Speakers Call for Alternative Solutions, Disaggregated Data to Keep 2030 Agenda on Track, as High-Level Political Forum Concludes First Week of Meetings

Wrapping up its first week of meetings examining progress and challenges on efforts to achieve the objectives set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development held two panels on two Sustainable Developments Goals.

The two-week-long session featured thematic reviews and panel discussions from 9 to 13 July aimed at sharing best practices, providing proposals for innovative tools to trigger further progress and exchanging concerns and challenges related to key aspects of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.  Next week, from 16 to 19 July, the Council will host a ministerial segment to hear voluntary national reviews as well as a thematic discussion and a general debate.  The Council is also expected to adopt a ministerial declaration and draft report of the Forum.

Providing a summary today of work accomplished during the first week of sessions, Marie Chatardová (Czechia), President of the Council, said much progress has been reported, but more remains to be done to keep on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and to leave no one behind.  While the Goals have been integrated into national plans, major disparities in achievements persist, she said, raising concerns about areas including lower projections for sustainable economic development, patterns of inequalities and a lack of disaggregated data.  “We must continue to find alternative solutions for these cross-cutting challenges,” she declared.

However, the clear message this week is that solutions exist, she said, adding that countless examples were presented on how the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is being translated into policies and measures.  “At the national and local level, the most inspiring change is taking place,” she continued, noting that 47 countries will present national voluntary reports next week.  “We were reminded that transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies is truly powered by citizens and their local authorities.  They can sometimes implement changes in policy and legislation more quickly and effectively than their national-level counterparts, but change is not easy and nothing can replace the impact of national policies and action.”

Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General of Economic and Social Affairs, said the Forum has lived up to its expectation, proving to be a vibrant place of convergence where policy coherence is underlined and improving the lot of the poorest and most vulnerable are at the top of the agenda.  Progress and obstacles have been discussed and now there is a clearer vision of gaps and action required.  Fresh ideas have been presented, from the Government to community level, and what echoed loudly is the urgent need to step up and take action, particularly to address the needs of countries in special situations.

“I am greatly reassured of the convergence of views of all actors in an effort to work together,” he said, pledging the support of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs to support Member States in their drive to achieve progress on the Goals.

During the day, the Forum held two reviews on the implementation of Goal 15 — protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss — and Goal 17 — strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

In the afternoon, the Forum hosted a session on “Leaving no one behind:  Are we succeeding?” featuring presentations by rapporteurs and experts on how the world is performing on their quest to meet the 2030 Agenda deadline.  Delivering the keynote address, Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, declared “we are not on track for 2030”.

He stressed that progress and good practices have been reported, but, in overall terms, with some being pushed further behind because of discrimination, environmental degradation, globalization and deliberate policies dispossessing them of their land, livelihoods, rights and sometimes their lives while trying to make the point that they should not be neglected, including Palestinians and the Rohingya community.  Citing other cases of challenges facing vulnerable communities, he said that, despite lagging behind, efforts can be bolstered to get back on track.

The High‑Level Political Forum will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 16 July, to continue its work.

Review of Sustainable Development Goal Implementation

In the morning, the Forum held a discussion on “Goal 15 — Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss”, chaired by Jerry Matthews Matjila (South Africa), Vice‑President of the Economic and Social Council, and moderated by Rene Castro, Assistant Director General of Climate, Biodiversity, Land and Water Development of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), with a presentation by Heather Page, Sustainable Development Goal Monitoring Section of the Statistics Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and a keynote speech by Simon Levin, the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Director of the Center for BioComplexity at Princeton University in the United States.  Panellists included Anne Larigauderie, Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services; Cécile Bibiane Ndjebet, Director of the African Women's Network for Community Management of Forests, Cameroon; Roy Brouwer, Professor and Environmental Economist of the Department of Economics at the University of Waterloo, Canada; and Martha Rojas‑Urrego, Secretary‑General of the Ramsar Convention.  Lead discussants were Gertrude Kabusimbi Kenyangi, Executive Director of Support for Women in Agriculture and Environment, Uganda; Jill Blockhus, Director of International Partnerships of The Nature Conservancy; and Chiagozie Chima Udeh, Executive Board Member of the Plant‑for‑the‑Planet Foundation, Nigeria (major group of children and youth).

