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Jens Martens wrote this analysis on behalf of the Reflection Group* on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is part of Spotlight on Sustainable Development 2016, a Reflection Group Report.

The 2030 Agenda has the potential to correct the errors and omissions of the MDG approach to development, writes Jens Martens, from Global Policy Forum, in the introduction to this new report: “If taken seriously it has the potential to change the prevailing development paradigm by re-emphasizing the multidimensional and interrelated nature of sustainable development and its universal applicability.”

But before this can be done, a number of obstacles need to be addressed. Can the 2030 Agenda be achieved without a global approach to taxes? Can it be assessed without promoting human rights and addressing the responsibilities of the rich and powerful? Can it be reviewed without effectively addressing climate change, illicit financial flows, conflicts, and trade and investment agreements? Can it be measured with a single number? With 300 such numbers? Or do we need a new kind of dashboard to monitor sustainability?

Are governments genuinely committed to implement the ambitious Agenda 2030 they adopted last September at the highest level? Will the global financial system and the trade and investment regime allow for the policy space needed to change  course, eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities, protect nature and promote human rights?

As the United Nations started this Monday, July 11 2016 its first review of the new Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), civil society coalitions from around the world brought to New York their own findings, demanding to be heard.

UN Secretary General Ban
Ki-Moon addresses a session of
the HLPF. Photo: UN

As the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) convenes this week to review implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), CESR’s Kate Donald and Lena Kahler examine whether the new agenda will live up to its promise of promoting accountability and “leaving no one behind”. 

As the global follow up and review mechanism for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted at the UN nine months ago, the HLPF is where world leaders will take stock of countries’ SDG performance and address challenges in implementation. Yet serious doubts remain as to whether it will deliver on its mandate to “provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations on the Agenda's implementation and follow-up” as well as ensure accountability for the goals.

While more than 26.3 percent or about 27 million Filipinos live in poverty, the benefits from growth are concentrated in the hands of few billionaire families, the less than 1 percent who dominate the political economy.  Tax injustice is imbedded in the system and unregulated corporate activities harm people and the environment. The Philippines can reduce inequality by changing the economic geography. We can reverse the big city-oriented development by supporting the provincial and local economies. We can do this by shifting from conventional, fossil fuel-intensive farming to organic and sustainable agriculture and by changing the pattern of public expenditure so that adequate resources, and authority, too, are deliberately transferred from the rich regions to the poorer ones.

Photo: Alex E. Proimos (CC/Flickr)

Peru has experienced sustained economic growth, due largely to rising prices of gold, copper and other minerals, but virtually the entire territory has been given in concession to mining, oil, and logging companies, frequently in conflict with local populations. Income poverty has decreased, but multidimensional poverty has worsened. Progress has been made in circulation of money and electronic and telephone connectivity, but there has been a decline in quality of life and public safety, as increased levels of crime is taking over streets and cities and corruption resulting from the influence of corporate power reaches every part of the government.

Cyprus is situated in the intersection of Africa, the Middle East and Europa. However, instead of the more nuanced and fluid identity required for the country to be a truly multicultural society, public and private discourses are polarized, traditionally between Turkey and Greece and, since the banking crisis of 2015, between those defending public welfare spending and the power of labor unions and the advocates of free market neoliberalism and limited government. The 2030 Agenda risks confronting  a long established inertia on the part of the Government with regard to non-binding agreements and will likely be opposed by the corporate sector, as it will be assumed that the ethical standards, like due diligence and minimization of carbon footprint, will increase their operational cost or lower the demand.

Social Watch, with different partners will be co-hosting several side-events during the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) to be held in New York, July 11th to 20th, 2016. See below the information of the side events.

Signing up to the promise of a Philippines where no one is left behind and following the path to sustainability, Social Watch Philippines (SWP), along with the CSO contributors from its network, presents on Friday our "Spotlight Report" on the 2030 Development Agenda in a dialogue with the National and Economic Development Authority (NEDA) at SEAMEO-Innotech, Quezon City.

This is in time for the presentation of the Philippine report to the first High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on July 11-20 at the UN Headquarters in New York. In consort with 22 other countries, the Philippines is expected to lead the national review and report on how the 2030 agenda will be translated into national sustainability plans.

The Philippine economic growth is unjust and not sustainable, as the nation's wealth is concentrated among few billionaires and highly dependent on fossil fuels, according to Social Watch Philippines.

"A just and sustainable growth ensures that no one is left behind," Isagani Serrano, SWP co-convenor and Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement president, said on Friday.

The civil society group noted the Philippines can achieve its sustainable development goals by 2030 if the economic growth is not concentrated in the hands of a few billionaires.

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