In post-2015 discussions, Baha'is seek to create a space for meaningful discourse and the promotion of unity
NEW YORK — The Bahá’í International Community has sought to contribute to the formulation of a new post-2015 development agenda by offering both substantive contributions about development priorities for the future and by creating spaces for meaningful discussion that can also engender a sense of unity among all participants.
“Development involves the building and enhancement of the capacities of individuals, communities and institutions as three main protagonists in a global effort to create an ever-advancing civilization,” said Ming Hwee Chong, a Bahá’í International Community representative to the United Nations.
“In the context of deliberating on the post-2015 agenda, we are striving to put forward an overarching and unifying vision that can help motivate all protagonists along this path,” said Mr. Chong.
Equally, Mr. Chong said, the BIC hopes to play a role in bringing all parties together.
“We see ourselves as partners in learning with a broad range of allies, making an effort to engage with them as sources of insight, knowledge, and experience, from which we have much to learn,” he said.
To this end, the BIC has hosted a series of informal “breakfast dialogues” on the post-2015 development agenda at its offices in New York, organized in collaboration with the International Movement ATD Fourth World.
As of late March 2013, eight such dialogues had been held, each focusing on a general topic, like poverty or inequalities, and each bringing together a wide range of UN officials, ambassadors, and NGO representatives.
A September 2102 breakfast on the topic of sustainable development, for example, brought together representatives from the Permanent Missions of Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Guatemala, Guyana, India, Nigeria, Singapore, Switzerland and the United Kingdom with officials from various UN agencies, including UNDP, UNICEF, and UN Women. Among civil society organizations present were the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, the Global Policy Forum Europe, the International Disability Association, the International Movement ATD Fourth World, the Stakeholder Forum and the UN Foundation.
Participants discussed whether there was a “false dichotomy” between the Rio+20’s Sustainable Development Goals as the “green agenda” and the MDGs as the “poverty agenda,” concluding it was important to take an holistic approach that encompasses both.
Also discussed was the degree to which the world has become “multi-polar,” with participants saying it is critical to move away from the traditional “North-South” dichotomy to better reflect global realities.
A breakfast meeting in November addressed the topic of poverty. Among other things, participants spoke about the need to directly include the poorest in consultations on the post-MDGs, the importance of viewing poverty eradication and sustainable development as one agenda, and the centrality of human rights to economic development.
Participants also discussed the nitty-gritty of development. Diarrhea and pneumonia continue to be huge factors in infant mortality, they said. Also significant are the growing inequalities between small and large farmers, the impact of new and erratic weather patterns on development, and the challenges posed by the demographic “bulge” of youth worldwide.
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“Our main idea behind these meetings is to create a space where the UN community, whether representing governments, UN agencies, or NGOs, can simply come together and talk, exploring issues in depth as they relate to the post-2015 development agenda,” said Mr. Chong. “So far, the feedback has been positive.”
There is more information about the breakfast meetings and the BIC’s activities in relation to the post-2015 development agenda at http://bic.org