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Who is paying the bill? (Negative) impacts of EU policies and practices in the world

Who_is_paying_the_bill_2019_web_smallStudying EU policies thoroughly means studying policies of externalization. The thirteen chapters assembled in this publication constitute an impressive – impressively gloomy though – evidence for this assertion. Wherever you turn your eyes, whatever policy domain you may be concerned with: What at first glance may seem to be part of the European Union’s internal policies immediately turns out to be a story of externalities, a matter of spill-over effects transcending the borders of the European polity. And more often than not it is negative externalities that come into sight. Negative externalities that we should be talking about instead of obsessively trying to ignore them.

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Sustainable Development Needs a Hardware Update

logo-IPSWhen UN Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs in September 2015, they signaled with the title Transforming our World that ‘business as usual’ is no longer an option and fundamental changes in politics and society are necessary. Four years later they have to admit that they are off-track to achieve the SDGs. The global civil society report Spotlight on Sustainable Development 2019 shows that in many areas there is no progress at all, and in some even regression. In an op-ed published by IPS Inter Press Service, Jens Martens, executive director of Global Policy Forum and coordinator of the international Civil Society Reflection Group on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development explains that a simple software update (of policies, norms and standards) is not enough – we have to revisit and reshape the hardware of sustainable development (i.e. governance and institutions at all levels).

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Overcoming barriers to reduce inequalities: Policies to leave no one behind and achieve greater equality

HLPF19_SideEvent_ReducedInequalities_SDG10_Seite_1The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Association of German Development and Humanitarian Aid NGOs (VENRO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) are hosting a side event on Reducing Inequalities within and among countries (SDG 10). Reducing inequalities is essential for overcoming extreme poverty (SDG 1) and a successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda as a whole. Many countries experience high and increasing inequalities. A reversal of this trend is not in sight. Therefore, it is paramount to take political action towards reaching this central goal of the 2030 Agenda.

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Conversation with authors of the global Civil Society Report: Spotlight on Sustainable Development 2019

Spotlight_Report_2019_CoverFour years after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda the world is off-track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Most governments have failed to turn the transformational vision of the 2030 Agenda into real transformational policies. Even worse, xenophobia and authoritarianism are on the rise in a growing number of countries. But there are signs of change. The implementation of the 2030 Agenda is not just a matter of better policies. It requires more holistic and more sweeping shifts in how and where power is vested, including through institutional, legal, social, economic and political commitments to realizing human rights and ecological justice. For this reason, the Spotlight Report 2019 has as main topic “reshaping governance for sustainability”. It offers analysis and recommendations on the global governance that sustainability requires, as well as on how to strengthen inclusive and participatory governance to overcome structural obstacles and institutional gaps. Since 2016, the annual Spotlight Report has been published and supported by a broad range of civil society organizations and trade unions. It provides one of the most comprehensive independent assessments of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. At the roundtable event on July 11th in New York authors of the Spotlight Report 2019 will present key findings and recommendations to participants for discussion.



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A tale of multiple disconnects: Why the 2030 Agenda does not (yet?) contribute to moving German gender equality struggles forward

Disconnects-2030-Agenda-Germany-ENkA new discussion paper by UN Women, authored by Hannah Birkenröter, Gabriele Köhler and Anke Stock, addresses the percolation and domestication of the United Nations’ “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – Transforming our World” in Germany with a view to understanding its impact on domestic gender equality policies. Concentrating on federal-level policymaking, the main finding of the study is that the 2030 Agenda and SDG 5 have, as of yet, not had a discernible impact on domestic gender equality struggles. This is surprising, since the 2030 Agenda offers a holistic conception of sustainability, and thus has the “value added” advantage of merging and transcending the rather disjointed gender, social justice, and ecological sustainability policy strands.

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Nicht auf der Höhe

NIcht_auf_der_Hohe_-_Banner_-_neukDas Nachhaltigkeitsjahr 2019 muss für einen klaren Appell an die Bundesregierung genutzt werden: Sie muss mehr Bewegung in die Umsetzung der Agenda 2030 mit ihren 17 Zielen für nachhaltige Entwicklung bringen und die internationale Verantwortung Deutschlands für Nachhaltigkeit und Gerechtigkeit zu einem wichtigen Kriterium ihrer politischen Entscheidungen machen. Bereits jetzt verstärkt sich die Sorge, einzelne Ziele im Jahr 2020 bzw. 2030 nicht mehr zu erreichen. Die große transformative Wirkung, die von der Agenda 2030 ausgehen sollte, lässt weiter auf sich warten. Vor diesem Hintergrund wollen wir die Vielzahl von zivilgesellschaftlichen Akteuren, die die Umsetzung der Agenda 2030 in, mit und durch Deutschland begleiten und voranbringen, zusammenbringen, um gemeinsam an die Verpflichtungen der Regierungen aus dem Jahr 2015 zu erinnern. Der Gipfel soll eine Plattform für Austausch und Strategieentwicklung bieten.