Mr. MATJILA said Goal 15 can be narrowly perceived as primarily environmental, but it is a critical measure of overall progress against the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as a key enabler for many other Goals and targets.  Examining progress towards Goal 15 targets requires taking into account obstacles, challenges, enablers and interlinkages through various cross‑cutting lenses deriving from social and economic dimensions.

Ms. PAGE, providing a statistical snapshot of Goal 15, said forest loss has slowed, but full implementation of sustainable forest management plans is needed to halt deforestation.  Land degradation threatens the security and development of all countries as well as the livelihoods of more than 1 billion people.  The proportion of key biodiversity areas covered by protected areas has continued to increase in freshwater, terrestrial and mountain ecosystems.  The Red List Index shows an alarming trend in biodiversity decline for mammals, birds, amphibians, corals and cycads, she said, with the primary drivers being habitat loss from unsustainable agriculture, deforestation, unsustainable harvest and trade, and invasive alien species.  Action to combat invasive species is intensifying, but they remain a major contributor to biodiversity loss, she said.

Mr. LEVIN, delivering the keynote address, said that without success with Goal 15, none of the other Goals will be achievable.  Goal 15 involves sustainable forest management, combating desertification and halting and reversing land degradation and biodiversity loss.  Biodiversity is being lost at an unprecedented rate, but there are insufficient incentives to do what is necessary.  While the trend for renewable water resources is downward, the overall story regarding forests is mixed, with substantial net forest loss occurring in the global South.  Land productivity is also declining, alongside loss of biodiversity due to poaching and wildlife trafficking.  Noting the outcome of a meeting of the Forum’s working group on biodiversity two months ago, and describing biodiversity as “one of the great challenges of our time”, he called for better metrics to understand what progress is being made, as well as intergovernmental cooperation, taking into account social values and preferences while finding equity for indigenous and other underrepresented groups.  He also appealed for more evidence‑based disaggregated knowledge, from which priorities could be set, with the engagement of stakeholders.  Concluding, he emphasized the need for holistic thinking and cross‑sectorial actions to achieve success in the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecological systems.

Mr. CASTRO, making a PowerPoint presentation, said climate change is exacerbating water scarcity.  At the same time, biodiversity is decreasing, with a reliance on only 10 species for 50 per cent of agriculture production.  Only nine plants account for 66 per cent of the world’s crop production, he added.  Moreover, it takes 15,000 litres of water to produce 1 kilogram of meat, and some people eat 100 kilograms of meat a year.  Without change and action in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change, “we know what is going to happen”, including human migration, notably from Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Africa and the Pacific islands.

Ms. LARIGAUDERIE discussed some of the major findings from five reports approved earlier this year by the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, established in 2012 with 130 member countries.  These reports indicate that biodiversity in Europe and Central Asia is in strong decline, with a high percentage of marine habitats and species under threat.  Land use is the major driver of change, but the impact of climate change is growing rapidly.  The erosion of indigenous and local knowledge has implications for biodiversity‑friendly land management practices, she said.  All five reports emphasized that action is still possible, she said, citing the expansion of protected areas.  However, protected areas alone will not permit the achievement of Goal 15, she said, warning also that climate change will prompt a migration of species.  Given current trends, the Aichi Biodiversity Targets will not be met by their 2020 deadline, threatening the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.  “We know what needs to be done,” she said, including enabling values of environmental responsibility, changing the way national welfare is measured, and ensuring that new technologies do not harm the environment.

Ms. NDJEBET, describing forests as the foundation of Goal 15, called for broad public awareness for sustainable forest management, particularly among city dwellers whose support is essential for Goal l5.  Changing the biodiversity narrative also calls for promoting a bio‑based economy, accompanied by a halt to the use of fossil fuels.  Underscoring the link between Goal 15 and the rest of the Sustainable Development Goals, she said investment in forests contributed to most of the Goals.  Government action is crucial, not only through better forest laws but also through fiscal incentives and forest certification schemes.  Speaking on behalf of the women’s major group, she called for, among other things, identifying policy initiatives to strengthen women’s resilience to climate change and the voices of women land‑users, forest‑users and farmers.

