The role of the Agenda 2030 in SD   (Published: 09.01.2019)

In the context of Agenda 2030, there has been some confusion about what this broad development agenda really is. Has this development program taken too much leap in managing things at once? The UN and its member states play a major role in the program’s objectives, content and implementation methods, which have 17 goals and 169 targets to make life better on our planet.

The origin of development cooperation

Current intergovernmental international interaction is a relatively new mechanism. The millennium-based exchange of contacts that preceded intergovernmental exchanges, which also exists today and is better known as international trade. It has also become a part of intergovernmental cooperation for centuries, with the creation of codes of conduct to promote cooperation to prevent the use of force in international co-operation and transnational interaction.

Intergovernmental activities in development cooperation and change management in transition economies have been coordinated by a cooperative mechanism led and coordinated by the OECD DAC since 1960. During its existence, DAC has created many methodological standards. In the early 1990s, when the Soviet Union broke down and the content of the assistance activities changed, there was a need to update the methods for describing project management / assistance content in the sector.

As the number of aid activities increased and the complexity of the contents increased, there was a need for better international coordination. The 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and its follow-up meetings will seek to create a mechanism for collaborative countries to prevent overlapping and to achieve synergies through enhanced operational coordination through improved land and industry coordination.

Human thinking development

Human knowledge has always expanded through the birth of human consciousness (Cogito, ergo sum - Descartes). This consciousness has become more diverse as a result of increased communality compared to the thought of the 17th century Descartes. As a result of major scientific inventions and great explorations, the term "information society", which is now used, took its first steps as a creator of collective consciousness as a sketcher of reality. On that basis, there was also a contradiction between the individual's and the community's conceptions of reality and the justification of existence.

In the 19th century philosophy and in the state-specific doctrine, this bipolarity was strengthened and laid the foundation for the philosophy of justice, in which the rights and duties of the individual and the state are interdependent and complement each other as the basis of the current world order. The limited existence of an individual has its own significance in the choices made by him and his rights when compared to the continuity represented by society, for example in environmental matters of all and in the creation of different management mechanisms.

The same dichotomy is also evident in the evolution of the time concept of man and communities. Before Aristotle the linear conception of time in the prevailing time concept was the cyclical time conception of the evolution of mankind's agricultural stage. The cyclical concept of time was created by the periodicity associated with agriculture and the seasonal cycle, which defined the life of the human and the human community. Only Aristotle's thinking and pictorial language brought to the concept of time the current linearity, where one of the entities under consideration consists of three parts: beginning, middle and end. The beginning must be a linear quantity before the middle and the end after which allows things to be predictable.

Creating an octal matrix

In the papers on the methodology for development programs for 2015 – 2018 at this website, these pages highlight the need to harmonize and structure the analysis of the current situation of the object to be changed. The Octal Matrix creates a platform for describing the target area and its functionality logically with a single mapping technique for programs at different levels. It allows, if maintained, to easily produce a variety of current situation analysis for change management and development programs at various levels, including in PCM / LFA compliant programs. It also improves the comparability of programs because it describes the subject as a process that can be repeated as whole  or within its individual sub-areas.

Another need to create an octal matrix is ​​due to the increasing and complexity of information and the use of information technology. In system thinking, things are recognized as processes that are controlled by various information / control systems through making a difference between the process to be controlled and the control process. If it is difficult to understand the process to be controlled, it can be divided into different and interdependent parts. If not, then it will not be possible to describe and define the controlling information system. The description of the information system includes determining the initial data, end data and processing rules between the system entity and its parts.

Change management process

Development is a change process with three parts: design, implementation and assessment. Not all the changes are a development that is based on a three-step process. The above-described three-part change management process may be either top-down or inductive one. For example, international change programs can focus at regional and sectoral levels differently than at global level. It is of great importance to the content issues of change. There may be major differences in design objectives and their inclusion in the change if they are identified and formulated as overall objectives from the bottom up at regional and sectoral levels, as defined by the priority and urgency priorities of these levels.

At regional and country level, managing change can identify four interdependent activities. These features include the following: (1) Own vision and principles in the national context, (2) Identifying and designing the content of the subject to function, (3) Defining / creating tools for content delivery, and (4) Evaluating and impacting the implementation for the community and the individual. This process is iterative in nature to produce permanent results. Societies learn things differently. The role of the media and national self-esteem are the distinguishing factors between states in managing change.

Clusters and sustainable development

The human brain and mind can handle only a limited number of things at the same time. Therefore, it makes sense and allows you to combine things into larger entities - clusters. This can also be done in the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 for SDGs by combining 17 goals into clusters that are better managed at the planning stage. Three content clusters can be formed on content issues, and a method cluster can be formed on institutional / technology issues, as well as various procedural issues.

