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While real GDP growth for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) as a group is forecast to strengthen somewhat to 5 per cent in 2017 and 5.4 per cent in 2018, the modest improvements in the international context fall short of what would be needed to spur growth and structural transformation in the LDCs.

This is one of the main conclusions of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in a new report titled "Selected Sustainable Development Trends in the Least Developed Countries 2018".

Social Watch invites you to participate in our renewed collective effort to make governments accountable for the ambitious promises they made us.

The 2030 Agenda, adopted in 2015 at the highest level by the United Nations encapsulates in 17 Sustainable Development Goals a vision of sustainable development without poverty, with less inequalities and more social and gender justice while respecting planetary boundaries. The Social Watch network has contributed to making those commitments accountable to the peoples by publishing and bringing to the consideration of the United Nations national reports from 47 countries and highlighting their findings in the global Spotlight reports.

The High Level Political Forum (HLPF) is the United Nations body mandated by the 2030 Agenda to have a “central role in overseeing a network of follow-up and review processes at the global level.” The HLPF will meet in New York, next July 9 to 18 for an in-depth review of Goals 6, 7, 11, 12, 15 (the so-called “environmental goals”) and SDG17 on implementation. The theme will be "Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies".

Forty-eight countries will present their national reviews and there will be regional preparatory meetings in March and April and issue-specific conferences between February and June.

There are many different ways and opportunities for national groups and coalitions to contribute. See more detail on how Social Watch offers some opportunities to participate in the guidelines.

At the Social Watch secretariat we are looking forward to hear more about your plans and help put you in touch with others doing similar efforts.

Lessons from the WHO experience
As he concluded the first year of his term, the UN Secretary-General reiterated his call for a new Funding Compact, an agreement by Member States and the United Nations development system. In his 20 December advance report on Repositioning the UN Development System, he stated: “Ultimately, the Funding Compact is about increasing the likelihood of universal achievement of the SDGs and eradicating poverty from the face of the earth. In other words, it is about determining whether we can deliver on our ambition to make the world a more prosperous, peaceful and sustainable place by 2030.”

A non-binding declaration on Women and Trade signed by 118 countries was made public today during a press conference at the Hilton Hotel, where the 11th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is taking place.

The “Joint Declaration on Trade and Women's Economic Empowerment” states without offering evidence that “international trade and investment are engines of economic growth for both developing and developed countries, and that improving women's access to opportunities and removing barriers to their participation in national and international economies contributes to sustainable economic development”.

The statement by women’s rights groups that calls out the WTO Declaration on Women’s Economic Empowerment which it says “appears to be designed to mask the failures of the WTO and its role in deepening inequality and exploitation”.

In India, PPPs are expected to mobilize about half of the US$ 1 trillion target for infrastructure investment by the end of the 2012-2017 Five Year Plan. The government has been actively promoting PPPs in many sectors of the economy and the report by Social Watch India presents a mixed picture. Many of the highway/road construction projects like Golden Quadrilateral and seaports like the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) have been deemed a success.

The report observes, however, that “many times PPPs are good in theory, but in practice… they have transmogrified into avenues for the realtors to become rich at the cost of the tax payers”. Some promoters who excelled at gold-plating projects 'persuaded' public sector banks to lend on questionable assumptions and collateral. These promoters took out their equity money in the construction phase and exited the project under various conditions. Given India's rank in 'enforcing contracts' of 178 out of 189 countries, this should cause little surprise, since PPPs are essentially contracts. The biggest losers have been Indian citizens. Public sector banks now have a pile of stressed loans, which can now be remedied only by recapitalization from the tax payer.

The international workshop 'Strengthening Public Policies for the 2030 Agenda and the Launch of the Spotlight Report 2017: Reclaiming Policies for the Public' was held in Beirut, Lebanon.

This session looked into the role of different actors in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda: states, private sector and civil society. The panel discussion particularly discussed the roles for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in localizing the Sustainable Development Goals in regional and national contexts. Among the issues that were discussed is how CSOs can bring the voice of the poorest and most marginalized citizens to the national, regional and international fora. In addition, the session touched upon the CSOs contributions to implementation, including as service delivery agents and the accountability of CSOs and their role in making the other actors accountable.

“Data is the new Gold” headlined a 2014 article in the business press on the marketing power it offers. “Each click, like, and share creates new data in the world, much of which can be used to deliver relevant marketing information and bring increased value to consumer audiences.” Picking up on the potential of so-called Big Data to measure national and global progress on development goals agreed in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the 2030 Agenda has driven a variety of new initiatives, bringing together a vast array of global corporations, foundations, and CSOs ready to mine this new seam.

Three of these new data initiatives are the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD), Data 2X and the Digital Impact Alliance, all of which are housed at the United Nations Foundation (UNF) and which therefore claim only to advance UN goals and priorities, not the UN itself. Most of them are financed by a few major donors, public and private.

Photo: UNHCR/F.Juez

Achieving sustainable development in Lebanon requires addressing the root causes of Lebanon’s structural problems at political, economic and social levels and, additionally, to address the challenges presented by the huge influx of Syrian refugees in the country. The refugee crisis sheds light on the structural and systemic problems of Lebanon and aggravates them. In this context, the private sector, as in many other countries, must play an active role in achieving SDGs in Lebanon, along with other development actors. At the same time, they all should remain accountable for their contribution to sustainable development.

Photo: Wolfgang Obenland

How can we ensure that implementation of the Paris Agreement truly helps foster more just and sustainable development, and what is standing in the way of this progress?

It is no secret that a dual relationship exists between climate change and sustainable development. While climate change influences the environment and has deep impacts on human living conditions and therefore affects the cornerstones of social, economic and environmental development, the way society chooses to develop has implications on greenhouse gas emissions.

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