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The best IRF blogs of 2014

Tue, 2014-12-23 12:04
Helen Burley

As the post-2015 agenda rolls into its final stages of development, IRF2015 looks back at the best of 2014 – and the 10 most read blogs on website.

2014 has been a busy year for the post-2015 agenda, with on-going negotiations on the Sustainable Development Goals, the Open Working Group proposals in September, crucial climate negotiations in Lima in December, and at the end of the year, the UN Secretary General’s Road to Dignity report. Here’s what grabbed the attention of IRF2015’s discerning readers.

Five suggestions for an integrated agenda

In January 2014 the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals (OWG) considered whether or not climate change should be integrated into the post-2015 development framework. The decision that it should marked a turning point as historically, climate change and development have been addressed through separate tracks in the UN system. Andrew Scott from ODI and Leo Horn-Phathanothai from WRI put forward five suggestions as to how this integrated agenda could be taken forward.

Linking the targets – food, water and energy

The ambition of the Sustainable Development Goals remit poses an enormous challenge in terms of focus, with the OWG initially identifying 19 different areas, from poverty eradication and food security through to sustainable consumption and decent work for all. One suggestion was to take an “integrated approach” drawing on the inter-linkages between different targets. Nina Weitz, Måns Nilsson and Marion Davis from SEI examined how such an integrated approach might work in the context of water, energy and food-related targets.   

An energy SDG

In late February, discussions over the post-2015 development agenda reached a milestone when the co-chairs of the Open Working Group (OWG), issued a “Focus Areas Document.” Ben Garside from IIED examined the proposal on energy.

GDP is macho

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been used as the measure for economic progress and development around the world. But questions are increasingly being asked about its adequacy. Alice Kanengoni from OSISA argues that GDP masks the inequalities faced by women, and that a more inclusive approach is needed.

Not far enough

Current patterns of socio-economic development are demonstrably leading to a world that is more socially unequal, ecologically fragile and economically vulnerable than ever before. There have never been as many people existing in extreme poverty, or as broad a spectrum of species becoming extinct. The case for the sustainable development agenda is evident, yet Dr Ashok Khosla from Development Alternatives argues that the OWG needs to go further in its approach to transformative change.


Should we be promoting quality of life over income growth as a primary indicator of social development? Is a low-no-growth, sustainable Barbados the way forward? These were questions posed by a guest blog by Robin Mahon, Professor of Marine Affairs at the University of the West Indies in March.  

An LDC agenda

When Least Developed Country (LDC) representatives met to discuss the post-2015 agenda, they identified four key priorities. Camilla Toulmin from IIED, one of the organisations co-hosting the meeting, argued that these four key priorities for transformational change could help LDC governments lift their citizens out of poverty by generating inclusive growth.

Changing the power structures

In July, following publication of an early draft of the OWG’s Sustainable Development Goals, David Sattherthwaite from IIED suggested that while the draft was radical in terms of its ambition, it fails to address the challenge of changing existing institutional and governance structures. Can we change the goals of development without changing the implementers?

Flushing away resources

In November 2014 the global community marked World Toilet Day. Kim Andersson and Caspar Trimmer from SEI asked whether the Sustainable Development Goals might stop us flushing precious resources down the drain.

Aligning the business interests

One of the key questions being asked about the Sustainable Development Goals is the role for business. Chris West from SEI argues that success is likely to rely on enhanced engagement from the private sector – and suggests that the Measure What Matters project provides useful lessons in putting business and policy makers on the same page.

Keep reading in 2015...



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