Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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Civil society organizations have responded to the European Commission’s three Communications on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its SDGs.

Other recent contributions: reflect on the 2016 session of the HLPF; present a methodology for national environmental accounting; and focus on increasing citizen participation in UN appointments.

7 December 2016: Civil society organizations (CSOs) have responded to the European Commission’s (EC) three Communications on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Other recent contributions: reflect on the 2016 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF); present a methodology for national environmental accounting; and focus on increasing citizen participation in UN appointments.

On the EC’s SDG implementation, Christine Hackenesch and Niels Keijzer, German Development Institute (DIE), write that the EU’s plans for responding to the 2030 Agenda remain “tellingly unclear.” While they welcome the EC’s call for more coherent European action in development policy, as contained in its ‘Proposal for a new European Consensus on Development,’ the DIE authors argue that proposals remain vague regarding how the EU and its member States can contribute to making development and policy fields more coherent to support sustainable development.

Also on the EC Communications, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) describes the outputs as a “glossy but incomplete package” on action for the SDGs, and calls the EC’s map a continuation of the EU’s piecemeal approach, which fails to consider how different policies impact one other. WWF further criticizes the Communications’ failure to recognize sustainability as a cross-cutting issue.

Also on SDG implementation, Bond, the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD), Save the Children UK and WWF-UK released a report that reviews the voluntary national reviews (VNRs) submitted to the 2016 HLPF. The authors make recommendations to countries for improving national reporting on SDG progress, and on strengthening voluntary reporting guidelines. The report recommends that countries: commit to submitting a report at least three times before 2030, to facilitate assessments of ongoing progress and sharing of best practices; use the UN Secretary-General’s guidelines to structure reports; focus on quality and concision, but provide sufficient detail and examples to assess progress and share lessons; identify obstacles and areas where advice and support is needed; include summaries with key activities, challenges and lessons learned; outline next steps in implementation; and engage a broad range of stakeholders, as early as possible in the preparation of the VNR report.

Also on the VNRs, two experts give video interviews reflecting on the 2016 process. Marianne Beisheim, German Institute for International and Security Affairs, praised countries for sharing experiences in building “whole-of-government” approaches to implementing the SDGs, while recognizing the challenge of including all levels of government, especially at the local level. She asserted that reviews “only gain traction if they deliver actual results,” and said that the follow-up process “really helps to foster national level implementation.” She called for countries to provide feedback on the 2016 VNRs, to ensure continued improvement of the process.

Adil Najam, Dean of the Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University, highlighted the importance of creating “high-trust societies,” pointing to the Philippines’ VNR. He said the biggest challenges are to keep aspirations high, and to learn from each other, going beyond “cheerleading.”

On universal health coverage (UHC) and the SDGs, Michael Myers, Rockefeller Foundation, reported that the International Health Partnership will transition to the International Health Partnership for UHC 2030, a body to coordinate global action, advocacy and accountability on progress towards UHC. In a blog post, Myers calls for delivering on the SDGs and ensuring access to quality and affordable health services, underscoring that investments in strong, equitable health systems will help make communities more inclusive and resilient, and help achieve sustainable development, poverty reduction, economic progress, peaceful societies and other aspects of the Goals.

On responsible consumption and production, Rutgers University’s Online Master of Public Administration provides an infographic about the benefits of a circular economy. It illustrates the current global economic model, based on the concept of “take-make-dispose,” which results in large amounts of waste. It highlights the US’s low levels of recycling, and showcases how the EU is moving towards a circular economy by recycling municipal and packaging waste, reducing landfill waste, providing economic incentives for producers to release greener products and support recovery and recycling schemes, and promoting re-use, including across industries.

The Stockholm Environment Institute’s PRINCE project is developing an indicator framework to monitor the environmental impacts of Sweden’s consumption, both domestically and internationally, and will identify environmental pressure “hotspots.”

Also on consumption, the Stockholm Environment Institute’s PRINCE project reports that it is developing an indicator framework to monitor the environmental impacts of Sweden’s consumption, both domestically and internationally, and will identify environmental pressure “hotspots.” The brief, titled ‘Environmental Footprinting with Multiregional Input-output Models,’ details how the model will account for a variety of environmental pressures, including greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, chemicals, resource consumption, and land-use change. According to PRINCE, the methodology also can be adapted for national environmental accounting processes, in particular to inform sustainable consumption policy.

On high-level elections and appointments, the Future UN Development System (FUNDS) conducted a survey on the most critical priorities for incoming UN Secretary-General António Guterres to address. Women Deliver is providing information on candidates for the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), who will take over after Margaret Chan completes her term in June 2017. The website features candidates’ responses to a series of questions, such as how the candidate would address the connections between gender equality and health, and the place of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the global health and sustainable development agendas. [DIE Blog] [WWF Statement on EC Communications] [Progressing national SDGs implementation: Experiences and recommendations from 2016] [Bond Blog] [Beisheim Interview] [Najam Interview] [Rockefeller Foundation Blog] [International Health Partnership for UHC 2030] [Rutgers Infographic] [PRINCE Brief] [FUNDS survey] [Women Deliver on WHO Nominees]

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