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The 2030 Agenda aims at “a world of universal respect for human rights and human dignity…of respect for race, ethnicity and cultural diversity”. But in what instances and in what ways is governance — as the mechanisms by which a government weighs and evaluates competing claims and chooses a path — itself a confounding factor that undermines the aspirations articulated in the 2030 Agenda?

This analysis, by Marina Lent, of the Global Policy Forum (GPF), examines the role of governance in maintaining the obvious chasm between aspiration and reality through the experience of the loss of indigenous peoples’ territories.

The UN Inter-Agency and Expert Group on the SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) is in the final stages of preparing its proposals for the 2020 Comprehensive Review of the global indicator framework of the SDGs, to be submitted to the Statistical Commission by 30 November.

The IAEG-SDGs was established by the UN Statistical Commission to identify a set of indicators by which to measure progress on the SDGs. The resulting global indicator framework was debated at the Commission meeting in March 2016 and accepted subject to refinements as methodologies improved. Thereafter the framework was submitted for an extensive online consultation and the process of revising it has continued through nine biannual IAEG-SDGs meetings—attended by agencies and member states as well as civil society.

The High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development (FfD) on 26 September featured inspired discussions on combatting illicit financial flows, financing the SDGs and climate action against rising debt burdens, highlighting the need for structural, macroeconomic changes to lending and trade in order to best equip countries to achieve the SDGs. Secretary-General António Guterres noted that ‘collaboration is crucial in cracking down on tax avoidance, tax evasion, corruption and illicit financial flows that deprive developing countries of tens of billions of dollars of potential resources for their development every year’.

A debate on ‘The IMF and inequalities: tensions between structural adjustments and structural transformations’ will be held next October 17 at the IMF headquarters in Washington as a side event during the Spring meeting of the Bretton Woods institutions. A panel of civil society researchers and IMF representatives will debate around the contradictions between IMF-advised structural adjustments and the need for global socio-economic transformations. Discussants will draw on the 2019 Spotlight Report on Sustainable Development and propose ways forward for the Fund’s work to tackle inequalities and achieve the SDGs.

Women's and feminist organizations are increasingly involved in economic issues and are actively participating in global resistances that challenge the implications of financialization, the concentration of wealth, the rise of inequality and the increasing power of corporations, argues Corina Rodríguez Enríquez, from Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN) in a chapter of the recently launched Spotlight report.

The advance of the women's agenda, as well as many years of advocacy work, has also permeated the agendas of multilateral institutions and the spaces of the multi-stakeholder global governance. However, both the approach that these institutions have on ‘gender issues’, as well as the space that they allow for the articulation of women’s voices are controversial and limited.

For the first time since 2003, Baghdad hosted last August a regional conference on gender issues, co-organized by the government, civil society and UN agencies. The Forum discussed the role of the various institutional mechanisms for women operating in the Arab region and promoted the establishment of an independent national body for women's empowerment in Iraq. Reporting on the debate, the Iraqi Al-Amal association concludes that ‘effective institutional mechanisms are required to confront the challenges that hinder women's rights in the Arab region, especially during and after conflicts, and to confront the Israeli occupation, terrorism, extremism, religious radicalism, patriarchal mentality, tribal norms and corruption, and policies of exclusion and marginalization of qualified and active women in decision-making positions.’

Global multi-stakeholder partnerships and initiatives between public and private actors, which move beyond traditional nation-state multilateralism, are now perceived as the future of international cooperation. The UN is already involved in hundreds of partnership initiatives with individual companies and business associations. ‘Rules of engagement between the UN and private actors,’ a paper by Jens Martens and Karolin Seit from Global Policy Forum, demonstrates that the existing guidelines are weak and highly heterogeneous. Effective and comprehensive rules for such cooperation are still missing.

The non-regulated engagement between the UN and the private sector could result in a loss of reputation, increased influence by private actors on political decision-making, and could divert scarce public resources away from UN goals.

Last week, the UN General Assembly 74th Session’s first full week in New York City met amid High-level meetings on climate, health, the SDGs, financing for development, and Small Island Developing States. Over 90 Heads of State or Government convened at UN Headquarters for this political moment, described by the outgoing President of the General Assembly, María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés as “inextricably linked strands of DNA that make up our ‘blueprint’ for the world”.

Integral to this year’s session has been the heightened participation of corporate, philanthropic and financial actors in both the official, High-level meetings themselves and a variety of concurrent meetings including the SDG Business Forum, the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact Summit, UN Global Compact events, the Bloomberg Global Business Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Goalkeepers event.

UN High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development – 26 Sept

Civil society groups call for urgent reforms to combat illicit financial flows, abolish tax havens, introduce a global wealth tax and an intergovernmental body on tax cooperation.

New York, 26 September: The High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development which follows the SDG Summit, must urgently find ways to access the funds governments need to achieve the SDGs, say members of the Reflection Group*.

“The 2030 Agenda cites the enormous disparities of opportunity, wealth and power as one of the immense challenges to sustainable development. And yet governments are not doing nearly enough to tackle these challenges, despite a plethora of robust policy proposals emanating from civil society, academics and others”, say Kate Donald from the Center for Economic and Social Rights and Jens Martens from the Global Policy Forum.

The so-called ‘Climate Action Summit’ was an odd affair. It began with a youth dialogue, including a speech from Greta Thunberg, who called out the audience of heads of state and CEOs of some of the companies known for their inaction in the face of the climate emergency.

“How dare you say it is business as usual”, “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth, how dare you”, she said. This public telling off was greeted with tumultuous applause – perhaps showing that it was going to be business as usual after all.

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