SDG Knowledge Weekly – 27 November 2017
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While COP 23 endorsed the mainstreaming of gender and climate action, UN Secretary-General António Guterres worked to push forward on gender equality within the Secretariat through the System-wide Strategy on Gender Parity.

The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) announced a global preparatory meeting to support review of SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy).

The 2017 Ibrahim Index of African Governance Report shows that “the continent’s overall governance trajectory remains positive on average, but in recent years has moved at a slower pace”.

While COP 23 was meeting in Bonn, others in the international community authored analyses on trends and challenges for global poverty eradication, and the benefits of gender equality. An event to prepare for the global review of SDG 7 was announced, and other fora and reports examined governance and data in Africa. In addition, the SDG Fund, International Peace Institute and collaborating partners released reports linking SDG 16 and the private sector.

On gender equality (SDG 5), while COP 23 endorsed the mainstreaming of gender and climate action, UN Secretary-General António Guterres worked to push forward on gender equality within the Secretariat through the System-wide Strategy on Gender Parity, following its release in September. The strategy features recommended actions, policy changes and minimum standards to foster an equitable work environment. Devex’s Amy Lieberman reported on an uptick in female leadership within the UN Secretariat under Guterres, who aims to reach gender parity at senior levels by 2021, and across the UN system by 2030. On 25 November, UN Women kicked off 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, which will culminate on Human Rights Day, 10 December 2017.

Gender equality was also a prominent discussion point outside of the UN system, with the Business and Sustainable Development Commission (BSDC) releasing a paper titled, ‘Behind Every Global Goal: Women Leading the World to 2030.’ The paper aims to inspire future female leaders, providing information on the positive impacts of gender-balanced teams, and the impact of women-led initiatives vis-à-vis the SDGs. Looking ahead, and building on the report, BSDC will co-host a webinar with GlobeScan on the theme, ‘Mobilizing Women to Lead on the SDGS,’ on 12 December 2017.

On energy, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) announced a global preparatory meeting to support review of SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy). The meeting, to be held from 10-12 February 2018, in Hong Kong, China, with support from the China Energy Fund Committee, will look at trends and gaps in achievement, means of implementation, and other opportunities for policy makers and stakeholders alike, prior to review of the Goal at the 2018 session of the UN High-level Political Forum (HLPF). The next HLPF, to be held in July 2018, will convene under the theme ‘transition towards sustainable and resilient societies,’ and will conduct an in-depth review of SDGs 6 (clean water and sanitation), 11 (sustainable cities and communities), 12 (responsible consumption and production) and 15 (life on land), in addition to Goal 7. Separately, in relation to the HLPF, DESA released a compilation of Voluntary National Reviews from the 2017 session of the Forum, based on the presentations of 43 governments. The document looks at Goal-by-Goal progress towards the SDGs, noting challenges to and opportunities for accelerating attainment, with particular attention paid to SDGs 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 14 and 17. DESA also issued a synthesis of the VNRs, on 21 November.

On SDG 1 (no poverty), Homi Kharas and Wolfgang Fengler of the Brookings Institution find that “global poverty is declining but not fast enough.” Their analysis builds on the World Poverty Clock launched in May 2017, and shows that although the world is expected to reduce extreme poverty by 38 million people this year, slightly faster than 2016’s 34 million people, this is not enough to eradicate poverty by the 2030 time horizon specified in SDG 1.

A lack of data is the “Achilles heel” of the SDGs, writes Philip Setel.

Another Brookings post looked at Africa’s progress on the SDGs and Agenda 2063. Building on the Africa Sustainable Development Report released in October, Mariama Sow notes that tracking progress remains a challenge in the face of data limitations. Philip Setel of the global health organization Vital Strategies agrees, calling a lack of data “the Achilles heel of the Sustainable Development Goals.”

However, significant data does exist on a range of indicators. The 2017 Ibrahim Index of African Governance Report, launched on 20 November, shows that “the continent’s overall governance trajectory remains positive on average, but in recent years has moved at a slower pace.” The Index, which ranks countries and reports on their rates of progress, tallies data on 100 indicators spanning safety and rule of law, participation and human rights, sustainable economic opportunity, and human development. A summary of the findings by Sara Jerving is available on Devex. In related news, the 7th edition of the North Africa Development Forum (NADF) convened 21-22 November 2017, in Rabat, Morocco, under the theme, ‘Governance, Structural Transformation and Sustainable Inclusive Development.’ Organized by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) the Forum aimed to produce recommendations that will accelerate implementation of the 2030 and 2063 Agendas, as noted by the Aide Memoire.

On the broader governance front, the SDG Fund, in collaboration with its Private Sector Advisory Group, the University of Pennsylvania Law School and law firm McDermott Will & Emery, released the paper titled, ‘Business and SDG 16: Contributing to peaceful, just and inclusive societies.’ As noted on the SDG Knowledge Hub, the report serves as a guide for sharing best practices on how private sector actors can support progress towards Goal 16, integrating its targets into business planning. Rangita de Silva de Alwis also offers a summary on IPS News. A related report titled, ‘A New Way of Doing Business: Partnering for sustainable development and peace,’ was released in September 2017, by the International Peace Institute (IPI) in collaboration with the SDG Fund and Concordia. IPI makes recommendations for the private sector, UN system and governments, noting that there is an inherent need to go beyond the typical “do no harm” approach, that building trust with local communities is crucial and outlining ways to “unlock the trillions” needed to achieve the SDGs. The two reports complement a recent launch by the UN Secretary-General titled, ‘Enhanced cooperation between the UN and all relevant partners, in particular the private sector.’ Stay tuned for more on finance in next week’s brief!


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