SDG Global Councils Report on Progress towards Nine Goals
Photo by IISD | Lynn Wagner
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At the HLPF side event ‘The Future of Government and Implications for Agenda 2030: Introducing the Global Councils on SDGs,’ participants shared information on the SDG Global Councils launched in February 2018 at the World Government Summit in Dubai, UAE.

The Global Councils consist of interdisciplinary networks of decisionmakers from different areas that seek to find innovative solutions to achieve the SDGs.

The event was organized by the UAE Permanent Mission in collaboration with the World Bank Group and IRENA.

17 July 2018: During an event organized by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Permanent Mission, in collaboration with the World Bank Group and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), participants discussed the Global Councils on SDGs and initiatives put in place by these Councils to make progress on the Goals.

The Global Councils on SDGs consist of interdisciplinary networks of decisionmakers from different areas, that seek to find innovative solutions for SDG implementation. Council members are invited to participate for a two-year term, with the aim to provide actionable insights, propose policies, develop technological solutions, and mobilize resources to drive progress towards the goals. The Councils were launched in February 2018 at the World Government Summit in Dubai, UAE.

The event titled, ‘The Future of Government and Implications for Agenda 2030: Introducing the Global Councils on SDGs,’ took place on the sidelines of the 2018 UN High-level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF), on 17 July 2018.

Opening the meeting, Lana Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative of UAE, noted that nine Councils have been established so far, and that eight other councils will be launched during the “second phase” of the initiative. The existing Councils target nine SDGs and are headed by the following officials: SDG 1 (no poverty) is chaired Mahmoud Mohieldin, World Bank; SDG 2 (zero hunger) is chaired by Christopher Fearne, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Health, Malta; SDG 4 (quality education) is chaired by Irina Bokova, former Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy) is chaired by Adnan Amin, Director-General, IRENA; SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth) is chaired by Imad Fakhoury, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Jordan; SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities) is chaired by Aisha Bin Bishr, Director General, Smart Dubai Office, UAE; SDG 13 (climate action) is chaired by Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, UAE; SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) is chaired by Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and former Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP); and SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals) is chaired by Mari Kiviniemi, Deputy Secretary-General, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Radheya Alhashmi, Prime Minister’s Office, UAE, noted that the Councils are not limited to “VIPs” but should involve “all different actors of the community,” and called on them to come up with innovative ideas. She explained that during their first year of work, Councils should define initiatives that are impactful, while in their second year, they should collaborate and promote integration across their initiatives.

Yasir Al Naqbi, also from the UAE Prime Minister’s Office, announced that the 2019 World Government Summit will take place from 10-12 February 2019 in Dubai. The World Government Summit is a knowledge exchange platform at the intersection of government, technology, and innovation that functions as a thought leadership platform and networking hub for policymakers, experts and pioneers in human development. The Summit was commissioned by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE, in 2013, and takes place annually.

Mohieldin said sharing by examples is as important as funding when it comes to implementing the SDGs.

In a session featuring Council chairs and members, Mahmoud Mohieldin said the SDG 1 Council, composed of 22 members, plans to produce global knowledge products, and will organize a competition to tackle poverty that will engage “many people” from academia and the private sector, among other areas. He announced that specific deliverables would be shared during the 2019 World Government Summit, and noted that sharing by examples is as important as funding when it comes to implementing the SDGs.

Adnan Amin, said there is a “huge interest” in being a member of the SDG 7 Council, with 150 applications having been received. He remarked that there is no enabling framework to take forward energy efficiency, and the SDG 7 Council could create momentum around this issue.

Meera Al Shaikh, Smart Dubai, on behalf of Aisha Bin Bishr, reported that the SDG 11 Council is composed of 11 members from various horizons, among others, from the World Council on City Data (WCCD) and IISD Reporting Services. She said the Council will use science, technology and innovation (STI) approaches as part of its framework, and will have a second meeting during the week of 23 July.

Eric Dawson, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Peace First, and member of the SDG 16 Council, indicated that the Council will leverage the power of young people to create more peaceful and inclusive societies at all levels. He said the Council will: organize a global youth challenge for peaceful and inclusive societies; identify problems young people want to solve; and connect them to mentors and funding to support solution-oriented projects.

Masamichi Kono, Deputy Secretary-General, OECD, on behalf of Mari Kiviniemi, remarked that the SDG 17 Council is overarching and horizontal, and will operationalize partnerships in coherence with the other SDGs. Among its activities, he said the Council will define a clear roadmap on how partnership can lead to more effective SDG implementation, and is considering the establishment of a knowledge facility related to SDG governance. He reported that the Council had its first meeting on 2 July, and that it is composed of officials from, inter alia, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), UNDP, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP, or UN Environment), Slovenia and Finland.

During the meeting, participants also shared information on SDG implementation in countries. Juwang Zhu, Director, Division for Sustainable Development Goals (DSDG), UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), said that compared to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the SDGs are characterized by: a greater commitment from the top; stronger ownership and buy-in by Parliaments; better coordination; more emphasis on evidence-based analysis; and some “shift away” from the work in silo approach. He remarked that leaving no one behind (LNOB) is becoming the “yardstick” to measure real progress, and noted the various bottom-up initiatives carried out by stakeholders, including by business and civil society organizations (CSOs). He said the UAE is a small country with a strong commitment to global partnership, as it devotes more than one percent of its gross development product (GDP) to development cooperation.

Inge Herman Rydland, Special Envoy Agenda 2030, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway, outlined the importance of integrating the SDGs in national budgets, since this contributes to greater policy coherence and a better acceptance of the policy agenda. Timotej Šooš, National Development Strategy Lead, Slovenia, reported that his country is “doing quite well” on many areas of the SDGs, and noted the need to work more horizontally, across sectors. He also underscored the “very important role” of Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) for SDG implementation.

Al Naqbi said the UAE presented its voluntary national review (VNR) at the HLPF on 16 July 2018. He reported that: the UAE Minister of Youth is 22 years old, which makes her the youngest minister in the world; 33% of UAE Ministers are female; and the Head of Parliament is a woman.

The HLPF is taking place from 9-18 July 2018. [World Government Summit Website] [IISD RS Coverage of HLPF 2018]


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