National reports

According to UN estimates, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require an investment of the order of US$ 5,000 to 7,000 billion – annually!1 The need for financing seems enormous, but is put into a certain perspective if we remember that annual global economic output (measured as the combined gross domestic products of all countries) is estimated by the World Bank at around US$ 76,000 billion. The need for funding must also be set off against the funds that are looking for investment opportunities. These naturally include pension fund assets, which by their nature have a long investment horizon. In 2014, the assets under management at the 300 largest public and private pension funds in the world totalled US$ 15,400 billion. And in 2016, assets invested by Swiss pension funds alone stood at CHF 823.9 billion. Enormous sums of money pass through Switzerland’s financial centre overall. For example, in 2018 there is more than CHF 6,170 billion held in securities in customer accounts with Swiss and Liechtenstein banks – assets that are used in investment advisory and/or asset management services.
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.
Inequality in the UK is projected to rise in the coming years. A historically low unemployment rate means that more households are earning a living from the labour market. At the same time, tax changes and social security cuts introduced since 2012 have had a particularly severe effect on people on lower incomes. Black and ethnic minority households, families with at least one disabled member, and lone parents (who are overwhelmingly women) have suffered disproportionately. The UK is well known for its strong legislation on equalities. The Equality Act 2010 was a significant contribution in this regard. However, eight years since its adoption, the Act has not yet been implemented in full. Successive governments have failed to bring into effect the socio-economic duty, which requires public authorities to have due regard to the desirability of reducing material inequality.
In this world, 800 million people go hungry every day and 2 billion suffer from some form of malnutrition. In this same world, according to the FAO, as of 2011 more than a third of the adult population is obese and a third of all food produced is lost or wasted. Though it is said that hunger doesn’t discriminate, the poorest nations are suffering the most. This year’s Global Health Index (GHI) has put a lot of priority on how inequality of all forms determines food insecurity in a country. It is very important to discuss this correlation because everyone needs to be aware and empathetic towards what continues to happen. It is the people or group with the least social, economic or political power - those who are discriminated against or disadvantaged-- who are most affected by food and agricultural policies, but have little say in policy debates dominated by powerful governments and multilateral corporations. With continuing globalization, land grabbing is rampant. LDC countries often face pressure to shape their agricultural policies to suit the preferences of large corporations looking to control the world’s food supply.
Gross inequalities, arising from and seriously compounding the obscene accumulation and concentration of wealth, have become the defining issue of our time. In some quarters, particularly those inhabited by die-hard market fundamentalists, contrary to the existential threats it invokes, it is believed to be a universal default setting of human society – ordained by Fukuyama-ist end-of-history normalcy, leave alone, finality. As a critical element of the ever- deepening crisis, it is producing a toxic political-economic and ecological situation, the adverse historical implications to which neoliberal political dispositions remain unresponsive, if not utterly oblivious. No wonder it has become the single most important challenge facing humankind, particularly in respect to the accompanying deficit in democratic governance and peaceful coexistence between different sections of societies and even between nations.
As controversial as it may still be for some, the historical involvement of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the development of Arab world countries over the past three or four decades—Jordan included—is a perfect of representation of the chronic foreign dependency of many of region’s (e.g., modern Levant) countries in the new millennium: A seemingly insurmountable dependency on support from bilateral and multilateral partners, under an almost permanent state of domestic or regional tension.
Three years after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by the international community, France has launched a strategy to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This should lead to a ‘Road Map’ that will be presented at the United Nations in September 2019. On 26 April 2018 Brune Poirson, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition, and Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, convened for the first time the High-Level Steering Committee for the implementation of the SDGs. The Steering Committee is a forum for debate and exchange to collectively build, with public and private actors, the roadmap on the implementation by France of the 17 SDGs. Ms. Laurence Monnoyer-Smith, General Commissioner and Interministerial Delegate for Sustainable Development is responsible for coordinating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
The global journey towards sustainable development has multiple routes, levels, interlinkages and perspectives. Different countries’ starting points are diverse and unequal, as are civil society organizations’ possibilities to participate. The conditions in Finland, a Northern European nation of 5.5 million inhabitants, are among the most conducive. Finland celebrated 100 years of independence on 6 December 2017. For most of these years, that is, since the 1918 civil war and the wars of the 1940s, Finnish society has been able to progress in peaceful conditions. Nowadays, Finland is used to being given top ranking in international country comparisons, as in the 2018 World Happiness Report and the most stable country in the 2018 Fragile States Index.
This report provides a critical appraisal of the Cyprus Government efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda with a focus on education. On July 2017 the Agriculture Minister of the Republic of Cyprus, who addressed the High-level Political Forum for Sustainable Development at UN headquarters in New York, stated that Cyprus has achieved great progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. He highlighted the importance at an international level of the application of the 17 SDGs and gave an account of Cyprus’ progress so far. The international non-profit centre CARDET participated in the UN forum with a report from the civil society perspective. An emphasis was placed on efforts to raise awareness among Cypriot citizens on the SDGs and their implementation at local, national and regional contexts.
Brazil made meaningful progress in tackling poverty from 2000 to 2013, largely with the aim of addressing the concentration of wealth and economic power. Most of this progress was a result of public investments in health, education, cash transfer programmes and social protection provision. Not coincidentally, the country’s economy thrived from burgeoning domestic demand. Brazil also set an example in its initial response to the 2008-2009 global economic crisis by increasing social investments,1 which in turn sustained the economy while promoting human rights.
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