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Options for follow-up and review of the trade-related elements of the Post-2015 agenda and financing for development


Options for follow-up and review of the trade-related elements of the Post-2015 agenda and financing for development

Options for follow-up and review of the trade-related elements of the Post-2015 agenda and financing for development
Photo credit: World Bank | perSona via Flickr

Trade and Sustainable Development: Options for Follow-up and Review

Trade is reflected throughout the draft Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of June 2015 and the May 2015 draft outcome of the third international Financing for Development (FfD) conference. These two high-level meetings and their outcome documents will guide global development work for the next 15 years. The first aim of this paper is to map where trade-related elements are found in the SDGs and FfD. The second aim is to describe the trade-related architecture for review and follow-up that could support these outcomes, and to map where it exists or could be built. The SDGs in themselves will not cause anything to change, let alone ensure policy coherence, but the review process might.

Trade’s contribution to the Post-2015 Agenda is diffuse, which means follow-up and review will be a challenge, but it need not be overly burdensome, and it will be useful. This paper presents an initial set of options for how progress towards these trade-related commitments could be reviewed in the years to 2030. The process would provide information on progress by United Nations Member States, based on inputs from governments, civil society and international organisations. This information would be reviewed through self-assessment by Member States themselves, and through peer review by other governments at the regional level (for example in United Nations regional commissions), and at the global level in multilateral agencies and the High-Level Political Forum, the apex of the follow-up and review process. The point of these review processes is not ‘evaluation’, but the sharing of experiences as a way to facilitate learning and policy improvement.

The paper identifies six clusters of trade-related elements in the draft SDGs and in the draft FfD outcome. These elements range from improving access to markets for small-scale producers to strengthening the multilateral trading system. They include commitments to the reform of perverse subsidies to agriculture, fisheries and fossil fuels, and to ensuring that regional trade and investment agreements are coherent with sustainable development objectives. For each cluster, the paper identifies current thinking on indicators, where the necessary data are already collected (if they are) and where progress against these political commitments could be reviewed. The paper then presents the information from another perspective, focusing on the potential roles of the various peer review mechanisms. These mechanisms range from multilateral reviews like the Trade Policy Review Mechanism of the World Trade Organization and UNCTAD’s voluntary policy peer reviews to regional mechanisms that could review groups of United Nations Members, like the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development or regional economic integration organisations like Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

The last part of the paper explains how the various reports could be brought together. Given the profusion of options for review mechanisms, an interagency task force on trade could provide an analytical synthesis of reporting and reviews useful for discussions at national, regional and global levels on the interrelated effects and trade-offs between goals. The broad mandate for such a task force, and perhaps others that would serve the Post-2015 review process, could be part of the Summit outcome document, with details to be proposed by the agencies to the High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development at its July 2016 meeting. 


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