HLPF: On the way to New York again

Michael Herbst from CBM Germany debating on Germany’s implementation efforts with Thomas Silberhorn, vice minister/Parliamentary State Secretary of German development ministry, during a CBM-panel discussion (Dec 2015)

Michael Herbst (CBM Germany Head of Advocacy Unit) talks about the High- Level Political Forum in New York.

The 2030 agenda implementation process in Germany has started with the tabling of the national implementation framework.

Although the 2030 agenda wasn’t yet adopted by the United Nations, the German chancellery had already informed civil society that the national sustainability strategy would be the framework for Germany’s agenda implementation. In 2000 two institutions were created: The national sustainability council reporting to the Chancellor directly, and the parliamentary committee on sustainable development. The first national sustainability strategy was published in 2002, and ever since, every four years a progress report as well as minor modifications to the strategy were presented. This is why, complying with the set timetable, the next updating was scheduled for 2016.

The Federal Chancellery had previously promised to make the updating process a participatory one, and it kept this promise by conducting various conferences for and with relevant stakeholders. So far, so good, but in the past the strategy focussed mainly on the economic and ecological dimensions of sustainability. However, before CBM Germany could really step into this debate, a parliamentary door suddenly opened. We were invited to speak in front of the parliamentary committee on development cooperation about the requirements for an inclusive agenda implementation. Based on the strong Concluding Observations by the CRPD-Committee for Germany’s state reporting under the CRPD, we carved out eight issues, calling i.a. for specific budget lines for inclusion, inclusive indicators to the SDG’s, data disaggregation, an inclusion policy in the field of development cooperation etc. The parliamentarians were impressed, and the attending Parliamentary State Secretary to the development ministry, Mr. Fuchtel, invited CBM to advocate together for an inclusive agenda implementation. That’s what we did last December in Indonesia and Malaysia, and later on in Latin America directly with local politicians, field workers, ambassadors, businessmen, bankers etc. Furthermore, in March Mr. Fuchtel gave us the opportunity to speak to nearly 80 development ministry envoys deployed to the German embassies in partner countries.

In our discussions with members of Parliament and the Government, we underlined five requirements for the updated sustainability strategy. 

  1. We want to see the „leave no-one behind“principle of the 2030 agenda considered in a serious manner, which means having it as an overarching principle and/or as distinct part of the guiding principle of sustainability.
  2. We ask for inclusive global and national indicators.
  3. We require the sustainability strategy to lay down the full-fledged commitment to data disaggregation – for national and international indicators, including bringing the national statistical office “on track”.
  4. We want to see the requisite references to persons with disabilities in the relevant chapters regarding the so-called „people goals“.
  5. We made nuanced demands regarding a decision-relevant and effective participation of civil society in the implementation process.

Together with the German Disability Council (DBR) VENRO, the German NGO platform of development NGOs, made a detailed statement, which suggested measures under each SDG both for national and international implementation. CBM was involved in this process and a third statement, was drafted and supported by CBM together with a huge coalition of around 70 civil society organisations working in all the 2030 agenda-relevant fields from environment to peace keeping. All in all, this 20-pages-position paper calls for a world revolution, of which inclusion of course would be a part. 

At the end of May during the annual conference of the national sustainability council, Chancellor Merkel presented the first draft of the updated sustainability strategy. This 249-pages-document starts with a long chapter about the history, policies, used methods, participation of civil society and so on. Subsequently, the updated management concept is presented in detail, with national targets and priorities set for each SDG. 

At first sight: Firstly, disability inclusive development is of course defined as one amongst the priority issues, but not as an overarching cross-cutting issue. Secondly, there are a lot of announcements, priority statements, declarations, but mostly there are no concrete measures behind these. Thirdly, we miss any measures or yet even commitment in the field of data disaggregation both for data generated by Germany and for capacity support of development countries.

Something pretty similar can be stated regarding the draft voluntary national report to be submitted to this year’s UN-High Level Political Forum, published one week after the release of the draft national sustainability strategy. This report to some extent, mainly regarding the structural and procedural commitments, appears like a summary of the strategy-draft. After releasing the draft report, the Government invited civil society for comments to this report. Regarding the draft HLPF-report, CBM criticized

  1. not having inclusion postulated as an important and legitimate cross-cutting human rights issue just as relevant as gender equality; 
  2. the basic principle of “leave no one behind” being treated like a nice-to-have topic only relevant to SDG 1, missing to grasp the fundamental nature and inherent prioritization commitment to it;
  3. acknowledging the importance of data disaggregation but not reporting on any action to be taken to live up to this relevant issue for Germany and in developing countries.

Finally, the voluntary national report uploaded on the UN-website for Germany is a summary of the summary of the national sustainability strategy. Also its noteworthy that the presentation time slot for the German government in front of the HLPF will be divided into three parts: one to the representative of the Ministry for Environment, one to the representative of the development ministry, and another sub-slot – what a symbolic gesture – for the civil society (better defined as non-state-actors since actually this slot will be delivered on behalf of NGOs, trade unions and business networks… ).