THERE is a need to formulate a post 2015 development agenda that will mobilise action for positive change on the foundation already set through global efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets over the last decade.
This is what was heard from Pacific Youth after the first round of debates on 'Pacific Perspectives on Post-2015 Development Agenda' facilitated by the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) as part of the Pacific consultation held at the University of the South Pacific's Laucala Campus on Wednesday.
The MDGs are a set of eight goals that were established by world leaders and experts to free humanity from extreme poverty, diseases and illiteracy by 2015.
According to the UNDP it is broadly acknowledged that the MDGs have been powerful in motivating international development efforts.
Young people of the Pacific have spoken and taking into account the pros and cons of the MDGs, they are now calling for a post 2015 framework which needs to build on the lessons learnt and focus on a more forward looking national and international development efforts.
A large number of interested individuals from non-governmental organisations, the private sector, academics, students, and other stakeholders were in attendance to hear what the young debaters had to offer.
After two very in-depth, critical and thought provoking debates - 63 per cent of those present agreed for a post-2015 agenda.
Listening to what the young debaters had to say helped me to understand why we need to continue with the MDG framework.
The fact is that a lot of good has been done and though we fall behind in some areas, we can always work on getting it right.
The argument on the MDGs shortfalls has been that it was very exclusive making it difficult to effectively tackle all the development challenges of the world.
Those who developed the framework had little or no consultation with people at the grassroots level. However, if it feels like the MDGs have failed, then now is the time for a more inclusive approach.
Pacific Youth Council representative Polikalepo Kefu, while giving a youth perspective on the MDGs shared that the MDGs are concrete in their direction and measurable in the way in which they are classified.
He described it as a "wonderful stepping stone to setting goals and targets that can be binding when committed and a reminder that we need not only target but also action if we want to improve our daily life."
But Kefu did not disguise the fact that "people in the Pacific do not know that MDGs exist" for the purpose of empowering humanity.
"It is not that the MDGs are failing; it is our implementation that is failing us today because they are the goals that we should work towards.
MDGs are about implementation so if implementation is failing then MDGs is failing?"
He explained that governments play a key role in achieving the set goals and though more commitment is needed from them, the focus now is to find out how we can get the youth involved in committing to the MDGs as youth are the torchbearers for the continuing of this world.
"The process for defining the post-2015 framework should be open and inclusive.
It needs to draw on the perspectives of governments, the private sectors, civil society, and church organisations engaging youth around the region," he added.
The MDGs according to Kefu, is a tool for enhancing dignity but we need to publicise it so that everyone can understand and even try in some special way to make it work.
"I believe that although the MDGs were set up primarily for governments to target policies, this should not be the only way. I believe that everyone has a right to own part of MDGs because, I believe that working through the bottom upwards can also be a tool for empowerment when we least expect it."
Renowned researcher and one of the architects of the MDGs, Dr Jan Vandermoortele says it is imperative to have a more inclusive and bottom-up framework built on country perspectives to set the post-2015 framework.
Dr Vandermoortele acknowledges that climate change is one of the leading areas where the world is performing the worst but the post-2015 agenda needs to be more than climate change.
He says that the aim now is to come up with a 'universal agenda' that includes everyone and not just the poorest of counties.
The 'one size fits all' notion needs to be put to rest because every nation has its own needs to provide for. Thus, it is obvious that the development challenges in the global north may be very different to that of the global south.
So who is involved in the setting up of the post-2015 agenda will be interesting.
If you want to be part of the post 2015 development agenda discussions, you can join other Pacific youths on the Facebook page Pacific Perspectives on the Post 2015 Development Agenda and make your voice heard.
* Kelvin Anthony is the communications co-ordinator of Project Survival Pacific. PSP is a regional youth environmental organisation that works to safeguard the survival of the Pacific island people from the impacts of climate change and to promote sustainable development within the Pacific.
The views expressed are his and not that of this newspaper.
For further information and clarification, please contact Project Survival Pacific's Communications Coordinator, Kelvin Anthony on +679 9463700 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.