Sussex Development Debate on human security and next generation of development goals

2 May 2012

A new IDS paper is proposing that human security principles should be used to develop a post 2015 framework. The paper, Human Security and the Next Generation of Comprehensive Human Development Goals, was launched at a Sussex Development Debate hosted by IDS.

Discussions on what replaces the existing Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are already well underway and the paper from IDS will make an important contribution to these debates.

One of the paper's co-authors and an IDS Visiting Fellow, Gabriele Koehler said:

"The current MDGs were a good starting point, but they did not go far enough. We need a more sophisticated and inclusive approach that reflects the massive insecurities that have affected the world since 2000. As our paper sets out in more detail, a post 2015 framework could be underpinned by human security principles, and must be explicit on human rights and the need for bold policy thinking around the development vision".

Sussex Development Debate

The Sussex Development Debate, What should the next generation of development goals look like?, took place on Thursday 3 May at the University of Sussex.  Speakers included co-authors of the new paper, IDS Visitng Fellow Gabriele Koehler and IDS Research Associate Sir Richard Jolly. In addition the audience heard contributions from Dr Romulo Paes de Sousa, former Vice Minister for Social Development in Brazil and Senior International Associate at IDS; Dr Amy Pollard, Lead Analyst on Post MDGs, CAFOD and Paul Wafer, Senior Policy Adviser - Development after the Millennium Development Goals (Post-MDGs), Department for International Development.

Adopting a more integrated and rights-based approach

Gabriele Koehler began the debate with a brief overview of IDS’ new paper. She highlighted how the concept of human security could provide a useful framing for discussions around how to establish a framework that is rights-based and provides a more integrated approach to tackling the intersecting vulnerabilities and insecurities that have emerged since the inception of the original MDGs.

Romulo Paes de Sousa also emphasised the importance of a more joined-up approach. He reflected on the three pillars of sustainable development – the economic, the social and the environmental – and how currently the links between the three were not strong enough. He argued that policy makers needed to address the challenge of creating a social and environmental protection floor, and that this should be discussed at the forthcoming Rio+20 conference.

The process and political realities of creating a new framework

In her contribution, Amy Pollard argued that the policy process in the run up to 2015 would not be linear and that a clear timetable for decision-making needed to be put in place. Referring to CAFOD’s recently published report, 1,000 Days: An end and a new beginning (pdf), Amy outlined the ideal scenario in the run up to 2015 which would involve an open and participatory consultation process prior to the UN Review Summit in 2013. Ideas from this consultation would then be filtered down into a robust and more inclusive framework ready in time for 2015.

Paul Wafer concluded the formal contributions by highlighting how the MDGs have served as a powerfully rallying framework. However, they have not been comprehensive enough and have failed to address crucial issues such as growth, conflict, economic development and governance. He questioned the argument that there was a growing consensus on what a post 2015 framework should look like and suggested that more clarity was required around what a new set of goals would be for, where they should apply and who should respond to them. He also stressed the importance of acknowledging the political realities associated with establishing a new framework, particularly given that the last decade has not been a story of big international agreements.