Three years into the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, concerns continue about stalled indicators, missing indicators and proliferating and potentially competing data sources, which makes it difficult to assess progress (see GPW Briefings #22: The Ups and Downs of Tiers: measuring SDG progress; #23: SDG Indicators-the forest is missing).

Initiatives abound in the shifting terrain of the generation, validation and use of data to satisfy the demands of a growing market of players. In addition to the work of the UN mandated Inter-agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs), these concerns and challenges have drawn the attention of a number of official statisticians and practitioners.

Rather than reaching the goal of ending hunger that is called for in SDG 2, the world is on track to increased and more exacerbated food insecurity. Since the adoption of the SDGs in 2015, global rates of food insecurity have increased – with some 815 million people facing hunger and malnourishment, and it is estimated that this number will continue to increase. The present understanding of the root causes of hunger and malnutrition and of the policy solutions that can support long-term, structural change, is not sufficiently up to speed with the kind of shifts that need to take place.

A radical shift is needed. Eradicating hunger requires a radical shift from dominant food system models and development paradigms, towards addressing the food system as a whole, and creating enabling public policies that address key issues affecting food insecurity and malnutrition. Mainstream monitoring of food security and nutrition fails to address the critical questions around the social control of the food system, and in particular natural resources, and proposes solutions based on the current industrial model of production that feeds a global, and inherently unequal economy.

The aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) which began in 2008 is still with us. The widespread macroeconomic downturn which followed the GFC's outbreak has been contained and growth of GDP has been restored, though not at rates which have repaired earlier losses.

The post-crisis reform agenda is still being put in place but without a consensus as to the relative importance of different causes for the GFC and thus as to the importance of the different reforms required.

The seriousness of the crisis in the autumn of 2008 had several manifestations. Global credit markets were no longer functioning. GDP in the United States was falling at an annual rate of nearly 7 per cent. The S&P index of US stock prices had fallen by 40 per cent.

Widespread privatisation of public goods in many societies is systematically eliminating human rights protections and further marginalising those living in poverty, according to a new report

Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, criticised the extent to which the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and even the UN itself have aggressively promoted widespread privatisation of basic services, without regard to the human rights implications or the consequences for the poor. He also criticised human rights groups for not responding strongly enough to the resulting challenges.

KEPA; the Finnish platform of civil society organizations, worries about the extraterritorial impact of Finland's production and consumption patterns.

“Almost half of Finland's water footprint is caused by production chains outside Finland” they argue as an example. Kepa reports that “there is no reliable or even partially comprehensive information available in Finland on the external impacts of Finnish consumption, i.e., how we exploit natural resources outside of our own country”. The Finnish Ministry of Finance initiated an assessment of the national budget from a sustainable development perspective. However, the initial work is judged “quite modest”. The budget proposal for 2019 is going to be estimated mainly from the climate change perspective, and will focus on the plans for Finland to become carbon neutral after having reached a historic high in carbon emissions in 2017. Kepa considers it “necessary to widen the approach of taking sustainable development into account in the budget planning” to cover other issues and “to look courageously at tax support for fossil fuels and other activities that may even conflict with sustainable development.”

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