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Implementation of the 2030 Agenda: “Sustainable development can only be achieved by putting people ahead of economic gain”

“Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, otherwise known as the 2030 Agenda, is the development agenda adopted by the United Nations in September 2015, agreed to by 193 member states – setting out 17 goals and 169 targets geared towards ending extreme poverty, fighting inequality and injustice, and protecting the planet over the next 15 years.

Interview with Alanieta Vakatale, CPDE Pacific Regional Coordinator in the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (PIANGO)

1-.What is the meaning of the 2030 Agenda?

“Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, otherwise known as the 2030 Agenda, is the development agenda adopted by the United Nations in September 2015, agreed to by 193 member states – setting out 17 goals and 169 targets geared towards ending extreme poverty, fighting inequality and injustice, and protecting the planet over the next 15 years.

2-. What do you consider as strategic elements on these new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

As a Pacific islander and someone who comes from a region of the world that still relies very much on the environment for its livelihood, I consider of particular interest the inclusion of Goals 13, 14 and 15 respectively on Climate Action, Oceans and Biodiversity. We consider these a huge accomplishment and also a recognition that we cannot continue to operate without any regard for planetary boundaries, for the sake of profit and pure economic gain. However whilst we view these goals as achievements, there are very real concerns as to whether national governments in small island developing states will have the means to implement these goals/targets and its corresponding indicators. Furthermore, there are risks that traditional ODA countries will not meet their commitments nor will there be sufficient climate financing diverted to those nations which need this (for e.g. Kiribati, Tuvalu, Tokelau, Maldives).

We enter in the implementation phase, which means translating the 2030 Agenda into concrete national plans. The role CSOs will play in the monitoring, influencing and determining national priorities will be crucial for the achievement of these goals.

3-. How can regional and national platforms coordinate and strengthen the advocacy work?

Regional NGO platforms and national platforms have an important role to play in the on-going advocacy work surrounding the implementation of Agenda 2030. Regional platforms are particularly well placed to coordinate advocacy work by their different constituents in country or national platforms, by leveraging off their existing relationships. This being the case, however, there is a need for proper resourcing to be given to regional & national platforms to conduct the necessary work & advocacy. Resourcing in this instance could then be devoted to: (i) translating advocacy materials into local language; (ii) peer-to-peer learning through teleconferences (specifically to reach those countries which do not have optimum internet connectivity); (iii) regional capacity building workshops for key national CSO actors; (iv) the creation of localized advocacy materials for Agenda 2030.

3-. In the framework of the 2030 Agenda, a global civil society initiative called Action for Sustainable Development (A4SD) met in Istanbul on 7-8 March 2016. Which were the central debates of this meeting?

Actually, the name “Action for Sustainable Development”, accompanied by the tag line “A global civil society platform” was decided in Istanbul. The major points of the Istanbul meeting around the construction of A4SD were for key civil society partners to: draw lessons learnt from previous Agenda 2030 related campaigns and draw conclusions for future joint work on Sustainable Development; revise and agree on the core understanding of the global civil society coordination on sustainable development; agree on the next practical steps for 2016 and the further process.

The Central debates regarding the organization of the A4SD group tackled the following issues: the group organization either as a campaign, a coalition, a social movement or a Platform; the identity of the group; the mission statement; the structure and its rules of governance.

The “Action for Sustainable Development” statement agreed to in Istanbul reaffirms that sustainable development can only be achieved by putting people & the planet ahead of economic gain and derogatory growth models.

5-. How do you think this initiative can keep momentum during the 15 years of the 2030 Agenda implementation?

Given that the “Action for Sustainable Development” statement is designed for an Agenda that has a 15 year timeline, there will be occasions when there may be a need for civil society to revisit the statements contained therein and question its relevance and/or whether there is a need to update the same. This exercise would be best served by conducting a 2 yearly global meeting of all civil society stakeholders involved in the platform where partners could dwell on lessons learnt, challenges, successes and consider the relevance of the “Action for Sustainable Development” statement.

6-. What would you consider the main results of the A4SD meeting?

The meeting resolved that, first, the group would function and operate moving forward as a platform, making it relatively simple for like-minded civil society organizations, social movements, campaigns and platforms (regional and national) to join and/or leave whenever they so desired.
Four Working Groups were created under different areas of activity: Monitoring & Accountability, Innovative Solutions, Policy coordination and Public mobilization. Since the Istanbul meeting, the work has progressed with regular working group calls.

The next physical meeting of A4SD will be held in Bogota, Colombia (29 April 2016) alongside the International Civil Society Week to finalize the governance process of the platform.

If you wish to know more about this initiative, please visit the Action for Sustainable Development (A4SD) website or write an e-mail to csosdgs@gmail.com.