Mr. BROUWER discussed his research into the use of payments for ecosystems services as a way to achieving Goal 15 and how such a policy instrument can change human behaviour and land use.  Such payments involve downstream water users compensating upstream landowners as a way to encourage better upstream land and forest use.  Creating such a system requires a willingness among downstream water users to pay, as well as a willingness of upstream landowners to accept payment, he said, adding that there is little data about the impact of current payment‑for‑ecosystem services schemes.  Watershed forests are a nature‑based solution to water security, he said, emphasizing the need to understand and steer land use changes for watershed biodiversity conservation.  While payment‑for‑ecosystem schemes are promising, they require better targeting and more enforcement, he said, adding that international monitoring guidelines are needed to measure their effectiveness.

Ms. ROJAS-URREGO said wetlands — including lakes, rivers, swamps, marshes, mangroves, tidal flats and coral reefs — are rich in biodiversity and important for achieving Goal 15.  She emphasized the need for integrated approaches that would underscore the connection between wetlands and water quality and availability, as well as the link with climate change, given that wetlands are an effective store of carbon.  She went on to call for scaling up mechanisms for the conservation and wise use of wetlands, alongside improved biodiversity monitoring and increased funding to support biodiversity goals.

Ms. KABUSIMBI KENYANGI called for more gender‑responsive and human rights‑based approaches, with resources being distributed in gender‑equitable ways.  Policy instruments are only as good as their implementation, she added, and the entire value chain must be kept “in the know”.  She also emphasized the need to consider the impact of Goal 15 implementation on people’s livelihoods.

Ms. BLOCKHUS said the adoption of sustainable land use practices at scale will require substantial decades.  To this end, she proposed the creation of sustainable land bonds that would enable Governments to access large amounts of inexpensive long‑term capital in mainstream capital markets.  Such bonds would be unique in that the issuer would commit to using the proceeds for sustainable land management initiatives that would lower greenhouse gas emissions.  At the same time, the issuer would enter into a long‑term results‑based payment agreement with a third party that would reduce or offset the bond’s interest cost, provided that pre‑agreed levels of land-based emission reductions are achieved.

Mr. CHIMA UDEH, speaking on behalf of the children and youth major group, drew attention to the Trillion Tree Campaign launched by Plant‑for‑the‑Planet aimed at large‑scale forest restoration as a way to counter climate change.  He recommended bolstering education about biodiversity and forests, with the participation of indigenous peoples and an end to deforestation and illegal logging.  Noting that the Group of 7 spent a combined $854 billion per year on their armed forces, compared to the $10 billion put into the Green Climate Fund since 2015, he called for increased and more transparent investment in biodiversity.

During the discussion, more than 40 speakers took the floor to set out the various ways their Governments and organizations are striving to protect and improve biodiversity.

The representative of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said land use is the “next big thing in climate action”.  However, less than 3 per cent of public and private climate finance is going to sustainable land use.  A significant increase in such finance is needed to improve agriculture, save forests and restore degraded landscapes throughout the world.

The representative of the Convention on Biodiversity said decision‑makers must address the drivers of biodiversity loss and ensure that solutions and benefits provided by nature are integrated into national economic and development plans.  Noting that the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity will end in 2020, she said a global summit at the level of Heads of State is needed to raise awareness of biodiversity and its importance in achieving the 2030 Agenda.  She went on to underscore the need for transformational change, including changes in behaviour on the part of producers, consumers, Governments and businesses.

The representative of the European Union said taking action on Goal 15 means protecting the environmental backbone of economic development as well as addressing conflict and migration.  Eighteen per cent of the bloc’s land area, and almost 11 per cent of its marine area, have protected status, but that is not enough, she said, calling for renewed efforts to meet the Aichi Targets and for the Conference of States Parties to the Fifteenth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Beijing in 2020 “to be the Paris moment for biodiversity”.

