This entry poses the thesis that UN governance experts should test and train already now the changes in governance and institutional work to be expected within a new UN development framework after 2015.
As a student I learned about the categorical imperative of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant. In a sentence attributed to Gandhi the basic underlying rule can be summarized as follows: “We need to be the change we want to see in the world”. How could that be translated into our practical situation with respect to Post 2015?
Well, let’s start positive and assume that the current dialogue on the Post 2015 UN Development Framework would go on fine, bring up every relevant question and suggestion, and that experts, politicians and coordinators would in deed be able to transform all that by the end of 2015 in an excellent and agreed policy document describing a UN Development Framework with a set of Sustainable Development Goals. Wouldn’t that be great and isn’t that what we want?
Experience should tell us to be cautious: When people fall in love with a visionary process of formulating goals for a bright future they often overlook the gap between the goals and our limited skills and capacities to walk the way.
Imaging the new Development Agenda will be approved at one of the summits of our world leaders. What will happen on the day after? Well, of course, on that day the implementation should begin. But here comes the point: This is realistic only if everybody knows ahead what and how things need to be done within the new global development framework.
As UN Inter-regional adviser (and before 2008 as EU programme manager) I got to know too many international and national development strategies domed to fail because they have been developed on paper only. Visions and strategies, even those based on excellent supporting studies, statistics and forecasts can’t succeed unless appropriate governance and management mechanisms are prepared, established and unless staff is trained on the new tasks. And this takes time!
Like all big institutions does the UN system have difficulties to act as One. While still struggling with inter-agency cooperation, aide efficiency in development cooperation or the new internal management system Umoja, the UN system is preparing in this situation for an even bigger challenge by merging MDG and Rio+20 process into one. Let’s be frank, even the most experienced UN staffer may have to learn how to walk the new way.
Like private companies who externalize incalculable costs, UN agencies and even units within one and the same department try to reduce incalculable complexity by strictly focusing on their own specialized mandates. This is good for specialized tasks but it generates also silo mentalities blocking cooperation and integration. It’s necessary to explore new ways before and to start this now and not after 2015.