Organization: United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF)
refers to the date that the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are set to expire.  The MDGs are a set of eight goals agreed to by world leaders at the start of the 21st century to make global progress on: ending poverty and hunger, education, gender equality, child health, maternal health, combatting diseases such as HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, environmental sustainability and global partnership for development.

Though the MDGs have been a success in many ways — including enjoying sustained global commitment for over a decade — time has also revealed some weaknesses.  One such weakness is that their reliance on national averages as the means to measure progress can — in some cases — mask stagnating progress or even growing disparities between groups at local and subnational levels.  This means that millions of people have been rendered invisible or are being left behind in the MDG agenda.  For the post-2015 agenda, inequalities must be more systematically addressed so that all people — including the most excluded – can participate and reap the benefits of human development.

Research Project Background:
Under the guidance of Professor Rafat Mahdi, a team of graduate students enrolled in the Graduate Program of International Affairs (GPIA) at the New School University will work together on a research project about addressing inequalities in the post-2015 development agenda.  The research will be used in the UN-initiated global thematic consultation on inequalities, which is being co-convened by UNICEF and UN Women along with the Danish Government and a small group of other partners.  The UN system will be organizing 9 thematic and 50 country consultations over the next several months, which will seek to bring the voice of a diverse group of stakeholders (e.g. civil society, government, academia, private sector, etc) into the formal process that will determine the post-2015 development agenda.

As of June 2012, it is expected that the New School Research paper/project may be used to catalyze online discussions on inequalities and will also be used for discussion at an inequalities “leadership meeting” to take place in Q1 2013.

The expectation is that a paper will be produced by December 2012.  However, we would also welcome students to get creative in presentation of findings as well (e.g. produce a video, host a webinar, etc).  Students are also highly encouraged to use the post-2015 online engagement platform (currently under development) for research and possibly for feedback on drafts.  UNICEF, Professor Mahdi and the student research team will meet to discuss further at the start of the project (August/September 2012)

Proposed topics (Choose 1):

1.      What has worked to address inequalities and gaps in different contexts, and how can political and other stakeholder buy-in be obtained and sustained for these approaches;

2.      Synthesis of young peoples’ or an excluded groups’ perspective on how inequalities affect their life chances and living experiences.  Excluded groups may include people who face deprivation and/or discrimination based on ethnicity, disability, gender, location (e.g. urban vs. rural), age, religious beliefs, wealth, sexual orientation, etc. Many of the most excluded people face compounding deprivations (e.g. poor, rural girls and women).

3.      Overarching review on current and emerging inequalities and their causes/determinants, and how they impact on development, peace and human rights;

4.      Technical review of what current indicators tell us about specific inequalities, how they interact, their impact on development outcomes, as well as where the gaps are in data;

5.      Gender inequality and how it interacts with other forms of inequality;

Recommended Reading:
To familiarize the students with more details about the post-2015 development agenda, we recommend reading of the following papers:

1.      Accelerating progress towards the Millennium Development Goals: options for sustained and inclusive growth and issues for advancing the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015
(Annual Report of the UN Secretary-General; 11 July 2011)

2.      The Secretary-General’s Five Year Action Plan
(UN SG; January 2012)

3.      Post-2015 Policymaking: What is being planned, what might actually happen and CAFOD’s current policy lines
(CAFOD, March 2012)

4.      100 Voices: Southern Perspectives on what should come after the Millennium Development Goals
(Pollard, A. et al; March 2011)

5.      Realizing the Future We Want for All (forthcoming)
Report of the Post-2015 UN Task Team to the UN Secretary-General; May 2012

6.      Addressing Inequalities: The Heart of the post-2015 development agenda and the future we want for all (forthcoming)
(Background thematic paper prepared for the UN Task Team on the post-2015 development agenda by UNICEF, UN Women, UN DESA, UNRISD, ESCAP, ECE; May 2012)

7.      Getting to Zero: Finishing the Job the MDGs started
(Global Agenda Council on Benchmarking Progress (GAC) convened by the World Economic Forum; April 2012)

8.      Advancing the global development agenda post-2015: some thoughts, ideas and practical suggestions
(Vandemoortele, J.; April 2012)

9.      Outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development “Rio+20” (forthcoming)

10.   A Post-2015 World Fit for Children: UNICEF Key messages on the post-2015 development agenda (unpublished.  Will share latest draft with student research team when identified)

Recommended Websites:
The following websites are devoted to providing news and information on post-2015 and may be of use