International frameworks at both the global and regional levels have a number of pros and cons. Firstly, they are always challenged, no matter the positives and other negatives, by a need for adequate funding in order to achieve whatever goals are being set out. As noted by the global charity Trocaire, just before the United Nations summit to ratify the Sustainable Development Goals, the World Bank has estimated the Sustainable Development Goals will cost trillions of dollars. Government agencies, then and now, have not committed the estimated trillions of dollars that are necessary to achieve the SDGs, rather governments have chosen to lean on the private sector as one way to fill the funding gap. This lack of funding not only continues to impact the Sustainable Development Goals, but shows a pattern since lack of funding also impacted the Millennium Develop Goals. A retrospective by the United Nations highlighted the fact that the Millennium Develop Goals did not provide an outline for a process, including funding mechanisms, as how to achieve the MDGs. Now, the Sustainable Development Goals have become an amorphous pick and mix of issues, that have improved on the MDGs by adding specific targets, yet continue to lack a clear funding mechanism for achieving the agreed targets.

One other bright spot with regard to the Sustainable Development Goals is that, in spite of the lack of focus, or maybe because of the lack of focus, persons with disabilities have been integrated into several SDGs through the use of specific language. Inclusive language referencing “for all” is used as well when persons with disabilities are not specified within a particular SDG. This achievement follows on the heels of the ratification of the CRPD, and movements by the UK’s Department for International Development, the US Agency for International Development, the Nordic counties, the Australian Development Agency, and the German international aid agency to all include persons with disabilities in development programs. The language in the Sustainable Development Goals, that was agreed to by the UN’s membership, will continue moving the importance of development for persons with disabilities forward even if the Sustainable Development Goals do not provide a specific funding mechanism just as the Millennium Develop Goals did not.

Intersectionality of International Development

Intersectionality in international development is a gathering of different identities and actors to work together to tie together core concepts of development. This is essential for meeting the sustainable development goals before the year 2030 because with the inclusion of all of the concerned subjects of development, the interests of the entire population can be met. In the United Nations Major Groups Framework, there are nine categories that are represented in the decision making of the development policies. Having nine groups encompasses a majority of the groups affected, but these categories are also limiting in terms of who is represented.

In international developmental organizations, the task of resolving international issues is a challenging one, and often the biggest difficulty is making sure that the interests of all concerned groups are met. By having nine groups, it limits the amount of actors present at the decision making table and makes it easier to pass unanimous actions. However, if there are people that are still not represented in the projects and who do not see the benefits of development, then the efficiency gained in having less actors leads to a loss of  effectiveness of the programs. The Major Groups Framework tried addressing these issues by including specific groups in the official language and keeping it open to “other stakeholders,” keeping it vague enough to include any multitude of groups. Another way that the UNMGF includes all of the groups is by jointly categorizing groups (i.e. instead of having a separate category for the LGBTQA community, they would be included under the nine groups that compose the UNMGF). The main issue with this is hierarchy, where some groups are given more importance than others, which causes political dissent among the different actors over who should be given priority in developmental issues.

This is still a major barrier to international development and is a main criticism of the way the system works, but it is critical to find a way to maintain intersectionality and efficiency in the global frameworks to find ways to meet the sustainable development goals before the 2030 deadline.


Global Strategic Frameworks and Development Goals

In 2001 the Millennium Development Goals were developed in order try and eliminate some of the world’s greatest problems such as inequality, poverty, hunger, and poor maternal health. While there was some success, critics call into question the effectiveness of the MDGs, as well as the effectiveness of global strategic frameworks. Critics argued that the MDGs (and most global strategic frameworks) employ broad goals that do not take into account national needs. Other critics argue that the MDGs employ a vertical approach that does not partner with local organizations or hold actors accountable. These critiques of the MDGs and global strategic frameworks are important because they highlight some of the problems associated with top down development. Global strategic frameworks have many limitations because they are usually general but the needs of countries are varied and diverse, especially when it comes to development. Some critics also view global strategic frameworks such as the MDGs as the Global North telling the Global South what to do, even though the Global North exploited the Global South during the colonial period. Global strategic frameworks are also hard to enact because they are not legally binding. Therefore, the amount that countries participate is up to them and some countries participate much more than others.

