Concrete Action by Local, National, Global Stakeholders Drives ‘Game-changing’ 2030 Agenda, Speakers Say as High-level Political Forum Concludes First Week

Meaningful multi-stakeholder participation and concrete action at the national, regional and global levels would be critical to implementing a “game-changing” 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, said speakers as the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development concluded the final day of its thematic segment.

In closing the session, Economic and Social Council President Oh Joon (Republic of Korea) noted that time and again over the course of the week, participants had stressed that everyone was responsible for the implementation of the future development agenda, including Governments, civil society and private companies, big or small. Participants had underscored that social inclusion underpinned the quest for sustainable development, noted Mr. Oh, with many highlighting that such inclusion remained a challenge for both developing and developed countries, alike.

He said paying due attention to the most vulnerable and the need for policies and institutions to support different dimensions of inclusion, including through social security, education, labour and political institutions and policies, among others, were other recurring themes throughout the session. Further, he stressed the need to invoke multiple stakeholders in the implementation of the future development agenda and the work of regional forums on sustainable development, which had already been established in all five regions.

Calling for a “mindset change” in the way the world considered partnerships and development, a number of speakers throughout the day’s panel discussions underscored the need for more coherence between the various sectors and actors engaged in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Discussions were held on the following themes: “From inspiration to action: Multi-stakeholder engagement of implementation”; “The implementation of the 2030 Agenda by major groups and other stakeholders”; “Multi-stakeholder approaches at the national level: The opportunity to enhance follow-up and review by engaging major groups and other stakeholders”; and “Regional experiences”.

Macharia Kamau (Kenya), chief negotiator of the Outcome Document of the Second High-level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, said the resources, expertise, science and technology needed to drive sustainable development already existed. What was lacking was the ability to pull those elements together.

Others emphasized that major groups and other diverse stakeholders must form the backbone of efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda, as they represented individuals on the ground. In that regard, one speaker pointed out that including those stakeholders was not an act of charity, but that the success of the new agenda hinged upon it.

Representatives of many stakeholder groups – including indigenous peoples, women, local governments, trade unions and businesses – called for the institutionalization of meaningful multi-stakeholder participation. They also underscored the need to remove structural barriers that prevented their voices from being heard in the implementation, monitoring and review of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

The Forum will meet again at 9 a.m. on 18 July for its ministerial segment.

Panel I

This morning, the Forum held a panel discussion chaired by Jurg Lauber (Switzerland), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, and moderated by Barbara Adams, Senior Policy Adviser at the Global Policy Forum.

The first part of the session, on “Ensuring that no one is left behind: The implementation of the 2030 Agenda by major groups and other stakeholders”, featured Macharia Kamau (Kenya), chief negotiator of the Outcome Document of the Second High-level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation; Berry Vrbanovic, Mayor of the City of Kitchener, Canada; Joan Carling, Secretary-General of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact; Yvonne Harz-Pitre, Director of Communications and Public Affairs at the International Fertilizer Industry Association; Marco Marzano de Marinis, Secretary-General of the World Farmers’ Association; Alok Rath, Country Director for Uganda and South Sudan of VSO International; and Frances Zainoeddin, Board Director of Gray Panthers. The respondents were Sarah Mendelson (United States), Norma Munguia Aldaraca (Mexico) and Peter Thomson (Fiji).

The second part of the session, on “Multi-stakeholder approaches at the national level: The opportunity to enhance follow-up and review by engaging major groups and other stakeholders”, featured Mabel Bianco, President of the Fundacion para Estudio e Investigacion de la Mujer, and Yetnebersh Nigussie, Senior Advocate at Light for the World. The respondents were: Harriet Ludwig, Deputy Head of Division, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany; Anisa Tryanti, Focal Point on Disaster Risk Reduction for the United Nations major group on children and youth; Antonia Wulff, Coordinator at Education International; Gueladio Cisse, Member of the Committee on Freedom and Responsibility in the Conduct of Science of the International Council for Science at the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute; Carlos Sergio Sobral Duarte (Brazil); and Inge Herman Rydland (Norway).

Ms. ADAMS, opening the first part of the session, said the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was a “game-changer” and stressed the need to identify the elements that would maintain the international community’s high level of ambition.

Mr. KAMAU introduced the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, stressing the need for a “mindset change” in how the world considered partnerships and development. The resources, expertise, science and technology existed, but what was lacking was the ability to pull all those elements together to drive sustainable development. Similarly, “the money is there” to finance development, but there was a need to channel it more effectively. Noting that the Global Partnership would be holding its second meeting in Nairobi later in 2016, he said that the meeting would, among other things, take stock of the implementation of development effectiveness, showcase examples of best practices and identify innovative approaches to sustainable development that could be scaled up. The stage was set for a “new deal” in development cooperation, which called on Governments to show results.

