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68th UN General Assembly makes progress on the post-2015 development agenda

UN Member states met in New York for two weeks at the end of September under the theme, “Post-2015 Development Agenda: Setting the Stage”. The Assembly saw the convergence of a number of the processes set in motion by the UN Conference on Sustainable Development/Rio+20 in June 2012, as well as the post-2015 development agenda; the name for the process through which the UN is establishing a new global development agenda to replace the Millennium Development Goals once their targets expire in 2015. On 20 September, the UN Commission on Sustainable Development held its final meeting after 20 years of work. The decision to close the Commission was taken at Rio+20, with a High Level Political Forum established to follow up on the implementation of sustainable development. There was little sadness at the closing on UNCSD, with its unfulfilled potential having been acknowledged years ago.

The first meeting of the High Level Political Forum followed the closing of UNCSD on 24 September, with a truly “high-level” participation of Presidents, Prime Ministers, Vice-Presidents, as well as the President of the World Bank Group and the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, demonstrating the importance that the financial institutions will lend to the process moving forward. In a notable change from UNCSD, environment ministers were also joined by ministers of foreign affairs, development cooperation, multilateral affairs, irrigation and water resources management, social development, and trade, thus leading to more of a balance between three dimensions of sustainable development.

A special event was also held to follow up efforts made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals on 25 September. The outcome document noted that the MDGs provided a common vision and contributed to remarkable progress, yet this progress was uneven and immense challenges remain. It further stated that the post-2015 development agenda should reinforce the international community's commitment to poverty eradication and sustainable development. Recognising the intrinsic inter-linkage between poverty eradication and promotion of sustainable development, this involves working towards a single framework and set of Goals -universal in nature and applicable to all countries, while taking account of differing national circumstances and respecting national policies and priorities. It should also promote peace and security, democratic governance, the rule of law, gender equality and human rights for all.

These developments at the UN will ultimately have implications for business, as they will establish the future of sustainable development and define how business will engage with the UN going forward. Unlike the Millennium Declaration, the UN are now engaging the business community to help shape policy debate, contribute expertise and demonstrate best practices. The International Chamber of Commerce are launching a new Global Business Alliance for the post-2015 development agenda in an effort to make effective, concrete and long-term contributions to the new international development agenda. IPIECA will be a member of this new alliance. For further information please contact IPIECA.