High individual and household debt, which accounts for a significant portion of private debt in most countries, has been associated with inequality, macroeconomic instability, unsustainable sovereign debt and financial crises.

This is one of the main conclusions highlighted by Mr Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of human rights, in his report to the UN Human Rights Council.

The UN has announced the launch of a Food Systems Summit in 2021. This is to be welcomed as the world urgently needs more inclusive and sustainable food systems tackling the challenges of climate change. Yet, the World Economic Forum, representing powerful companies, is expected to be behind the organization of the Summit, as strategic partner of the UN. In addition, the UN Secretary-General has appointed the current President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) as Special Envoy for the Summit.

Corporations in the global industrial food chain alone are the biggest drivers of ecological destruction and increasing hunger and malnutrition rates. And yet, the UN is turning to them to solve the world’s crises?! The UN should build instead on the successful innovations in democratic food governance. These are the result of the work of civil society organizations and social movements representing those most affected by hunger and malnutrition.

On 28 January 2020 the President of the General Assembly (PGA), Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, and the President of ECOSOC, Mona Juul announced a new initiative: “a high-level panel on international financial accountability, transparency and integrity (FACTI)”. This joint endeavour is framed as a means to target and recover assets for investment in the Sustainable Development Goals.

At present, the UN estimates the financing gap to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) totals a staggering $2.5 trillion. Proponents of a robust and strong agenda on tackling illicit financial flows (IFFs) suggest that this gap could in part be closed by addressing the various forms of illicit financial flows that divert or “rob” governments of vital public resources that could and should be invested in public goods to achieve the SDGs.

How to capture and manage big data? This is a question that will confront the 51st session of the UN Statistical Commission in March 2020 as they review the official reports. The four-year process of finalizing the global indicator framework to measure the 169 targets of the SDGs is drawing to a conclusion with the acceptance by the IAEG-SDGs of 8 additional indicators, 14 replacement indicators, 8 revised indicators and 6 deleted indicators. The framework has gone to the Commission for approval in March and the focus of different players in the data and statistics community is shifting to the management and use of data to influence and shape development policy agendas.

Photo by Elena Malmo

"Last year over 200 defenders of Human Rights and the environment were killed in Latin America. They gave their lives for their communities and for the principles that the United Nations stands for. And yet, the statistical framework for the SDGs tells us that the “partnerships” that should contribute to achieve sustainable development will be measured by the dollars they mobilized. The blood spilled by our friends and colleagues doesn't count." During a debate over the 75th anniversary of the UN, at the Pyeong Chang Peace Forum, Social Watch coordinator Roberto Bissio expressed the frustrations of civil society over the lack of meaningful interaction with the UN.

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