News Selection – Sustainable Development Goals
Recent news chosen to update Tread Softly briefings on the Sustainable Development Goals.
Is poverty inevitable?
18/9/2018: This year’s Goalkeepers Data Report from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation warns that decades of stunning progress in the fight against poverty and disease may be on the verge of stalling. Source: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Tread Softly Comment: The purpose of this annual report is to monitor "progress toward the Global Goals" for sustainable development. Every chart for the goals discussed in the report projects failure to achieve the relevant target by 2030, even on the best case scenario of coordinated action. Yet there is no comment to that effect, nor discussion as to what needs to be done to "leave no one behind." Relevant Briefing: From MDGs to SDGs
The EU needs a stability and wellbeing pact, not more growth
16/9/2018: 238 academics call on the European Union and its member states to plan for a post-growth future in which human and ecological wellbeing is prioritised over GDP. Source: The Guardian
So three years in, what do we know about the impact of the SDGs?
7/9/2018: Why we should devote so much time and attention to the Sustainable Development Goals, when other international instruments, such as UN Conventions, are more binding? Source: From Poverty to Power
Tread Softly Comment: Duncan Green, strategic adviser for Oxfam GB and influential blogger, has long expressed scepticism that recent progress in human development should be attributed to non-binding goals promoted by the UN. Whilst that question should be asked, it overlooks the strategic basis of the SDGs that depends on civil society holding governments to account for progress. A current shortcoming is the absence of a movement comparable to the Make Poverty History campaign which had real success during the first decade of the century. Relevant Briefing: From MDGs to SDGs
Civil society looks to independent review of SDGs, beyond government reporting
7/8/2018: The United Nations’ annual review of the Sustainable Development Goals has come and gone, but the hard work of assessing governments’ voluntary status updates is just beginning for some civil society organizations. Source: Devex
Tread Softly Comment: The flimsy commitment to 2018 national progress reporting on the Sustainable Development Goals is a poor advertisement for the fashion that international agreements should be voluntary. The yawning gaps are supposedly to be filled by civil society which in many countries is far too weak to monitor government policy and results at this level of detail. The bottom line is that the SDGs are in considerable trouble for lack of progress and we need a powerful movement to communicate that reality. Relevant Briefing: From MDGs to SDGs
‘Embed the essence of 2030 Agenda into everything,’ UN chief urges at close of Global Goals forum
18/7/2018: As the eight-day High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development drew to a close, the United Nations chief called on everyone to support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for “prosperity and peace on a healthy planet." Source: UN News
Tread Softly Comment: Negligible media and civil society coverage of the High Level review of SDG progress reflects the hint of desperation in this UN headline. Unusually, the Secretary General finds nothing positive to praise from the various progress reports published in recent weeks, resulting in a bland wrap up. The IISD video offers a little more energy. For a full-throated verdict that the "The world is off-track" on Agenda 2030, see the challenging Spotlight on Sustainable Development 2018. Relevant Briefing: From MDGs to SDGs
Q&A: Economist Jeffrey Sachs on jumpstarting lagging SDG progress
16/7/2017: All countries are off-track to meet the SDGs by 2030. Without official indicators or targeted national budgets, governments need to consider new, creative paths, including partnerships with tech companies, says Jeffrey Sachs. Source: Devex
Tread Softly Comment: As the UN's most articulate advocate of the Sustainable Development Goals, Professor Sachs is under some pressure at this week's High Level ministerial gathering. Quantitative progress reports are disappointing in content and number; government commitment is lacklustre (zero in US, according to Sachs). Undaunted, Sachs offers a fistful of interesting ideas for reviving sluggish human data collection with new real-time technologies. Relevant Briefing: From MDGs to SDGs
We Have to Redefine Policies for Sustainable Development
9/7/2018: The civil society report Spotlight on Sustainable Development 2018 shows that policies in a growing number of countries are seriously undermining the goals of the 2030 Agenda. What is to be done? Source: Inter Press Service
Tread Softly Comment: A thoughtful analysis by the Director of Global Policy Forum. He believes that our contemporary economic model featuring an impoverished public sector, a satiated but unequal private sector, pressure to increase military spending and continued tolerance of environmental flummery - together ignore the SDG principle to "leave no one behind". Relevant Briefing: Globalisation Winners and Losers
The challenge of leaving no one behind
5/6/2018: The commitment to ‘leave no one behind’ in pursuit of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals is inspiring but immensely challenging. The necessary acceleration in social convergence will require an unrelenting focus on the most disadvantaged.
Forget GDP: it’s time for a wellbeing economy
18/3/2018: Recognition of the limits of GDP as a measure of progress is nothing new. What is needed now is an indicator that reflects wellbeing for people and planet.
Is the good life possible with sustainable development?
21/2/2018: A UK research project concludes that environmental resource use would need to decline by a factor of two to six times for all the world’s people to live well within planetary boundaries. Is this too much to ask?