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Panel Discussion: Prevention, Liability and Rights of the Victims

gpf_logo_4cThe transformation of our world as proclaimed in the title of the 2030 Agenda requires fundamental changes in the way our societies produce and consume goods and services. However, far too often, corporate profits are systematically fed by poor working conditions, low environmental standards and even by human rights abuses and violations. Instruments to prevent and hold corporations accountable for human rights abuses and the violation of social and environmental standards are weak. Against this background, the UN Human Rights Council’s resolution of 26 June 2014 establishing an open-ended intergovernmental working group to elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate the activities of transnational corporations. In July 2018, the Chair of the working group published a zero draft for the prospective treaty. Preventative measures, including but not limited to mandatory human rights due diligence, linked with legal liability, and the clarification and definition of the rights of affected and threatened communities will be three central elements of the prospective treaty. In a panel discussion on April 15 in New York, we will discuss how the zero draft addresses these topics.

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Who influences whom in the policy arena? Statisticians seek greater voice

GPW29_2019_03_25A common theme that ran through the 50th Session of the UN Statistical Commission, March 2019, was the often tense interface between data and policy-making and the asymmetrical power dynamics that shape it. This was evident in the several reports submitted for consideration by the Commission. One from the UN Statistics Division (UNSD) reported on the federated system of data hubs, designed to integrate new data sources into a platform which is accessible to National Statistics Offices (NSOs) and creates comparable data among users. Another was a proposal by the High-Level Group for Partnership, Cooperation, and Capacity Building for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for a UN Chief Statistician to enhance the voice of statistics in UN policy processes.

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Measuring the SDGs – Who controls the process, who owns the results?

20190304-UN-M-02-Measuring-the-SDGsStatisticians from around the world, meeting at the UN Statistical Commission in March, will again take stock of progress in the world of data over the previous 12 months, largely driven by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The official report on filling the gaps in the global indicator framework—a clear priority of the 2018 Commission—show that while some progress has been made much has stalled. Gaps and tensions continue over the selection and interpretation of indicators, the data to fill them, the selection of partners as well as control of the process and ownership of the results.

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Social Protection: Hot Topic but Contested Agenda

GPW28_2019_02_26Social protection has surfaced to the top of multiple agendas, from human rights to the promotion of economic growth, from decent work to economic, social and gender equality. Its champions, particularly at the global level, include a host of different players, with different priorities, institutions and policy streams, all competing to define the concept and own the discourse.

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Open Letter: World leaders must stop fuelling inequality

fight_inequalities_logoAs governments and global leaders gather in the coming months at several summits and meetings, from the UN High Level Political Forum in New York, to the G7 summit and the UN General Assembly, fighting inequality will once again be high on the agenda. But they are failing to deal with inequality crisis. This open letter is written by the growing global movement to fight inequality - to call out the failure of the current approach by governments and to set out a vision for radical change. Leadership is coming from people on the frontlines of inequality, not politicians. Governments and leaders must follow their calls to truly #fightinequality.

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Press Statement: Sustainable development needs fundamental governance changes

Spotlight_Innenteil_2019_web_little“The world is off-track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Most governments have failed to turn the transformational vision of the 2030 Agenda into real transformational policies. Even worse, xenophobia and authoritarianism are on the rise in a growing number of countries… The implementation of the 2030 Agenda is not just a matter of better policies. It requires more holistic and more sweeping shifts in how power is vested, including through institutional and governance reforms… A simple software update is not enough – we have to revisit and reshape the hardware of sustainable development, i.e. governance and institutions at all levels.” This is the main message of the Spotlight Report 2019, one of the most comprehensive independent assessments of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The report is launched on the day before the opening of the High Level Political Forum at the United Nations in New York by a global coalition of civil society organizations and trade unions.

