Civil Society Groups Call for Immediate Action to Bolster Progress on Economic, Social, Environmental Fronts
Success of the Sustainable Development Goals for post-conflict countries will be largely uneven as their societies continue to grapple with violence, economic turbulence and mass displacement, speakers said today, as the Economic and Social Council concluded its high-level segment.
Delegates stressed that as armed conflict spreads around the globe, their countries are plagued with multitude compounding challenges that prevent their Governments from focusing fully on realizing the 2030 Agenda. Extreme poverty only made worse by war, the destruction of vital infrastructure, and an erosion of social welfare, are just some of the obstacles to development.
Afghanistan’s representative said his country is not only least developed, landlocked, and in post-conflict, it is constantly combating terrorism. “This evil phenomenon takes its toll on our people, resources and infrastructure on a daily basis,” he stressed. Development has been stifled by a mass displacement crisis, with 1.1 million Afghans internally unsettled and 1.7 million Afghan refugees from neighbouring countries attempting to return.
Sudan’s delegate said his country’s main obstacle to sustainable development is extreme poverty. A least developed country, Sudan faces severe infrastructure problems, a complicated post-conflict reality and economic insecurity. He urged wealthy countries to help least developed ones ensure that no one is left behind.
Syria’s delegate said his country’s unique circumstances entitle it to special benefits under the terms of the 2030 Agenda. Yet it continues to struggle under the unilateral coercive measures imposed by other nations — which amount to economic terrorism.
Other speakers, particularly from Latin America and the Caribbean, said middle-income countries deserve extra attention, with Costa Rica’s representative calling on the international development system to look beyond the income classifier as the only way to measure progress. “The world needs a more realistic and holistic view of assessing progress,” he reaffirmed.
Chile’s representative also drew attention to the challenges faced by that region, particularly middle-income countries, as he described the 2030 Agenda as a prime opportunity to advance the development of all social groups.
United Nations agencies spotlighted their work as well, with the representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) cautioning that for three consecutive years, global hunger has risen, and calling on Member States to take bold steps to end it.
The representative of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said it is time to do away with the stigma and intimidation that continues to push back people living with HIV. Countries must remove punitive laws, such as HIV-related travel restrictions and criminalization of same-sex sexual relations.
Civil society also joined the discussion, with dozens of organizations spotlighting their work, from delivering books to Africa to ensuring that cities have the data they need to carry out the 2030 Agenda. The speaker from Books2Africa said providing students and teachers in Africa access to quality education materials empowers whole communities. The speaker from the United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation meanwhile cited money-laundering, abuse of power and financing of terrorism as among the threats to global security.
On that point, the speaker from World Forum for Ethics in Business pressed business leaders to come forward to reinforce the message that “you can still be prosperous without resorting to unethical means”. Business is an expression of creativity in resolving real world challenges.
Council President Inga Rhonda King (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), in closing remarks, said many of the solutions have been identified during the last two weeks. “But we are still a bit uncertain about how exactly we can achieve some of the in-depth goals,” she emphasized. “We need more reflection and change.” To realize the 2030 Agenda, Governments must reinvent themselves by responding swiftly to urgent trends while keeping their compass on the long-term solutions. “We need Governments that listen to the people more,” she said, underscoring the need to engage the poorest and most vulnerable.
Also speaking today were representatives of Peru, Thailand, Barbados, El Salvador, Nigeria, Liechtenstein, Guyana, Saudi Arabia, North Macedonia, Madagascar, Croatia, Myanmar, Kazakhstan and Iceland, as well as United Nations agencies and numerous members of civil society.
NÉSTOR POPOLIZIO BARDALES, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Peru, said the September Sustainable Development Goals Summit will provide an opportunity to spotlight successes and challenges made by States in implementing the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals. Among other things, he said, Peru has prioritized expanding access to fair, inclusive development and social well-being. Recalling that a broad national dialogue led to the adoption of Peru’s Vision 2050, which is fully consistent with the global Goals, he outlined efforts to improve gender equality and protect women from all kinds of violence. In addition, he said, the Government is working to combat corruption and to build a fair, sustainable, resilient green economy which generates environmentally responsible jobs. In line with its commitment to multilateralism, Peru will host and co-chair several United Nations conferences in those critical areas, he said.
