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The research report, The Hidden Dimensions of Poverty, fundamentally challenges global conceptions of the nature of poverty. This participatory research, led by ATD-Fourth World and the University of Oxford, has sought to refine the understanding and measurement of poverty by engaging with people directly experiencing poverty, practitioners and academics.

The 2030 Agenda recognizes that poverty is multidimensional. However, apart from income poverty, hitherto these dimensions have not been well-specified, several of them have gone unrecognized, and the ways in which they all interact to shape the experience of poverty has not been properly understood.

Since 2016, 142 countries worldwide have submitted Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) as part of the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF), reporting on progress made towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the action plan of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The VNRs play a prominent role in the annual Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) HLPF with both criticism and acclaim. However, it’s important to consider how VNRs are taking hold beyond the formal sessions in the HLPF every year. The VNRs elucidate gaps in the global indicator framework and are appearing in discussions of UN Country Teams (UNCTs), the UN Statistical Commission and the Committee for Development Policy (CDP).

Photo: Coordinadora ONGD.

Every year since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda in 2015, governments are invited to present Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) on their progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) of the UN. This process is heralded by some as a great opportunity to hold governments accountable to their actions and by others as a beauty contest riddled with misrepresentation and power imbalances. Civil society organizations in many countries produce their own alternative “spotlight reports,” playing with the name of “shadow reports” traditionally given to such independent voices in the Human Rights context.

An event titled “National Reports on 2030 Agenda: What do They (Not) Tell Us?,” jointly hosted by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Committee for Development Policy (CDP), Global Policy Forum (GPF) and Social Watch, explored these tensions and sought to identify opportunities to improve reporting, monitoring, follow-up and accountability in these national review processes.

Photo: FES

“There needs to be an examination of the hardware of the 2030 Agenda, rather than an upgrade of its software” concludes the 2019 Spotlight Report launched on Thursday, 11 July during the High Level Political Forum that reviews the United Nations 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. The meeting was co-sponsored by Global Policy Watch, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES). Under the title of “Reshaping governance for sustainability”, the civil society report explores transforming institutions, shifting power and strengthening rights. The launch event showcased the ideas presented by a variety of the report’s authors.

In an event in 10 July 2019, Social Watch Philippines (SWP) led a discussion called, “Conversation on Tobacco Control Initiatives, Impact of 17th Congress Tobacco Tax Increase, and Universal Health Care- Implementing Rules and Regulations” where the SWP Spotlight Report for 2019 on the SDGs entitled “The PH SDG Agenda: Closing Gaps, Overcoming Policy Incoherence” and the Philippine VNR were discussed by SWP Co-Convenor Dr. Maria Victoria Raquiza and the National Economic and Development Authority Usec. Rosemarie G. Edillon, PhD respectively. Three years ago, SWP has also made its statement on SDGs, through its Spotlight Report, on overcoming poverty and achieving sustainable development.

PNGO Network, Social Watch member in Palestine, issued a paper entitled “The Impact of Current Situation on Women Protection in the Gaza Strip

The paper highlights the effect of the protracted crises in the Gaza Strip on women who become shock-absorbers during crisis. Also, it illustrates the key barriers impede the work of national women organizations to intervene in women protection and addresses the required steps from varies parties to achieve women protection in Gaza.

The 2030 Agenda and the SDGs have also captured the attention of many parts of the UN system, which are slowly restructuring their work plans towards their achievement. This fact can be seen in negotiations on UN development system reform and country-level reporting; on the push for a Data Revolution as well as Information and Technology. The VNRs are being analysed by civil society groups as well as the UN Committee on Development Policy to see the extent to which they are focused on leaving no one behind, and tackling the furthest behind first, as well as the extent to which they address trade-offs between the goals and especially spillover effects from global policies that impede their achievement.

Since 2015, the Civil Society Reflection Group (CSRG) has been monitoring how governments and international organizations have been implementing the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda. In his assessment of progress on SDG 13 – taking urgent action to combat climate change— Indrajit Bose, from the Third World Network, reminds us that Cyclone Idai, which devastated Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi in March is just the most recent example of the catastrophic impacts of climate change on developing countries.

The side event will present and discuss the importance of national reporting on the 2030 Agenda, both by governments (VNRs) and civil society (“spotlight” or “shadow” reports).

The Committee for Development Policy (CDP) will present key findings of its analysis of 2018 VNRs. Voluntary national reviews (VNRs) are an important innovation as a United Nations process for follow-up to the adoption of development agendas, in particular the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Four years after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda the world is off-track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Most governments have failed to turn the transformational vision of the 2030 Agenda into real transformational policies. Even worse, xenophobia and authoritarianism are on the rise in a growing number of countries. But there are signs of change. The implementation of the 2030 Agenda is not just a matter of better policies. It requires more holistic and more sweeping shifts in how and where power is vested, including through institutional, legal, social, economic and political commitments to realizing human rights and ecological justice. For this reason, the Spotlight Report 2019 has as main topic “reshaping governance for sustainability”. It offers analysis and recommendations on the global governance that sustainability requires, as well as on how to strengthen inclusive and participatory governance to overcome structural obstacles and institutional gaps. Since 2016, the annual Spotlight Report has been published and supported by a broad range of civil society organizations and trade unions. It provides one of the most comprehensive independent assessments of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. At the roundtable event on July 11th in New York authors of the Spotlight Report 2019 will present key findings and recommendations to participants for discussion.

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