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Launch Spotlight Report Sustainablity in Europe: Who is paying the Bill? (Negative) impacts of EU policies and practices in the World

sdg-watchThe 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted unanimously at the United Nations in September 2015 is highly ambitious. It should also form the basis for all policies of the European Union. But four years after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda the world is off-track to achieve the SDGs. Most governments have failed to turn the transformational vision of the 2030 Agenda into real transformational policies. The EU is still lacking a comprehensive strategy on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its ambitious commitments to action. On average, the EU has one of the world’s worst environmental footprint per capita, with our unsustainable lifestyles based on resource and labour exploitation in other parts of the world. The economy of the future needs to take into account the environmental and social impact beyond our borders rather than living in the illusion of a low-carbon, resource efficient Europe that exports resource-intensive production to other parts of the world. At the launching event on July 15th in New York authors of the Spotlight Report Sustainability in Europe will present in some important policy areas where there is an urgent need for action, because the external effects of European policies are not sufficiently taken into account.

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National Reports on 2030 Agenda - What do they (not) tell us?

HLPF_Side_Event_11.6.19_flyer_smSocial Watch and Global Policy Forum are members of Civil Society Reflection Group on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that publishes the global Spotlight Report assessing the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. This year’s report focuses on governance arrangements, structures and institutions, including attention to the limitations of the High-level Political Forum and the VNRs. In the 2030 Agenda governments promised “accountability to our citizens”. Civil societies responded by multiplying their own national and regional “spotlight” reports and engaging with governments in a variety of ways about their findings. Social Watch helps to link those processes with the global follow-up and review. In a side-event, together with the committee for Development Policy and UNDP, we will present and discuss the importance of national reporting on the 2030 Agenda, both by governments (VNRs) and civil society (“spotlight” or “shadow” reports).

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Diskussionsveranstaltung: Weltwirtschaft gerecht gestalten

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Die aktuelle Weltwirtschaft ist weit davon entfernt, sozial und ökologisch nachhaltig zu sein. Die Nutzung natürlicher Ressourcen überschreitet die planetaren Grenzen, die soziale Ungleichheit nimmt weiter zu und die Folgen der Klimakrise werden immer offensichtlicher. Während vor allem international agierende Unternehmen von der derzeitigen Weltwirtschaftsordnung profitieren, leiden viele Menschen weltweit unter schlechten Arbeitsbedingungen oder Umweltbelastungen. Während Handels- und Investitionsschutzabkommen Unternehmen Zugang zu Märkten und Rohstoffen sichern und ihre Interessen mit einklagbaren Rechten schützen, gibt es bis heute kein internationales Abkommen, das eine verbindliche Regulierung transnationaler Unternehmen zur Achtung von Menschenrechten oder grundlegenden Umweltstandards verlangt. Bei einer Diskussionsveranstaltung von GPF, BUND, Brot für die Welt und MISEREOR werden zivilgesellschaftliche Vertreter*innen aus Liberia, Uganda und den Philippinen, die sich gegen Menschenrechtsverletzungen und Umweltzerstörung durch multinationale Unternehmen zur Wehr setzen mit deutschen Parlamentarier*innen aus Berlin und Brüssel diskutieren, welchen Beitrag Deutschland zu einer sozial und ökologisch nachhaltigen Weltwirtschaft leisten kann und welche Rolle ein UN-Abkommen zu Wirtschaft und Menschenrechten dabei spielen könnte.

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In Love-Hate with the United Nations?

f648e7c384On the one hand, the United States is “Number One” as contributor to the UN regular budget as well as to the budgets of the UN peacekeeping operations. On the other hand, the United States is also the largest debtor caused by either partially or fully deferred payments. This leads to a vicious circle: Large amounts of unpaid assessed contributions cause tremendous administrative difficulties for the programme budgeting activities of the UN. Also, many UN Specialized Agencies suffer under the US financial behaviour. The United States is in favour of shifting from assessed to voluntary contributions. Since most of them are restricted to specific projects or countries, this would imply that the US as the most important donor of voluntary contributions would also become the dominant decision-maker in the UN. The author analyses the funding behaviour of the United States over the last decades and shows that financial leverages are an inherent policy tool of the US vis-à-vis the UN.

