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In a joint side event with other Civil Society Organizations we will assess the state of corporate influence in the business and human rights debates, in global health, the agriculture, food and nutrition policy domains. We will discuss possible policies and safeguards such as WHO’s Framework of Engagement with non-State Actors (FENSA) and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control that have been put in place to protect against conflicts of interest in these respective domains. We will also inform about further debates to regulate the UN’s engagement with private actors such as the discussions in the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR).

Photo: African Agenda.

Current debates in Ghana about sustainable development express a confluence of four important trends: 1) questioning of the growing inequalities and exclusion wrought by the dominant neoliberal economic policies and the quality of growth that has resulted; 2) recognition of the advances that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Goals (SDGs) represent on the minimal ambitions of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); 3) African recognition of the limits of raw material commodity export dependence and the need for structural economic transformation; and 4) the rediscovery of development planning as an important tool and policy framework.

In certain countries and especially those rich in resources, the extraction and trade of minerals, gas, oil or wood are financing armed groups who commit serious violations of human rights, rather than contributing to human development. To stop this circle of suffering, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission passed in 2012 the section 1502 of the Dodd Franck Act, requiring U.S. and certain foreign companies to report and make public their use of so-called “conflict minerals” from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) or adjoining countries in their products. Following this legislation, companies must certify that 4 minerals (Tungsten, Tin, Tantalum and Gold, the “3TGs”) extracted in DRC and neighboring countries did not contribute to fund armed groups. Through this certification system, American consumers have stronger guarantees that their purchases of electronic products containing 3TGs did not contribute to human rights violations.

Reacting to this problem, the European Commission proposed the “conflict minerals” regulation in March 2014. The proposal was disappointing in many ways: it consisted of a self-certification system that companies could voluntarily join, and it only applied to 19 smelters and refiners based in the EU (while not covering all products entering the EU market that contain the targeted minerals).

In order to intensify the effort to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the UN is exploring financial solutions for the Sustainable better align the trillions of dollars of annual private investment with the sustainable development goals and their targets? Can this approach be prioritized with regard to long-term investments made with funds from multiple domestic and international sources? Can it be made to cover the full range of the 2030 Agenda – and might it reach into all countries, including the least developed and small island developing states?

Photo: A girl makes her way home
after fetching water at a coastal
village in Tacloban, Leyte province.
Photograph: Ezra Acayan/NurPhoto
/Rex

Three years after the typhoon destroyed more than a million homes and killed 6,000 people, the Philippines has fallen far short on house-building pledge.

When Typhoon Haiyan smashed into the city of Tacloban in the central Philippines almost three years ago, Arsenio was one of the lucky ones – he survived by swimming a kilometre to safety. “Every time there is a storm, I get scared, even after three years,” he said. “I don’t want to go through the same thing again.”

BankTrack recently published the second edition of its “Banking with Principles?” report, evaluating the progress of global private sector banks towards integrating the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights into their policies, due diligence processes and reporting. The report is an update to our December 2014 benchmarking exercise, with its scope expanded from 32 banks to 45, and aims to uncover what progress has been made by the banks, 18 months on from the previous report and five years from the establishment of the Guiding Principles.

Photo: UNDG

During the last few years Morocco has adopted some public policies that might help meet the 2030 Agenda objectives, but many challenges have to be confronted in order to ensure to proper and effective progress towards sustainable development.

The 2030 Agenda, negotiated by Member States, lays out goals and targets at the global level. Like other countries, Morocco needs to translate these into the national context, with a strategy designed to achieve local priorities. Efforts to achieve the SDGs may be hampered by the government’s persistence in carrying out neoliberal policies (privatization of public services such as education and health for example, austerity and public spending cuts) as part of its commitments to the International Monetary Fund. Similarly, monitoring and evaluating the action plans set out for delivery of the 2030 Agenda is crucial in achieving successes. Unfortunately, this practice is still uncommon in Morocco.

Photo: UN

It may sound like an issue for health specialists, but at the UN high-level meeting on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) ministers and heads of state from around the world made clear that it is more than that it appears.

This is the fourth time that the UN General Assembly has addressed health issues. As the representative of Portugal pointed out, this meeting “is proof of global recognition of this problem and how important an issue it is”. Executive Director of South Centre, Martin Khor said that AMR is “as serious as Climate Change and perhaps more immediate”.

The adoption of the 2030 Agenda by the UN coincided with a change of government in Argentina, which is reversing the public policies that were put in place to deal with the serious social, economic, institutional and political crisis of 2001 and 2002.

In its first months in power, the political coalition Cambiemos (Spanish for Let’s change) shifted away from a development model based on strengthening the domestic market, trade protectionism, expansion of social rights and an active role of the state in income redistribution through the collection of taxes on exports of agricultural products, towards a model favouring free trade, a competitive position in the global market, a lower level of state intervention in the overall economy and a reduction in taxes for the rich. Instead of continuing to expand social protection as required by the SDGs, the current government is aligning public policies with the interests of the sectors with greater political and economic power. The violation of various economic and social rights, which has occurred in a very short time, is creating a gradual and growing rejection within different social sectors.

A session of the HLPF. (Photo: UN)

The 2030 Agenda is both a problem and a solution for the UN system. The UN, especially the UN development system, must be encouraged to return to its value-driven role in the public interest, grounded in the explicit adoption of norms and standards and delivered through programming that does not deviate from its core business. Otherwise it will find itself caught in a self-inflicted vicious circle of decline. “More of the same” will see the continuation of its shrinking role in global affairs at a time when so many challenges require international co-operation and resolve.

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