The representative of the farmers major group said agricultural producers are already implementing best practices to increase resilience and produce food.  Farmers are always looking for innovative ways to manage terrestrial resources.  They have a key role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and they deserve to be involved in decision‑making processes, she said, adding that there is no time left for siloed thinking.

The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo said that, with 150 million hectares of forest under the stewardship of indigenous peoples, his country was part of the biodiversity solution.  However, it could become part of the problem if recently discovered peat lands are mismanaged and if — despite a national financial mechanism to distribute $1 billion over five years — a funding gap for biodiversity is not closed.

The representative of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) underscored the role of World Heritage Sites as well as the connection between and biodiversity.  She also called for working in close partnership with local communities to ensure access to natural resources.

Ms. ROJAS-URREGO welcomed the focus that speakers had put on the importance of wetlands and inland water ecosystems.  She emphasized the importance of biodiversity on local communities and the need to localize the issue.

Mr. BROUWER said it is crucial to embrace the idea that lands and forests cannot be protected without considering the watersheds in which they are located.  He cited New York City and the upstate sources of its fresh water as an example of sustainable watershed management.

Ms. NDJEBET said a major global action plan is needed to halt deforestation and forest degradation in the tropics.  Rural women, indigenous women and other stakeholders must be fully engaged in Goal l5, she added.

Ms. LARIGAUDERIE said the session has underscored the importance of engaging all stakeholders.  Going forward, it would be useful to focus on trade‑offs between Goals rather than addressing them separately, she added.

Also speaking were the representatives of Norway, Malaysia, Australia, Israel, Germany, Finland, Czechia, France, Mexico, Italy, Romania, Switzerland, Philippines, Iran, Sweden, Russian Federation, Jamaica, Indonesia, Benin, Turkey, Republic of Korea, Senegal, Togo, Kenya, Estonia, Oman, Morocco, China, Palestine and South Africa, as well as the United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the major group for women and the stakeholder group for volunteers.

Thematic Review

A panel was held on “Goal 17 — Strengthening the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development”, chaired by Council Vice‑President Mahmadamin Mahmadaminov (Tajikistan) and moderated by Gillian Tett, United States Managing Editor of the Financial Times.  Presentations were made by Yongyi Min, Sustainable Development Goal Monitoring Section of the Statistics Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and Courtenay Rattray, Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations and Co‑Facilitator for the outcome of the 2018 Economic and Social Council Financing for Development Follow‑up Forum.

Panellists included:  Masud Bin Momen, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations; Alfred Watkins, Chair of the Global Solutions Summit; and Steven Waygood, Chief Responsible Investment Officer of Aviva.  Robin Ogilvy, Special Representative of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to the United Nations, and Kavaljit Singh, Director of Madhyam (financing for development civil society group), served as lead discussants.

Mr. MAHMADAMINOV, opening the discussion, introduced the panellists and speakers.

Ms. MIN, presenting a slide show on gains made, said at the outset that official development assistance (ODA) from Development Assistance Committee member States dropped slightly in 2017 mainly because of lower costs for refugee assistance than in previous years.  Noting that remittances remain the lifeline for families and communities in low- and middle‑income countries, she presented a snapshot of other gains, among them that high‑speed fixed broadband Internet connection remains largely inaccessible across the developing world and that the least developed countries’ share of world merchandise exports fell between 2013 and 2016 after a long period of increases.  Turning to regional developments, she said most sub‑Saharan countries have national statistical plans, but only three of them are fully funded at a time when the share of ODA for statistical capacity‑building has hovered at around 0.3 per cent since 2010, despite growing demands.

Mr. RATTRAY, highlighting findings from a recent meeting of the Inter‑Agency Task Force on Financing for Development, said challenges include high levels of debt.  Moreover, infrastructure development can have a positive impact on debt sustainability and efforts to reach the Goals.  Not all debt is bad, he said, adding that risks to debt sustainability include vulnerabilities to natural disasters.  Efforts are now under way to explore innovative measures for countries and regions affected by disasters and external economic shocks.  Other efforts support infrastructure development, including in the water and sanitation sectors.  However, funding falls short and the investment gap must be narrowed.