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A Fatal Attraction - Business engagement with the 2030 Agenda

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Governments have dedicated a pivotal role to the private sector in the implementation and financing of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. This has pushed a turn towards the private sector, the promotion of multi-stakeholder partnerships between public and private actors. However, far too often there is a considerable gap between the social and environmental commitments companies make publicly in political fora like the UN and the actual effects of their production patterns and investment strategies on people and the environment. A new working paper, published by Brot für die Welt, Global Policy Forum and MISEREOR provides an overview of the ways and means by which the UN involves business actors in the debates around the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. It describes new initiatives and alliances of business actors around SDG implementation at the international level, and their main messages and policy proposals. With a few selected examples it contrasts the sustainability rhetoric of corporations with their business reality. And finally, the working paper draws conclusions and formulates recommendations for policymakers on how to increase the benefits of UN-business interactions in implementing the 2030 Agenda - and how to reduce associated risks and negative side effects.

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Nachhaltig nur auf dem Papier? Die ambivalente Rolle der Wirtschaft bei der Umsetzung der SDGs

Briefing_0319_Nachhaltig_auf_dem_PapierImmer mehr Unternehmen setzen sich öffentlich für die Umsetzung der Agenda 2030 ein und beziehen sich in ihren Nachhaltigkeitsberichten auf die Ziele für nachhaltige Entwicklung (SDGs). Ihre Unternehmenspraxis sieht jedoch oft anders aus: Immer wieder klagen Betroffene über Menschenrechtsverletzungen und Umweltverschmutzung entlang der Lieferkette transnationaler Unternehmen. Der Umsetzungsprozess der Agenda 2030 wird von einer wachsenden Zahl von Wirtschaftsakteuren als willkommene Gelegenheit gesehen, dieser Kritik zu begegnen, den Diskurs in ihrem Sinne zu gestalten und politische Entscheidungen entsprechend zu beeinflussen. Ein neues Briefing von Brot für die Welt, Global Policy Forum und MISEREOR zeigt auf, dass das Engagement der Wirtschaft für die SDGs und der Unternehmenseinfluss auf den SDG-Diskurs mit Risiken und Nebenwirkungen verbunden sind. Sie betreffen die Botschaften, die Problemanalysen, die Lösungsvorschläge und die von führenden Wirtschaftsvertreter/innen befürworteten Governance-Modelle. Unternehmen spielen bei der Umsetzung der SDGs zweifellos eine wichtige Rolle. Diese Rolle anzuerkennen darf jedoch keinesfalls bedeuten, die weitere Akkumulation von privatem Reichtum und wirtschaftlicher Macht zu fördern, die Tür für den Einfluss der Wirtschaftslobby auf die Politik weiter zu öffnen und die Verantwortung zu ignorieren, die einige Industriesektoren für die Schaffung und Verschärfung genau der Probleme tragen, die mit der Agenda 2030 bewältigt werden sollen. Vielmehr ist es notwendig, dass Regierungen und Parlamente politische Gestaltungsmacht für die sozial-ökologische Transformation zurückgewinnen, verbindliche Regeln für den Bereich Wirtschaft und Menschenrechte etablieren und den Unternehmenseinfluss auf die Politik grundsätzlich begrenzen.

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Bundesregierung verweigert Kommentierung von UN-Abkommen zu Wirtschaft und Menschenrechten

GPF_Logo_4CDie Bundesregierung zeigt kein Interesse an einem verbindlichen UN-Abkommen zu Wirtschaft und Menschenrechten, das weltweit Standards für Unternehmen setzen soll, die Menschenrechte zu wahren und die Umwelt zu schützen. So hat die Regierungskoalition die Frist zur schriftlichen Kommentierung des ersten Entwurfs für ein verbindliches UN-Abkommen zu Wirtschaft und Menschenrechten am 28. Februar dieses Jahres verstreichen lassen, ohne sich zu dem Abkommen zu positionieren. Zwar hatte sich das federführende Auswärtige Amt für eine Kommentierung ausgesprochen, konnte sich dem Vernehmen nach damit im Kabinett jedoch nicht durchsetzen. Brot für die Welt, der Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND), Global Policy Forum und MISEREOR kritisieren in einer gemeinsamen Pressemitteilung, dass die Bundesregierung damit ihre Blockade eines Abkommens fortsetzt, das zur Durchsetzung der Menschenrechte in globalen Wertschöpfungsketten dringend erforderlich ist.

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UN Statistical Commission – 2019

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The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has become a premier driver and justification for institutional and financial reforms along with the collection and analysis of more and more sophisticated data and statistics. Many UN Commissions are contributing to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One of these is the UN Statistical Commission, which meets for its 50th annual session 5 – 8 March 2019 at the UN headquarters in New York.

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