VNR Lab “Strengthening the Use of Data for Evidence-based VNR”

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As one of the two major review mechanisms for the implementation of Agenda 2030, Voluntary National Reviews (VNR) is prepared by member states to describe and evaluate their progress on achieving the 17 SDGs. VNR lab today brought Ghana, the United Kingdom, and Denmark to the table to share their experiences on engaging policymakers in utilizing SDG-related data, systematically cooperating with the civil society especially to create mutual benefits and integrating data sources to identify specific community needs. While countries have improved in generating data to measure SDGs, challenges remain as decision-makers are slow in response.

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HLPF: A Review of SDG 13

The meeting entitled “Review of SDG implementation and interrelations among goals: Discussion on SDG 13 – Climate action including the link to the Climate Action Summit and six action portfolios,” was convened this morning under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council’s High Level Political Forum. The purpose of the gathering was to review progress towards SDG 13, and to demonstrate the inter-linkages between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. The structure of the meeting consisted of remarks by four resource persons, and five lead discussants, with intermittent comments from member states and other stakeholders.  

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Towards a more accountable, inclusive, and participatory SDG implementation that leaves no one behind

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The HLPF side event was held by the International Civil Society Centre (ICSC), featuring speakers who are working towards the goal of “leaving no one behind” in Agenda 2030. Such an ambition demands higher engagement and better connection among all actors, platforms, as well as citizens for the participatory progress towards implementing SDGs. Mr. Robert Skinner said, “We wish to leave no one behind, but we’re falling behind on that.” Since its creation, the United Nations Office for Partnerships has aimed to create partnerships that reach across the UN system, agencies, private and public sectors to scale up the level of implementation while making an impact on the local level. It is thus crucial for all participants, especially the experts and NGO partners present at the meeting, to reach out to the UN and local authorities.

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High-level Event: Strengthening the Rule of Law and Human Rights to Achieve Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies

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The UNPD, UNESCO, the Permanent Mission of Argentina, and the Permanent Mission of Austria co-organized such an event on the eve of High-Level Political Forums (HLPF) to set the tones for further discussion on SDG 16 and concerning issues. Ms. Ana Maria Menendez considered the HLPF to be the timing for taking stocks of all efforts reviewing the progress done so far. The forum should also investigate the linkages between SDGs, in particular, goal 5, 10, and 16 concerning the topic of today. On gender equality, society should strive to establish norms and mechanisms to address the problems women and girls face in accessing justice and human rights protection. Goal 10 establishes the principle of non-discrimination in all institutions while goal 16 similarily calls for access to justice for all.

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IPEN Global Policy Briefing: The 2019 Basel Convention Outcomes on Plastics (webinar)

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In May 2019, 187 countries—excluding the United States—agreed on further action based on the Norwegian-initiated Basel Convention, aiming to bring plastic waste under scrutiny and control. Despite supported worldwide, the convention might still be subject to certain limits since the single largest plastic waste producer, the US, refused to be a part of it and the grand but vague wordings in the convention did not specify concrete actions. IPEN, an NGO aspiring to eliminate all persistent organic pollutants, co-organized the webinar with BAN to review the policies outlined in the convention and point out potential impact opportunities for NGOs across the world.

The Basel Convention includes both soft and hard laws, the former indicating non-binding obligations and the latter implying strict restrictions. The hard law prohibited the export or import of hazardous waste among non-party countries, with a huge exception of OECD members. This would allow the US to export its toxic waste to weaker economies such as Mexico and Turkey. Speakers further drew a comparison between the Stockholm Convention and the Basel Convention, which highlighted a lack of amendments to the categorization of plastic waste.

For NGOs to take actions to better curtail plastic waste, suggestions were made as to where efforts could be more influential. On the export end, firstly, endeavors should center on reviewing “clean” plastic, tracking sources, and pushing through national policies on banning such waste. On the action side, NGOs should raise public awareness among producers, consumers, and decision makers while promoting the monitoring of toxic production and recycling. Lastly, the cruciality of collective actions call for NGOs to forge strong partnerships with the business sector for better cooperation.