Mr. VRBANOVIC, who represented the local authorities’ major group, said the group aimed at promoting in-depth voluntary reviews at the local level to enable benchmarking strategies. The capacity to develop inclusive partnerships with local and subnational constituencies would be critical for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. He spotlighted, as examples, a local approach to air quality improvement and a neighbourhood strategy to tackle issues including poverty, sustainability and education. Local authorities held strategic positions as intermediaries between national Governments and citizens, he said, emphasizing the need to “localize” the Sustainable Development Goals and create local ownership.

Ms. ALDARACA said her Government had aligned its national programmes with the 2030 Agenda. The recent meeting of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean had invited civil society representatives to address the challenges related to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, she said, noting that development strategies had often been too fragmented. “We do not live in clusters and silos,” she said, emphasizing the interlinkages of health, education, gender and other elements of sustainable development.

Ms. CARLING proposed a number of actions needed to ensure the inclusion and visibility of indigenous peoples in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Those included the inclusion of the legal recognition of ingenious peoples, their rights and resources; the repeal of discriminatory laws and policies; the formulation and implementation of special measures and programmes in partnership with them; the creation of transparent mechanisms for their participation at the local and national levels; the ensuring of data disaggregation; support for community-based and participatory data collection and reporting; the creation of partnerships based on the self-determined development of indigenous peoples; and capacity-building of all development actors on the links between human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Ms. HARZ-PITRE, who represented the business and industry major group, said businesses around the world were becoming more “fit for purpose” in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Her organization, which promoted the efficient and responsible production and distribution of plant nutrients, had enjoyed strong relationships with other stakeholders such as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Successful indicators had to consider business realities, she said, noting that businesses brought critical resources and expertise to sustainable development.

Ms. MENDELSON cited an “enormous need” to raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals among Americans. The Government was working to build partnerships with the private sector in a number of key areas, in particular to address historical inequalities. Calling for a workforce that better understood the 2030 Agenda, she proposed establishing partnerships with presidents or deans of universities in order to develop new curricula in that area.

Mr. MARZANO DE MARINIS, speaking for the farmers’ major group, said sustainable development was at the heart of the agricultural sector. Farmers were economic actors, creating jobs and contributing to the gross domestic product of countries. However, their work was closely linked to the environment, biodiversity, sustainable consumption, gender and other issues. Leaving no one behind meant that Governments must support farmers and other major groups, he stressed, calling on the international community to move outside the walls of the United Nations and help to “demystify” the Sustainable Development Goals on the ground.

Mr. RATH called for a true partnership between the State, the private sector and people themselves, especially those who the most vulnerable. Millions of volunteers were at the forefront of civil society. Describing the work of Voluntary Services Overseas, a formal coalition working together on the Sustainable Development Goals in countries including Uganda and Papua New Guinea, he went on to note that Governments must support such efforts.

Ms. ZAINOEDDIN, who represented the stakeholder group on ageing, said changing mindsets was about including all people of all ages throughout their life course, from cradle to grave. Her organization’s activities were aimed at ensuring that older persons were safe and secure, free from discrimination and abuse and enjoyed health care, food security and dignity. It was also critical to ensure that older persons were heard and recognized as a resource for society and the economy. Citing a number of concerns, she said many international outcomes and agreements did not require States to report on actions taken to promote the rights of older persons. The global youth bulge was rapidly becoming the “ageing bulge”, she said, noting that life did not end at the age of 60 and that “people’s rights do not change when they get older”.

Mr. THOMSON said the 2030 Agenda was truly transformational and that, if properly implemented, it would give future generations a secure place on the planet. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals were achievable, but as many people did not know about them, education was a critical issue. Humanity’s future would be in jeopardy if the 2030 Agenda was not implemented, he warned. For example, the global insurance industry would collapse once the 4C climate change threshold was passed. As the incoming president of the General Assembly, he had appointed an eight-person team of experts from within and outside the United Nations which would work daily on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Such activities would be at the core of work of the Assembly’s seventy-first session, he said.

During the brief ensuing dialogue, speakers shared national actions aimed at improving multi-stakeholder participation and “changing mindsets” on sustainable development.

In that regard, the representative of Sri Lanka underscored the importance of creating a sense of ownership among all stakeholders and the general public.

