NEW YORK -- Can the world effectively move forward with a post 2015 development agenda if most countries are mired in policies of economic austerity?
To what extent do conflict and violence prevent the world from meeting development goals?
What kinds of new partnerships are needed in the face of increasing south-south development exchanges?
What new financial arrangements are needed to pay for global development?
These were among the questions explored over the last year at a series of breakfast dialogues at the offices of the Baha'i International Community in New York, which were co-sponsored by the BIC and International Movement ATD Fourth World.
Designed to bring together diplomats, UN officials and representatives of civil society in an informal setting, the meetings have created an important venue for the free exchange of ideas as governments consider how to replace the much-acclaimed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expire in 2015.
In each session, public remarks were offered by specialists on a given topic, followed by a general, off-the-record discussion, using Chatham House Rules, which allow remarks to be recorded but not attributed. As of December 2014, there have been 22 such meetings since July 2012.
"The main purpose of these meetings has been to create a space for dialogue that also allows diplomats and civil society to talk freely and also to listen," said Cristina Diez, the main representative to the United Nations of ATD Fourth World.
"We feel we have succeeded. People give opinions in a free way where everyone can think about them and see the merits and bring points about how these ideas may be implemented.
"Another thing is we do it regularly. I haven't seen any other space at the UN like this. There are many meetings with panels or roundtables. But most of the time is for speakers to give their point of view. There is very little time for dialogue.
"We have had very supportive feedback. One diplomat said: 'This is a space where I can listen to ideas without anyone trying to sell me anything or convince me that I have to do this or that.'" said Ms. Diez.
October 2013: Financial requirements
In October 2013, the meeting explored how the world can meet the financial requirements for a new post-2015 development agenda.
Eduardo Galvez, deputy permanent representative of Chile to the UN, and Shari Spiegel of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs were featured speakers on 22 October.
They issued a broad plea for new mechanisms to finance the next set of goals, adding that such mechanisms should ultimately focus on creating enabling environments at the domestic and international levels to facilitate long term sustainable economic growth.
"We live in a globalized world and you need an international enabling environment," said Mr. Galvez. "And that means some changes with regard to trade and investment."
Both also emphasized the importance of creating incentives to help shift investors from short-term to long-term thinking.
"We need good governance, we need good institutions, we need the rule of law, and we need a strong policy framework," said Ms. Siegel. She said institutional investors, with some $85 trillion in assets at their disposal, won't invest in sustainable development unless there is a solid framework domestically and internationally to mitigate risk.
Participants said there is a need to change fundamentally patterns of consumption and production, because the world is now understood as finite in its resources, and it is clear humanity is "over-consuming."
November 2013: Partnerships in a changing world
In November 2013, the dialogue explored the kinds of new partnerships that will be needed after 2015, especially in view of the changing relationships between donors and recipients in a more globalized world.
Ambassador Jean-Francis Regis Zinsou, permanent representative of the Republic of Benin to the UN, said on 19 November that any attempt to frame a new goal along the lines of MDG 8, which calls simply for the world to "develop a global partnership for development," must take into account the fact that today "we are not talking about 'a...