THANI THONGPHAKDI (Thailand) said the 20-year national strategy seeks to empower people and ensure their inclusion in social, economic and political activities. Guided by its “Sufficient Economy Philosophy”, he said Thailand provides 15 years of basic education to every child and basic supplemental income to the poor. The national education plan (2017-2036) promotes early childhood education, while the Equitable Education Fund has supported more than 500,000 young people to date. Meanwhile, he said, the Safety Thailand programme supports workers’ health and safety, while Smart Job Centres help people find employment. Stressing that public-private partnerships have been the key to those successes, he outlined Thailand’s efforts in reforestation; reducing inequalities between urban and rural areas; and collaborating with regional and international partners.
ELIZABETH THOMPSON (Barbados), associating with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), described her country’s pursuit of both a green and blue economy. Barbados has integrated the Goals into all is national development planning, engaging the private sector and civil society in those efforts. Given the unique vulnerabilities of small island developing States such as Barbados, outlined in the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway, she urged the international community to move past mere conversations around the Paris Agreement on climate change and to instead fully implement that accord and the Samoa Pathway. Indeed, the 2030 Agenda requires all Member States to promote long-term, inclusive and equitable growth delinked from carbon; create greater opportunities for all; reduce inequalities; raise living standards; create an enabling architecture and financing mechanism for small island developing States; and sustainably manage natural resources. “Let us together resolve to strengthen the multilateral system towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals along with the dismantling of existing roadblocks which create systemic poverty and economic inequalities, including the disproportionate power of some countries to determine the fate and fortune of others,” she stressed.
MILENKO ESTEBAN SKOKNIC TAPIA (Chile) said his Government presented its second voluntary national review this year, adding that implementing the 2030 Agenda is a major State priority. The Government supports the private sector and civil society in jointly seeking solutions to socio-economic problems. In the area of climate change, Chile is focused on oceans, renewable energy, ecosystems and forests. The tasks and commitments under the 2030 Agenda are broad, but many countries continue to work together in efforts to achieve specific aspects of them. He drew particular attention to the challenges faced by the Latin America and Caribbean region, including middle-income countries, stressing that the 2030 Agenda is a prime opportunity to advance development for all social groups.
RODRIGO A. CARAZO (Costa Rica), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, the LGBTI Core Group, the Group of Older Persons, and the Like-minded Group of Supporters of Middle-Income Countries, said that as a high-middle-income country, Costa Rica has particular challenges in achieving the 2030 Agenda. He called for looking beyond the income classifier as the only way to measure development, stressing that the world needs a more realistic and holistic view of assessing progress. Costa Rica, and the wider Latin America region, are dealing with structural inequalities that affect various aspects of society. Focused on distribution, particularly related to jobs and access to quality education, Costa Rica has also prioritized environmental conservation and will continue to seek a just, equal world.
HÉCTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, the Like-minded Group of Supporters of Middle-Income Countries and the LGBTI Core Group, said his country has taken measures to turn the 2030 Agenda into a reality. If the international community continues its current pace, however, many of the targets will not be achieved. Efforts to mobilize financing for achieving the Goals are insufficient, he said, underscoring the need to establish close alliances among Member States to advance the 2030 Agenda. He further expressed concern that many countries lack the data and information necessary to achieve the 2030 Agenda. The next cycle of the High-level Political Forum should take a holistic approach to all Sustainable Development Goals.
YAHAYA HAMZA (Nigeria), noting concerns about the slow progress on the Sustainable Development Goals in sub-Saharan Africa, said his country has developed a national accountability institutional framework for enhanced coordination to mainstream the 2030 Agenda objectives nationwide. In addition, medium- and long-term budgeting frameworks are aligned with the 2030 Agenda, committees in the national legislature provide oversight on its implementation, and a repositioned education sector is preparing citizens to cope with evolving techno-economic and labour market requirements. Nigeria is also committed to addressing climate change. Calling for the enhancement of official development assistance (ODA), debt relief, technology transfer and private sector involvement, he drew attention to the negative impact of illicit financial flows on States’ ability to retain and use the benefits of explorations and economic activities, saying this challenge must be addressed.
BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria), associating himself with the Group of 77, recalled that his country completed its first report on sustainable development in April. The report outlines Syria’s various development projects, undertaken as part of its efforts to recover from the long counter-terrorist war it has experienced. Emphasizing that Syria’s unique circumstances entitle it to special benefits under the terms of the 2030 Agenda, he expressed deep concern that, instead, the country continues to struggle under the unilateral coercive measures imposed by other nations — which amount to economic terrorism. In that context, he voiced concern that the world continues to see slow progress on the Sustainable Development Goals, as wars and conflict around the globe accelerate.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein), noting that his country is celebrating its 300th anniversary in 2019, underlined its long-standing commitment to multilateralism. Having just submitted its first voluntary national review with the participation of civil society and youth delegates, he said the rule of law is a common thread running through all the Goals. Advances in access to justice remain uneven around the world, and corruption persists, contributing to violence and instability. Noting that women and girls face particular challenges in those areas, he said Goal 5 (gender equality) also remains critical. Outlining some of Liechtenstein’s strides in that arena, he nevertheless noted that women still suffer from a wage gap, are five times less likely to hold management positions than men and remain underrepresented in national politics.
DAWN HASTINGS-WILLIAMS, Minister for State of Guyana, described her country’s Green State Development Strategy, also known as Vision 2040. The plan is aligned with the 2030 Agenda and other international frameworks, including the Paris Agreement, the Samoa Pathway and others. Noting that the strategy will facilitate Guyana’s transition to a green, more inclusive and prosperous nation, she said preparations of the country’s first voluntary national review helped to distil several important lessons. First, it underscored the need to address the population’s different realities, including by removing barriers to access based on geographic location. It also revealed the need to invest more in the provision of basic services — including clean water, access to modern renewable energy, quality health care, connectivity and education. She also outlined Guyana’s efforts to address social inequality, especially among women, youth and at-risk communities.
ABDALLAH Y. AL-MOUALLIMI (Saudi Arabia) said his country’s national plan aligns with the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals. At the economic level, Saudi Arabia is creating jobs through strategic initiatives and ranks seventh globally for efficient Government spending. Concerning the environment, Saudi Arabia continues to step up efforts to deal with climate change and implement the Paris Agreement, and more broadly, continues to enhance quality of life. In order to ensure inclusiveness and gender parity, Saudi Arabia established a new system of residence permits for non-Saudis. It is also focused on improving the education system.
MOHAMMAD W. NAEEMI (Afghanistan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said his country is a least developed, landlocked developing, and post-conflict situation country, where terrorism and violent extremism persist. “This evil phenomenon takes its toll on our people, resources and infrastructure on a daily basis,” he said. Almost 1.1 million Afghans are internally displaced, and the return of 1.7 million Afghan refugees from neighbouring countries has added pressure on the economy, institutions and welfare of communities. Given that reality, success of the Sustainable Development Goals will be largely uneven, and progress will be hampered by all these challenges.
MURTADA HASSAN ABUOBEIDA SHARIF (Sudan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, the African Group and the Group of least developed countries, said poverty is the main obstacle to fulfilling the 2030 Agenda. Sudan has set up the mechanisms aimed at achieving sustainable development and integrated the 2030 Agenda into its national strategy. Having submitted its first voluntary national review in 2018, it will submit its second report next year. As a least developed country, Sudan faces severe infrastructure problems and is in a post-conflict reality. Economic turbulence has hampered the Government’s ability to address these challenges, he said, calling for international assistance to help least developed countries achieve the 2030 Agenda.
SANJA ZOGRAFSKA KRSTESKA (North Macedonia) said her country’s wide-ranging legislative and institutional reforms are consistent with the main goal of Agenda 2030 to leave no one behind. For example, a new law bolsters access to human rights and fundamental freedoms by expanding anti-discrimination protections. North Macedonia has also implemented gender-responsive budgeting and protections for persons with disabilities and is working to boost employment and decent jobs — especially for young people. That will be accomplished through digital skills training and support for young entrepreneurs. Noting that the country is combining its sustainable development efforts with its European Union accession programme, she outlined progress on climate change mitigation.