A youth delegate from the Netherlands called for States to engage in good quality partnerships with a variety of stakeholders. Concrete steps were needed to enhance accountability, he said, also advocating for more meaningful youth participation.

The representative of Benin warned that in Africa, only about half of international development assistance arrived at its destination and another half of that figure was “pocketed” by the Government. That meant that only a portion of aid was actually delivered to its recipients.

Ms. BIANCO, opening the next part of the session, represented the major group for women. She said the group had reviewed the summaries of several of the voluntary reports that had been submitted to the High-level Political Forum. Regrettably, she had only had access to one full report. The participation of diverse stakeholders must be significant, not symbolic, she warned, noting that fewer than 10 per cent of countries had involved civil society in the reporting process from the very beginning. Providing a number of recommendations, she said the participation of diverse women’s groups should be institutionalized and donors and Governments should provide financial support to facilitate that participation. She also stressed the need to protect human rights defenders who were being attacked in many parts of the world.

Ms. NIGUSSIE, speaking for the stakeholder group of persons with disabilities, said the more than 1 billion people with disabilities around the world had not been meaningfully included in the discourse leading up to the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. Her group was working to educate its constituency about those Goals and it was evaluating the inclusion efforts of various countries as implementation efforts progressed. Stressing that it would take more than a promise to leave no one behind, she emphasized that persons with disabilities should be addressed not from a charity point of view, but as untapped agents of development. She also called for the removal of structural and technical barriers for persons with disabilities to participate in national reviews.

Ms. LUDWIG reiterated that the 2030 Agenda explicitly embraced a diverse range of stakeholders and called for collaborative implementation efforts. The transparent and inclusive participation of stakeholders was crucial to ensure broad ownership and successful implementation. In Germany, there was a long tradition of participation, she said, noting that the Government was involving citizens in the sustainable development agenda through the Internet and through public hearings. It had also organized dialogue forums with civil society and it had established a platform for multi-stakeholder partnerships as a space for mutual learning. In addition, Germany supported international initiatives for exchanges on monitoring and review.

Ms. TRYANTI said children and youth had been active in all stages of the sustainable development agenda process. Now it was critical that they played a role in implementation, monitoring and review. International agreements had called for national youth councils and bodies to play a role in the review of sustainable development policies. Youth should be in the driver’s seat “since we will be the ones held accountable” in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, she said, calling for adequate space and resources for youth participation. Member States should have national platforms for the review of national action plans and young people must participate. “Nothing about us without us,” she stressed.

Ms. WULFF, who spoke on behalf of the workers and trade unions, expressed concern about increasing numbers of attacks on collective bargaining efforts. Spending cuts around the world had led to decreases in the quality and conditions of jobs and the privatization of health care and education. Describing inherent tensions in the economic and social pillars of the Sustainable Development Goals, she stressed the need for social dialogue and collective bargaining as best practices for democratic and participatory inclusion. Among other things, she raised concerns about Sustainable Development Goal 10 on inequality, which lacked a logical place in the implementation architecture, but which was an important precondition for the realization of all the other Goals.

Mr. DUARTE described the history of Brazil’s civil society engagement, which had been particularly evident at the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (“Rio+20”). The promotion of such multi-stakeholder dialogue was still a “must” in today’s world, he stressed, adding that the reduction of poverty and inequality were essential actions that would help to achieve all other development objectives.

Mr. CISSA� said the science and technology group had made a number of contributions to the sustainable development process. It was working to provide evidence and add value in such areas as education and capacity-building and creatively mobilize financial resources. The science and technology community was also providing science-based technological solutions at global, national and local levels. He urged the strengthening of science, technology and innovation systems at the national level and advocated the creation of a global fund to support the important multi-stakeholder dynamics that would take place as countries worked to implement the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mr. RYDLAND said the 2030 Agenda had “levelled the playing field” in many ways and emphasized that diversity was a strength. Major groups were included in Norway’s delegation to the High-level Political Forum as they were vital assets in the 2030 Agenda’s implementation. In that regard, it was important to note that inclusion was not an act of charity, but that the success of the 2030 Agenda hinged upon it. “This is not business as usual,” he said, calling on stakeholders themselves to internalize the 2030 Agenda in their strategic plans. While the watchdog role of major groups was still critical, the new agenda called for something more.

As the floor was briefly opened for comments, speakers agreed that multiple stakeholders should be involved in the sustainable development follow-up and review processes.

The representative of Finland said the involvement of civil society and other actors had been part of his Government’s approach for more than 20 years. Finland had created two broad-based committees on sustainable development, together involving more than 60 stakeholder groups, which had contributed to the country’s national report.