Ms. TETT said the discussion will focus on how to reach Goal 17 through mobilizing finances and harnessing the potential of new technologies with partnerships among the public and private sectors, civil society and non‑governmental organizations (NGOs).  Against a landscape of growing debt and financial challenges, she encouraged panellists and participants alike to offer suggestions on ways to foster progress.

Mr. BIN MOMEN said the $90 trillion price tag of the 15‑year‑old journey to achieve the Goals by 2030 means that success depends on to what extent actors are able to implement the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development.  Against a backdrop of increasingly protectionist trade policies, efforts must focus on addressing ways to bolster trade.  In addition, efforts must be made urgently to transform the financial systems in countries.  The business‑as‑usual approach is outdated, and investments must be in resilience and infrastructure.  Ways to do this include incentivizing the private sector, broadening developing countries’ access to financing and adopting effective public policies.  Political leaders in donor countries could also make stronger efforts to honour their financial commitments.  Outside financing, he said Governments must work to create jobs in the burgeoning technology sector.  In addition, efforts must be made to address gender inequalities and to promote reliable data collection through sharing best practices and capacity‑building.

Mr. OGILVY, a lead discussant, citing a range of challenges, said many countries lack data, and the right kind, including birth registration at a time when ODA investment in strengthening statistics is waning.  OECD offers a range of platforms and information on issues such as financing for statistical capacity to meet the current gaps.  Turning to innovation, he said new technologies must be harnessed, a notion supported by OECD, which is working to break down existing policy silos.  Raising several other issues, he said only a small portion of public investment targets public goods and efforts are needed in this regard.  Equally important is policy coherence and mobilizing domestic revenue, he said, adding that OECD is working with Tax Inspectors Without Borders on the latter activity.

Mr. WATKINS outlined results coming from the Global Solutions Summit, held in June at United Nations Headquarters, which focused on the theme of technology deployment business models for the Goals.  While proven, cost‑effective solutions exist; more must be done to deploy them.  Steps can include creating an effective deployment ecosystem where Governments, suppliers and outreach partners work together with finance and community counterparts.  However, technology suppliers often have the products, but want to be vendors to, not operators in, thousands of communities in dozens of countries.  Meanwhile, financiers want bankable projects, but do not want to be project developers and lack the capacity for due diligence on thousands of projects in dozens of countries.  To address these and other challenges, efforts are being helped by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) science, technology and innovation reviews, Technology Bank assessments and road maps, he said, recommending that future steps should start with a mindset of going to scale, rather than implementing a small pilot programme, in areas such as getting potable water and off‑grid power into every community.  Emphasizing the need to support efforts such as Technology Deployment Centres, he announced that the 2019 Global Solutions Summit’s theme would be building the deployment ecosystem, with a focus on local capacity‑building for scaling technology deployment in the least developed countries.

Mr. WAYGOOD, representing the private sector, said Aviva was an insurance company established in 1696 and had centuries of experience.  He presented a road map for sustainable capital markets, laying out how financial regulation, civil society, non‑governmental organizations and other actors can cooperate to work towards progress in this regard.  While the money is out there to achieve the Goals, much is already invested.  The Goals are effectively market failures, but the United Nations can secure capital markets as a Sustainable Development Goals partner in a number of ways, including responsible investment.  Society can hold companies accountable for their impact of the Goals.  Organizations such as the World Benchmarking Alliance are developing and providing corporate performance benchmarks aligned with the Goals to help companies, investors and others drive change by raising awareness and promoting a corporate race to the top.  Democratizing big data can also help, he said, pointing at statistics focused on, for example the extractive sector human rights impact benchmark.  In addition, efforts can help in escalating global market reform for the Goals.  For its part, Aviva has published a range of papers to address these and other issues, including measuring sustainability disclosure.

Mr. SINGH, as lead discussant, said “these are very challenging times for the SDGs”, stressing that the global economic order is fragmenting amid new risks that could undermine the Goals.  If the current trade war is prolonged, it could have three major repercussions:  first, there would be collateral damage, he said, noting that poor and developing countries, which are not taking part in the trade war, are nonetheless integrated into the global supply chain.  Second, the trade war could lead to a currency war, with countries opting for artificial currency depreciation.  Finally, it also threatens multilateral trade rules.  These rules matter more to poor countries because they lack bargaining power.  The rules must be reformed, rather than discarded.