HANTASOA FIDA CYRILLE KLEIN (Madagascar) said her country has identified 64 priority targets and more than 80 crucial indicators on which to focus its national sustainable development efforts. That work is enshrined in the overarching Madagascar Emergence Plan, she said, adding that the Government is committed to reducing greenhouse gases, promoting renewable energy and rural electrification, protecting the rights of women, expanding access to health care, bolstering decent work and improving education. To update its statistical data, a new census — launched in 2018 — is now being finalized, she said.
VLADIMIR DROBNJAK (Croatia), noting his country’s first national voluntary review submission, said a national development strategy will be adopted in 2020, integrating priorities and contributing to sustainable development. Highlighting Croatia’s achievements on several Sustainable Development Goals, he said the education system is undergoing curriculum reform and digitalization. At the same time, active employment policy measures were redefined in 2018 to adapt to the labour market, and reforms are taking a regional approach to support job creation and economic growth. Among the three countries the European Environment Agency declared as having the highest share of damages from extreme weather and climate events in relation to gross domestic product (GDP), Croatia is adopting a low-carbon development strategy. Judicial reform has seen the number of unresolved cases in the courts drop to 407,062 in 2018 from 1,650,000 in 2004. Croatia is also combating discrimination and human trafficking, and protecting and promoting the rights of national minorities.
PATRIZIO M. CIVILI, Permanent Observer for the International Development Law Organization, said the session’s theme encapsulates the essential features of his group’s work and provides an exceptional opportunity for imparting lessons learned at the country level. The International Development Law Organization can advance an integrated view of the values underpinning Goal 16 (peace, justice, strong institutions) to help to ensure meaningful political commitment to its implementation. Along with the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, his group held a conference on Goal 16, bringing together representatives from Government, the judiciary and civil society, engaging in a “whole-of-society” approach to national dialogue.
ROBIN IAIN OGILVY, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), said that given the current uncertain economic landscape, efforts have been redoubled to share expertise, data and tools with the international community. For instance, OECD partnered with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to provide tax audit advice to more than 30 developing countries. In the area of education, it has worked with developing countries to adapt the international standard for measuring the quality of learning. However, the recent decline in ODA is of particular concern, he said, adding that OECD will continue to push for more and better development cooperation, as it is among the many enablers for realizing the Sustainable Development Goals.
FRANCISCO GONZÁLEZ DE LENA, Secretary-General of the International Association of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions (AICESIS), said his group serves as a global platform for national councils to share their views on such issues as the risks and opportunities of technological change. While digitalization provides new opportunities, it also risks excluding people and countries around the world, he warned, pledging to continue to work with the Economic and Social Council and other partner organizations on those issues.
GABRIELA CUEVAS BARRON, President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, underlined the need to end exclusion. Parliamentarians and lawmakers, including the 179 members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, are critical players in those efforts. Stressing that every law enacted around the globe should seek to leave no one behind, she called for adequate representation and said parliamentarians — closest to those on the ground — have deep knowledge of the needs of the people they serve.
HMWAY HMWAY KHYNE (Myanmar) said her country is determined to facilitate balanced sustainable development. Sustainability in all its forms will be embraced in Myanmar’s national development plans, she said, underlining that education is a main enabler of such efforts. Free, compulsory primary education and free secondary education are available to all children, and the Government is promoting responsible investment to bolster inclusive, equitable economic growth. Outlining Myanmar’s recently launched climate policy, she said the Government is also strengthening institutions and the rule of law and working to end the fraternal strife that has plagued Myanmar for decades. Over the last four years, strides have been made on several goals and targets; however, such progress remains slow.
CHARLOTTE LINDBERG WARAKAULLE, European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), said quality science, technology, engineering and mathematics education is critical to prepare the workforce for tomorrow, underscoring the need for investment in those disciplines. Disruption breakthroughs mostly come from much-needed fundamental research in health and climate change.
DAVID CHADWICK O’CONNOR, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), said nature is in crisis. “Much of our web of life is disappearing at rates unseen in history,” he said, warning about the significant repercussions not only for nature but for people. Nature touches on all Sustainable Development Goals, he emphasized, adding that 2020 will be a watershed moment for biodiversity.
