The post-2015 development agenda must address the lack of civil society involvement if there is to be any real progress in future, says the Commonwealth Foundation's latest report on the MDGs.
Most countries will fall short of meeting the MDGs because they lacked national relevance while issues such as youth unemployment, transparency, accountability and governance were serious omissions.
The report Commonwealth Perspectives: Ideas for a new development agenda has drawn from 14 national reports showing the extent to which civil society has been able to participate in, influence and benefit from the MDGs and provide different perspectives for the future.
'The key message is that if previous gains are not to be lost, the MDGs urgently need to be translated from the global abstract to the well-formed national context, where it is more likely that development strategies have been formulated with the participation of civil society and as a result have a better chance of being successful,' said Commonwealth Foundation Director, Vijay Krishnarayan.
The report highlights the need for global themes to be adaptable to address national priorities, encouraging governments and donors to invest in civil society by introducing more enabling laws and policies, building partnerships with civil society into development agreements; developing public awareness campaigns to promote an understanding that citizens have a right to participate in their development; collecting a greater range of data to include the quality and range of citizens' experiences and to demand that donors meet their commitments consistently and predictably, providing part of their support to civil society.
'The role of the civil society in the post 2015 agenda is crucial,' said Martin Tsounkeu, of the Africa Interchange Development Network in Cameroon and member of the Commonwealth Foundation's Civil Society Advisory Committee. 'It stands as a solid bridge linking public service delivery and the real needs of the people. The framework for development effectiveness should be borne by four pillars including employment, education, health and environment with full consideration for cross-cutting issues such as infrastructure, governance, and human rights,' he said.
The project has drawn on the Commonwealth Foundation’s 2005 report Breaking with Business as Usual involving the same 14 countries: Cameroon, Ghana, Grenada, Jamaica, Malawi, New Zealand, Pakistan, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda and Zambia.
With additional support from the UN Millennium Campaign, four additional Commonwealth countries have also been included in the project: Nigeria, The Gambia, Mozambique and India; and two non-Commonwealth countries: Nepal and Philippines. These reports will be available shortly.