Will a Global Fund Help Deliver UN’s Development Agenda?

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Jul 19 2019 (IPS)

The United Nations, which has been tracking both the successes
and failures of its highly-ambitious Agenda for Sustainable
Development, has warned that “progress has been slow” in many
of the 17 Goals after four years of implementation.

Described as “a global blueprint for dignity, peace and
prosperity for people and the planet”, the 2030 Agenda has left
several lingering questions unanswered following a High-Level
Political Forum (HLPF) which concluded July 19.

Why are countries faltering on their Sustainable Development
Goals (SDGs) which were adopted by world leaders in 2015? Is it due
to a decline in development aid? A lack of political will? Or is
the agenda far too ambitious in its lofty goals? And will a new
global fund help deliver the development agenda by 2030?

Asked for a response, Oli Henman, Global Coordinator of Action
for Sustainable Development, who participated in the HLPF, told
IPS: “Based on our analysis of the delivery of the SDGs in many
countries and our shadow reports from national coalitions alongside
the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) at the HLPF, there are
several reasons for the delays”.

Firstly, many countries are delivering in a piecemeal way, with
limited national plans, and many countries only focus on a few
goals while ignoring the majority of the goals.

Secondly, there does not seem to be sufficient political will in
a number of key countries which could be leading the way. Instead,
in many Northern countries, inequality and xenophobia are on the
rise, he added.

Finally, in terms of development aid, there are still very
limited funds to support the transformation promised by the
SDGs.

“We urgently call for a global fund to support the grassroots
delivery of the 2030 Agenda”, said Henman of ActionAid, speaking
on behalf of a new and rapidly growing decentralised network of
over 2,000 civil society organisations (CSOs) and local activists
in more than 160 countries.

In a report released just ahead of the ministerial meeting of
the HLPF, the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs
(DESA) said “there is no escaping the fact that the global
landscape for SDG implementation has generally deteriorated since
2015, hindering the efforts of governments and other partners.
Moreover, the commitment to multilateral cooperation, so central to
implementing our major global agreements, is now under
pressure.”

A new joint declaration, “Stand Together Now for a Just,
Peaceful and Sustainable World”, adopted by dozens of CSOs July
17, said: “We are standing alongside many others around the world
in calling out a state of emergency. Humanity cannot afford to
wait, people are demanding transformative change, and we are not
willing to accept the current lack of action and ambition from many
governments.” full text

The call to action comes from a wide range of CSOs, including
those working on fighting inequality, humanitarian assistance,
human rights and climate change, such as Action for Sustainable
Development, ACT Alliance, ActionAid, Amnesty International, CAN,
CIVICUS, CPDE, GCAP, Greenpeace, Oxfam and Restless
Development.

Asked whether some of the goals, including the eradication of
extreme poverty and hunger, be ever reached by 2030, Henman said
the Goals are under threat because in many countries government
policies and priorities mean inequality is rising, conflict has
increased, and the opportunity to speak out is under threat.

“The lack of a joined-up approach to tackling the underlying
challenges of extreme poverty and inequality is further under
threat from climate displacement and increasing concentration of
land and wealth. People are being pushed off their land and losing
the right to speak out,” he declared.

Meanwhile, the network of CSO says that inequality is rising,
with the
26 richest billionaires
now owning as many assets as the 3.8
billion people who make up the poorest half of the planet’s
population.

“The climate emergency is worsening, with the United Nations
saying we could have just 11
years left
to limit a climate change catastrophe”.

A global crackdown on human rights means that only 43 UN member
states are currently meeting their commitments to uphold the
fundamental civic freedoms of expression, association and peaceful
assembly.

At the same time, the majority of countries that have signed up
to the SDGs, are not making the progress needed to avert a global
break down.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@ips.org

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Will a Global Fund Help Deliver UN’s Development Agenda?

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Will a Global Fund Help Deliver UN’s Development Agenda?