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Three UN Conferences to Impact Global Development

July 17, 2015
Austin Slaymaker, young man with light skin wearing a black suit jacket with a red tie and blue shirt, smiles at camera

Austin Slaymaker

by Austin Slaymaker

2015 is sure to be a pioneering year for global development. With three United Nations (UN) conferences, twenty-fifteen is considered a “Year of Global Action” and is a year that could have lasting effects on generations to come.

The first conference was this month, from July 13-16 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; it was the 3rd International Conference on Financing for Development. Addis follows previous gatherings in Monterrey (2002) and Doha (2008) where the global community reached consensus on committing to fund development, namely the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs are a set of eight goals (with eighteen targets) that passed at the 2000 UN Millennium Summit but are set to expire at the end of 2015.

At Addis Ababa, the global community will try to reach consensus at funding the “post-2015 agenda” that upgrades the MDGs to the more ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that currently include seventeen goals (with one-hundred and sixty-nine targets). While the MDGs have guided global community’s development efforts the past 15 years, the SDGs will guide efforts over the next 15 years. The SDGs will be finalized and approved at the second major conference this year – the UN Summit to Adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda which happens September 25-27 and coincides with the annual UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.

The third international conference of particular significance occurs November 30 – December 11: the 21st Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, referred to as “COP21” or the 2015 Paris Climate Conference. COP21 is sure to be the most promising year for a global agreement since Copenhagen in 2009. And with the U.S.-China climate agreement late last year, to fail in Paris would be insolent to mother nature.

This summer in the Office of Development Finance at the U.S. Department of State, I’m getting acquainted with all three of these undertakings. As the lead agency on foreign affairs, the U.S. State Department has a major role to play in each of these conferences. And the work of Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs’ division on International Finance and Development supports them all in some way.

You may be asking yourself, who is it exactly that is engaging in these important negotiations? To answer that question, I share the names of the public servants who are toiling on behalf of the USA to arrive at positive outcomes for U.S. citizens and the global community.

  • Financing for Development (FfD): the U.S. Treasury is the primary lead on FfD. Director of International Debt and Development John Hurley is the principal negotiator for the U.S. in the lead up to Addis Ababa.
  • Post-2015 Development Agenda: former USAID Deputy Assistant Tony Pipa is the Special Coordinator at the U.S. State Department leading the U.S. efforts on the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • COP21: the State Department’s Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern has worked diligently in this role since 2009 (and in a similar role in the Clinton administration) to be at a point this year to come to a monumental agreement.

I am excited for the opportunity to learn and appreciate the opportunity to support, in a very small way, the teams working on these important endeavors. Let 2015 be a year that catalyzes development, sustainability and global cooperation!

Austin Slaymaker is one of the participants in the 2015 USICD Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs internship program.  He and other USICD program interns are writing a series of blog posts about their experiences with USICD’s internship program, to be posted at this blog.  USICD coordinates the internship program, which brings a cohort of students and recent graduates with disabilities to Washington, DC, each summer to complete internships at various international organizations in the Washington, DC, area.  Austin Slaymaker is completing his internship at the U.S. Department of State Office of Development Finance.  Learn more about the internship program at  Read Austin’s, and the biographies of other interns in the summer 2015 program, at  The views and opinions expressed at this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of USICD or the U.S. government.

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