The Sustainable Development Goals. Figure taken from flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/anakbrunei/21507274839

The Sustainable Development Goals. Figure taken from flickr

Per chi non ama leggere articoli troppo lunghi o trova difficoltà con l’inglese, vi suggeriamo di dare un’occhiata al sito ufficiale della campagna Global Goals for Sustainable Development, promossa da Richard Curtis, filmaker e fondatore di Comic Relief.

Otherwise, with this fifth part on our insight dedicated to the Agenda for Sustainable Development, we will focus on articles from 60 to 71 of the Agenda, composing the fourth chapter of the document and dealing with “Means of Implementation and the Global Partnership”.

For what concerns this, after reporting a brief summary of the chapter, we will try to comment each of the articles, in order to stimulate and facilitate the readers towards a critical and proactive approach on what has been adopted with the Agenda.

Brief summary. Chapter four of the Agenda, dealing with “Means of Implementation and the Global Partnership” highlights the importance of the constitution of a revitalized and enhanced Global Partnership in order to reach the SDGs, taking into consideration measures, concrete actions and strategies set out in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda together with other international programmes and strategic plannings, on the one hand stressing the responsibility of each country in defining the specific action that will be performed at national level and on the other end prizing their contextualization in the global economic and financial context, still committing all the countries to assure sustainable debt levels for the borrowers, with specific regard the most endangered countries. It underscores the principal role of private business, investment and innovation as drivers for sustainable economic growth, recognizing at the same time the need to protect labour rights. Finally, it poses the bases for the creation of a Technology Facilitation Mechanism, which is composed by an inter-agency task team on science, technology and innovation from the United Nations and driven by an online platform and a multi stakeholder forum on science, technology and innovation developed and managed by the inter-agency, which will support all the active partners of the Global Partnership in their commitment to reach the SDGs

Comment to the articles

Article 60 starts by newly underlining the “strong commitment to the full implementation of this new Agenda.” and then recovers several statements set out in the previous parts of the Agenda which are related to the “revitalized and enhanced Global Partnership and comparably ambitious means of development”. This will be accomplished by “bringing together Governments, civil society, the private sector, the United Nations system and other actors and mobilizing all available resources.” It should be noted that the referral to the “all available resources” could be considered somehow vague, because on the one hand they should have specified “all the currently available and future prospectively necessary resources”, in relation to the possibility that future funding instruments will be defined by the aforementioned actors. Secondly, it is not clear how these resources will be used to address the SDGs. Nonetheless, by recalling with article 71 that “this Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals and targets, including the means of implementation, are universal, indivisible and interlinked”, the General Assembly advices the readers that some more specifications on the available resources can be determined having the SDGs has a reference, even if they still maintain general observations.

Article 61 stresses about the importance that needs to be attributed to the means of implementation targets, defined under each SDGs and in SDG 17.

Article 62 renovates the focus on the importance that needs to be attributed to the formation of a framework for a revitalized Global Partnership, supported by the concrete policies and actions defined in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, synthetizing them as “domestic public resources, domestic and international private business and finance, international development cooperation, international trade as an engine for development, debt and debt sustainability, addressing systemic issues and science, technology, innovation and capacity-building, and data, monitoring and follow-up.

Article 63 fundamentally focuses on a central concept, that is repeated multiple times with different sentences. We can resume it be citing two of them, stating that “We will respect each country policy space and leadership to implement policies for poverty eradication and sustainable development, while remaining consistent with relevant international rules and commitments. At the same time, national development efforts need to be supported by an enabling international economic environment, including coherent and mutually supported world trade, monetary and financial systems, and strengthened and enhanced global economic governance.” Moreover, it newly repeats the need to reinvigorate the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development.

Article 64 recovers what has been stressed under article 42, second chapter (Declaration) of the Agenda, recalling all the international strategies and programmes of action which are integrated to the current new Agenda and recognizing “the major challenge to the achievement of durable peace and sustainable development in countries in conflict and post conflict situations.

Article 65 signals the importance to support middle-income countries in order to allow them to achieve sustainable development. Accordingly, even if it could be argued that developed countries and less developed countries need to achieve sustainable development too, this does not imply that middle-income countries do not merit a dedicated focus in order to define their path towards sustainable development, “through the exchange of experiences, improved coordination, and better and focused support of the United Nations development system, the international financial institutions, regional organizations and other stakeholders.