While global strategic frameworks have some limitations, they also provide many opportunities. Using a global strategic framework, countries can work together to try and solve problems. Through organizations like the UN, developing countries can participate in creating development initiatives and trying to resolve major global issues. Through global strategic frameworks different countries with different perspectives, but similar goals can share knowledge and best practices, and collaborate on different goals. In order to be more successful, global strategic frameworks should acknowledge critique and take into account the individualized needs of different countries, while still trying to realize their goals on a global scale. Countries can also adopt the spirits of international documents such as CEDAW and The CRPD. Through adopting the spirit of those documents, countries can attempt to make them a reality by enacting them. These documents outline specific goals to make the world a more accepting and inclusive place and by adopting them, countries can address the specific needs that exist within the country, while still participating in a global strategic framework. The more connected international conventions are to strategic global frameworks, the more successful they will be.

Connection between Global and Regional Frameworks

Global strategic frameworks are goals that are discussed and set up by international organizations that should be realized on a global scale. They can be measurable goals with a concrete timeline. Some examples may be the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals. Some may find such frameworks unrealistic and ineffective since they are not legally binding. But their existence still matters to the global policy-making scene because it is through initiatives like these that reflect “moonshot thinking” that our society can move forward. While national or regional goals are more concrete and on a smaller scale, strategic frameworks at the global level demonstrate shared human experience, aspiration and responsibilities. What’s more, global strategic frameworks serve as a guide and model for strategic frameworks on other levels. Therefore, despite some drawbacks, they are still indispensible in global governance.

One specific way global strategic frameworks can lead policy-making on the national and local level is through adopting spirits of other international documents. An example of inclusion of legally binding international convention is the intersection between the SDGs and the CRPD. The SDGs were adopted after the CRPD so they do a better job of including persons with disabilities than the MDGs and were able to shift the debate from only focusing on poverty reduction to a more inclusive development strategy. We can observe this trend from the five SDGs that directly refer to persons with disabilities. The SDGs can be better connected with regional and national policies in this way. The case of UNESCAP is an example of this better connection. The Incheon Strategy of UNESCAP successfully facilitated implementation of the CRPD in its member states in Southeast Asia. As the member states of UNESCAP incorporate CRPD into their national policies, they are also contributing to the SDGs. UNESCAP can also use this contribution to further encourage its member states to make progress in the area of inclusion of persons with disabilities. So the implementation of CRPD and the SDGs enhances each other.

The case of UNESCAP demonstrates advantages of overlaps between global strategic frameworks and international conventions. Policies and efforts that are separated and disconnected before can be integrated into the same system by adopting the same language as global guidelines like the SDGs. This is one of the reasons why global strategic frameworks are valuable.

Efficacy of Global Frameworks

Global frameworks are used everywhere and every day. The only way to understand what these frameworks are is to see the examples that we interact with on a daily basis. Examples of these frameworks include the Millennium Development Goals, the replacement Sustainable Development Goals, and the New Urban Agenda. These frameworks affect everyone, as every country that takes part in the United Nations has agreed to accept them. The only way global frameworks can exist and be effective is through partnerships. Everyone must participate and everyone must contribute.

The MDGs were adopted in 2000 with a goal of achieving them by 2015, something that did not happen. Because of this failure, there has been a lot of negative backlash towards the MDGs. The MDGs included the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, universal primary education, gender equality, and environmental sustainability, among others. Deepak Nayyar, a professor of economics, is one of the biggest criticizers of the MDGs in his article “MDGs After 2015.” He argues that one of the major problems with the MDGs was that they were not specific. They lacked specificity so much so that it seemed as they were not fully planned. The replacement goals, the SDGs, took in this criticism when they were being constructed. The SDGs are extremely specific and have yearly updates available to mark progress. The use of the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) as a way to monitor and evaluate the progress of the SDGs will aid in the overall success of the SDGs, both individually and collectively. While these goals are still lofty, they are better structured and defined, which will make them more obtainable in the long run.

Global frameworks, such as the MDGs and SDGs, provide challenges in achieving the intended and desired results. The MDGs failed for a variety of reasons and we are still too far out to know if the SDGs will be achieved or not. Challenges lie within the systems of evaluating progress. With the world being so large and so diverse, it is hard to measure effectiveness. SDG 6, clean water and sanitation, is something far easier to achieve and measure in developed countries. In developing countries, the infrastructure might not be there or populations might be more remote, adding challenges in the efficacy of these frameworks. At the end of the day, someone will argue something went wrong. Someone will criticize some aspect of what happened. Critics will always exist because people come from different background and have different perspectives. What is important is that we do not let these critics shift us from the desired end goal.

Why is Multi-stakeholder Cooperation Essential for Sustainable Development?

In the field of development, there is a multitude of actors that promote the SDGs and work towards improving the world on many different levels. These levels can go from grassroots movements, to local government action, to International cooperation. Each level of development has its own methodology, its own approach to resolving the Grand Challenges that we face, and each development actor presents different tools and knowledge for resolving the issues.