On global finance, he alerted participants to the quality of debt, especially in the private sector, which has sharply deteriorated.  The rise in financial market volatility meanwhile has led to rapid capital outflows from many emerging markets, which if continued, could perpetuate a currency crisis.  New financial risks are developing outside the formal banking system.  Development banks, particularly national development banks, could act as useful tools in mobilizing resources for the Goals, for example by funding projects with higher social returns.  During the financial crisis, many development banks played a counter‑cyclical role in stabilizing markets, and today could potentially address climate change, inequality and women’s empowerment.  They could be a game changer, provided they were better governed and regulated, he said, calling for the creation of a global forum on development banks to initiate policy dialogue, promote best practices and facilitate South‑South cooperation.

Following the discussion, delegates exchanged views and recommendations.

The representative of France, calling ODA a crucial source of financing, said 0.43 per cent of his country’s gross national income had been devoted to ODA in 2017, with the goal of reaching 0.55 per cent in 2050.  France, when possible, would submit budgetary performance indicators publicly so they could be better aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.

The representative of Belarus said the Goals could be achieved through mobilization of domestic resources, citing the creation of funds for that purpose, tax incentive systems, and promotion of public‑private partnerships.  Regional integration could also foster that objective.

The representative of Finland said increasing diversification of resources for sustainable development is a welcome trend, describing a fund for that purpose.  New partnerships bring new challenges, she said, underscoring her country’s support for the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.  She also advocated strong domestic resource mobilization through stronger revenue collection.

The speaker from the stakeholder group on ageing said implementing the Goals in an age‑inclusive way requires radically rethinking the current environment, with concerted action at all levels of data systems to advance the 2030 targets.  She called on States to create strong partnerships with civil society representing older people in their programme planning and implementation, and on donors to increase their funding available for ageing issues.

The representative of Ghana, stressing that her country takes partnerships around Goal 17 seriously, cited increased mobilization of domestic public resources in this context, as well as Ghana’s national identification system and tax revenue for economic enhancement programme.  Its entrepreneur fund focuses on women and youth.

The representative of Viet Nam, recalling that in 2017 net ODA from OECD countries had decreased 0.6 per cent from 2016 in real terms, underscored the importance of global partnership among Governments be enhanced so resources were adequately allocated.  Public‑private partnerships also could supplement that partnership.  Viet Nam has boosted its economic integration and is working to create enabling environment to implement and evaluate the Goals.

The representative of the Dominican Republic said 14 per cent of his country’s gross domestic product (GDP) is allocated to development, underscoring the need to broaden its tax base and pinpoint innovative and alternative financing mechanisms.

The speaker from the Asia-Pacific Regional Civil Society Organization Engagement Mechanism underscored the need to localize implementation of the Goals, calling ODA a critical but declining source of financing that should not be used for infrastructure.  Billions were lost due to illicit flows, such as tax evasion and cross-country transfers by corporations.

The speaker from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), stressing the importance of science, technology and innovation, described various related partnerships and programmes that foster conditions for advancing achievement of the 2030 Agenda.

The representative of Norway said a commitment to new and innovative partnerships is a vital success factor for achieving the Goals.  Cooperation that promotes science and technology could be equally as valuable, he said, stressing that good governance is a necessary condition for the global transformation sought.  “The will to change must come from inside,” he said, stressing the importance of hard work to that end.

The representative of South Africa said “we need to honour existing commitments”, not only for the mobilization of resources, but also for the provision of adequate and predictable financing.  Not all instruments are new, he said, noting that green bonds were first issued in 1693 to fund a war.  Market failures include market greed.  Change is not only about incentivizing the private sector to do good ‑ companies must demonstrate their desire to do so.

The speaker from the indigenous peoples major group drew attention to the historic pillaging of indigenous peoples’ resources, stressing the need for proper restitution and financial repayment.  Indigenous peoples are discriminated against through the lack of education, health care, energy and basic infrastructure, conditions that must be alleviated through measures that are developed with them.

