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  • Writer's pictureIrungu Houghton

Hey, what could come after the MDGs?

Presentation notes by Irũngũ Houghton, Oxfam Pan Africa Director

All Africa Parliamentary Conference on Parliaments, the MDGs

and the Post-MDGs development agenda, 24 May 2012, Addis Ababa[1]

Purpose of MDGs

Common global purpose and framework for coherency, dialogue and accountability[2]

Purpose of Parliaments

Representative decision-making fora as old and as diverse as Africa itself[3]

In the beginning there was a Parliament called a Pharoah, an Indaba, a Bunge or a Liikoko…

By their very nature, parliaments and legislatives are both a space for policy development, debate and accountability, their engagement is critical for shaping the next global justice compact

Changing context in Africa[4]

Poverty rates decreasing yet over 1/3 of Africa’s one billion live in absolute poverty

One in 36 women continue to die at child-birth

A growing number of countries nearing 30% representation of women in public and political office and have constitutions and laws that outlaw discrimination and violence

Despite the global economic crisis, Africa continues to grow at 5% per annum, 7 of the 10 fastest growing countries are likely to be African in 2015 (Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzanian, DRCongo, Ghana, Zambia and Nigeria)

By 2025, nearly 45% will live in towns and Africa may have 200m people living in informal settlements (equivalent roughly to the current combined population of Nigeria and South Africa)

Africa grossly inequitable with less than 40 million people enjoying incomes of US$10 a day

25% drop in HIV infection rates

US$1.8 trillion lost in capital flight, tax evasion and illegal transfers out of Africa over last 30 years

International Financing for Development set to drop after moderate increases in the last decade

A choice ahead of us: Extend the MDGs or declare anew?

The case for extending: Key goals unlikely to be met (malnutrition, maternal mortality, universal primary education), the MDGs are currently embedded in several southern Governments plans and are the basis for financing development strategies

The case for a new declaration: Insufficient political momentum and no real signs of acceleration, is weak and/or omits new global priorities (2010 revisions on gender, human rights, inequalities, employment, environmental sustainability not embedded in national plans), worrying signs that aid industry is flagging and hopeful signs that growth maybe fuelled by new found fossil fuels

Another choice before us: How to really integrate environmental sustainability?

30 days from now, Rio +20 (June 20-22) seeks to transform a zero outcome document

Growing inequities, broken food system and rapid climate change requires accelerated afforestation, protection from rising seas, new sources of green energy and additional financial resources (FTT, reallocation of harmful subsidies, redistributive and social protection strategies for people living in poverty and marginalisation)

How to bridge the environmental sustainability and human development challenge?

Need for a new integrated policy model that outlines the actions required for keeping us within the planetary boundaries and addresses the denial of basic human rights and inequity. One bold idea is to integrate the 9 planetary boundaries and 10 social boundaries to create a safe space for humanity[5]

Strategies for strengthening the voice of citizens and parliaments

Goals are triggers, power resides in champions and popular mobilisation

Without, impossible to sustain political will and accountability

Within their constituencies MPs could;

  1. Facilitate people’s review of progress in meeting MDGs, what’s missing and debates of what a post 2015 framework could look like

  2. Initiate media work to draw public attention to the findings and recommendations of this conference

At national levels MPs could;

  1. Actively participate in the upcoming UN sponsored national consultations

  2. Invoke debate adoption and popularisation of positions by political parties

  3. Cause the appropriate parliamentary group to request the Executive to report formally on progress and their position on post2015 framework

  4. Cause a national multi-stakeholder High Level Panel that could seek views from the public

At the continental level MPs could;

  1. Review and offer recommendations to strengthen the African common position on MDGs (integration of sustainability goals)

  2. Cause the Pan African parliament to formally discuss this in their November sitting

  3. Identify one week over the next year when all national legislatives will debate the progress of Africa’s plans for acceleration and identify the post 2015 phase


[1] Irũngũ Houghton is the Oxfam Pan Africa Director. He can be reached by email, Twitter: @irunguhoughton. The presentation is designed to provoke debate and the identification of processes that would identify champions and strategies for building public accountability for the realisation of the existing MDGs and the development of a post MDGs framework


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