Social Watch news

Roberto Bissio, coordinator of Social Watch, Barbara Adams and Jens Martens from Global Policy Forum participated in the session “Civil Society Shadow Reporting: Meaningful Participation in the Voluntary National Review Process”. The Session was co-organized by Social Watch, Global Policy Forum, GCAP and Action for Sustainable Development and it was held in the framework of the Global Festival of Action on 2nd May 2019 in Bonn, Germany.

Spain submitted its first Voluntary National Review in 2018 and the alternative report by La Mundial regrets the lack of dialogue on the SDGs between the government and stakeholders like academia and civil society. Spain is seen as starting late to take note of the 2030 Agenda and the High Level Group (GAN in its Spanish acronym) was perceived by civil society as not having the required political standing or participation of key ministries. Further, civil society feared that the policies required to achieve the SDGs would be undermined by the continuity of policies of fiscal austerity and shrinking rights that were pushing Spain away from the agreed goals and targets.

Austerity is a major concern for civil society in Jordan. According to the alternative report by Ahmad M. Awad, from the Phenix Center, Measures of ‘fiscal consolidation’ started in 2016 as a condition to unlocking access to IMF aid. Austerity measures were thus implemented, leading to rises in fuel prices, as well as in both the sales taxes and customs.”

Nearly half of the Jordanian labour force works in the informal economy, which together with “the continued implementation of business-friendly labour policies, resulted in rising unemployment. Many began to see their ability to afford basic commodities threatened – a predicament termed 'transient poverty.' Among unskilled workers, waves of migrant workers and refugees (many desperate) have saturated the market – one hardly bound by any minimum-wage constraints – triggering a race to the bottom.” At the same time, “numerous political and legislative institutions had been severely weakened.

The Palestinian Non Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO) calls upon the international community to immediately pressure the Israeli occupying forces to stop attacks on the Gaza Strip. PNGO condemns the Israeli occupying forces continuous barbaric attack on Palestinian civilians especially children, women, civilian homes, cultural institutions and media outlets.

Urgent Call for Action PNGO calls upon the international community to immediately pressure the Israeli occupying forces to stop attacks on the Gaza Strip Palestinian Non Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO) condemns the Israeli occupying Forces continuous barbaric attack on Palestinian civilians especially children, women, civilian homes, Cultural institutions and media outlets.

The 2030 Agenda represents a paradigm shift in terms of universality and interlinked goals, including across borders and affirms the need for a rights-based approach to peace and security, one focused on prevention. At the same time, most governments are still producing, trading and spending more on arms, thereby fueling a militarized approach to peace and security. Dominant power talks on how to achieve peace continue to silence those impacted most by conflicts and wars, including women and children. Profits made under war economies and through the arms trade continue to deepen inequalities and violate the rights of those with enormous humanitarian and development needs.

From Puerto Rico, the women's organization Cohitre also describes a “colonial condition that imposes agendas foreign to our people”. In September 2017 hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the island, destroying 70,000 homes and collapsing its electric network (still not completely restored), its transport system, hospitals and fuel and food supplies.

The catastrophic effects are sharpened by the absence of political powers -the island is a US 'unincorporated territory' since 1898- and the control of its finances by a US-imposed Fiscal Control Board, due to its indebtedness. “The diversion of funds to pay off public debt, adjustment plans, austerity measures, the reduction of the public sector and privatization has compromised the government's capacity to respond to the crisis” while “the response of the US government is slow, erratic and centralized” and “the US Congress has shown no rush to provide aid to Puerto Rico, given the debate over corruption and how to manage the funds”.

The Government of India presented its first Voluntary National Review (VNR) report on Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to United Nations in 2017. Despite VNR guidelines urging countries to inform on “progress and status of all SDGs”, India reported on only seven goals. This is surprising as India’s VNR claimed its national development goals are “mirrored in the SDGs” and as Government had asserted 11 of 17 SDGs were already being worked on even before the SDGs were adopted. Given the consensus that SDGs’ success largely depends on India’s achieving them, an appraisal of its performance in critical social sectors, including those associated with the SDGs left out of VNR, becomes necessary.

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Partnership Forum will hold its annual session at UN headquarters on 11 April 2019. This year it will focus on partnership efforts supporting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 2030 Agenda is the subject of review by the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) annually under ECOSOC and at summit level every four years (including 2019) under the auspices of the UN’s highest political body, the General Assembly.

Promoting the Decent Work Agenda (DWA) remains the main objective of the trade union input into the 2030 Agenda. Based on rights and democratic ownership, the DWA is the foundation for sustainable development, as opposed to palliative interventions.

Human and labour rights, freedom of association and collective bargaining and social dialogue are not only essential ingredients for sustainable economic growth but are the pillars of democracy-building. Building and fortifying democratic processes is in turn the cornerstone of just development.

Promoting the Decent Work Agenda (DWA) remains the main objective of the trade union input into the 2030 Agenda. Based on rights and democratic ownership, the DWA is the foundation for sustainable development, as opposed to palliative interventions.

Human and labour rights, freedom of association and collective bargaining and social dialogue are not only essential ingredients for sustainable economic growth but are the pillars of democracy-building. Building and fortifying democratic processes is in turn the cornerstone of just development.

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