The representative of the European Union welcomed the Inter‑Agency Task Force report, stressing that all means of implementation must be activated to achieve the Goals.  The European Union will continue to promote the effective use of resources, including domestic and private, as well as the creation of an enabling environment, she said, noting that the bloc is the largest provider of development assistance and supports a global rules‑based trading system with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its core.  Trade policy is not only limited as a means of economic growth, but could contribute to the achievement of the Goals.

Mr. WAYGOOD said that with the world’s eight richest people earning as much as 50 per cent of the global population, gross inequities already exist.  The question is how to build upon ODA.  “Please don’t forget:  where do the companies that do [foreign direct investment] get the money from?  All of us who have put the money into the system,” he said, underscoring the imperative of reconnecting people to companies to ensure that what they do in our name is in our interest.  “We need a radical transformation in how companies are held to account,” he said.  “I’m not hearing any of that here.  We need a reality check.  Goals 17.3 and 17.5 are all about remittances.  Please look at the markets, not at each other,” he stressed.

Other speakers included representatives of Turkey, Thailand, Sweden, Morocco and Australia.

Session on Leaving No One Behind

A discussion was then held on the theme “Leaving no one behind:  Are we succeeding?”, chaired by Council President Marie Chatardová (Czechia) and moderated by Manish Bapna, Executive Vice‑President and Managing Director of the World Resources Institute.  The following rapporteurs made presentations on thematic cluster 1:  Mahi Amadou Deme, Director of the Ministry for Economy and Finance of Senegal; Douglas Keh, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); and on thematic cluster 2:  Riitta Oksanen, Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland; and Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

Panellists included:  Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Member of the United Nations Committee on Development Policy, and Professor of International Affairs at The New School; Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales; Victoria Tauli Corpuz, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples; and Sylvia Beales, Strategic Adviser of Gray Panthers (stakeholder group on ageing).  The keynote speaker was Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Ms. CHATARDOVÁ, opening the discussion, said a central pledge contained in the 2030 Agenda is to ensure no one is left behind.  She then introduced the panel.

Mr. GILMOUR said the concept of leaving no one behind rests on the core commitment to realize the human rights of all.  Progress and good practices have been reported, however in overall terms “we are not on track for 2030”, with some being pushed further behind because of discrimination, environmental degradation, globalization and deliberate policies dispossessing them of their land, livelihoods, rights and sometimes their lives while trying to make the point that they should not be neglected, including Palestinians and the Rohingya community.  Citing other cases of challenges facing vulnerable communities, he said that, despite lagging behind, efforts can be bolstered to get back on track to meeting the Goals.

Mr. BAPNA said despite delayed efforts, steps were being made to change this and the rapporteurs will give presentations summarizing the week’s discussions, the lead discussants will provide input and the panellists will offer their perspectives.

Mr. KEH said many countries are not making gains, with challenges including weak social protection schemes, economies vulnerable to shocks, widening income gaps and climate change threatening to destabilize progress.  Identifying who is being left behind is key to reaching the Goals, but such information is not readily available everywhere and some communities are still being intentionally neglected.  To address that, Governments must adopt a whole-of-society approach.  Citing challenges facing some groups, he said migrants faced particular challenges.  However, they and members of other vulnerable groups are potential agents of change.  Disaggregated data is needed, but 47 per cent of countries lacked the information required to ensure no one is left out.  Steps forward can include broadening access to technology.  Unless action is taken now, the fourth industrial revolution will likely leave many more behind and some countries have emphasized that leap-frogging would be the only way for them to catch up.

Mr. DEME, providing an overview of national efforts, said steps have been taking in Senegal to formulate policies, a social protection strategy and other measures to reach poor and vulnerable groups with a view to ensuring inclusion.  A national programme for family security helps households living in extreme poverty.  Health projects reach poor families with children under age five and initiatives are targeting people working in the rural sector.  Several studies will identify the needs and interests of the poorest and most vulnerable groups, while a mechanism will be set up to follow up on actions targeting those groups.