Article 66 is of utmost significance, since it underscores the centrality of “public policies and the mobilization and effective use of domestic resources, underscored by the principle of national ownership” in “our common pursuit to sustainable development”. It also stresses that “domestic resources are first and foremost generated by economic growth, supported by enabling environment at all levels.” On our opinion, this statements are too much generic, and therefore they need to be connected to the SDGs, in order to avoid misunderstandings and wrong interpretations. Indeed, there is the need to determine how less developed and developing countries could perform a socially, economic and environmentally sustainable economic growth as soon as they enter in the mechanisms of the global economy. In particular, how can they value their available raw materials avoiding their depredation due to the corruption of the involved deciders, how can they foster economically sustainable social employment avoiding mistreatment of the labour force and how can they limit land grabbing by private companies? These are questions that need to be resolved and that have been mainly addressed with SGDs 8, 9, 10, 12, 16 and targets thereof.

Moreover, the above questioned issues are faced in article 67, which firstly recognizes that “private business activity, investment and innovation are major drivers of productivity, inclusive economic growth and job creation” and then “foster a dynamic and well-functioning business sector, while protecting labour rights and environmental health standards in accordance with relevant international standards and agreements and other ongoing initiatives in this regard, such as the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the labour standards of the International Labour Organisation, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and key multilateral environmental agreements, for parties to those agreements.

Article 68 is focused on international trade, considered as an “engine for economic growth and poverty reduction.” Accordingly, there is the will to “continue to promote a universal, rules-based, open, transparent, predictable, inclusive, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization, as well as meaningful trade liberalization” and “we attach great importance to providing trade-related capacity-building for developing countries […]”.

Article 69 could be summarized with two of its sentences, stating that “maintaining sustainable debt levels is the responsibility of the borrowing countries; however we acknowledge that lenders also have a responsibility to lend in a way that does not undermine a country’s debt sustainability”. The second sentence is fundamental, and should bring to the formalization of appropriate measures able to impede that the major experience and expertise on economic and financial matters by the lenders allow them to take advantage of less expert borrowers and pose them into financially unsustainable conditions.

Finally, article 70 is the more detailed one and focuses on the Technology Facilitation Mechanism, introduced with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda “in order to support the Sustainable Development Goals.” It will be “based on a multi-stakeholder collaboration between Member States, civil society, the private sector, the scientific community, United Nations entities and other stakeholders and will be composed of a United Nations inter-agency task team on science, technology and innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals, a collaborative multi-stakeholder forum on science, technology and innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals and an online platform.

“·The United Nations inter-agency task team on science, technology and innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals will promote coordination, coherence and cooperation within the United Nations system on science, technology and innovation matters, […] in particular to enhance capacity-building initiatives. The task team will draw on existing resources and will work with 10 representatives from civil society, the private sector and the scientific community to prepare the meetings of the multi-stakeholder forum on science, technology and innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as in the development and operationalization of the online platform, including preparing proposals for the modalities of the forum and the online platform. The 10 representatives will be appointed by the Secretary-General, for periods of two years. The task team will be open to the participation of all United Nations agencies, funds and programmes and the functional commissions of the Economic and Social Council and it will initially be composed of the entities that currently integrate the informal working group on technology facilitation […]

  • The online platform will be used to establish a comprehensive mapping of, and serve as a gateway for, information on existing science, technology and innovation initiatives, mechanisms and programmes, within and beyond the United Nations. […] The online platform will be developed on the basis of an independent technical assessment which will take into account best practices and lessons learned from other initiatives, within and beyond the United Nations, […] avoiding duplications and enhancing synergies.
  • The multi-stakeholder forum on science, technology and innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals will be convened once a year, for a period of two days, to discuss science, technology and innovation cooperation around thematic areas for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, congregating all relevant stakeholders to actively contribute in their area of expertise. The forum will provide a venue for facilitating interaction, matchmaking and the establishment of networks between relevant stakeholders and multi-stakeholder partnerships in order to identify and examine technology needs and gaps, including on scientific cooperation, innovation and capacity-building, and also in order to help to facilitate development, transfer and dissemination of relevant technologies for the Sustainable Development Goals. The meetings of the forum will be convened by the President of Economic and Social Council before the meeting of the high-level political forum under the auspices of the Council, or, alternatively, in conjunction with other forum or conferences, as appropriate, taking into account the theme to be considered and on the basis of a collaboration with the organizers of the other forum or conferences. The meetings of the forum will be co-chaired by two Member States and will result in a summary of discussions elaborated by the two co-Chairs, as an input to the meetings of the high –level political forum, in the context of the follow-up and review of the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda. The meetings of the high-level political forum will be informed by the summary of the multi-stakeholder forum. The themes for the subsequent multi-stakeholder forum on science, technology and innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals will be considered by the high-level political forum on sustainable development, taking into account expert input from the task team.”

 

So, we finally concluded our sixth post dealing with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Next time we will talk about its final chapter, dedicated to “Follow-up and review”.