The German government has determined its negotiating position on the new, global development goals, but NGOs claim the ambitious plans are unrealistic. EURACTIV Germany reports.
Ahead of talks over the Post-2015 Agenda for sustainable development, the German government released a report revealing its intention to back the ambitious 17 targets drafted by the UN Open Working Group.
In just a few weeks, the international community will start negotiations over the UN’s new global development goals.
“We have a clear position,” said government spokesman Steffen Seibert on Wednesday (3 December) in Berlin. “We want to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger worldwide and make it possible for everyone to lead a dignified life.”
In addition, Germany hopes to protect natural resources, promote humane working conditions in developing and newly industrialised countries and strengthen good governance, Seibert indicated.
Germany’s Development Minister Gerd Müller outlined a similar strategy. “We can either solve these major global challenges together, or not at all. That includes combating extreme poverty and hunger, climate and environmental protection, securing peace and safeguarding human dignity worldwide.”
Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks was particularly keen on integrating environmental protection and sustainable economic practices.
Germany should lead by example, to convince other states to do the same, she said.
“Others will only follow us if we move forward resolutely on environmental protection and sustainability,” Hendricks emphasised.
The UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are set to expire in 2015. Some of the targets, defined in 2000, have been reached, while others, particularly for sub-Saharan Africa, will be missed by a long shot.
January will mark the start of negotiations over the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Over the summer, an open working group set-up by the United Nations has already drafted a catalogue of 17 targets over the summer. And this week, the German government announced its decision to commit to these goals.
“ODA stinginess” and preserving the coal industry
The German aid organisation “Brot für die Welt” welcomed the government’s decision, after several states, including the United Kingdom, moved to reject the full catalogue of targets.
David Cameron’s government was particularly opposed to development targets that would shift more responsibility to the domestic economy and politics. These include climate protection and sustainable consumption.
“It is good that the German government no longer wants to untie the ambitious 17-point package,” said Thilo Hoppe, a development policy analyst at Brot für die Welt, to euractiv.de.
But the former Green Party politician called on the German government to act accordingly. Germany must make a binding commitment to increase financial support for development aid, he added.
The country’s ODA quota – the amount of development funds as a share of gross national product (GNP) – remains around 0.38%. In Europe, this level is only average.
The United Kingdom, for example, increased its funding to 0.72% this year.
Climate protection reveals a similar trend, according to Hoppe, who said referring to oneself as a leading country and simultaneously propping up the coal industry simply do not fit together.
“I am baffled by such a striking difference between wishes and reality,” the development policy analyst stated.
Lack of focus on “social injustice”
Oxfam also said it considered the report too abstract. “The targets outlined must be reinforced with concrete action plans. The government must quickly explain which measures it hopes to employ to combat poverty and extreme hunger, for example,” explained Oxfam’s Tobias Hauschild, speaking with euractiv.de.
A central aspect that is hardly touched on in the German government’s report, the development analyst pointed out, is the issue of social injustice in the world. “This is a burning issue that the German government does not dare to address,” Hauschild said.
So far, the mantra behind development policy has always been to create growth in the countries, something all people will benefit from in the end, Hauschild explained, but it does not work.
“Take Zambia, for example, a country that has risen from a Least Developed Country (LDC) to a Middle-Income Country (MIC). At the same time, poverty is growing there,” the development expert stated.
Oxfam is calling for the creation of a modern tax system in developing countries that would generate more income for fighting poverty.
“That also means launching a decisive offensive against tax evasion. Otherwise, millions of development funds will continue to be lost,” Hauschild added.
“Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble simply lack the political will,” said the Oxfam analyst. “That is fatal, because, as a country that will chair the G7 in the coming year, [Germany] must lead by example.”
In 2000, the United Nations set eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to be met by 2015. The goals are:
- Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- Achieve universal primary education
- Promote gender equality and empower women
- Reduce child mortality
- Improve maternal health
- Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases
- Ensure environmental sustainability
- Develop a global partnership for development
In 2008, governments, businesses and other organisations reinforced their commitments to meet the MDGs, raising some €12.3 million in new funds for development. Two years later, the MDG summit adopted a global action plan, again reinforcing the drive towards meeting the MDGs.
German government's report on negotiations for the Post-2015 Agenda (German language): Eine Agenda für den Wandel zu nachhaltiger Entwicklung weltweit. Die deutsche Position für die Verhandlungen über die Post 2015-Agenda für nachhaltige Entwicklung
Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform: Open Working Group proposal for Sustainable Development Goals