Australia Delivers VNR, Holds Senate Inquiry on SDG Implementation
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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At the domestic launch of Australia’s VNR, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop highlighted SDG 5 (gender equality), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 14 (life below water) and SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) as being of particular importance to Australia.

She launched the Australian SDGs Website developed by the Global Compact Network Australia, which showcases sustainable development initiatives by government and allows for stakeholders to upload case studies of their SDG-related work.

Australia is currently holding a Senate inquiry on the SDGs, which is inviting contributions from all concerned.

11 July 2018: Australia launched its first report on implementing the SDGs, initially to a domestic audience and then to the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in New York, US. Commentators note that the SDG Index, a global ranking, shows Australia is performing well on health, education and well-being, but is doing poorly on environmental goals, and ranks lowest in the world on climate action. Australia is currently holding a Senate inquiry into actions for promoting SDG implementation domestically and through its aid programme.

At the domestic launch of Australia’s Voluntary National Review (VNR) in Sydney on 15 June, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, highlighted SDG 5 (gender equality), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 14 (life below water) and SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) as being of particular importance to Australia. She drew attention to Australia’s contribution to establishing SDG 5 as a stand-alone goal in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, its role as custodian of the Great Barrier Reef, and its status as an island continent and part of the Pacific Ocean. She launched the Australian SDGs Website developed by the Global Compact Network Australia (GCNA), which showcases sustainable development initiatives by government and allows for stakeholders to upload case studies of their SDG-related work. [Launch speech by Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs] [Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Press Release]

The Australian Government maintains a reporting platform on the SDGs, which provides official government data on the SDG indicators. The data platform, the Australian SDGs website and the VNR report together make up the reporting package on Australia’s action on the SDGs.

The Australian SDGs Hub for Business suggests ways in which companies can explore changes to their work practices to contribute to achieving the SDGs.

Besides the Australian SDGs website, the GCNA has also established an online Australian SDGs Hub for Business. This website explains the relevance of each of the 17 SDGs to business, and suggests ways in which companies can explore changes to their work practices to contribute to achieving the SDGs.

In the lead-up to the presentation of Australia’s VNR to the HLPF, Monash University academics John Thwaites and Tahl Kestin published an article on the online portal The Conversation. Their 11 July article highlights data from the global SDG Index showing that Australia has done well on measures of health and well-being (SDG 3), and is providing good quality education (SDG 4); however, performance on the environmental goals, such as SDG 14 (life on land) is low in comparison to other countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and ranks lowest in the world on climate action (SDG 13). They call for more deliberate action by Australia, such as developing a national implementation plan and allocating specific funds for SDG implementation.

The SDG Index lists Australia in 37th place overall, a fall from its 26th place the previous year. Thwaites and Kestin explain that Australia’s performance on climate is measured not only by its domestic emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs), but also by the emissions accounted for in the goods it consumes, its vulnerability to climate change, and its exports of fossil fuels. The SDG Index takes into account the “spillover” effect – the extent to which countries are promoting or impeding the ability of other countries to meet the SDGs. Based on its fossil fuel exports, Australia’s carbon emissions are estimated at 44 tonnes per person each year, more than those of Saudi Arabia (35.5 tonnes per person) or the US (710 kg per person). [Article on The Conversation]

The SDG Index is published by Bertelsmann Stiftung, a private German foundation, and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a network commissioned by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2012 to mobilize expertise from academia, civil society and the private sector. [SDG Knowledge Hub Story about 2018 SDG Index]

Australia is currently holding a Senate inquiry on the SDGs, which is inviting contributions from all concerned. The inquiry is seeking input regarding: general understanding and awareness of the SDGs across the Australian Government and in the wider Australian community; costs, benefits and opportunities for implementing the SDGs; governance and accountability measures in implementation; monitoring and communicating performance; and promoting action on the SDGs through Australia’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) programme. There are 155 submissions listed on the inquiry website to date from government ministries, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), local governments, indigenous peoples, student organizations, and individuals. The inquiry opened on 4 December 2017, and is due to report its findings on 29 November 2018. [Home Page for Australian Senate Inquiry into the UN SDGs] [Australian Senate Inquiry Terms of Reference]


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