ABDULLAH MOHAMMED H. ALZABIDY, League of Arab States, said the Arab countries have focused on the voluntary national reviews, which outline various challenges. He called for intensified efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda, emphasizing the importance of creating peace in the Middle East and establishing a Palestinian State.
KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan) said his country presented its voluntary national review this year, which outlined progress in meeting the Goals. Kazakhstan continues to modernize its institutional systems and fight poverty. “We must move much further and much faster,” he said. Faster implementation of the Goals requires effective international cooperation at all levels, notably at the regional level. He underscored the importance of working with the United Nations, welcoming the establishment of a United Nations Office in Almaty focused on sustainable development and developing the Central Asia region.
SESSELJA SIGURDADOTTIR (Iceland) said gender equality is a perfect example of a Sustainable Development Goal accelerator, noting that for 10 consecutive years, Iceland has led most global indices on gender equality. New equal pay legislation makes Iceland the first country to require employers to certify that they pay men and women equally. It has also seen positive effects from its parental leave programme with a dedicated share for fathers. She went on to note that sustainable land management fosters food security and plays a major role in the fight against climate and poverty. Noting that Iceland has aims to become carbon neutral by 2040, she said its main focus is on providing cleaner transportation and ensuring better land use.
MARIO CASTRO GRANDE, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), said 193 Governments and hundreds of private-sector organizations and academic institutions contribute to his organization’s work in such areas as energy, climate change, agriculture, block chain, smart and sustainable cities, trust, privacy, child online protection, e-waste and others. One of ITU’s main goals is to ensure safe and inclusive digitalization, he said, calling for more investments in those areas and noting that inequality anywhere is a threat to equality everywhere.
VINICIUS CARVALHO PINHEIRO, International Labour Organization (ILO), said this year’s review of Goal 8 (decent work, economic growth) reveals that the world is off track in that crucial arena. While global employment has finally recovered following the 2008 financial crisis, unemployment rates remain unacceptably high and reflect serious inequalities. Meanwhile, millions of children around the globe still work in hazardous conditions. The future of work calls for a human-centred approach to labour and respect for the environment, he said.
SYLVIA HORDOSCH, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (UN-Women), said women and girls continue to undertake a disproportionate share of unpaid care work and suffer from discrimination around the world. Labour policies must be non-discriminatory and work in tandem with human rights, she said, calling for gender-responsible responses to climate change, as well as progressive taxation and a strengthened gender perspective in countries’ voluntary national reviews.
ASHRAF ELNOUR MUSTAFA MOHAMED NOUR, International Organization for Migration (IOM), underlined the importance of aligning the 2030 Agenda with the pillars of the 2018 Global Compact for Safe, Orderly Migration. Noting that migration is explicitly linked to sustainable development, he outlined its relevance to the various Goals and called on Member States to include the topic in their national development strategies and their voluntary national reviews.
PAUL MASELI, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), said the agency is mandated to pursue sustainable, inclusive industrialization. Noting that without industrialization the Sustainable Development Goals — with their focus on value addition, economic diversification and economic growth — cannot be achieved, he spotlighted the link between industrialization and education, skills training, entrepreneurship, climate action and resource efficiency.
HUW BEYNON, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, said “we won’t achieve the Sustainable Development Goals if we don’t reduce disaster and climate risk”, notably fuelled by economic policies. Recalling that the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction offers a global policy blueprint for building resilience, he said progress has been made in reducing disaster-related mortality and damage to critical infrastructure. However, the targets to reduce the number of people affected by disasters and the amount of related economic losses are “far off track”. National and local risk reduction strategies must be developed by 2020 and aligned with national development and financing frameworks for achieving the Goals.
CARLA MUCAVI, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said threats posed by global warming and inequality call for the global community to act. She expressed concern that, for three consecutive years, global hunger has been on the rise, calling for scaled-up, bold actions to end hunger in all its forms.
MARINE DAVTYAN, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), said stigma and intimidation continue to push back people living with HIV and other key populations. She stressed the need to remove the most acute forms of discrimination — punitive laws, such as HIV-related travel restrictions and criminalization of same-sex sexual relations.
