Civil Society Organizations Outline 11 SDG Recommendations for Switzerland
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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In advance of the Swiss VNR presentation at the 2018 session of the HLPF, Platform Agenda 2030 released its report titled 'How Sustainable is Switzerland: Implementing the 2030 Agenda from a Civil Society Perspective'.

The report takes a critical look at the official government stance on sustainable development and outlines 11 overarching recommendations that cover areas such as respecting planetary boundaries, human rights, participation and inclusion, policy coherence for sustainable development, and institutional arrangements.

3 July 2018: Some civil society organizations of countries that are presenting their Voluntary National Reviews (VNR) at the 2018 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) have issued independent reports that assess national progress on the SDGs. In Switzerland for instance, Platform Agenda 2030, which involves more than 40 civil society actors working towards implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, released a report with recommendations on respecting planetary boundaries, human rights, participation and inclusion, policy coherence for sustainable development, and institutional arrangements.

Paragraph 74 of the 2030 Agenda notes that follow-up and review processes at all levels should: be open, inclusive, participatory and transparent for all people, and support reporting by all relevant stakeholders. In this context, and in parallel to the VNRs, some civil society organizations and coalitions from different countries have produced their own reviews and analysis, assessing government’s implementation of the SDGs and reporting on that implementation. These reports, often called “spotlight” or “shadow” reports, complement the official review process at the HLPF.

Platform Agenda 2030’s report titled, ‘How Sustainable is Switzerland: Implementing the 2030 Agenda from a Civil Society Perspective,’ takes a critical look at the official government stance on sustainable development and “encourages everyone to think outside the box” on various topics. The report discusses, inter alia: poverty, agriculture and food systems, education policy challenges, women’s rights and gender equality, and decent work in Switzerland; good health for everyone in the country and around the world; sustainable consumption and production (SCP); children and young people; people with disabilities; planet and the environment; peace; and foreign economic policy and international tax issues.

Each chapter begins by considering how several specific SDGs mutually reinforce or contradict each other. The authors then identify shortcomings and give recommendations for achieving the Goals, all of which have been collated into 11 overarching recommendations that were adopted by the Platform Agenda 2030 at its 2018 annual general meeting.

The report calls on the government of Switzerland to set up a high-level, central institutional unit to monitor the 2030 Agenda across all departments.

Among its recommendations, the report notes the need to enhance policy coherence for sustainable development, and make resources available to implement the 2030 Agenda, in particular through the budget processes of the Federal Government, cantons and communes. It calls on the government to: set up a high-level, central institutional unit and give it the resources and powers required to monitor and ensure coherent implementation of the 2030 Agenda across all departments; align all its political strategies with the 2030 Agenda, especially in federal, cantonal and communal planning procedures; and ensure that the general population and the actors involved are familiar with the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, including by promoting awareness-raising and education for sustainable development at all educational levels and in non-formal educational settings.

The report also recommends to: take action across all policy areas to achieve the SDGs for all disadvantaged people everywhere; respect planetary boundaries by “cutting” consumption and adopting sustainable production methods; comply with basic rights and international human rights treaties; ensure the full, effective and equal participation of all people in political, social, environmental and economic affairs, and allow everyone to have a say in “decision-shaping processes;” substantially reduce inequality at both the national and international levels; and stem illicit financial flows from developing countries and put an end “to the shifting of profits by multinationals from the global South to Switzerland.”

In June, Switzerland issued its 2018 VNR main messages. The government reports that the country is already at an “advanced stage” in achieving various SDGs and has already fulfilled a number of SDG targets, with the country being free of extreme poverty (target 1.1) and hunger (target 2.1), while education (target 4.1) is free, compulsory and of good quality. Among other achievements, Switzerland VNR main messages also indicated that the 2030 Agenda is an “important reference framework” for the country’s international cooperation, which “aligns its activities with the SDGs;” many cantons and communes have defined their own strategies for sustainable development, and the federal government will intensify dialogue and support them in implementing the 2030 Agenda, including through platforms for exchange and networks.

Switzerland will present its VNR on 17 July 2018, during the ministerial segment of the 2018 HLPF, in New York, US. [Publication: ‘How Sustainable is Switzerland: Implementing the 2030 Agenda from a Civil Society Perspective’] [SDG Knowledge Hub story on Switzerland’s VNR main messages] [Action for Sustainable Development information on spotlight reports]


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