Opportunities and Limitations in Global Strategic Frameworks

While reviewing the progress of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it essential to recognize the incredible progress that has been made for development on the international, domestic, and local levels. However, it is also important to identify where the MDGs have missed their targets and how global responses, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other global strategies, have been implemented to mitigate the MDGs’ shortcomings.

One of the most important gatherings of international leaders concerning improving the MDGs via inclusive development happened on September 23rd, 2013. The High-Level Meeting on Disability and Development (HLMDD) at the United Nations (UN) held discussions focused on the post-2015 Development Agenda. The general theme of this meeting was “The Way forward: a disability inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond.” The HLMDD was structured of world leaders who convened with the World Health Organization (WHO) to prepare a game plan for the future implementation and strategy of the MDGs and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The core values of these High-Level discussions, as highlighted in the outcome document of the High-Level meeting, were focused on disability-inclusive development and the commitment of the international community for the advancement of the rights of persons with disabilities. Similar to the concept of “international regimes”, the principles executed at the HLMDD set up a structure of “rules” or “expectations” on how to include persons with disabilities in development practices. The HLMDD assessed the MDGs by reaffirming the need for the implementation of the MDGs and other international agreed development goals for persons with disabilities.

 

Focusing on the MDGs themselves, there have been several key advances in their progress on development. According to the MDG Monitor website, there has been significant progress on some MDGs in many countries that include: decreased extreme poverty, increased primary school enrolment, and improved access to clean water. However, the MDGs have several areas of limitation and weaknesses in the uneven progress within regions, countries, and even groups within populations. Some targets were globally “off-tracked” due to unexpected events such as the 2008-9 international financial crisis, civil wars, and climate change.

 

After the thorough evaluation of the MDGs and their shortcomings in 2015, the SDGs were developed in order to fill the gaps as effectively as possible. The SDGs have several advantages and improvements over the MDGs, according to one article from The Guardian. Primarily, the SDGs are more globally collaborative than the MDGs and include a greater role for the private sector. Unlike the MDGs, the SDGs are strongly rooted in human rights standards with a more upfront focus on inclusivity for persons with disabilities. The greater number of SDGs compared to MDGs (17 versus 8, respectively) present more opportunities for civil society engagement. For all of these reasons, the SDGs have and continue progress from the MDGs because of their flexibility and adjustable scope for different needs.

 

When it comes to Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and Disabled Persons Organizations (DPOs) there can be many challenges when attempting to be included in development frameworks. Primarily, NGOs and DPOs can lack the “high-level” factor that many government organizations or associations have when it comes to gaining a seat at the table and being provided a turn to speak.

 

From the 2018 Internet Governance Forum (IGF) held in Paris, France, there were several innovations when it came to participant interaction and technological inclusion. This year there were was effort for more personal and individual participation instead of only organizational participation. There was the Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) and Dynamic Coalitions that fostered a more cohesive discussion and means to advance internet governance norms. There were several Multistakeholder Workshops, a model that’s innovative in its inclusiveness of participation. The Global Internet Governance Academic Network allowed for scholars and researchers focused on internet governance to gather and discuss their current and upcoming work.

When it comes to the Framework for Accessible Global Governance, it’s important to keep in mind the following concepts: Transnational Advocacy Networks (TANs), Collaboratories and Accessible Cyberinfrastructure, Use and Impact of Accessible Collaborators, and Effective Participation in Global Governance. All of these concepts require a thoughtful infrastructure that can be replicated and adjusted as needed across different regions, countries, and localities. TANS play a vital role, as illustrated in the image below (retrieved from Professor Derrick Cogburn’s lecture slides):

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Multistakeholder Global Governance is still a “Grand Challenge” and will remain so as the SDGs encourage more global participation in development. International conferences, such as the HLMDD and the IGF can serve as mechanism for “convergence” and the creations of international regimes and institutions. Furthermore, policy collaboration can  strengthen and make more effective the role of TANs which can be effective in solving cross boarder issues. However, further training in “conference diplomacy” is necessary as more and more NGOs and civilian participants are included in these global forums.