KELLY L. RAZZOUK, International Rescue Committee (IRC), called for action in three areas, first saying the Political Declaration must acknowledge that refugees and internally displaced persons are among those being left behind. In addition, all Member States must explicitly include refugees in national development plans and in national voluntary reviews. Finally, the Global Compact follow-up mechanism must also include the Sustainable Development Goals’ targets and measures for these populations.
Ms. DEWI, representative of the women’s major group, said women’s rights continue to be violated. Colonialism and unbridled neoliberalism foster massive poverty, block progress towards sustainable development and perpetuate patriarchy. She underscored the need to move away from military expansionism and hold Governments and corporations accountable.
LUZ MARÍA UTRERA, founder of the Luz María Foundation, said her group works with the United Nations, the New York Mayor’s Office and other organizations to create safe spaces for women affected by domestic violence. Crucial changes for achieving the 2030 Agenda involve economically supporting women in developing societies to prevent forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking.
MWINJI NACHINGA, representative of the major group for children and youth, said tackling growing inequalities hinges on restructuring economic models. Providing a range of examples on how to make progress in this area, she recommended paying interns and guaranteeing equal pay for equal work, providing universal social protection floors and ensuring the equal provision of public services across the urban-rural continuum. Further, efforts must aim at lowering the minimum age for voting and running for office and at addressing systematic barriers to progress in tackling the climate crisis, shrinking civic space, global debt, corruption and conflict.
SRI H. SOFJAN, Huairou Commission, said her group works with women at the grass-roots level, connecting 53 countries and 167 organizations. They represent a critical constituency in development and must be recognized as major actors in governance, she said, calling for decentralizing development financing to place more funds into the hands of grass-roots organizations and for Governments to recognize their leadership roles in community development.
CAMILLE MADIZ, representative of the major group for non-governmental organizations, called on Member States to take concrete, urgent action in justly and adequately financing the Sustainable Development Goals. They should do so by strengthening domestic resource mobilization through progressive taxation, ending subsidies to harmful industries, and ending tax evasion and illicit financial flows. Industrialized countries should guarantee international development assistance to developing countries. She also called on Member States to implement the Goals through a binding human rights framework and prioritize peace as a pathway to securing progress towards realizing the 2030 Agenda.
ROUGUIATOU KA, Brooke Action for Working Horses and Donkeys, said more than 600 million people around the world rely on working animals for their livelihoods. The ownership of horses and mules can constitute an important source of wealth for people in many countries. In that context, she called for Sustainable Development Goal 15 (life on land) to be expanded to include working animals, which would help people achieve a range of development targets.
ERICA DHAR, representative of the stakeholder group on ageing, said Governments must challenge age discrimination and establish who is being left behind. He called on Member States to adopt a life course approach to public policies aligning them to human rights principles, to ensure effective national institutions, social protection measures and basic services for all, eliminate discriminatory laws and practices, ban age restrictions in access to financial services and remove age caps from international surveys.
Mr. STYERS, Saudi Green Building Forum, said his organization is Saudi Arabia’s first non-governmental organization and national professional organization to earn consultative status with the Economic and Social Council. Its aims include green building and sustainable development for the benefits of safety, good health and environmental conservation. Stressing that transformation changes are crucial to achieving the targets enshrined in the 2030 Agenda, he underlined the need to raise awareness about green practices among officials, investors and citizens. “Closing the gap of ignorance” will promote welfare and happiness, he said, outlining his group’s various efforts in that regard. Among other things, he stressed, United Nations agencies in the Arab region are reluctant to cooperate with non-governmental organizations, and that must change.
RILLI LAPPALAINEN, representative for the education and academia stakeholder group, underlined the importance of Sustainable Development Goal 4 (quality education) for achieving all the other Goals. Noting that a lack of sufficient resource allocation has given rise to increasing privatization of education services in some countries — with for-profit actors taking advantage of the resulting gaps — he warned that conflicts and instability hamper educational activities in some regions, while education remains inequitable and underfunded in others.
SANGIN PARK, Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice, said her group’s priority concerns the reform of chaebol, a conglomerate owned by a single family that has dominated the Korean economy making fair competition no longer viable. Without reform, the Republic of Korea may encounter another economic crisis similar to that of 1997, but with reform, the economy would become fair and sustainable, while society would become inclusive. It is clear that the citizens must make a difference once again, she said.