The representative of the organization Together 2030 stressed that stakeholder participation should build on traditional forms of social movement. Among other things, his organization was engaging with faith-based groups.

Panel II

The day’s second panel discussion, on “Regional experiences” featured addresses by representatives of regional forums, including Gamini Jayawickrama Perera, Minister of Sustainable Development and Wildlife of Sri Lanka and Chair of the Asia Pacific Regional Forum; Ghada Waly, Minister of Solidarity of Egypt; Janis Karklins, Permanent Representative of Latvia to the United Nations in Geneva and Chair of the Economic Commission for Europe Regional Forum; Juan Jose Gomez Camacho, Permanent Representative of Mexico and Chair of the Latin America and Caribbean Forum; and Amjad Mohammad Saleh Al-Moumani, Deputy Permanent Representative of Jordan.

Speakers on behalf of regional and subregional organizations were: Virachai Plasai, Permanent Representative of Thailand, on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); Badre Eddine Allali, Assistant Secretary-General and Head of the Social Affairs Sector of the League of Arab States; and A. Missouri Sherman-Peter, Permanent Observer of the Caribbean Community.

The executive secretaries of the United Nations regional commissions also spoke, including Christian Friis Bach, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) and Coordinator of the Regional Commissions; Shamshad Akhtar, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP); Rima Khalaf, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA); Alicia Barcena, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC); and Giovanie Biha, Deputy Executive Secretary for Knowledge Delivery for the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

Mr. PERERA said the 2030 Agenda highlighted the need for regional action. In its recent meeting, the Asia Pacific Regional Forum had emphasized the contribution of the United Nations system and regional organizations to support the follow-up and review process for the 2030 Agenda. Also during that meeting, the Forum had agreed on the foundation for a road map for a development framework, with particular focus on countries with special needs. The outcome had demonstrated that the countries of Asia and the Pacific were moving ahead and leading the global implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Ms. WALY said the 2016 Africa Regional Forum for Sustainable Development had been held recently in Cairo. In total, 31 African countries had participated in the meeting, whose theme had been well-aligned with the focus of the High-level Political Forum and had included a particular emphasis on the inclusive implementation of the future development agenda. The transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development Goals was one of the key messages coming from the Cairo Forum. Many participants had highlighted the need for quality education and the building of skills, especially for women and girls. The need for access to social services and the reduction of disparities in wealth had also been explored.

MR. KARKLINS said the European Regional Forum had been held in May with a focus on the first steps being taken by Governments in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the possible regional mechanisms that could be used for follow up and review. Participants had emphasized that Governments had the primary responsibility to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, although they could not act in isolation and needed to engage with non-governmental actors. All participants had highlighted the need for data and many said statistical institutions may need to be strengthened in some countries and the quality of data improved.

Mr. GA�MEZ CAMACHO said that the Sustainable Development Goals had been taken on from the very start in the Latin American and Caribbean region and would continue to be a regional and national priority moving forward. Inequality was an area of major concern for the region, one which required a multifaceted approach. Each goal was only meaningful in the context of all the other goals, due to their mutually reinforcing nature. All countries in the region had achieved some important successes in attaining the Millennium Development Goals and had now begun the transition towards the Sustainable Development Goals in a very committed, meaningful way.

Mr. AL-MOUMANI said the 2016 Arab Forum for Sustainable Development had been designed to be a regional platform to address issues related to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in the region. In all, 16 countries had participated along with representatives of international organizations, civil society and the private sector. Participants adopted recommendations that were reported to the High-level Political Forum, many of which included a particular emphasis on human rights. Participants had emphasized the need for peaceful societies and the well-being of people, with many stressing that those objectives could best be achieved through decent labour opportunities, particularly for young people. Participants also highlighted the need for greater women’s participation in all sectors.

Mr. PLASAI said ASEAN countries had agreed that stronger partnerships between multilateral and regional organizations would ensure the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. ASEAN encouraged all parties to mainstream the development goals into their relevant national and regional plans. Mechanisms at the regional level were being established, including a joint high-level dialogue between ASEAN and the United Nations. Implementation at the country-level would be crucial. Diversity among ASEAN was an invaluable endowment that could strengthen efforts and abilities to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

Mr. ALLALI said that ensuring that no one was left behind in the Arab region could not be easily achieved due to instability and the disruption of peace in the area. Economic crises due to the decline of the price of oil and the increasing unemployment among the youth indicated that more would need to be done to implement the 2030 Agenda. The majority of Arab countries were working to put into place the necessary institutional frameworks and coordination mechanisms at the national level, while also working to integrate the global development agenda into their national plans. All parties, including parliaments, were being asked to contribute to the objectives of the future development agenda.