At the grassroots level where NGOs and other developmental organizations that are locally based perform hands on development work, they operate directly with the target population and do most of the developmental field work necessary to help local communities grow. These organizations collect over time the knowledge of what works and what doesn’t work on a local scale, and it allows them to understand the needs of the population, making the development work as efficient as possible. However, grassroots organizations often lack the funding and resources to expand the scale of operations to affect more people, and because of this, the impact of their development work remains local.

Governments also play an essential role in development work as they manage the resources of the country and therefore have more power to fund development projects. The government also has a large extent of knowledge on the needs of the population. However, what the government has in resources and knowledge, it lacks in efficiency. Governmental development is often criticized for its bureaucratic red tape that makes it very difficult to efficiently manage and run development projects, and this lack of efficiency results in development operations that become much more expensive and yield lesser results.

Finally, international developmental organizations such as the World Bank, the IDB, the United Nations, the HLPF, and many others offer a macro approach to development through international cooperation. The advantages to this approach are that it allows to create a conversation surrounding specific developmental issues and brings them to light, making governments realize the importance of development work in the grand scheme of the SDGs. It is also a good place for different governments to propose ways to implement development with the purpose of meeting a particular criteria and through treaties, binds countries to meet the goals. Unfortunately, there is not a strong enforcement mechanism that forces countries to implement the development work they signed off to.

At each level of development there are partial solutions to meeting the SDGs but still encounter specific difficulties at each layer. The difficulties that the different levels of development encounter however can be solved using the tools and knowledge that other actors operating at different scales have to offer. No single actor possesses the solution to development, but by putting actors together, the optimal combination of knowledge and resources would be met, allowing for the maximum amount of progress to be made. This is fundamental to understanding the importance of multi-stakeholder operations in development and why it is essential to have platforms where the different actors operating at different levels of development can share ideas and knowledge to all resolve Grand Challenges.

How Does the NUA Include Rural Development as an Essential Part of Its Implementation?

When the New Urban Agenda: Habitat III conference was held in October, 2016, the main focus of the conference was to promote the idea of sustainable cities and start developing ideas on how to implement strategies of urban development. Although this document’s main purpose focuses on the urban landscape, the first draft of the NUA III official document contains fifteen mentions of rural development as a part of the plan for urban development:

Article 43: integration of rural development in the framework of developing cities and human settlements

Article 44: integration through ” transport and mobility, technology and communication networks and infrastructure”

Article 62: working with both urban and rural areas, “strengthening the sustainable management of resources ”

Article 77: ensuring coherence of local governmental policies regarding land development keeping rural areas in mind

Although it may not be evident how including rural development helps meet the targets of Habitat III, it is essential to consider what dynamics exist between the two and how improving one can indeed improve the conditions for the other.

One of the biggest challenges that we are currently facing is the overpopulation of our cities and how to accommodate for increasing numbers. This increase in population is mostly due to the migration of poor populations living in rural areas that look towards the city for better work opportunities. If we are to resolve overpopulation of cities, we need to look to what can be done in the rural landscape to provide sufficient opportunities and benefits to rural populations to keep them from migrating to the cities. This is the main goal of articles 43 and 44, where a stronger integration of rural-urban development through technology, communications, and infrastructure can bring a level of development to the rural setting, providing more economic opportunities in those areas and mitigating rural-urban migration.

Another important aspect is the effect that urban development has on the rural landscape. As cities grow, the need for resources such as land, water, food, electricity, etc… increases and most of the time, the use of those resources impacts rural communities. A lot of the waste generated by cities ends up polluting rural communities, which affects the crop outputs and therefore the livelihoods of the populations living in areas most affected. Article 62 emphasizes a strong partnership between the two in order to advance the goal of sustainable cities that would benefit rural areas as well. The urban sector bring to the table new technologies that can help improve the efficiency of the resources it uses, such as creating the infrastructure for green energy (solar panels, hydroelectric, wind energy) and reduce the amount of pollutants that cities emit, and the rural sector provides the conditions under which these resources work best, and provides insight on the effects that the pollution has. Sustainability is therefore an issue that needs to be addressed with the rural sector in mind if it will work at the highest degree of success.

It is impossible to achieve the goal of “sustainable cities” without considering the effects that it has on rural communities and without taking into account the tightly wound relationships that exist between the two. This is why rural development plays an important part in the development of Habitat III and helps us reach most of the Sustainable Development Goals in the 2030 agenda.