Category: Briefings

The UN development system: Can it catch up to the 2030 Agenda?

By Barbara Adams and Gretchen Luchsinger

The current model of UN development assistance—operating country by country, and issue by issue, with priorities heavily driven by individual donors and their interests—is no longer fit for its intended purpose. The ambitious vision of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development challenges the UN development system to fully respond to the inextricable links across countries and among social, economic and environmental concerns. This is not just an issue of greater efficiency and effectiveness within existing arrangements. It is a question of how the UN development system can meet the high demands of new commitments aimed at transforming the course of development so that it is equitable, sustainable and aligned with human rights, and remains within planetary boundaries. Read more…

Refining the Indicators: Opening the process; open for influence?

By Barbara Adams and Karen Judd
As the first year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development concludes, the technical work at/of the UN continues to refine and agree on the global indicators to measure progress. This involves circulating selected indicators for consultation, adopting a lead agency to collect and submit the data and adopting an agreed methodology, as well as fundraising to increase the extent of data coverage and building capacity. At the same time, as this is a work in progress, many Member States have undertaken national initiatives to review the SDGs and incorporate them into national policy and budget processes. Read more…

United Nations and business community, out-sourcing or crowding in?

By Barbara Adams
In order to intensify the effort to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the UN is exploring financial solutions for the Sustainable better align the trillions of dollars of annual private investment with the sustainable development goals and their targets? Can this approach be prioritized with regard to long-term investments made with funds from multiple domestic and international sources? Can it be made to cover the full range of the 2030 Agenda – and might it reach into all countries, including the least developed and small island developing states? Read more…

The HLPF 2016: First global meeting on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs

The United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) met in New York from 11 to 20 July 2016. It is the central UN body addressing sustainable development, and its chief task is to monitor the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The HLPF is still in a trial phase. Whether it can justifiably claim a central role in global sustainability policy will only be revealed over the next few years. Read more…

Partnerships and the 2030 Agenda: Time to reconsider their role in implementation

“Partnership” is a misleading term to cover every type of engagement between UN entities and non-State actors. It promotes a false sense of equality. Lumping CSOs and corporate actors together according to their non-State status ignores the profound differences in their orientation, interests and accountability. Before considering ways to enhance the effectiveness of partnerships between UN entities and non-State actors and establishing a system-wide delivery support, more fundamental questions should be addressed. This Background Note poses necessary questions and offers perspectives both from the work of Global Policy Forum as well as from previous proposals on partnerships offered by some Member States.Read more…

Options for strengthening global tax governance

The importance of international—or even better, global—cooperation on tax issues is becoming more and more evident in the light of tax evasion and avoidance scandals during the last few months and years. Countries in the global North and South were shown to offer preferential treatment to foreigners—from Panama to Luxemburg from the Cayman Islands to Hong Kong. Individuals as well as huge transnational corporations are using a fragmented and inconsistently regulated global system of trans-border taxation to evade and/or avoid taxes. The sums lost amount to hundreds of billions annually. Depending on the model of estimation, developing countries are losing more than one trillion US dollars per year in illicit financial flows, the majority of which can be attributed to the abuse of transfer pricing rules. A panel of the UN Economic Commission for Africa chaired by former South African president Thabo Mbeki estimates the losses of Africa alone at approximately 50 billion US dollars per year. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) puts global revenue losses from Base Eros ion and Profit Shifting at an annual 100 to 240 billion US dollars. Read more…

2030 Agenda and the SDGs: indicator framework, monitoring and reporting

By Barbara Adams and Karen Judd

On 11 March 2016 the UN Statistical Commission agreed “as a practical starting point” with the proposed global indicator framework by which to measure progress towards the 17 goals and 169 targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It recognized that the development of a robust and high quality indicator framework is a process that will need to continue over time and authorized the Interagency and Expert Group for Sustainable Development Goals (IAEG-SDGs) to continue its work. Read more…

SDG Indicators and Data: Who collects? Who reports? Who benefits?

By Barbara Adams

As part of its mandate to develop an indicator framework by which to monitor the goals and targets of the post-2015 development agenda, the Inter-agency and Expert Group on SDGs (IAEG-SDGs) held its second meeting in Bangkok, 26-28 October 2015. The objective was to seek agreement on the proposed indicators for each target—keeping in mind that indicators alone can never be sufficient to fully measure progress on the goals. More specifically, it was to move provisional indicators marked yellow—needing further agreement—to either green—agreed by all parties—or grey—no agreement possible. As a result, there are now 159 green indicators (including 52 moved from yellow and 9 new ones), and 62 greys (including 28 moved from yellow plus 5 new ones). Read more…

Fit for Whose Purpose?

By Barbara Adams and Gretchen Luchsinger

A critical issue repeatedly arising in the post-2015 negotiations relates to responsibility. There is shared responsibility, the preference of rich countries who would like to shift traditional official development assistance (ODA) and other “burdens” given the “rise” of some developing countries. There is common but differentiated responsibility, stressed by developing countries to link common commitment with the reality of varying capacities.

Debates also circle, directly or otherwise, around the role of the state, with some camps continuing to promote its central responsibility. Others call for more room for “stakeholders” to be responsible—notably, the private sector.

For a look at how the balance between public and private responsibility has shifted, and what this means in the real world in terms of adherence to international standards and norms, one needs to look no further than the United Nations itself. A new Global Policy Forum Report—Fit for Whose Purpose? Private funding and corporate influence in the United Nations—details how private corporations and corporate philanthropic organizations are increasingly paying to play there.Read more…