Friday, March 14, 2014

The Shift to Sustainability in the Post-2015 Agenda

From November 2013 to February 2014, Richard Heeks at ICT4D published a series of nuanced and well-cited analyses of the process and likely outcomes of the post-2015 development agenda. His 4-part investigation included a graphic history of the creation of MDGs, a review of post-MDG events, textual analysis of the documents resulting from those events, and a comparison of new agenda items to the outgoing goals and objectives. For anyone in the development community, or even private sector players who understand how the global development agenda can influence public policies and expenditures, Heeks' concise analysis is worth a read.
Heeks argues that the development agenda dynamics "reflect real-world change," responding to the shifting roles of aid and the private sector, the rising tide of domestic and international migration, the supremacy of services over manufacturing, and the ubiquity of mobile devices. According to his early analysis, three issues will increase in importance after 2015:
  1. Environment and Sustainability
  2. Migration
  3. Open and Inclusive Development
These three issues are likely to cut across industry-specific initiatives, requiring "systems thinking" as the development community moves from strategy to implementation.

Systems thinking means the development community will need to understand not just an isolated issue, but how that issue (and programs designed to address it) impacts and is impacted by other elements in the ecosystem. When choosing partners, organizations may want to consider how those partners and their incentives will shift dynamically over time. In effect, no matter where the compass points when the post-2015 course is set, thorough ecosystem assessment, dynamic business modeling, and understanding links between different solutions can help organizations implement more sustainable programs and measure holistically their impact over time. 

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