Meeting: IPEN Global Policy Briefing: The 2019 Basel Convention Outcomes on Plastics (webinar)

Date/Location: Wednesday, June 26th, 2019; 1:00-2:00

Speakers:

Mr. Joe DiGangi, senior adviser, International POPs Elimination Framework (IPEN)

Mr. Jim Puckett, founder and director, Basel Action Network (BAN)

Written By: WIT Representative Yung-Hsuan Wu

Mobilizing parliaments for the SDGs

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https://www.ipu.org/resources/multimedia

This meeting focused on mobilizing parliaments to implement the twelfth sustainable development goal (SDG 12), namely, sustainable consumption and production. In the opening remarks, Ms. Gabriela Cuevas Barron, Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) President, acknowledged the lack of implementation of SDGs in many parliaments. Seeing this, she urged parliamentarians to review SDGs and include them in parliament discussion.

The introduction was followed by keynote speeches given by parliamentarians. Ms. Elizabeth Cabezas from Ecuador presented how SDGs were incorporated into the constitution. She highlighted balancing environmental protection with economic growth. She also touched upon social security and labor laws which guarantee domestic workers’ rights and reduces poverty. To be more specific about SDG 12, Ms. Petra Bayr, President of the Committee for Development in Austrian Parliament, emphasized that the current economic system with infinite growth is not sustainable. She called for a legal framework at the national level to reduce over-consumption. Concerning about the budget side, the third speaker Mr. Thilanga Sumanthipala from Sri Lanka applauded many countries for establishing committees to deal with SDGs. In addition, he recommended parliaments to incorporate SDG indicators in national laws to lead politicians at the local level.

During discussion session, countries focused on sustainable economy. Parliamentarian from Canada brought up the idea of circular economy to change the pattern of consumption and reduce wastes. Ms. Petra Bayr agreed with it and called it a good approach. Lastly, Ms. Gabriela Cuevas Barron concluded that parliamentarians should understand the value of SDGs, take accountability and strengthen institutional mechanism.

Meeting: Mobilizing parliaments for the SDGs (organized by Inter-Parliamentary Union)

Date/Location: Monday 16th July 2018; 13:15-14:30; Conference Room 1, United Nations Headquarters, New York.

Speakers:

Ms. Gabriela Cuevas Barron, Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) President;

Ms. Elizabeth Cabezas, President of Ecuador’s National Assembly;

Ms. Petra Bayr, Member of Austrian Parliament and President of the Committee for Development;

Mr. Thilanga Sumanthipala, Member of Parliament of Sri Lanka.

Written by WIT representative Vivian Wang

GFMD Perspective on Migration for Sustainable and Resilient Societies

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The meeting was a side-event to the annual high-level political forum on sustainable development at the United Nations headquarters. It focused on the inter-linkages between migration and sustainable development goals (SDGs). In the opening remarks, Mr. El Habib Nadir from Morocco highlighted the relevance of resolving the problem of migration for achieving SDGs. Ms. Eva Åkerman Börje from UN Special Representative for International Migration emphasized the need to put more attention on the implementation of SDGs and its relation to migration.

During the panel discussion, speakers identified several SDGs where migration plays a key role. For example, Ms. Charu Bist from UNDP underlined that the varying development level of countries drives the flow of migration. Mr. Dilip Ratha from the World Bank demonstrated the increasing number of forcibly displaced people due to climate change. Ms. Colleen Thouez from Open Society Foundations underscored the importance for cities and inter-city networks to build capacity with urban planning in order to make themselves resilient in the face of an influx of migrants.

At the end of the meeting, speakers concurred that all relevant actors are significant in the dialogue of migration and sustainable development. Particularly, Ms. Karin Goebel, Minister of German Economic Department, called for involvement of stakeholders, including national governments, UN bodies and civil society.

