In discussions at the UN about achieving Agenda 2030, it has become de rigueur to highlight the role of the private sector.

It is often introduced as the discovery of the idea that private sector investment and financing is indispensable to achieving Agenda 2030.

For developed country diplomats and their associated experts this new celebrity treatment appears to be an article of faith, at least during negotiations on economic matters in the UN.

Reflections on the 2017 United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. In his opening remarks, the UN Secretary-General said that 20 years ago “there was the idea that globalization would not only increase global wealth, but that it would trickle-down and would benefit everybody in our planet”.

He went on to describe that at the present time, “globalization and technological progress have dramatically increased global trade and global wealth. It is true that the number of absolute poor has been reduced and that living conditions have improved all over the world but it is also true that globalization and technological progress together have been factors in the increase of inequality”.

Photo: PROVEA

The measures adopted by the Venezuelan government, in the context of the election of the Constituent Assembly and protests by those who question it, further aggravated the human rights situation in that country.

On July 30, the government again responded with violence to demonstrations against it. On this occasion, ten people died, raising the number of people killed in protest situations to 119 in the last four months.

According to investigations by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, a considerable percentage of these deaths resulted from shots fired by police and military officials. Other deaths are due to the actions of armed civilian groups that respond both to sectors of the opposition that propose an insurrectionary response and to para-state groups. In situations of protest, the state response must be based on the principle of protecting life; this emanates from states’ international human rights obligations.

Women salt winners at work

For the third time in 10 years the government of Ghana is involved in a drive to stop illegal artisanal and small scale gold mining, popularly called 'galamsey'. Unlike the previous times the state is supporting rather than leading the campaign against 'galamsey'.

There is currently a campaign spearheaded by the media against the activities of illegal gold mining in Ghana. This campaign has not only called for all unsanctioned and unregulated small- scale gold mining activities to be brought to a halt, but has also led to calls for the operations of legalized small-scale gold miners to be stopped as well. Ghana's policy makers have taken up the cause and have taken a series of actions aimed in the short term, at addressing the challenges posed by illegal small-scale gold mining, 'galamsey'.

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.

Increasingly, civil society is expressing concern that the SDGs are being used not as a roadmap for social, economic and environmental transformation, but as a vehicle to entrench inequitable power relations.

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