Stakeholders Provide Inputs on SDG Summit Zero Draft Political Declaration (SDGs Knowledge Hub)

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The co-facilitators for consultations on the political declaration of the SDG Summit – the permanent representatives of Ireland and Qatar – circulated the draft on 8 May 2023. Member States exchanged views on the zero draft during informal consultations on 16 May and 2 June. The next round of consultations on the political declaration is scheduled for 9 June.

Opening the dialogue, Neil Pierre, DESA, said the world is severely off track to achieve the SDGs by 2030. He said the SDG Summit will aim to put the SDGs back on course, and emphasized the role of engagement, collaboration, and partnerships in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Pierre said the informal dialogue provides an opportunity for parliamentarians, civil society, major groups, and other stakeholders to share concrete suggestions on the zero draft.  

Marina Ponti, UN SDG Action Campaign, underscored that while challenges may seem daunting, there is nothing human creativity cannot achieve “when we unite with a sense of urgency.” Providing “a sneak preview” of the new SDG Action Campaign to be launched in early July to mobilize people and institutions before September, she said its thrust is on being “united in action.” Unity is at the heart of the SDGs, Ponti explained, and achieving every Goal requires achieving them all. She called on everyone to unite across geographies and sectors, coming together in all our diversity, to give humanity and the planet a beautiful and sustainable future.

Co-Facilitator Fergal Mythen, Permanent Representative of Ireland, echoed Ponti’s sentiment, pointing out that united and interconnected, “we are in this together.” He stressed the need for the political declaration to: be clear and accessible; capture “the spirit of ambition”; inject realism, urgency, and hope in government efforts to implement the Goals; and get the SDGs back on track “for everyone, everywhere, all at once.”

Co-Facilitator Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani, Permanent Representative of Qatar, welcomed the active participation in consultations of stakeholders and major groups. Stressing the importance of addressing new and emerging challenges, she hoped for an action-oriented document, and encouraged participants to share their views that, she said, the co-facilitators will take into account.  

Naiara Costa, DESA, facilitated the dialogue. She said written inputs received thus far highlight action on youth and gender equality, education, poverty eradication, water, health, and partnerships, among other priorities. Costa urged stakeholders to continue submitting inputs that, she said, will be recorded and analyzed.

Foteini Papagioti, Major Groups and Other Stakeholders (MGoS) Coordination Mechanism, noted with concern that the draft has no time-bound actionable commitments. She called for bold and urgent action to address inequalities and discrimination and to reach those furthest behind first. Papagioti said the declaration needs to: reaffirm respect for international law and human rights, including the right to development; and center on women and girls, older persons, persons with disability, and children and youth, among other groups. She stressed the need to accelerate efforts to address gender-based violence, move beyond gross domestic product (GDP), adopt fiscal and universal social protection policies to promote inclusive growth, and protect ecosystems through culture-based approaches, among other priorities. Papagioti also urged for enabling meaningful engagement of stakeholders rather than “short interventions that do not begin to scratch the surface.”

Alexandra Xanthaki, UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, lamented the lack of representation of cultural rights, which, she said, need to be an integral part of sustainable development processes.

Paola Simonetti, Workers and Trade Unions, prioritized a strong call for a new social contract rooted in a gender-sensitive agenda. She underscored the need to reflect, inter alia:

Roberto Bissio, Social Watch, warned that if least developed countries (LDCs) are left behind, the SDGs will not be achieved. He called for indicators beyond GDP to recognize unpaid care work, mostly performed by women and girls, and identified the need to build a caring economy, whose multiplier effects, he said, are greater than those generated by investments in physical infrastructure.

Lucy Slack, Local Authorities, regretted that the zero draft does not reference localization and the role local governments play in achieving the SDGs. Highlighting the importance of multi-stakeholder governance, she underscored the need for commitment to empower local authorities and to translate national priorities into local ones.

Supporting a human rights-based approach, Hannah Kohn, LGBTI Persons, emphasized the importance of: leaving no one behind; respecting diversity, gender equality, and inclusivity; and committing to tackling gender-based violence.

Jordi Pascual, Culture2030Goal campaign, outlined the role of culture as the fourth pillar of sustainable development, describing it as a driver of development, diversity, and creativity. He called on leaders to “be bold and engage on culture.”

April Porteria, Asia-Pacific Regional Civil Society Organization (CSO) Engagement, hoped for an action-oriented political declaration that: shifts focus to catalyzing the multilateral system’s ability to prevent crises and to holding corporations accountable for causing environmental degradation across the Global South; includes stronger language on the primacy of human dignity; and realizes development justice for all.

Tabitha Mbuthia, Children and Youth, welcomed the zero draft’s focus on partnerships, requested that reference be made to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum as part of the preparatory process for the SDG Summit, and drew attention to young people’s inputs to the July session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) and the SDG Summit.

Gabriella Cuevas Barron, UHC2030, said at current rates of progress, half of the world’s population will lack access to healthcare by 2030. She highlighted universal healthcare (UHC) as an essential driver of poverty reduction and all SDGs and stressed the need for institutional mechanisms to build equitable and resilient healthcare systems.

Jarrod Clyne, International Disability Alliance, warned that non-inclusive systems produce inequity and underscored the need to recognize root causes of and provide solutions to marginalization experienced by all major groups, including persons with disability. He called for systemic changes in data and funding for inclusive development, underpinned by an intersectional approach.

Yuka Iwatsuki, Global March Against Child Labor, urged focus on rural areas in LDCs where those furthest behind live. She recommended that reference be made to child labor and outlined an integrated area-based approach as a strategy to reach the SDGs, with more funding channeled to the local level to enable change to happen more quickly and efficiently.

Ishaan Shah, Coalition for the UN We Need, called for: gender equality to be integrated throughout the text; commitment to promoting meaningful youth engagement; and references to current and future generations, a rights-based approach, moving beyond GDP, and transforming the international financial architecture.

Cecilie Kern, NGO Committee on Migration, cautioned against labeling migration as a crisis, which only happens when governments lack policies for social and economic inclusion, and said its positive role should be expanded.

In conclusion, Mythen thanked the participants for their inputs. He said the zero draft is a starting point towards a concise document that connects with people outside the UN. Among areas where improvements could be made, Mythen acknowledged indigenous rights, culture, labor, gender and gender-based violence, food security, disability, conflict, and the role of parliaments and local authorities. He indicated the next draft of the political declaration could be expected “by the end of the week” and hoped for another opportunity before September to engage with stakeholders. [SDG Knowledge Hub Sources] [Informal Stakeholder Dialogue – Inputs to the Political Declaration Zero Draft]

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