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Events during the 2019 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

Conversation with authors of the global Civil Society Report


Reshaping governance for sustainability: Transforming institutions – shifting power - strengthening rights

Baha'i International Community, conference room, 866 UN Plaza, New York
11 July 2019, 9:30-11:30AM

Four 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. New social movements have emerged worldwide. They not only challenge bad or inefficient government policies, but also share a fundamental critique of underlying social structures, power relations and governance arrangements.

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 authors of the Spotlight Report 2019 will present key findings and recommendations to participants for discussion.


  • Welcome by Luise Rürup (FES New York Office) and Barbara Adams (Global Policy Forum)
  • Brief statements by Jens Martens (Global Policy Forum), Roberto Bissio (Social Watch), Kate Donald (CESR), Antonia Wulff (Education International), Abigail Ruane (Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom)
  • Comments by Katja Hujo (UNRISD)
  • Discussion Moderator: Barbara Adams (Global Policy Forum)

Refreshments will be served. As space for this side event is limited, we kindly ask you to RSVP by 9 July 2019 to gpf[at]

Download the invitation and programme here (pdf, 161KB).

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

11 July, 2019 at 6 PM UN FF Building
304 East 45th Street, 11th floor
access with UN or HLPF access badge only

The side event will present and discuss the importance of national reporting on the 2030 Agenda, both by governments (VNRs) and civil society (“spotlight” or “shadow” reports).

The Committee for Development Policy (CDP) will present key findings of its analysis of 2018 VNRs. Voluntary national reviews (VNRs) are an important innovation as a United Nations process for follow-up to the adoption of development agendas, in particular the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The report analyses how countries addressed three key issues of the 2030 Agenda in the VNRs submitted in 2018: leaving no one behind; pursuing global partnership as means of implementation (SDG17); and quality education (SDG4). While the VNRs contain already many interesting examples as basis for mutual learning and sharing of good practices, the paper also identifies a need for more attention to these issues and more explicit discussions on strategies for their implementation.

Social 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.


Pedro Conceição, Director, Human Development Report Office, UNDP

  • Welcoming remarks and introduction

Prof. Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Professor for International Affairs at the New School and Vice-Chair of the CDP

  • Presentation of findings from CDP’s analysis on 2018 VNRs, with focus on the findings on LNOB

Roberto Bissio, Coordinator of the Social Watch International Secretariat

  • Summary of findings from national and regional “spotlight reports” from civil society, including inter alia Guatemala, the Philippines and Tunisia and the regional report on the EU and its “externalities”

Barbara Adams, Board Chair of the Global Policy Forum

  • Findings from the 2019 Spotlight Report with a focus on governance challenges for the 2030 Agenda and the HLPF

Interactive dialogue with other participants.

Download the invitation and programme here.

Launch Spotlight Report Sustainability in Europe

Who is paying the Bill ? (Negative) impacts of EU policies and practices in the World

Church Center - 10th floor, New York
Monday 15th of July - 16.30-18.00h

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted unanimously at the United Nations in September 2015 is highly ambitious. If taken seriously it has the potential to change the prevailing development paradigm by re-emphasizing the multidimensional and interrelated nature of sustainable development and its universal applicability. Consequently, it should also form the basis for all policies of the European Union.

The 2030 Agenda is universal, not just because the SDGs are global in scope, but also because all countries have to do something to achieve them. No country can deem itself to be sustainably developed and having already done its part to meet the SDGs. The 2030 Agenda offers the opportunity to challenge the idea that development is a phenomenon that occurs only in countries of the Global South while the North is already ‘developed’. This is especially true for 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. Even worse, xenophobia and authoritarianism are on the rise in a growing number of countries.

In January of 2019 the European Commission presented a “Reflection Paper” on how to deal with the 2030 Agenda. The paper, however, limits itself to outlining options for the Commission and the European Parliament to come after the European elections in May 2019. 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. Policy coherence for sustainable development requires to fully take into account the externalities and spill-over effects of European policies, production and consumption patterns.

Taking policy coherence into account means also a monitoring of the spill-over effects and set goals to limit them. Eurostat is not including externalities in their reporting, as indicators are (still) not existing.

This report shows 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.


  • Mr. Jens Martens – Global Policy Forum
  • Ms. Lonne Poissonier – CONCORD Europe
  • Ms Thao Hoang Phuong - ActionAid Vietnam,
  • Mr. Roberto Bissio – Social Watch
  • Mr. Gabor Figeczky- IFOAM
  • Repr of EC (tbc)

Moderated by Ms. Leida Rijnhout – SDG Watch Europe

Download the invitation here (pdf, 316KB).

Side Event on Reduced Inequalities (SDG 10)

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

July 15, 2019, 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations | Auditorium
Organzied by: The 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)

Reducing inequalities (SDG10) 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. Strong social protection and redistributive policies significantly reduce inequality within countries. Therefore, it is essential to develop overarching strategies, build universal social protection systems as well as assess and increase redistributive capacities. These measures have to ensure that no one is left behind and equitable access to protection against risks and against poverty for all people is guaranteed.

The panel will discuss the most persistent barriers to a sustained reduction of inequalities and the contribution of fiscal and social protection policies to overcome inequalities worldwide.

Refreshments and snacks will be served.

Please confirm your participation by July 11 to Ms. Johanna Hauf ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ), stating your name, position and affiliation.

For further questions, please contact Ms. Johanna Hauf or Ms. Sonja Grigat ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).


  • Dr Maria Flachsbarth Parliamentary State Secretary German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
  • Dr Luise Steinwachs Deputy Chair Association of German Development and Humanitarian Aid NGOs (VENRO)
  • Pedro Conceição Director Office of the Human Development Report, United Nations Development Program (UNDP)
  • Dr Chiara Mariotti Inequality Policy Manager Oxfam Great Britain
  • Wolfgang Schiefer Senior Multilateral Cooperation Specialist International Labour Organization (ILO)
  • Roberto Bissio Coordinator Social Watch and Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors
  • Esther Lusepani (tbc) Permanent Secretary Namibian Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare

Host: Dr Minu Hemmati

Download the invitation and programme here.


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