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Independent monitoring and review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its structural obstacles and challenges are key factors for the success of the SDGs. It is for this reason, the Reflection Group on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development together with other civil society organizations and networks has produced the first annual Spotlight Report assessing the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the structural obstacles in its realization. The report puts a spotlight on the fulfillment of the 17 goals, with a particular focus on inequalities, responsibility of the rich and powerful, means of implementation and systemic issues. What are currently the main obstacles to achieving the SDGs? Are there transnational spill over effects that influence or even undermine the implementation of the goals? Are the current policy approaches, as they are reflected, inter alia, in the 2030 Agenda, an adequate response to the challenges and obstacles (or are they part of the problem)? What has to be done? Which specific policy changes (at international level) are necessary?

Due to UNCTAD’s decidedly pro-South and uncompromising development-focused mission, its quadrennial conferences have traditionally been North –South showdowns. Coming a few months after the adoption of the ambitious and universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 associated goals, the theme of the XIV Quadrennial Conference of UNCTAD (the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) was “From Decisions to Actions.” There was, therefore, reason to expect that this time members would bridge their differences for the sake of reinforcing mandates of the organization critical to the Agenda’s implementation. But that was not the case, and the dynamics were a lot more akin to the difficult ones witnessed in the inaugural Financing for Development (FFD) Forum last April.

In the implementation phase of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it is important to learn from the mistakes of the past and to truly advance a holistic framework. From DAWN’s perspective, using an interlinkages and rights-based approach to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) might be useful to assess and promote positive synergies.  This article offers ideas for achieving this by looking at the example of how tackling illicit financial flows could help the fight against women’s trafficking.

The negative impact on developing countries of the secrecy of the Swiss banking system, which encourages damaging tax evasion, corruption and illicit financial flows, was highlighted by civil society when Switzerland submitted its report about the 2030 Agenda to the United Nations. "Switzerland continues to host the largest offshore financial centre in the world" says the alternative report of Aliiance Sud. In 2015, Swiss banks administered foreign assets in the total amount of 2,300 billion francs.

Protest against fracking

The Mexican legal framework on energy amended in 2013 and 2014 presents obstacles to the exercise of human rights as well as to achieving the SDGs, as it prioritizes the activities of exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons "over any other involving the use of the surface and subsurface of the lands concerned". The framework establishes several legal provisions such as the determination of legal easements for hydrocarbons to public, private, national and transnational energy projects (some of which employ harmful techniques such as hydraulic fracturing or fracking), which constitutes a regression in terms of human rights and the environment, while seriously compromising the achievement of the SDGs.

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