Author: Wolfgang Obenland

The Beirut Consensus on Financing for Development

The evaluation of the Financing for Development process from the First International Conference on Financing Sustainable Development indicates that the international financial system is not generating the volume of long-term financing needed to meet the sustainable development goals because of inadequate reforms and cooperation at the international level. The Beirut Consensus on Financing for Development was delivered by Mr. Mounir Tabet, Acting Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) at the conclusion of the conference organized by UNESCWA in Beirut on 28-29 November 2018. 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…

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…

Looking forward: How can the FfD Follow-up live up to its full potential?

The Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) has defined the follow-up process for the Financing for Development process as well as the means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This includes assessing progress, obstacles, challenges as well as new and emerging topics of relevance, and “provide policy recommendations for action by the international community” (para. 131). At a side-event during the 2018 ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development Follo-up, participants are invited to provide their insights into their assessment of previous FfD Fora, their link with other international processes, and discuss with participants about opportunities and challenges, also with view to the upcoming High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development of the General Assembly in 2019. The format of the side event will be highly interactive. After a short framing presentation, the moderator will facilitate active dialogue with a small panel of respondents and the audience. Read more…

New Position Paper: Toward global Regulation on Human Rights and Business

Trade and investment protection agreements facilitate business enterprises’ access to markets and raw materials, and protect investor interests with enforceable rights. Although human rights are a cornerstone of international law, so far there are only voluntary guidelines to safeguard them within the activities of global enterprises. This needs to change; human rights need a mandatory commitment. This is where the “UN treaty process” comes in. It offers the chance for binding international regulation of global business: Since 2015, an intergovernmental working group has been negotiating an international human rights treaty that is binding for the contractual parties, outlines clear rules for business enterprises and strengthens access to justice for affected parties. The Treaty Alliance Germany – a coalition of organizations supporting such an approach – have formulated demands in a new position paper. Read more…

Invitation: Launch of Spotlight on Sustainable Development 2017 in Geneva

Join the Reflection Group on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, UNRISD and FES for the Geneva launch of the Spotlight on Sustainable Development 2017 report. Carrying the subtitle “Reclaiming policies for the public. Privatization, partnerships, corporate capture and their impact on sustainability and inequality – assessments and alternatives”, the civil society “shadow” report provides a wide-ranging independent assessment of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals. At the event, contributors will present and discuss key findings and recommendations of this year’s report. Read more …

Letter from CSOs about the Agenda of the WTO

More than 300 civil society organization from around the world have signed on to a letter regarding the ongoing negotiations of the WTO towards its 11th Ministerial meeting (MC11) in Buenos Aires from December 10 to 13, 2017. The organizations express increasing concern about press reports indicating that some WTO member are pushing a dangerous and inappropriate new agenda under the disgues of “e-commerce”, even though there had been no consensus to introduce the issue during or since the Nairobi Ministerial of 2016. The letter also raises concerns and questions on proposals to limit the scope and effects of public interest regulation, around fishery subsidy disciplines that discourage overfishing by rich countries, agricultural rules and more. Read more…

Inequality will not be solved by attention-grabbing private sector initiatives – it requires serious transformation of power relations and resource distribution

On the last official day of the UN High-Level Political Forum, civil society express concern that ‘vision without implementation is hallucination’.

New York, 19 July 2017: Despite soaring rhetoric, glossy reports and slick presentations, the fact remains that implementation on the ground is “stalled”, as highlighted in a series of civil society national reports as part of the global Spotlight Report initiative. Read more…