Social Watch news

A global alliance of civil society organisations (CSOs) and networks on 24 October presented a report assessing the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as highlighting some of the structural obstacles and challenges to its achievement.

The CSOs that came together under the Reflection Group on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development comprised the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN), Social Watch, Third World Network (TWN), and Global Policy Forum (GPF). They were supported by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES).

That question guided the debate during the launch of the the “Spotlight on Sustainable Report” report at the Palais des Nations, headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, last October 24.

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. For this reason, a global alliance of civil society organizations and networks comprising of Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN), Social Watch, Third World Network (TWN) and Global Policy Forum (GPF) with the support of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) produced a Spotlight Report assessing the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the structural obstacles in its realization.

When asked about how countries are implementing the 2030 Agenda and the obstacles encountered, civil society groups and coalitions affiliated with Social Watch around the world generally agree that their governments recognize the political weight of the new international consensus. Yet, many difficulties of different nature are identified in different countries, and a lot of them are related to finances.

“With reference to the 2030 Agenda, there are progress and setbacks,” writes Héctor Béjar on behalf of the Social Watch coalition in Peru. “GDP grew, but inequality grew as well. The mafias that exploit drug trafficking, illegal mining and smuggling continued to concentrate wealth, which then left the country through profits of foreign companies that enjoy lower taxes than national companies. Monetary poverty of less than USD 1.25 a day has declined, but multidimensional poverty has risen to critical levels. Maternal and infant mortality were reduced, but the anemia of women and children, unwanted and premature adolescent pregnancies and deaths from abortion and postpartum hemorrhage have remained.”

Innovative approaches are necessary to increase the leadership of young women with vulnerable backgrounds, to eradicate poverty and prevent forced trafficking.

Our research revealed that a large number of young women age 17-22 are not engaged in public life or social activities. They have found themselves in an especially vulnerable situation – with no education, no job and no perspective. Their isolation and social regression lead to loneliness and an uncertain future.

As a solution, the Center for the Development of Civil Society (CDCS) initiated a special program aimed at providing young women from vulnerable and low-income families, orphanages, state boarding schools and refuges with equal access to education and opportunities for successful employment.

In a joint side event with other Civil Society Organizations we will assess the state of corporate influence in the business and human rights debates, in global health, the agriculture, food and nutrition policy domains. We will discuss possible policies and safeguards such as WHO’s Framework of Engagement with non-State Actors (FENSA) and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control that have been put in place to protect against conflicts of interest in these respective domains. We will also inform about further debates to regulate the UN’s engagement with private actors such as the discussions in the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR).

Photo: African Agenda.

Current debates in Ghana about sustainable development express a confluence of four important trends: 1) questioning of the growing inequalities and exclusion wrought by the dominant neoliberal economic policies and the quality of growth that has resulted; 2) recognition of the advances that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Goals (SDGs) represent on the minimal ambitions of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); 3) African recognition of the limits of raw material commodity export dependence and the need for structural economic transformation; and 4) the rediscovery of development planning as an important tool and policy framework.

In certain countries and especially those rich in resources, the extraction and trade of minerals, gas, oil or wood are financing armed groups who commit serious violations of human rights, rather than contributing to human development. To stop this circle of suffering, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission passed in 2012 the section 1502 of the Dodd Franck Act, requiring U.S. and certain foreign companies to report and make public their use of so-called “conflict minerals” from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) or adjoining countries in their products. Following this legislation, companies must certify that 4 minerals (Tungsten, Tin, Tantalum and Gold, the “3TGs”) extracted in DRC and neighboring countries did not contribute to fund armed groups. Through this certification system, American consumers have stronger guarantees that their purchases of electronic products containing 3TGs did not contribute to human rights violations.

Reacting to this problem, the European Commission proposed the “conflict minerals” regulation in March 2014. The proposal was disappointing in many ways: it consisted of a self-certification system that companies could voluntarily join, and it only applied to 19 smelters and refiners based in the EU (while not covering all products entering the EU market that contain the targeted minerals).

In order to intensify the effort to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the UN is exploring financial solutions for the Sustainable better align the trillions of dollars of annual private investment with the sustainable development goals and their targets? Can this approach be prioritized with regard to long-term investments made with funds from multiple domestic and international sources? Can it be made to cover the full range of the 2030 Agenda – and might it reach into all countries, including the least developed and small island developing states?

Photo: A girl makes her way home
after fetching water at a coastal
village in Tacloban, Leyte province.
Photograph: Ezra Acayan/NurPhoto
/Rex

Three years after the typhoon destroyed more than a million homes and killed 6,000 people, the Philippines has fallen far short on house-building pledge.

When Typhoon Haiyan smashed into the city of Tacloban in the central Philippines almost three years ago, Arsenio was one of the lucky ones – he survived by swimming a kilometre to safety. “Every time there is a storm, I get scared, even after three years,” he said. “I don’t want to go through the same thing again.”

BankTrack recently published the second edition of its “Banking with Principles?” report, evaluating the progress of global private sector banks towards integrating the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights into their policies, due diligence processes and reporting. The report is an update to our December 2014 benchmarking exercise, with its scope expanded from 32 banks to 45, and aims to uncover what progress has been made by the banks, 18 months on from the previous report and five years from the establishment of the Guiding Principles.

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