Meeting: GFMD Perspective on Migration for Sustainable and Resilient Societies (organized by Germany and Morocco, GFMD 2017-2018 Co-Chairs)

Date/Location: Friday 13th July 2018; 13:15-14:30; German House, 871 United Nations Plaza, New York.

Speakers:

Mr. El Habib Nadir, Secretary General, Ministry Delegate to Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in charge of Moroccans Living Abroad and Migration Affairs;

Ms. Eva Åkerman Börje, Senior Policy Advisor Office of the UN Special Representative for International Migration;

Ms. Charu Bist, Senior Jobs and Livelihoods Advisor, United Nations Development Programme;

Mr. Dilip Ratha, Head – KNOMAD, Lead Economist – Migration and Remittances, Social Protection and Jobs Global Practice, The World Bank;

Ms. Colleen Thouez, Director, Welcoming and Integrated Societies Division, Open Society Foundations;

Mr. Julian Pfäfflin, Senior Policy Officer International Migration, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development;

Ms. Marta Foresti, Managing Director, Overseas Development institute;

Ms. Karin Goebel, Minister, Head of Economic Department, Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic of Germany to the UN.

Written by WIT representative Vivian Wang

Shaping smarter and more sustainable cities: striving for SDGs

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https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-T/ssc/Pages/default.aspx

The meeting is about building smart and sustainable cities in line with SDGs. In the opening remarks, Dr. Chaesub Lee pointed out that ICT infrastructure drives innovation in all economic sectors. Also, new technology contributes to make cities safe, resilient and sustainable. For example, big data helps government improve in public services. To reach the goal of building sustainable cities, he concluded by emphasizing that diverse partnership is essential.

The introduction was followed by a panel discussion. Speakers expressed their views on technology and shared experiences from their countries in building smart cities. Dr. Chaesub Lee underscored that the aim for smart cities is not to make all cities identical. Instead, smart cities should be tailor-made with local data and city priorities based on their history, culture and physical location. Agreeing with it, Mrs. Sophia Papathanasopoulou shared the Greek government’s involvement in shaping smart cities in this regard. However, she indicated the challenge to engage all stakeholders at the first stage.

Seeing this, Ms. Kari Eik from Organization for International Economic Relations (OiER) recommended to bring in financing in the beginning. To make SDG comprehensible and attractive to private sector, she stressed the need to establish a framework for the industry. Also, Mr. Eng Bruno Peters from IBI Group emphasized the need to share data in a more meaningful way to maximize investment. Lastly, Ms. Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary of UNECE, reiterated the significance of private-public partnership.

Meeting: Shaping smarter and more sustainable cities: striving for SDGs (organized by Ministry of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Media of Greece with ITU, UNECE and UNESCO)

Date/Location: Thursday 12th July 2018; 13:15-14:30; Conference Room E, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY.

Speakers:

H.E. Mrs Maria Theofili, Permanent Representative of Greece to the UN;

Dr. Chaesub Lee, Director, Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, ITU;

Mr. Guilherme Canela, Counsellor of Information and Communication for MERCOSUR, UNESCO;

Mrs. Sophia Papathanasopoulou, Head of National Broadband Planning Department, General Secretariat of Telecommunications and Post, Ministry of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Media, Greece;

Ms. Kari Eik, Secretary General, Organization for International Economic Relations (OiER);

Mr. Alexandre Barbosa, Head of the Regional Center for Studies on the Development of the Information Society;

Mr. Eng Bruno Peters, Director, Smart Cities, Deputy Regional Director, IBI Group;

Ms. Meera Alshaikh, Project Manager, Smart Dubai;

Ms. Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary, UNECE.

Written by WIT representative Vivian Wang

Projections and visions on the advancement of sustainable development

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http://www.eco-business.com/opinion/fighting-for-the-future-sustainable-development-and-the-battle-for-ideas-in-2017/

This meeting is about the future trend of sustainable development. Speakers shared their visions based on current statistics. Mr. Moussa Oumarou, Deputy Director General for Field Operations and Partnerships of International Labour Organization, names four changes, including technology, globalization, climate change, and population growth. He pointed out the inextricable link between environmental issues and employment. Seeing this, he suggested an in-depth analysis of the challenge in production models and the structural changes in economies in order to address both environmental and employment issues.

