This year’s edition of the European Development Days, held between November 26th-27th, 2013, were held to generate a consensus for a new development agenda – ‘a decent life for all 2030’. With the year 2015 approaching rapidly and designated as the ‘deadline’ for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, discussions focused on what had been achieved so far and what the next steps should be. Interesting developments in the discussions included:
- ‘Understanding development progress – How can a better understanding of past progress inform the post-2015 development framework?’ - Overseas Development Institute (ODI): participants discussed the necessity of having global goals such as the MDGs but acknowledged that their universal character does not take into account a country’s specific history and economic and social context. Recommendations were made for the post-2015 process to couple MDGs with shorter term country specific objectives, thereby recognising each country’s constraints and barriers to progress.
- ‘Capturing the potential of media in the post-2015 process’ - GFMD and Deutsche Welle Akademie: this session pushed to include access to information, freedom of expression and independent media and its functions in the post-2015 agenda. Discussants made the case that in 2000, when the MDGs were created, the world was not as interconnected as it is today, and it is now a fundamental gap to be addressed. Two options were discussed: integrating access to information and freedom of expression as one of the new MDGs or to include ‘good governance’ as a new goal in which transparency, accountability and free media are components. These rights are qualified as human rights in all international conventions. As pointed out by Flavia Pansieri, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, ‘development without human rights is not development’. If we consider freedom of the press and freedom of expression as human rights, then they must be included in the post-2015 agenda as objectives to achieve or to at least take into account as factors contributing to sustainable development. Media plays a variety of roles in development, from creating inclusive policy dialogue, to contributing to good governance through its watchdog role. It also provides channels through which citizens communicate and encourage debate. In addition, social media and mobile technologies have been shown to accelerate democratisation processes, as the Arab Spring is widely agreed to have shown.