Monthly Archive: July 2018

SDG shadow implementation – hidden in plain sight

By Barbara Adams and the GPW team
The annual UN High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) has a unique role to review progress, define policies and flag priorities at national, regional and global levels for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and achieving the SDGs. This agenda has also become the premier driver and justification for institutional, financial and data reforms and capacity development.
A number  of decisions have been adopted during the twelve months since the last HLPF that are central to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, particularly the measurement of progress towards the SDGs and strategies to finance them. They are complemented by or responsive to proposals of the UN Secretary-General on the funding and institutional architecture of the UN system. Read more…

Sustainable development needs fundamental policy changes

“The world is off-track in terms of achieving sustainable development and fundamental policy changes are necessary to unleash the transformative potential of the SDGs.” This is the main message of the Spotlight Report 2018, the most comprehensive independent assessment of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The report is launched on the opening day of the High Level Political Forum at the United Nations in New York by a global coalition of civil society organizations and trade unions. When UN Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda, they signaled with the title ‘Transforming our World’ that it should trigger fundamental changes in politics and society, argues the report. Yet, “three years after its adoption, most governments have failed to turn the vision of the 2030 Agenda into real policies. Even worse, policies in a growing number of countries are moving in the opposite direction, seriously undermining the spirit and the goals of the 2030 Agenda.” The Spotlight 2018 report focuses on policies that are needed and, as the authors underline, “possible”. Read more…

UN SDG progress reports: how statistics play favorites

By Roberto Bissio
As key instruments to assess implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the UN secretariat has published The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018 and a report on Progress Towards Sustainable Development Goals that should inform the ministers attending the High Level Political Forum of ECOSOC to be held mid-July in New York. Both publications aim to “provide a global overview of the current situation” of the SDGs, “based on the latest available data for indicators in the global indicator framework” and they include the same set of numbers and indicators, only differing in their presentation, the latter being more wordy and text-only and the former a collection of bullet points with ample use of graphs. Read more…

SDG implementation at national level: What’s the point of national reports?

VNRs and shadow (or spotlight) reporting:
How it is key for meaningful participation and accountability

The national voluntary reporting to the High Level Political Forum of ECOSOC is a practice that has gained traction, as dozens of governments are volunteering each year to participate and contribute their VNRs. A number of CSOs have prepared their own shadow or spotlight reports to follow-up on their governments efforts to implement the 2030-Agenda. Is there a meaningful dialogue between the official and the alternative reports? What is the value of the whole exercise? Read more…

New Report: Highjacking the SDGs?

Analyse78-en-v08klAt the United Nations (UN) summit in September 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was adopted by all UN member states. The Agenda gives a comprehensive framework for a global socio-ecological transformation. Along with governments, various actors have been involved in the development of the SDGs, and are now part of implementation strategies. This is the case for organizations (CSOs) and academia as well as the business sector. As a matter of fact, the 2030 Agenda gives the private sector a significant role. The call for business engagement in the 2030 Agenda has been answered by various corporations and corporate lobby groups. Already during the SDG negotiations, the private sector was intensively engaged through many different channels. Now, with the adoption of the goals, several corporations have pledged their support for the SDGs or evaluated the relevance of the SDGs for their own business activities. The idea of business involvement with the SDG is trending but so far there is little systematic analysis: In which way are businesses engaging with the SDGs? What is the actual impact on sustainability of businesses’ SDG activities? And which strategies are needed in order to better align business activities with the transformative Agenda of the SDGs? Read more…

Conversation with authors of Spotlight on Sustainable Development 2018

The world is off-track in terms of achieving sustainable development. Fundamental policy changes are necessary to unleash the transformative potential of the SDGs. In particular, there is a need for more coherent fiscal and regulatory policies and a whole-of-government approach towards sustainability. These are the main messages of the Spotlight Report 2018, the most comprehensive independent assessment of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The Spotlight Report 2018 describes policies, resources and actions that are necessary to implement the 2030 Agenda. It highlights strategies and approaches which depart from business-as-usual and prioritize fulfilment of human rights and respect for planetary boundaries. Read more…

Partnership or Business Case? Side-event during HLPF 2018

Among civil society organizations (CSOs), the increased involvement of the private sector in sustainable development has received mixed responses. Some CSOs welcome more business involvement as a necessary recognition of responsibility and a shift in the understanding of the private sector’s role in society. As a result, various partnerships between CSOs, governments and the private sector have emerged. Other CSOs view the growing involvement of the private sector in sustainable development critically. The democratic legitimation of this trend as well as the budgetary rationale of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) is being questioned as governments hand over more of their duties and power to private companies, particularly in the social sector. Some CSOs view this as a further push towards the privatization of public goods and services and worry about a new form of greenwashing with the SDGs. At a side-event to the 2018 HLPF, we will discuss: What are the activities and strategies of private sector actors in SDG implementation? Does private sector involvement lead to more sustainability and better implementation of the SDGs? Does it positively affect business models and behavior in the long run? What are criteria and political frameworks for private sector engagement in SDG implementation? What are recommendations for the private sector, governments and civil society organizations with regard to sustainable development? Read more…