Rethinking Bretton Woods | Fri, Mar 6, 2015
CIDSE, the international alliance of Catholic agencies of which Center of Concern is a member, has just released “Why Addis Ababa Matters: CIDSE Recommendations for the Third UN International Financing for Development Conference.”
2015 is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make giant leaps towards our vision of justice, equity, dignity and protecting our natural environment. International agreements to be made this year on financing for development, climate change and the Post-2015 framework will lock us in – people and the planet, for better or for worse, on certain pathways. The first one of those conferences, on the third UN Financing for Development Conference (Addis Ababa, 13-16 July 2015), will be critical in setting the tone for success in the rest of them.
They may have a transformative effect on all our lives and how we interact with our natural environment. Or they may not. Most critically they will have big impacts on the lives of people who are systematically denied their basic human rights, living in poverty and structurally excluded from circles of influence and decision-making. The optimism of the new millennium and the global outcry prompted by the attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001 provided a particular sense of purpose to the first International Conference on Financing for Development in 2002. Determined to make globalisation fully inclusive and equitable, the international community undertook to mobilise and use financial resources effectively and achieve the national and international economic conditions needed to eliminate poverty, improve social conditions and protect our environment in the Conference's outcome document, the Monterrey Consensus.
In Addis Ababa there should be an even greater sense of purpose reflecting an acute awareness that globalisation is not working for either people or the planet. According to recent research the richest 1 per cent of people in the world own 48 per cent of global wealth, leaving just 52 per cent to be shared between the other 99 per cent of adults on the planet.1 We have been emitting more greenhouse gases than ever before despite 20 UNFCCC conferences and other climate summits and all the technical means at our disposal.2 Our use of the entire planet's plant production has more than doubled compared to a century ago.3
At the same time, Post-2015 discussions have created a new sense of optimism. We have hopefully learned our lessons. We believe we can forge an agenda of universal responsibility that not only the global South has to deliver on but the global North as well. Yet getting it right this time around will need as much if not greater levels of political ambition and leadership.
Unfortunately, calculations of political risk have been winning over considerations of the leadership opportunities that this year provides. This trend is clear in preparations for the Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa with an apparent “wait and watch” approach for others to make the first move and non-committal posturing. It is a disturbing approach to be taken towards a Conference which will need to rebuild North-South trust as an essential condition for the success of the Post-2015 Summit in New York and the Climate Conference in Paris.
To rebuild an urgently needed spirit of multilateralism, the agreement in Addis Ababa will need to demonstrate international cooperation that is holistic and built on international solidarity rather than charity. It will need to equally uphold all the three dimensions of sustainable development: environmental, social and economic. It must put people and not markets at the centre. All States and not just recipient “partner countries” must be made accountable for its delivery. This paper sets out recommendations that are the essential building blocks for such a holistic agreement. They are realistic and achievable. At the same time they respond to a reality where action, including responses to the financial crisis, have so far been too little and too piecemeal. We call for the Addis Ababa agreement to go much further. This is essential to make finance contribute to the realisation of economic, social and environmental well-being as envisioned by the Monterrey Consensus.