Social Watch E-Newsletter - Issue 343 - April 2, 2019

Issue 343 - April 2, 2019
Social Watch reports
Spotlight report on the 2030 Agenda

Women lead the struggle in Thailand


Ranee Hassarungsee from the Social Agenda Working Group finds it impossible to constrain the alternative report on Thailand within national borders because “trade liberalization in the process of globalization has enabled transnational corporations to exploit natural resources widely and deeply across borders, in collusion with domestic elites. National-level natural resource policies have implications in other countries as State agencies, domestic monopoly capital and transnational corporations have assumed key roles in framing various aspects of development policies, in manufacturing, energy, environment, land use, etc.” The other side of the coin is that “people’s rights to self-determination is being restricted as their participation in decision-making is curtailed”.
In the case of Thailand, “the State has become a joint stakeholder, either as a major shareholder, or the owner of capital itself. When the government is under the absolute control of the military and the people are deprived of their democratic rights to demand accountability, to voice any opinions, not to mention criticism, nor to access information, the problems of natural resource management become even more complicated. Large domestic monopoly capital and corporations that rely on military support are joining hands with foreign corporations to strengthen their access to and control of the country’s resources, thereby creating further injustices in Thai society.” Read more


Poverty returns to Argentina


In Argentina over 10 percent of households are not connected to a clean water supply network and over 30 percent lack sanitation. Investment in water and sanitation was stable at around 2 percent of public expenditure between 2012 and 2015. It dropped to 1.4 percent in 2016 and 0.3 percent in 2017, months before President Mauricio Macri announced in May 2018 the request for an IMF emergency loan that may result in fiscal austerity with further cuts to budgets.
The alternbative SDG report by CELS and FOCO registers a similar drop in public expenditure on housing and shift in how the State perceives its role “from 'builder' to 'facilitator' of private sector investment”. Yet, “Latin American experience (as studied in Chile, Costa Rica and Mexico) shows that restricting public policies to the promotion of mortgage financing, with focalized assistance in poorer areas while leaving to markets the key decisions on urban development and housing usually leads to more speculation around prices, deepens the urban gaps and social segregation.” Read more



Power for the people? The chimera of pro-poor energy solutions


Recent discoveries of hydrocarbons in various African countries and the massive investments in energy generation capacity have created expectations that the blackouts and brownouts that several African countries have endured for the past decades will soon be a thing of the past. In East Africa, national economies have in recent years also been recording stellar growth rates which promise new opportunities and discontinuity with the past.
Despite this record, in its Africa Energy Outlook 2014, the International Energy Agency remarked: “More than 200 million people in East Africa are without electricity, around 80% of its population. Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda are among the most populous countries in East Africa and have the largest populations both with and without access to electricity.”
So, the irony is that as the region records world-beating economic growth rates, the majority of our co-citizens remain in conditions of energy poverty, forced to rely on alternative energy sources (notably biomass) to meet their energy needs. Read more


Social Watch publishes country reports 2018

Social Watch coalitions around the world are contributing their assessments and reports to the global Social Watch report 2018 on the national implementation of the 2030 Agenda. While circumstances and capabilities are unique in each country, common threads emerge: Inequalities, often exacerbated by the international policy framework, are not being reduced, poverty is underestimated or hidden but not eradicated, sustainability is sacrificed to extractivism.

The Social Watch national platforms are independent coalitions of civil society organizations struggling for social and gender justice in their own countries. The Social Watch network has been publishing since 1996 yearly reports on how governments implement their international commitments to eradicate poverty and achieve equality between women and men.


Who influences whom in the policy arena? Statisticians seek greater voice


A common theme that ran through the 50th Session of the UN Statistical Commission, March 2019, was the often tense interface between data and policy-making and the asymmetrical power dynamics that shape it. This was evident in the several reports submitted for consideration by the Commission. One from the UN Statistics Division (UNSD) reported on the federated system of data hubs, designed to integrate new data sources into a platform which is accessible to National Statistics Offices (NSOs) and creates comparable data among users. Another was a proposal by the High-Level Group for Partnership, Cooperation, and Capacity Building for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for a UN Chief Statistician to enhance the voice of statistics in UN policy processes.
The Commission also took stock of the state of indicators to measure progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), aware that 2020, one year away, will be the opportunity to reopen the Global Indicator Framework. Read more



A Fatal Attraction - Business engagement with the 2030 Agenda


Governments have dedicated a pivotal role to the private sector in the implementation and financing of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. This has pushed a turn towards the private sector, the promotion of multi-stakeholder partnerships between public and private actors. However, far too often there is a considerable gap between the social and environmental commitments companies make publicly in political fora like the UN and the actual effects of their production patterns and investment strategies on people and the environment. A new working paper "A Fatal Attraction - Business engagement with the 2030 Agenda" provides an overview of the ways and means by which the UN involves business actors in the debates around the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. It describes new initiatives and alliances of business actors around SDG implementation at the international level, and their main messages and policy proposals. With a few selected examples it contrasts the sustainability rhetoric of corporations with their business reality. And finally, the working paper draws conclusions and formulates recommendations for policymakers on how to increase the benefits of UN-business interactions in implementing the 2030 Agenda - and how to reduce associated risks and negative side effects. Read more



Decoupling is the glue that holds “sustainable” and “development” together, material footprint is its indicator


“Development” is usually understood as a synonym of “economic growth” and it is universally measured by per capita gross domestic product (GPD). “Sustainable” is usually understood as “within planetary boundaries” or “in harmony with Nature” or “respecting the rights of future generations and it is measured… well, the problem is that the world cannot agree on how to measure it and thus “sustainable development” is an unbalanced promise. Read more



Invitation to contribute to the 2019 report


Social Watch invites you to participate in our renewed collective effort to make governments accountable for the ambitious promises they made us.
This report will be launched next July during the meeting of the High Level Political Forum of the United Nations that will review at ministerial level the Agenda 2030 and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Almost four years after the adoption of this ambitious agenda, the 2019 report will look at how it is implemented. The Guidelines for the 2019 Social Watch contributions are available here. The Guidelines are also available in Spanish and French.




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