Post-2015: how emerging economies shape the relevance of a new agenda
Briefing Paper 14/2013
Bonn: German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
The rise of emerging economies has fundamentally changed the context in which negotiations on a post-2015 agreement take place. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were an agenda driven by traditional donors and North-South relations – a model of global relations that is outdated today. When the MDGs were negotiated at the end of the 1990s, they set a new basis for cooperation among industrialised and developing countries. By focusing on human development and orienting development aid to the poorest people, the MDGs allowed policy-makers and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to mobilise support among the broader public for increasing aid flows. Almost 15 years later, countries such as Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) play a major role on the global stage. A second group of emerging countries, such as Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Turkey, are rapidly gaining importance as economic and political players, especially in their respective regions. The rise of these countries shapes the nature of global development challenges and the instruments used to address them. While poverty remains a key concern, a new agenda has to take into account that the poverty landscape has changed considerably, as most of the world’s poor today live in middle-income countries. Issues of environmental sustainability and social inequality have become even more pressing today compared to the end of the 1990s. The role of development assistance as an instrument to engage with emerging economies is in a fundamental transition period. The post-2015 debate holds the potential to generate momentum for a “new bargain” among developing countries, emerging economies and industrialised countries. An international agreement that would integrate the MDGs and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), proposed at the Rio+20 Summit, could pave the way for a comprehensive agenda on sustainable human development. If a new agenda were to also set goals for industrialized countries and emerging economies, it would become a truly universal development agenda. Supporting a new international development framework that goes beyond poverty reduction and includes social, environmental and economic sustainability entails challenges for both industrialised and emerging economies. Dynamics in South-South cooperation currently provide limited incentives for emerging economies to actively support a new agenda. Development policy communities in emerging economies with an interest in pushing active contributions to a post-2015 agenda are weak. Moreover, institutions for cooperation among emerging economies that would be crucial in identifying common positions are still in their infancy. On the other hand, policy-makers in emerging economies may seize the opportunity to use a post-2015 agenda to address joint interests such as tackling inequalities and achieving environmentally sustainable development. Negotiations may provide an opportunity for China and others to strengthen their international “soft power”. For Europe, implementing a universal agenda will be equally ambitious, not least when thinking about goals for reducing social inequality or environmental footprints.
Whether emerging economies decide to engage or not, they will fundamentally shape the relevance and scope of any global framework. Only if they actively support a universal agenda can a new bargain among developing countries, emerging economies and industrialised countries be struck. This gives important responsibilities to European countries, which need to make ambitious commitments
and conduct negotiations towards increasing the attractiveness of a new agenda for emerging economies.
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