The representative for the volunteers stakeholder group said that with more than 1 billion volunteers worldwide, volunteering thrives when supported politically and financially with legislation, policies and partnerships. Member States should formally recognize the contribution of volunteering to the 2030 Agenda, ensure volunteer groups are supported in national plans, support the participation of non-governmental organizations in 2030 Agenda follow-up and review processes, and ensure community consultations at all levels is involved in accountability, transparency and review frameworks.
JAYESH JOSHI, VAAGDHARA, said Governments should take care not to affect tribal culture and traditions when developing related policies, programmes and projects, which should, in turn, focus on strengthening and reviving indigenous seeds of the community and on providing funding for traditional farming. In addition, budget allocations should be made for tribal development.
Ms. ADAMS, representative of the Sendai stakeholders mechanism, said the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction provides invaluable guidance. As such, he recommended several actions to strengthen resilience, including recognizing the needs and priorities of those most at risk through disaggregated data. He also suggested empowering and learning from those most at risk, bolstering resilience from the perspective of those most at risk by taking a holistic, cross-sector and integrated approach to the Sustainable Development Goals, and to decentralize and localize resource allocation.
OWAIS ASLAM ALI, Global Forum for Media Development, said civic space is shrinking in many countries and could lead to less effective, accountable and transparent institutions. Calling on Member States to expedite access to information and laws and ensure the safety of journalists, he outlined ways to do so, starting by immediately and unconditionally releasing all journalists imprisoned for their work. States must also commit to the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists, refrain from targeting and denigrating media workers and reinforcing recognition of the importance of media for achieving all the Sustainable Development Goals.
LUA STABILE, LGBTI stakeholder group, said it is in States’ interests to tap into the human potential, expertise, partnership, diverse capacities and ideas of all people who make up their societies. States should remove structural barriers that exclude people from contributing to peaceful societies and sustainable development. Data is needed to identify policy and programme gaps, she said, adding that without good, timely, disaggregated data, “we will not achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Ms. STABILE, International Real Estate Federation, said her group is devising a tool that will inform people about how well their cities are progressing in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. It is also collecting data on and finding ways to promote affordable housing.
SILVANA CAPPUCCIO, Italian General Confederation of Labour, said the Italian experience demonstrates that collective negotiation is a powerful tool to fight inequality. Describing the system of negotiations between the Italian trade workers’ unions and public institutions, she said the former represent general interests, not only those of their members. Examples of negotiations — known as “contrattazione sociales” — include demands over local taxation, tariffs, transport, budgetary constraints and participatory processes.
MARJORIE THÉODORE, President and Director General of Vues et Voix, said all books, culture and information must be accessible to all people. Audio books are an accessible format for everyone, she recalled, highlighting the need to support organizations and institutions that work to remove obstacles for people with disabilities. She called on Member States to work with stakeholders to ensure that audio books are available for everyone.
EUGENIA RUSSIAN, Fundacion Latinoamericana por Los Dereches Humanos Y el Desarrollo Social, said patients in Venezuela are at high risk due to the blockade imposed by the United States. If it were not for that siege, people could be treated effectively, she said, recounting the story of a patient who could not receive a bone transplant because of that obstacle.
SUDHANGSHU KARMAKAR, International Committee for Peace and Reconciliation, said inequality can engender tension, conflict and war around the globe. In many countries, people work for little or no pay, paralysed by debt burdens, discrimination or forced or early marriage. While such phenomena can be called by many names, it constitutes modern-day slavery, he said, drawing attention to the fact that the world’s 26 richest people own as much wealth as the poorest 50 per cent.
TOH SWEE-HIN, President of the World Council for Curriculum & Instruction, said that given today’s global challenges and contradictions, the role of education in raising critical understanding of the causes of conflicts is indispensable. Leaders of all generations will be empowered to engage in personal and social action for transforming cultures of violence into a holistic culture of peace, he said, recalling that nearly 50 years ago, a small group of educators launched the World Council for Curriculum and Instruction as a transnational educational organization committed to building a just, peaceful and sustainable world community.
