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Denmark, Sweden and Finland are the top ranking countries in terms of sustainable development, while Niger, Chad and the Central African Republic are the worse performers, according to the recently launched Sustainable Development Report 2019, by the Bertelsmann Foundation of Germany and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, based in New York and Paris.*

The Bertelsmann-SDSN report includes 17 “dashboards” with indicators selected by the authors for each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and a Global SDG Index that summarizes them in a single number and allows for the ranking of the 162 countries for which enough data are available.

Reducing inequalities (SDG10) is essential for overcoming extreme poverty (SDG 1) and a successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda as a whole. Many countries experience high and increasing inequalities. A reversal of this trend is not in sight. Therefore, it is paramount to take political action towards reaching this central goal of the 2030 Agenda. Strong social protection and redistributive policies significantly reduce inequality within countries. Therefore, it is essential to develop overarching strategies, build universal social protection systems as well as assess and increase redistributive capacities. These measures have to ensure that no one is left behind and equitable access to protection against risks and against poverty for all people is guaranteed.

The panel will discuss the most persistent barriers to a sustained reduction of inequalities and the contribution of fiscal and social protection policies to overcome inequalities worldwide.

SDG 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

The upcoming 2019 High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) in July in New York with the theme, “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality,” spurred Social Watch Philippines (SWP) and other organizations like the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP), Save the Children, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia (ISEA), Plan International, Philippine Social Enterprise Network (PhilSen), Tebtebba, Voice of the Free, and Fair Trade Alliance among others, to organize a broader CSO consultation workshop to catalyze a process for civil society organizations (CSO) from different sectors towards engaging the Philippine government on the Voluntary National Review (VNR). With the support from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Save the Children Philippines and Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), a consultation workshop Towards Coherent Policies for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Philippines: Civil Society Organizations (CSO) Inputs to the Voluntary National Review (VNR) was held on February 7 to 8, 2019 in Quezon City, Philippines participated by around 70 representatives of different civil society organizations.

The UN Secretary-General’s progress report on the SDGs shows that many will be left behind by 2030, but omits any mention to the responsibilities of the rich.

UN progress reports on almost any issue on which the secretariat is asked to inform Member States tend to follow the classic glass-half-full formula: We are moving, but much remains to be done.

Not surprisingly, this approach is repeated in the latest draft of the UN Secretary General’s report “Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals” to be officially published in July as an input for the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) where the 2030 Agenda is going to be reviewed: “Progress has been made in a number of Goals and targets and a wealth of action has been undertaken;” however, progress has been slow on many Goals, (…) the most vulnerable people and countries continue to suffer the most, and the global response thus far has not been ambitious enough.” (excerpted from the Summary).

The United Nations, in a new report to be released next month, has warned “there is no escaping the fact that the global landscape for the implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has generally deteriorated since 2015, hindering the efforts of governments and other partners”

And the commitment to multilateral cooperation, so central to implementing major global agreements, is now under pressure, says the 35-page report, due to be released ahead of the upcoming high-level political forum (HLPF) of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), July 9-18.

Trade and trade-related policies and international agreements are addressed explicitly in seven of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and are identified as key to implementation of the 2030 Agenda and of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA).

Market access is deemed essential to promote the graduation of the LDCs (targets 10.a, 17.11 and 17.12) and to improve the livelihood of small food producers (target 2.3). Trade distortions are to be dealt with, reducing subsidies on agriculture (target 2.b), on fossil fuels (12.c), and on fisheries (14.6).

The issue of inequalities between countries is often conceptualized and measured in terms of GDP. Moreover, the way to reduce these is often implicitly assumed to be convergence upwards through rapid growth. However, although economic growth may be important for many countries (especially LDCs), global convergence with the GDP of the richest countries would be environmentally catastrophic without "decoupling" growth from nature destruction.

The Political Declaration for the High Level Political Forum will be adopted by Heads of State and Government (HOSG) at the General Assembly’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Summit in September 2019. With the aim of reaching consensus, Member States have started negotiations and are now deliberating a second draft of the Political Declaration. The Declaration is currently titled, “Gearing up for a Decade of Action and Delivery for Sustainable Development: Political Declaration of the SDG Summit” and is divided into three sections: “I. Our Commitment, II. Our World Today, III. Our Call to Accelerated Action.”

“Ending poverty in all its forms everywhere” - the overaching goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development - reflects the growing consensus on the need to consider other dimensions, beyond monetary ones, when thinking about poverty.

Last May, ATD-Fourth World and the OECD organized an international debate on “Addressing the Hidden Dimensions of Poverty” that advocated for multidimensional and participative approaches. The "Merging Knowledge" methodology, bringging together people living in poverty from different regions with academics and practicioners evidenced that despite differences in income, the daily lives and feelings of poor people across countries, are surprisingly similar.

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