Ms. OKSANEN, examining Goals 6 (water and sanitation), 12 (responsible consumption and production) and 15 (life on land), said that, while disaggregated data is important, it must become meaningful to successfully identify people in need.  The rights of vulnerable groups must be addressed and efforts must aim at breaking down silos.  Turning to the Goals, she said the poorest suffered most in lacking safe drinking water.  Resources are clearly needed.  On sustainable consumption and production, she said pilot-level policies must be followed through and efforts must be scaled up.  In addition, consumers must be made aware of sustainable choices.  With regard to Goal 15, she said actions are affecting the lives of many indigenous peoples, who are at risk of being left behind.

Ms. BÁRCENA said Goals 7 (energy), 11 (cities) and 17 (partnerships) are interlinked.  Energy is at the core of building sustainable societies.  Summarizing discussions during the week on these issues, she said a priority is addressing the 1 billion people who currently lack access to electricity, which is important to address women’s equality, improve public health and play a critical role in eliminating poverty.  The nexus between water, land and energy represent the bottom line in eradicating poverty.  While some subsidies help, others would not, such as the case of gasoline.  Resilience in cities is another concern, she said, noting the importance of empowering people and strengthening urban data collection.  Finally, Goal 17 is the most challenging, with an enormous financing gap looming and ODA investments falling short.  Domestic resource mobilization, including tax regimes, is one way to address gaps in revenue generation.  In addition, a trade war will have many consequences.  Closing the gaps is key in moving forward, with much work remaining to be done on Goal 17.

Ms. FUKUDA-PARR said the Committee for Development Policy addressed multiple dimensions of the pledge to leave no one behind, noting that current trends identified do not point to a degree or speed of advance compatible with the time frame of the 2030 Agenda.  Among a range of actions to get back on track, there needs to be coherence between development cooperation and other policies that have an international impact.  Providing a global snapshot of the current situation, she said only 14 national development plans were submitted through a related programme in 2017, few countries prioritize vulnerable groups and only 12 of 43 countries presenting reports on gains mentioned indigenous peoples.

Ms. HOWE said balancing the needs of present generations with the needs of those in the future is the key to achieving the Goals.  The Welsh approach is working towards meeting seven targets that link back to the Sustainable Development Goals.  Collaborating with various partners is critical.  A well-being for future generations act adopted in 2015 has been described as capturing the essence of two decades of United Nations work and serves as a model for other countries.

Ms. TAULI CORPUZ said indigenous peoples are recognized as a vulnerable group that is neglected.  The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples outlined rights and if implemented, no one would be left behind.  Other policies adopted by the World Bank and other actors address some pertinent issues.  Regarding data gaps, she said indigenous peoples are not even recognized in many countries.  While comprising 5 per cent of the world’s population, they make up 15 per cent of the poor.  She recommended that Governments understand their vast knowledge, including of land management.

Ms. BEALES said leaving no one behind means doing things differently, and older persons must be considered across the Goals.  Many actors are struggling to ensure no one is left out, but discussions during the week show clearly objectives, such as sustainable cities, clean water and other targets, are lacking in progress and financing.  Standards exist and now policies must be made based on them.  Vulnerable communities are not being captured in data sets, leaving out half the world.  Data age cut-offs must be stopped and instruments are needed to examine the data sets with a view to supporting well-being.

Following the discussion, delegates exchanged views and recommendations.

A youth representative of Estonia said young people must be included to achieve the Goals.  As an example of how much youth wanted to be included, she described a voter-awareness project in her country that was widely welcomed by young people.

The representative of the major group for women said challenges, such as gender-based violence and systemic barriers, are keeping women from achieving the Goals.  Making a number of recommendations, she called on Governments to adopt feminist foreign policies and recommended that strategies addressing violence be integrated into each of the Goals and that policies be adopted to ensure that women could own land.

The representative of the major group for persons with disabilities said if people who are disabled are not counted, then they did not count.  Efforts must use recommendations to break down data by age and gender to ensure no one is left behind.  States must strengthen the capacities of organizations representing persons with disabilities so they could play their role in working towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Also participating in the discussion were representatives of Chile, Belgium, Mauritania and Switzerland, and speakers representing civil society groups, the stakeholder group for academia and the major group for business and industry.

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