UN@70: Human Rights at Centre of Global Agenda - Panel 1

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13-Jul-2016 02:57:21
Make Sustainable Development Goals relevant to citizens, speakers tell High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, as discussions centre on reaching successful 2030 agenda results.

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National-level implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development must be country owned and context specific, with its goals closely linked to national values and priorities, stressed speakers as the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development entered its third day.

The Forum held four panels exploring early national implementation efforts as well as future plans, with panellists and other participants pinpointing examples of good practices and identifying challenges. The panels’ themes were “Creating ownership at the national level”, “Mainstreaming Sustainable Development Goals into national policies, plans and strategies and integrating the three dimensions of sustainable development”, “Vertical cooperation: Local authorities and national Governments working together for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda”, and “Challenges in mobilizing means of implementation at the national level (financing, technology, capacity-building)”.

“We need to begin by making the Sustainable Development Goals relevant and as close to our countries and people as possible,” said Stine Lise Hattestad Bratsberg, Chief Executive Officer of PURE Consulting, who served as a lead discussant. While many countries had made early strides, there was still much work to do in implementing the 2030 Agenda, she said, including raising public awareness of that collective journey.

The notion of public support and the importance of including diverse stakeholders in the implementation process were echoed by a number of speakers throughout the day. Adolfo Ayuso, Deputy Director General for International Affairs in the Office of the President of Mexico, said that his Government had worked to get the message out about the 2030 Agenda to ensure that people understood its purpose and objectives, particularly at the local level. The ability to achieve national ownership would be directly related to the ability to understand the new development framework. There must also be a willingness to participate in implementing the 2030 Agenda through the recognition that it was not only about rights, but also obligations.

Along similar lines, many speakers stressed the need to avoid imposing a “one-size-fits-all” approach on countries as they worked to implement the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. Indeed, some said, while those targets were universal in nature, they must be balanced with national priorities and achieved in ways that made sense on the ground.

Underscoring the importance of striking that balance was Louis Meuleman, Senior Fellow at the University of Massachusetts Boston and Wageningen University, Netherlands. He emphasized that creating national ownership of the 2030 Agenda would only be possible if the Sustainable Development Goals appealed to what people knew, understood and found logical. One could not create ownership by telling stakeholders to forget everything they believed in. Balancing the universal goals with national values and traditions would be vital, he said, stressing that external blueprints — including so-called best practices — should not be applied.

Wardarina Thaib, Programme Officer from the Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development and Co-Chair of the Asia Pacific Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism, who also represented the major group for women, described promising early implementation efforts taking place across the region. However, there were also many warning signs that the 2030 Agenda’s ambitions would be undermined, including failures to address systemic exclusion and to involve civil society in development planning. Larger and more far-reaching trade treaties had been agreed upon, States were engaging in proxy wars and land-grabbing and there were increasing attacks on human rights defenders, she said.

Along with challenges, panellists also discussed a number of solutions. Joseph Enyimu, economist at the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development of Uganda, emphasized that the 2030 Agenda’s implementation would require mature institutions within countries and adequate policy space. Fiscal discipline would be critical, as funds for the various dimensions of sustainable development often came from the same source and the international community must rally around country-led statistical development.

The Forum will meet again at 10 a.m. Thursday, 14 July, to continue its session.

Panel I

The first panel, titled “Creating ownership at the national level”, was moderated by Jessica Espey, Associate Director of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. It featured Yonglong Lu, professor at State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Louis Meuleman, senior fellow at the University of Massachusetts Boston and Wageningen University, Netherlands. The lead discussants were Annika Lindblom, Counsellor to the Ministry of the Environment of Finland; Ivane Shamugia, Head of the Donor Coordination Unit, Administration of the Government of Georgia; Adolfo Ayuso, Deputy Director General for International Affairs in the Office of the President of Mexico; and Gomer Padong, Development Cooperation and Advocacy Director of the Philippine Social Enterprise Network.
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