How broad should a post-2015 agenda be, and how deeply should it go into the different factors which drive poverty and development? This is the heart of the current stage of the debate on post-2015.
This paper looks first at progress on the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to draw some lessons on how a new agreement should aim to finish the job started in 2000. Expanding the poverty agenda beyond the current MDGs, to include new areas of equal concern to poor people is a second option discussed, followed by the implications of expanding the agenda beyond extreme poverty to include some new global objectives such as environmental sustainability.
There is considerable agreement that ending poverty as defined by the current MDGs should form part of the post-2015 agreement, though the precise targets and indicators required are by no means agreed. Information about those households who remain in extreme poverty, from household surveys, participatory research and opinion polling, provide useful insights into how that could be done and how a new agreement could be constructed to tackle the problem of extreme poverty as defined in the original goals.
More ambitiously, the scope of an agreement could also be expanded to include other dimensions of extreme poverty that poor people consider to be important in defining their situation, such as their sense of personal security, or their ability to participate in making the decisions that affect their lives. These questions are more politically difficult, but are central aspirations of poor people which should not be ignored in an agreement focused on improving their lives.
Even more ambitiously, other objectives, beyond addressing extreme poverty, could be added to this list. There is already a decision, following the Rio conference, to include some environmental goals or targets in a new post-2015 agreement – which could be linked to poverty reduction or form stand alone goals focused on protecting the environment as an objective in its own right. To this, some propose adding goals on governance or security issues, as aspects of life which are of concern to all inhabitants of the planet, including but not restricted to the very poorest people.
How this debate is resolved depends ultimately on how the political consensus develops and what turns out to be possible, but this paper offers a road map to inform those discussions.