The representative of First Modern Agro. Tools - Common Initiative Group (FI.MO.AT.C.I.G) said a genocide is currently taking place in the Anglophone areas of Cameroon. Recalling that, following the 1994 Rwanda genocide, countries decided that it would be their responsibility to prevent such crimes, she urged the United Nations to deploy a fact-finding mission to Cameroon to document and stop the genocide. Citing a lack of political will on the part of that country’s leaders, she urged the international community to hold those responsible to account.
GRACIELA R. YANOVSKY, Fundación Argentina a las Naciones Camino a la Verdad, emphasized that countries must commit to respecting their cultural differences and building pluralistic societies. The United Nations, meanwhile, should value complementarity and empower people to achieve the 2030 Agenda. It is the moral and ethical responsibility of States to protect their people, she stressed.
RUDOLF BUHLER, Bauerliche, said prevailing agricultural systems in industrialized Western economies are not sustainable due to their intensive reliance on pesticides, artificial fertilizers and genetically modified organisms. Calling for a shift in those policies, he said that to fulfil Goal 13 (climate action), broad agrarian change will be needed that fosters more organic farming, avoids pesticides, reduces biodiversity loss, strengthens farming communities and taxes the external effect of pollution, among other things.
Ms. ABDELMONSEF, MAAT for Peace, Development and Human Rights, noted the various challenges faced by African countries and underscored the need to unite African positions against countries that support terrorism. She also emphasized the important role of democratic institutions in attaining sustainable development.
EYA ESSIF, Secretary-General of the United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation, citing money-laundering, abuse of power and financing of terrorism as among the threats to global security, asked how the world can accept societies where young entrepreneurs are struggling to thrive. The United Nations must act to counter devastating social conditions, particularly in least developed countries, she said, calling for viable policies to achieve sustainable development.
OHAD SHEM-TOV, Pirate Parties International, said his organization promotes grass-roots activism to combat social injustice in digital environments. Urging global collaboration to reform Government institutions and engage ordinary people in those matters, he said oppression takes many forms — including crowd control via surveillance and terror. “We must enforce transparency and accountability to expose corruption and misconduct,” he stressed, adding that the Internet “is the perfect tool for this”. In addition, inequality will continue to be the norm if societies allow rigged electoral systems that represent the wealthy “to call themselves democratic”.
JENNIFER JUN, SIWI, drew attention to the close links between water and insecurity. Water is an enabler and a power supplier to all the Sustainable Development Goals, she said, stressing that a focus on water can help deliver on all other global commitments. Water can also change behaviour, representing a paradigm shift. For example, access to safe water close to home can liberate women and girls from their daily water chores, allowing them to become educated and empowered; meanwhile, water can serve as an entry point to dialogue between conflict parties, bolstering peace and diplomacy.
NICOLE FALCO, Books2Africa, expressed concern that 90 per cent of children who go to school in Africa cannot read or write after graduating partly because they lack books. Therefore, providing students and teachers in Africa access to quality educational materials such as books empowers whole communities. Availability of books also improves the learning environment of students and gives both past and present students from different socioeconomic backgrounds equal access to learning materials that will help them to prepare for national exams.
Ms. DIAMBI, African Views Organization, said it is crucial to reflect the traditions of ancient Africa in today’s world. While the continent has a governance structure inherited from colonial days, traditional cultural knowledge is still present. In that context, she pressed the United Nations to assist African Governments — and traditional governance systems at the local level — in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.
NEIL SHAH, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, said a more equitable land tenure system would help to foster development, reduce inequalities and better govern natural resources. According to World Bank, he said, 70 per cent of land in the developing world is unregistered. Meanwhile, every year millions of vulnerable people are displaced by development projects. In that context, he said, due diligence standards are urgently needed to guide the work of developers.
AJAY TEJASVI NARASIMHAN, World Forum for Ethics in Business, said business is an expression of creativity in resolving real world challenges. Noting that a business idea becomes successful when it serves a genuine need, he stressed: “Business leaders must come forward to reinforce the message that you can still be prosperous without resorting to unethical means.” The World Forum for Business Ethics reflect four pillars – namely politics, media, business and faith-based organizations – and collaborates with the broader social interest in mind, he said.