Faculty of Business and Economics won through a popular audience vote, with 63 percent voting in their favour and 36 percent against.

The audience also voted overwhelmingly for more consultations on the post 2015 development agenda.

In the build up to and during the debate, youths from all around the Pacific were connecting via the Facebook page Pacific Perspectives on the Post 2015 Development Agenda to make their voices heard on the post 2015 development agenda.  The debates were streamed live to a global audience.