With these clusters, the resources needed for change management can be optimized and different synergy benefits achieved throughout the process implementation and evaluation phase. The Asumer Handbook on Sustainable Development describes clusters in more detail in terms of both content clusters and method cluster. Each country can form its own content cluster in its own way. The clusters work primarily to clarify the target program adopted in 2015 and extend to 2030 and to manage the ground level. The implementation phase and the evaluation phase will be based on commonly agreed principles and indicators.

Approaches and funding

In the 2030 UN and Intergovernmental Cooperation Program, the world development community has three potential approaches to progress: 1) an administrative approach to enhancing intergovernmental cooperation to implement the Agenda 2030 for SDGs within the framework of the UN and OECD / DAC cooperation; 2) introducing systems thinking in sustainable development though building IT systems to enhance existing international cooperation; and 3) developing a kind of hybrid model that provides access to Venture Capital (VC) and other private forms of finance through concession and restructuring development financing (provision of pipeline funds not yet committed) as collaterals, either as periodic risk investments or soft loans for/with existing IFI- funding instruments.

Environmental management

For the Agenda 2030 for SDGs implementation, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), which entered into force in 1994, and the follow-up meeting of its 24 signatory countries by 2018, have made an example of an effective administrative approach. Its most prominent achievements are the Kyoto Protocol (1997) and the Paris Agreement 2015 to halt climate change, signed by 195 UN member states. In the agreement, the temperature rise is limited to 1.5 degrees compared to the pre-industrial time. The agreement also agreed with developed countries on climate finance for developing countries. This approach had a setback and seemed a vulnerability when President Donald Trump announced in June 2017 that the United States would withdraw from the treaty.

Following the Rio de Janeiro Environmental Conference on Environmental Technologies in 1992, the results before the current "Agenda 2030 for SDGs" have been the achievements of environmental authorities/NGOs in changing consumer habits and reducing transport emissions. Other issues in the administrative approach to the environment have been: halting the global ozone depletion, streamlining waste management and recycling in industrialized and environmental countries, increasing land strategies for handling plastic waste and scrap and tackling the ocean / inland waterway problem. International cooperation in environmental and oil spill response also works through national environmental authorities and international funds (IOPCF). Differences between industrialized and developing countries are growing without a change in policy.

Management systems and digitalization

The application of globalization and the administrative approach to the regulation of the physical environment and infrastructure of the planet has been a legitimate approach with the existing methods. Instead, the other two clusters (socio-economic development and institutional structures in the States operate internally in different ways and require a different approach to implementation and monitoring compared to a centralized management approach).

Each country wants to organize its affairs in its own way, within the framework of international cooperation, whether it be education, social security, pensions or business in society and its conditions. Octal matrix thinking creates tools and criteria for the level of state development that currently defines and directs the content of sustainable development activities on their own terms, as is done in DAC co-operation by donors when monitoring the development of ODA at country level. In building new methods and indicators for foreign aid and investment, the countries themselves should be heard more so that their governments and people are genuinely committed to the goals of SD. The construction of administrative structures and institutions should also go from simple to complex, not deductive way, as in current practice.

The industrialized countries made a great leap forward in creating leadership and centralized computer systems in the 1960s and 1980s. The emergence of decentralized data processing PC / workstation technology and Internet-based communications solutions have transformed the computing architecture at all levels since the 1990s. The essential thing was that the business processes of the industrialized countries were structured in a way that allowed the management and development of integrated ICT systems in a controlled manner. The development history of information systems in developing countries and countries with economies in transition is different. The structuring of business processes based on their IFI standards (PCM / LFA) has been done in a way that is not suited to the reorganization or development of industrial philosophy and data processing based on industrial automation with MIS thinking. The digitization of archives and data is a different matter that can be a well-founded measure in dealing with things for further steps.

The role of meteorologists

The development of information systems is a strategic function in implementing Agenda 2030. In the field of the environment, a viable Modus Vivendi has been found, which can bring improvements at all levels of program implementation. Instead, there are methodological reassessment needs in the areas of the two other clusters and the issues of the method cluster. The justification for this is found in the history of human thinking and prediction.

Weather prediction is an old institutional function that, in its present form, is quite similar in different countries. When a meteorologist appears on the TV screen, viewers expect him to tell what the weather is coming up with. He tells and displays the map with additional information on what kind of weather is coming. People transfer the given information to their own reality - their octal matrix. He gets a picture of the weather and adjusts his life accordingly.

Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 is also a forecast of how life is developing on Earth. It helps us, as individuals and as a community, to know where we are going to be able to make the necessary choices for the future. People would be puzzled if a TV meteorologist began to lecture on good and bad weather and their features. Does Agenda 2030 give an individual a response to questions that raise the individual's awareness of the current lifestyle and its consequences. Who is interested in the 17 goals of sustainable development and 169 sub-goals if the development's own clergy cannot describe the process that could be managed by human action?

© Asumer Oy / Heikki K. Auvinen, 2019, All rights reserved

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