Reality is Governments Not Truly Held Accountable to Implement SDGs


The SDG Summit begins in the General Assembly Hall at UN Headquarters, New York. September 2023. Credit: UN Photo/Cia Pak

  • by Simone Galimberti (kathmandu, nepal)Friday, September 22, 2023
  • KATHMANDU, Nepal, Sep 22 (IPS) – What does transformative and sweeping really mean in the overarching efforts to achieve the Agenda 2030? It is now time to take stock of what has been agreed on at the United Nations headquarters in New York during the second edition SDG Summit. At the core of the Summit were not the several Leaders’ Dialogues that, as important as it can be to have heads of state and government reflecting on the Agenda, are just talking shops without any practical implications.

In fact, references to the goal of providing 100 billion US Dollars by 2025 (annually, don’t forget this, even though it did not appear in any of the original drafts circulated) were not included in the final approved Declaration. It is the same for the $700 million biodiversity fund that was included in the Kunming Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

It is a consolation to see that the UN Secretary General’s proposal for an SDG Stimulus was mentioned. This is one of the most important proposals. Sadly, in this case too, the $ 500 billion annual figure proposed by Guterres was not included.

With industrialized nations struggling with their climate promises, having even a short paragraph on the Stimulus can be seen as an achievement, especially for Mr. Guterres. The Secretary General might feel mixed emotions about the final Political Declaration.

It is true that his ambitious idea of the Summit of the Future, scheduled in 2024, got included even though apparently without much enthusiasm from the international community. On the other hand, Mr. Guterres’s concept of a New Social Contract was totally ignored. This is not surprising, given the political implications and consequences of what could be called a bold effort to review and renew the dynamics and relationships between the state and citizens. After all, anything that sounds “too political” (and really transformative) will be strongly resisted by member states at the United Nations, especially those who have their own unique understanding of democracy and rights.

The Declaration’s positive and perhaps unexpected attention to human rights was a welcome development. Human rights were cited in the Declaration not just once, but several times, and that is praiseworthy – even if only symbolically.

It is disappointing that civic engagement was not given any space in the document. It is an important element to advancing the idea of the New Social Contract. Yet, even if there were no links to this overtly forward-looking idea, civic involvement and, with it, its most prominent manifestation, volunteering, found no space in the document.

It appears that UNV did not play a major role in the SDG Summit side event jamboree or the draft process. This is alarming. The Declaration also does not make any promises or plans to empower youths. It is as though the Policy Brief, published by the Office for the Secretary-General in April on Meaningful Youth Participation in Policymaking and the Decision-Making process was not digested at all by the member countries involved in the drafting the final document. In this respect, the creation of a UN Youth Office is a key element of the reform agenda set by Mr. Guterres. However, it will not be transformative if the tools and mechanisms to allow youths to take part are not developed.

The localization of SDGs is probably the best way to engage and mobilize citizens in pursuit of Agenda 2030. This includes youths. The whole process of Voluntary Nation Reviews, or VNRs, was also not given the attention it deserved. It “We will continue to integrate the SDGs into our national policy frameworks and develop national plans for transformative and accelerated action” reads the Declaration.

“We will make implementing the 2030 Agenda and achieving the SDGs a central focus in national planning and oversight mechanisms”, the document further adds. This Local The In The There 01 According The In The

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