Post-millennium development goals test for world solidarity

Development days is a chance for the EU to influence the crucial 2015 development agenda, writes Neven Mimica.

By Neven Mimica

01 Jun 2015

We are currently halfway through what is certain to be a pivotal year for development. The European commission and parliament dedicated 2015 as the European year for development (EYD) - the first year to focus on external affairs. 

Why? We did this, quite simply, because the world stands at a critical crossroads. Important opportunities sit within our reach as we take stock of progress made on the millennium development goals (MDGs), agreed by the international community in 2000, and look towards the future of development.

In July, the EU and its global development partners will have an opportunity to demonstrate our solidarity with developing and in particular least developed countries at the third international conference on financing for development in Addis Ababa. 


Following this, in September in New York, UN members will agree on the new sustainable development goals (SDGs) - the next set of guides for our development work that will replace the MDGs. The success of the new goals will depend on the development community's decisions in Addis Ababa. 

This is a true test of global solidarity, because financing for development and sustainable development are two sides of the same coin.

Finally, in Paris in December, we will create a new climate change agenda, providing yet another opportunity to build solidarity and lay the foundations for a truly sustainable future for generations to come.

This year's European development days conference taking place on 3-4 June are a chance to influence these major processes. There have been considerable achievements over the past 15 years and we can all be proud of Europe's contribution.

As the world's largest donor, the EU and its 28 member states have played a key role in achieving the MDGs. In 2013, we provided €56.5bn in official development assistance - more than half of all global aid.

When we discuss the SDGs in Brussels at development days, I believe that we need to look beyond making poverty history. 

We must seriously address sustainable development in all of its dimensions - economic, social and environmental - as well as how to create the conditions for fair and just societies that embrace good governance, human rights and peace.

The private sector can contribute significantly to this sustainable development. Companies have started to make corporate social responsibility a norm for how they do business in Europe and abroad. They now understand that sustainable business is good business. 

It is important to remember that every individual can make an important contribution to development. 

One of the pillars of the year is 'think global, act local'. In other words, each of us can make a difference in our daily lives. The January 2015 Eurobarometer survey revealed that EU citizens remain strong advocates for development.

The number of people in favour of increasing aid has jumped significantly to 67 per cent and one-in-two Europeans sees a role for individuals in tackling poverty in developing countries.

Almost three quarters of Europeans also say that tackling poverty in developing countries contributes to a more peaceful and equitable world.

This solidarity is reflected in the overarching theme we have chosen for the year and for development days - 'our world, our dignity, our future'. Participants at development days will debate and discuss the critical issues of our times within the framework of four overarching themes. 

First: our world - creating sustainable growth consistent with the limits of the planet. We will discuss the challenges and opportunities of an increasingly urban world, sustainable energy, climate change and building resilience. 

Second: our dignity - developing a shared vision consistent with universal and fundamental rights. Participants will discuss gender rights, the right to health, inclusion and inequality.

Third: our future - all policies can make a difference. The debate will include food security, fair globalisation and migration.

And finally: our future - we are all actors in development. Participants will debate how to create growth and eradicate poverty, the importance of global citizenship and the need for decent jobs.

I'm delighted that more than 400 high-profile speakers from the donor community, the private sector, academia, civil society and government, will come together with an anticipated 5000 participants to debate - and frame - the future of development.

This year, more than 50 initiatives will be showcased in the 'project village', where participants can experience how people working together can make a difference.

This year, for the first time, 14 young 'future leaders' will join the debates. These young people were selected from 172 applications, chosen on the basis of their commitment to global citizenship, their skills and their experience. We believe they deserve the opportunity to shape the policies that will affect their future - and that policymakers need to hear their voices.

I'm convinced that development days is a chance for all of us to demonstrate our solidarity with people struggling to make a better world for themselves, their families and their communities. I am confident that Europe's premier forum on development will deliver the creative thinking we need to shape the next decade of cooperation.


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