Policymakers and policy experts urge move from “promise to practice” on the Sustainable Development Goals
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres argues that the 2030 Agenda governments adopted presents long-term solutions to global problems but requires joint efforts to be successful. His contribution opens a new report on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through social, environmental, and economic policies, and on the critical foundations of equality, universality, and peace. The United Nations Association of the United Kingdom (UNA-UK) released the publication, SDGs: from promise to practice, on March 20, 2017 as part of a global development series that supports the United Nations’ efforts to encourage, advise, and monitor the implementation of the 2030 development agenda.
The report brings together actors from the United Nations, national governments, business, academia, and civil society to assess how the SDGs have evolved in their first year after adoption, and what is necessary to deliver on their promise. As Natalie Samarasinghe, Executive Director of UNA-UK explains, strong action is needed “to increase momentum towards the targets that are within reach (…) and turn the tide in the areas where the world remains seriously off track.”
Proposals for implementation and evidence-based recommendations are presented in the areas of society, environment, equality, economy, and politics. Professor Maria Ivanova, Director of the Center for Governance and Sustainability at UMass Boston, and Natalia Escobar-Pemberthy, Research Associate at the Center, co-authored one of the articles in the environment section discussing the need to integrate development and environmental protection.
In the report’s introduction, the UN Secretary-General reinforces the relevance and urgent nature of the SDGs, as they are also “by far, the best way to prevent conflict and maintain stability” inviting governments to take the lead defining specific mechanisms to integrate the SDGs into national and regional development plans, “mobilizing resources, building relevant capacity and engaging all stakeholders:, to guarantee that all the actors involved contribute , and that experiences are exchanged through “follow up, review, and learning”.
UN officers such as Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General, and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, present their perspectives on a range of issues including the fight against inequality with human rights, land restoration, the importance of soft power for peace and development, and gender rights. The group of authors also includes representatives of the World Bank, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Oxfam, Greenpeace International, the Earth Institute, Stakeholder Forum, and the Overseas Development Institute, among others.
Ultimately, the report highlights the shared and universal nature of the SDGs, calling for partnerships and coalitions that bring together “governments, international organizations, the private sector, civil society and (…) global citizens” to achieve progress on the targets and promote sustainable development.
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