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As the first year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development concludes, the technical work at/of the UN continues to refine and agree on the global indicators to measure progress. This involves circulating selected indicators for consultation, adopting a lead agency to collect and submit the data and adopting an agreed methodology, as well as fundraising to increase the extent of data coverage and building capacity. At the same time, as this is a work in progress, many Member States have undertaken national initiatives to review the SDGs and incorporate them into national policy and budget processes.

A region overwhelmed by violence and conflicts* Moreover, the realities of women in the Arab region are influenced, directly or indirectly, by the recurrence of conflicts, including state crisis, wars, occupation, and the onslaught of religious fundamentalism and militarized religious extremist group. While the implications on rights and broader political, social, and economic realities differ in these circumstances, they all leave women subjected to various forms of violence and exclusions. It is not expected that the region will be free of these cycles of conflict and violence in the short term; thus the manifestation of this violence will inevitably continue shaping the lives of women and men living in the region.

Developing countries continue to suffer from profits taken out by foreign investors, lending by developing countries to rich countries and particularly from illicit financial flows (IFFs). In 2014 Eurodad reported that for every USD 100 a developing country makes, USD 10 are lost, flowing out of the country. Last year’s “Mbeki report” estimated that Africa is losing more than USD 50 billion annually in IFFs.

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).

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