Mr. Juha Siikamaki, Chief Economist of International Union for Conservation of Nature, focused on the threat to nature posed by rapid economic growth. He argued that the main drivers of extinction are linked to agricultural expansion, over-exploitation of species and pollution. To alleviate the problem, he contended that the solution lies in the nature. He explained that using nature to conserve itself is cost-effective because, for example, it is much cheaper to mitigate greenhouse gas emission by nature. Overall, he concluded that growth in GDP has to include the added value delivered by the conservation of biodiversity.

The last speaker, Ms. Catarina Tully, Co-Founder of School of International Futures, called for a look into alternative scenarios in order to create a complex and interdependent future-thinking framework in the SDGs. She argued that policymakers need to be a lot more critical in thinking about regulation of how technologies is distributed. Also, anticipatory governance, skills and institution are required. At the end, speakers agree that policymakers have to ensure inclusive growth to deliver sustainable development.

Meeting: 2018 ECOSOC High-level Policy Dialogue “Where are we heading? Visions and projections for the future of the SDGs” – Projections and visions on the advancement of sustainable development

Date/Location: Thursday 19th July 2018; 11:45-13:00; Economic and Social Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York.

Speakers:

Mr. Mahmadamin Mahmadaminov, Vice-President of ECOSOC;

Mr. Michael Shank, Communications Director, Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance and Urban Sustainability Directors Network;

Mr. Moussa Oumarou, Deputy Director General for Field Operations and Partnerships, International Labour Organization;

Mr. Juha Siikamaki, Chief Economist, International Union for Conservation of Nature;

Ms. Catarina Tully, Co-Founder, School of International Futures.

Written by WIT representative Vivian Wang

“Where are we heading? Visions and projections for the future of the SDGs” – Trends in the global economy and international trade and finance

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This meeting is about the current trend of international trade and its influence on the future of the SDGs. In the opening remarks, Mr. Liu Zhengmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, alerted the world leaders of the future scenario. He named a few topics of concerned, including the rapid population growth in the least developed countries, the acceleration of urbanization, the limited use of renewable energy in comparison with fossil fuel and pollution in air, water and soil. He warned that acceleration of economic growth comes with environmental costs.

During the panel discussion, panelists gave their analysis of how SDG could be better implemented given current trend in global economy. Mr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, argued that countries need to create a framework for business to incentivize them to invest in sustainable development. Mr. Liu Zhengmin contended that UN bodies and national governments should work with academia to develop a new concept of trade. Ms. Alicia Bárcena, current Coordinator of United Nations Regional Commissions, focused on the cases in Latin American. Seeing tax evasion, she demanded to convene the private sector at the national level as a basis for sustainable development. Mr. Masamichi Kono, Deputy Secretary-General of OECD, pointed out the widening income gap and called for inclusive growth. Lastly, speakers from the World Bank, IMF and WTO acknowledged the impact of technology on economy. They argued that job creation is key to the achievement of SDGs.

Meeting: 2018 ECOSOC High-level Policy Dialogue “Where are we heading? Visions and projections for the future of the SDGs” – Trends in the global economy and international trade and finance

Date/Location: Thursday 19th July 2018; 10:00-11:45; Economic and Social Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York.

Speakers:

Mr. Radek Vondráček, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic;

Mr. Liu Zhengmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs;

Mr. Michael Shank, Communications Director, Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance and Urban Sustainability Directors Network;

Mr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General, UNCTAD;

Ms. Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of ECLAC, and current Coordinator of United Nations Regional Commissions;

Mr. Masamichi Kono, Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD;

Mr. Bjorn Gillsater, Special Representative of the World Bank Group to the UN;

Mr. David Robinson, Deputy Director, African Department, International Monetary Fund;

Mr. Robert The, Chief of Section, Economic Research and Statistics, World Trade Organization.

Written by WIT representative Vivian Wang