Ms. SHERMAN-PETER said most CARICOM member States faced significant development challenges, including low economic growth, high unemployment, high food import costs, high income inequality and high poverty. The enormous public debt suffered by many countries in the region would significantly impact its ability to implement the 2030 Agenda. The propensity to rely on international cooperation often did not allow public-private partnerships to flourish, as required. CARICOM was in the process of implementing its 2015-2019 strategic plan, which was based on a resilience model for socioeconomic progress. CARICOM had made great strides to address its development challenges through its regional integration process.

In the ensuing discussion, a representative of the Committee on Food Security said her organization had a strong role to play in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals through its ability to deliberate and negotiate policy instruments targeting the most marginalized and vulnerable, particularly in relation to the complex, underlying causes of malnutrition and hunger.

The representative of Ghana highlighted that African countries were in fact pursuing two development agendas concurrently – Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063, the latter being a 50-year development programme that had been launched by the African Union. Ghana, and many other African countries, was seeking to work in a way that maximized synergies between the two plans.

Also speaking during that segment of the discussion were the representatives of South Africa and the Maldives.

Mr. BACH said regionalism was on the rise. It was important and useful to collaborate with Member States on the regional level. Regional organizations had a valuable role to play in addressing transboundary challenges in the quest to ensure that no one was left behind. Member States had been focused on developing common norms, standards and conventions, all of which could be strong tools to bring universality. The international community and regional organizations must scale up that normative work in support of the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Ms. AKHTAR said the Asia-Pacific region had taken full ownership of the 2030 Agenda, with ESCAP member States reconfirming their political commitment to action on the development framework, including through the adoption of key resolutions at the regional level to take the work forward. ESCAP was working to help lift some 743 million out of extreme poverty and to address growing inequality through various mechanisms, including its Statistical Committee. Further, ESCAP had put in place a number of dedicated technical support mechanisms to deal with structural vulnerabilities in countries.

Ms. KHALAF stressed that the link between peace and development was no more evident than in the Arab region. She noted that 30 per cent of the citizens in the region lived in countries beset by conflict. Daunting structural barriers to sustainable development plagued the region, which, if not addressed, threatened to leave millions of people behind. Given that backdrop, implementing the 2030 Agenda would seem to be an unrealistic endeavour. Yet, countries in the region were looking to turn commitments into action and were requesting ESCWA’s support in doing so.

Ms. BARCENA said there needed to be a change in the development model given the many uncertainties facing the world today. She highlighted the multitude of current issues, including trouble with financial systems, inequality and environmental problems, all of which required strong governance and a new global consensus. The goal in the Latin American and Caribbean region was to move forward using collective regional action, which would bring about notable benefits through private and public investments. There was a need to address the debt of the region with the aim of creating a resilience fund that would help countries to have greater freedom.

Mr. BIHA said African countries were working to implement both the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063, which presented several challenges, including developing and adopting an integrated results framework for both agendas. She noted that of the 174 national targets set out in Agenda 2063, 36 of those targets did not have any overlap with the 2030 Agenda targets. The inadequacy of funding resources also presented serious challenges, as did the need for better governance, transparency and accountability.

In the ensuing discussion, speakers discussed challenges and concerns.

The representative of Benin warned there was a risk that Governments would continue to promote their own national interests. To meet the development aspirations outlined in the future development agenda, there was a need to galvanize the whole of the international community, which would become the basis for measuring the collective commitment to humanity.

The representative of Iran noted the unique challenges facing the Arab region, many of which needed to be addressed through the United Nations.

The representative of France highlighted that his region had already put in place a European network for sustainable development, which allowed for information exchanges through regular conferences.

A representative of the major group for non-governmental organizations highlighted that regional accountability mechanisms could provide an overview of progress on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals at the regional level.

A representative of the major group for persons with disabilities said the role of regional organizations towards the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda was vital, including with regard to the participation of persons with disabilities. He expressed concern that the concept of leaving no one behind was not reflected at regional and local levels, although it had been highlighted globally.

A representative of the Engagement Mechanism for the Asia Pacific stressed the need for regional cooperation in the implementation and monitoring of the 2030 Agenda.

Also speaking were the representatives of Belarus, Finland, Cuba and Chad. Representatives of Together 2030 and the major groups for children and youth and for women also spoke.

Source: Un News