Global Policy Watch Blog

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…

Warnings of a new global financial crisis

By Martin Khor
There are increasing warnings of an imminent new financial crisis, not only from the billionaire investor George Soros, but also from eminent economists associated with the Bank for International Settlements, the bank of central banks.
The warnings come at a moment when there are signs of international capital flowing out of some emerging economies, including Turkey, Argentina and Indonesia. Read more…

The semantics of partnership

By Barbara Adams and Laraine Mills
Current conventional wisdom has it that partnerships are crucial for the success of the of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
However, the UN approach to engaging in stakeholder partnerships is rooted in pre-2030 Agenda practices and perspectives. It has been shepherded by UN offices mainly concerned with resource mobilization and often amounts to fitting UN development activities into a pipeline of bankable projects.
Read more…

The Ups and Downs of Tiers: Measuring SDG Progress

By Barbara Adams and Karen Judd
After two years of measuring for SDG implementation the emphasis has shifted from the pressure to develop a global indicator framework to the need for capacity development. This has generated a significant increase in interest in national statistical offices (NSOs) for data disaggregation, not only by income, gender and population group but also by municipal and neighborhood levels in an effort to ’leave no one behind’. The shift to implementation and capacity-building has also spawned a host of initiatives and partnerships, designed primarily to enable NSOs to integrate data from non-traditional sources, such as satellite imagery, mobile phones, and social media and scanning data.
Member States at the 49th session of the UN Statistical Commission addressed the work of the Inter-agency and Expert Group on SDGs Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) and the High Level Group for Partnership, Coordination and Capacity-Building for Statistics for the 2030 Agenda (HLG-PCCB), along with a large number of other reports, ranging from household surveys and systems of national accounts to gender statistics, open data and big data for official statistics. Read more…

SDG indicators: The forest is missing

By Roberto Bissio
Almost three years after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda at the highest level of the United Nations, the indicators to assess its progress are still being debated. The set of indicators around which there is agreed methodology and available data (known as Tier I in the insiders’ jargon) shows a great degree of overlap with the existing indicators for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and misses most aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that make them transformative or represent a paradigm change.
There are 93 indicators in Tier I of the SDGs, of which 42 are either identical to or an elaboration of the already existing MDG indicators. And some important MDG indicators, particularly those related to implementation, have been lost. 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…

Smallholder Farmers’ Rights are Women’s Rights

Most farms in developing and least developed countries are small, generally plots of less than two hectares of land. Smallholder farmers manage over 80% of the world’s estimated 500 million small farms and provide over 80% of the food consumed in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, contributing significantly to poverty reduction and food security. As much as 75% of global seed diversity in staple food crops is held and actively used by smallholder farms. However, despite their vital role in the global agricultural community, the participation and priorities of smallholder farmers – most of whom are women – are often neglected.  Effective mechanisms giving smallholder farmers a voice in policymaking are imperative to address their needs and interests, to promote the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources and more broadly, to ensure food security. Read more…

Is the private sector the “preferred partner” of the UN over civil society?

“Civil society organizations are natural allies of the United Nations, but the partnership modality is not the primary way for civil society to engage with the UN” argued Barbara Adams at a panel discussion on “Strengthening partnerships and stakeholder engagement” that took place in the framework of the ECOSOC Operational Activities for Development on 27 February 2018. From a CSO perspective, she added, the primary way of leveraging resources for the Sustainable Development Goals is fair and progressive taxation. See the video here.