France needs to implement a real agenda of sustainable development

Geneviève Defraigne Tardieu
International Movement ATD Fourth World

Three years after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by the international community, France has launched a strategy to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This should lead to a ‘Road Map’ to be presented at the United Nations in September 2019.

Two secretaries of state, Brune Poirson (ecological and solidarity transition) and Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne (Europe and foreign affairs) launched the process in 2018 during a high-level steering committee. It brought together numerous actors, ministries, companies, researchers, unions, parliamentarians, representatives of local communities and some NGOs including ATD Fourth World.

The approach was eminently collaborative and has produced a 140-page document compiling the many contributions of stakeholders. It was examined during a second steering committee meeting in January 2019 during which the stakeholders regretted the low level of involvement of the different ministries concerned, and the silo work while the dynamics of the 2030 Agenda require precisely a comprehensive, forward-looking approach with clear objectives.

This work was very marked by the demonstrations of "yellow vests" throughout France and throughout the winter period 2018 until the spring of 2019. This movement began precisely with the claim of low-income people, who did not want to be taxed on gasoline while many of them are already living in a very precarious situation with no prospects for the future.

It was the perfect illustration of the need to implement a real agenda of sustainable development that combines the transformation of society through the transition to ecology and the fight against poverty.

But never, during his speeches in "yellow vests", the President of the Republic mentioned the 2030 Agenda and the transformative opportunities it represents.

Ministries have not mobilized enough to respond to this call and have almost exclusively declined in the roadmap, for all proposals, existing measures, such as the poverty plan for SDG1. This poverty plan like many others before is a series of partial measures (on the schooling of young children, nutrition, ...) that can also be undermined by other laws voted elsewhere, such as the Elan law that aggravates the difficulties of access to housing and thus reinforces poverty.

In the months that followed, a shorter political document was to be drafted. The synthesis work has been entrusted to a consulting firm that has conducted participatory workshops to try to identify strengths in the contributions, but this can in no way replace a clear and strong political arbitration.

The coming months will be decisive in finalizing the document that should be presented in September during the United Nations General Assembly. The European elections have also sounded the alarm signal regarding the need to implement a real sustainable development that leaves no one behind. Will he be heard? As the High Level Political Forum opens, France's position remains uncertain.