UN week of Summits: Are the winds of change beginning to blow across the UN?

Civil Society watchdog says the UN week of summits 23-27 September could see more positive action on the climate emergency, on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals and could change the direction of financing for development.

New York, 13 September 2019: “In the four years since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) most governments have failed to turn the proclaimed transformational vision of the agenda into policies that bring about real change, but there are signs of push-back’”, says Jens Martens of the Global Policy Forum and the Civil Society Reflection Group in the run up to the Week of UN Summits (23-27 September).

Over 100 Heads of Government will to attend this unusual week of five UN Summits covering climate, health, finance, small island states and the Sustainable Development Goals. With so many key meetings piled on top of each other, the synergies between the different areas: climate, health, gender and finance are becoming clearer.

Global Policy Forum is hopeful this might indicate a shift from ‘business as usual’, as world leaders are increasingly aware that promises to improve life for billions of people are failing, inequalities are increasing, and the planet is heating up.

UN Climate Summit- faces up to the destruction wrought by climate change

The week opens with the “Climate Action Summit” (23 Sept). UN Secretary-General António Guterres has asked the Summit to promote action to address the climate crisis and both mitigate and adapt to its impacts.

With the destruction of the Bahamian Island of Abaco, the world is seeing the catastrophic consequences of ‘business as usual’.

Indrajit Bose of the Third World Network says “developed countries must stand by their commitments to cut emissions and provide the promised finance for developing countries to take mitigation and adaptation measures”.

Assessing progress on the Sustainable Development Goals

The SDG Summit takes place on 24-25 Sept, and the Reflection Group  has a track record of assessing governments and international organizations’ progress in attaining the SDGs*. Its members hope that governments will not waste the opportunity to turn away from deregulation, corporate voluntarism and self-regulation of ‘the markets’. They point out that the nuclear power plant melt-down in Fukushima, Japan, was a clear example of the effects of this policy.

“To avoid future calamities on this scale, governments must improve regulation for sustainability and human rights”, says Barbara Adams, from Global Policy Watch.

The end of the 1980’s mantra ‘There is no alternative’

The Financing for Development (FfD) Summit (26 Sept) will look at the state of development finance.

“An important and welcome change is that the 1980’s mantra that ‘There is No Alternative (TINA)’ to Neo-Liberalism is over”, says Roberto Bissio of Social Watch. “We are urging those at the Summits to strengthen public finance at all levels, and to draw up budgets that take into account the long-term effects of extracting and consuming non-renewable resources, or the rights and welfare of poor and low-income people”.

The Reflection Group welcomes the discussion at the FfD meeting on ‘Putting public resources to work for more equal sustainable societies, including combatting illicit financial flows’. It says the meeting must suggest measures to eliminate corporate tax incentives, and strengthen global tax cooperation to counter the tax race to the bottom and schemes of tax abuse.

Can the UN live up to the challenges?

All these reforms demand well-equipped and -resourced national and international public institutions. At the global level, the premier multilateral institution – the UN – must to be updated and strengthened to ensure it is adequately resourced and that decision-making is democratic, elements which have been missing in recent years, finishes the Reflection Group.

In the run-up and during the week of the UN Summits, members of the Reflection Group will be commenting and assessing progress on the Climate, SDG and Financing for Development Summits.

For more information, or to talk to any of those mentioned in the press release, please contact: Daphne Davies: Tel/WhatsApp +447770230251, Daphnedoubled@gmail.com

* To see the Reflection Group reports on the Sustainable Development Goals: www.2030spotlight.org. Its publication Spotlight 2019 can be accessed here.

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