Opening remarks by the UN Botswana Resident Coordinator,Anders Pedersen at the National Stakeholder Consultation on the Post 2015 Development AgendaSep 2, 2014
It is always a pleasure to have an opportunity to be part of a process such as this one: the articulation of a national position on pressing development challenges human beings face everywhere in the world. It is also coinciding with the recent launch of the 2014 Human Development Report on Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience, with a message of key importance to Botswana and its future development challenges.
As you are not doubt aware, Botswana is engaged in two processes that are critical to determining how it responds to its development challenges and the development aspirations of its people:
(1) The articulation of a Post Vision 2016 national agenda to respond to the long term development aspirations of Batswana.
(2) The preparation of National Development Plan 11, which shall be the first post Vision 2016 national development plan.
At the global level, work towards defining a Post 2015 global development agenda to succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is ongoing. It is a process of great relevance to Botswana as the country maps out its medium and long term development plans. Like NDP 11 and Vision 2016, the new Post 2015 agenda will seek to address development challenges that are universal in nature though not necessarily equally relevant for all countries. A degree of localization will no doubt be necessary.
The challenge of human deprivation, in all its manifestations - income poverty, inequality and exclusion, lack of shelter, poor sanitation, lack of access to clean drinking water, ill-health, illiteracy, human insecurity, and risks associated with environmental degradation and climate change - is universal. Some countries have been quite successful in responding to this challenge. These include nations of the North and many in South East Asia. Others, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa, have struggled. Only a handful of Sub-Saharan countries, amongst them Botswana and Mauritius, stand out as notable exceptions to the general underperformance of Sub-Saharan Africa. Even this is changing as a majority of Sub-Saharan countries have achieved growth rates that will see them achieve middle income status over the next 10-15 years, some even long before that, mostly on account of two factors that have seen optimism about Africa’s future replace the pessimism around the Africa region:
(1) Natural resource extraction, which Africa has in abundance but trades them with far too low value addition.
(2) Governance reforms, although unequally implemented, that have delivered improvements in governance, economic growth, trade, investment, and access to basic services.
When the MDGs come to an end in 2015, humanity will look back with satisfaction that collective action - local, national and global – delivers results. Substantial progress has been made on many MDGs. Global poverty has been halved five years ahead of schedule. Ninety percent of children in developing countries have access to primary education and the access gap between the girl child and the boy child is being eliminated everywhere. Health indicators – on malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and other diseases are improving. In the case of clean drinking water and sanitation, access has been extended to an additional 2.3 billion and 2 billion people respectively.
Here in Botswana, substantial progress has been made on most MDG targets. By 2009, Botswana had already halved the poverty head count ratio, from 47% in 1993 to 19.3% in 2009. This nation reduced extreme poverty by 72.6% between 2002 and 2009 alone! With modest but well thought out adjustments to policy and strategy responses to poverty, especially social protection, Botswana could eradicate extreme poverty by 2016. Access to primary education is near universal for Botswana. Botswana has also met the water and sanitation targets and has made good progress on HIV/AIDS, both in terms of reducing incidence and delivering access to treatment and care.
Humanity will also look at its MDG performance with a fair measure of discomfort. Many of the MDG targets will not be met, notably those on child and maternal mortality. More than a billion people still live below US$1.25 per day. The world is seriously imperilled by a high paced loss of biodiversity and climate change. Where progress has been made, it is very uneven. For instance, there has been very little progress against poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 48% of the people lived on less than US$1.25 per day in 2010, down a measly six percentage points from 54% in 1990. To put the extent of underachievement in perspective, global consultations towards the post 2015 agenda suggest the MDGs were not ambitious enough. Of equal, and maybe in some cases even greater importance, is that income inequality in most Sub-Saharan countries have increased in a deeply discouraging way, including in Botswana.
Botswana has also struggled with the child and maternal mortality targets. Neither will be met. Beyond access to water and improved sanitation, Botswana faces serious environmental challenges: loss of biodiversity; increasing carbon dioxide emissions; land use conflicts, desertification and climate change. Furthermore, the water and energy supply challenges for Botswana are serious, though not insurmountable.
The MDGs have nevertheless shown the value of collective action. They raised the level of effort towards addressing human deprivation in both developed and developing countries. Developed countries availed more resources to countries in need, especially through official development assistance and debt relief. Developing countries in turn, delivered more on their end of the bargain, especially reforms towards better governance and economic management.
As Botswana prepares to articulate its position on the post 2015 development agenda, it is necessary for the country to reflect on the emerging global consensus around the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are being proposed to replace the MDGs and were placed before the General Assembly in mid-July 2014. The consensus points towards a universal agenda that is considerably more ambitious than the MDGs, and aims for five transformative shifts that will deliver inclusive growth, create opportunity, improve livelihoods and reduce poverty, inequality and exclusion. These are summarised in the Secretary General’s High Level Panel Report as:
1. Leave no one behind, which has a particular focus on addressing the structural causes of poverty,, inequality and exclusion,
2. Put sustainable development at the core, the priority being policies and strategies that provide an efficient balance between economic growth, social justice and sustainable use of the environment as the basis for sustainable development,
3. Transform economies for jobs and inclusive growth, which envisages profound transformation to expand opportunities, improve livelihoods and end extreme poverty,
4. Build peace, and effective, open and accountable institutions for all, which calls for good governance as the foundation of development and,
5. Forge a new global partnership for development, with pronounced emphasis on the role of local government, the private sector and civil society
These shifts are remarkably similar to the priorities outlined in the Common Africa Positon on the Post 2015 Development Agenda.
I urge this gathering to reflect on these goals and their targets against a backdrop of the five transformative shifts outlined above and the Common African Positon.I thank you for your attention.