October 2018: A joint meeting of the General Assembly's Second Committee and the Economic and Social Council has set the themes to be explored by the 2019 and 2020 reports of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development.
Acting in response to General Assembly resolution 72/208 on Financing for Development, it has agreed that the thematic chapters of the reports should deal in 2019 with “National financing frameworks for the Sustainable Development Goals;” and in 2020, with “Financing sustainable development in the era of the fourth industrial revolution.” In doing so, delegations broadly welcomed the proposals and shared perspectives and suggestions for advancing analysis in those areas.
Thematic chapters are new in the reports of the Inter-Agency Task Force. The first of them was in its 2017 report, in response to guidance from the 2016 Economic and Social Council forum on financing for development follow-up. In 2017, the Task Force addressed the theme “Financing investment and social protection”. In 2018, the theme was “Financing investment in selected Sustainable Development Goals: subnational finance, water and sanitation, energy and terrestrial ecosystem”.
Those themes were set in informal consultation with delegations. To ensure a more formal consultation, the General Assembly in resolution72/208 asked the Secretary-General to address a joint meeting of the Second Committee and the Economic and Social Council, informing them of and discussing the issues to be addressed in the thematic chapter of the 2019 and 2020 reports of the Inter-Agency Task Force. He was also asked to summarize those discussions in a report to guide the Inter-Agency Task Force in its work.
The thematic chapters frame the other sections of the Task Force report, which discuss the global economic context and its implications for sustainable financing, and provide an overview of the progress made in each of the action areas in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.
HIGHLIGHTS OF APPROACH
The joint meeting of the Assembly's Second Committee and ECOSOC was held on 14 September 2018. It considered a note presented on behalf of the Secretary-General by the Director of the Financing for Sustainable Development Office.
The note pointed out that the Addis Ababa Action Agenda calls for two core elements in dealing with the financing of Agenda 2030: (a) national policies and actions; and (b) an enabling international environment.
National Strategies: Preliminary analysis of the experience so far indicates that national sustainable development strategies often do not have a comprehensive financing component. Translating the framework of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda into coherent national financing strategies remains one of the greatest challenges for many countries. The thematic chapter of the forthcoming 2019 Financing for Sustainable Development Report will be centered on meeting that challenge.
With a view to operationalizing the Addis Ababa Action Agenda at the country level. It will: (a) identify the building blocks of national financing frameworks for sustainable development; (b) tell how to develop and integrate those building blocks into effective financing strategies; and (c) map available support measures from the international community and identify any gaps that may exist.
Great National Variability: Country circumstances differ greatly with regard to the availability of concessional financing, the ability to raise public resources domestically and the ability to attract private investment. The particular elements of a sustainable financing strategy of any one country will thus be context-specific and depend on a country’s unique circumstances, such as its economic structure, integration in the global economy, exposure to external shocks and access to different sources of financing. Those factors will strongly influence financing mixes.
Growing Complexity: The financing landscape has become more complex for many countries, with the participation of new actors (such as non-traditional donors or development finance institutions) and the availability of a wider array of instruments (such as blended finance instruments or foreign currency bonds). At the same time, there are such factors as a less dynamic global economy, policy uncertainty, challenges to existing multilateral arrangements and more frequent weather events and disasters.
Lessons Learned: A number of lessons from country experiences to date point to the importance of national ownership of strategies, the need to identify a limited number of clear and sequenced priorities, and the importance of having a political constituency to support action. Most importantly, in the context of the Financing for Sustainable Development Report, strategies should be costed and linked to budgets, incorporate the full range of investment plans and other financing policies and be aligned with the macropolicy framework.
Analysis of Progress: The analysis in the thematic chapter of the Financing for Sustainable Development Report will be linked closely to the analysis of progress made in the action areas of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. National financing strategies have to respond to the international economic context, which will be laid out in the chapter addressing the global economic context; and, in turn, the strategies should serve to inform all financing policies, which will be analysed in depth in the chapters concerning the seven action areas of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.
Trade and Technology: When drafting an integrated financing strategy, different means of implementation, in particular those related to trade and technology policies, should be taken into account. The importance of an international enabling environment for those policies will be highlighted in the report.
Implementation and Capacity-Building: The Task Force will draw on existing experiences with national implementation and analytical and capacity-building work by members of the Inter-Agency Task Force. It will put forward a framework for bringing together these and other policies and strategies as well as include general recommendations of good practices that can guide national efforts.
Specific Goals: The means of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals under in-depth review will be highlighted. The Goals to be highlighted in the 2019 version include Goal 4, on quality education; Goal 8, on decent work and economic growth; Goal 10, on reduced inequalities; Goal 13, on climate action; Goal 16, on peace, justice and strong institutions; and Goal 17, on partnerships for the Goals. [Goal 16.4 is to "by 2030 significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen recovery and return of stolen assets, and combat all forms of organized crime." As adopted by the General Assembly, Goal 16.4 also mentioned "Terrorism," but that has been surreptitiously moved to a new Goal 16.a that puts it in the national rather than international context: "Strengthen relevant national institutions, including through international cooperation, for building capacity at all levels, in particular in developing countries, to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime."]
These Goals are very broad in scope and do not lend themselves to be addressed in one narrative chapter. Instead, they will be highlighted throughout the chapters of the report, including, but not limited to, the thematic chapter. Findings will then be summarized in an overview box or boxes on each of the Goals at the beginning of the report. Similarly, gender equality will remain a key cross-cutting issue in the report, and gender-relevant issues will be highlighted in each of the chapters.
DISCUSSIONS AND FEEDBACK
Institutions: Representatives of the major institutional stakeholders of the financing for development process — the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank Group, the World Trade Organization, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Development Programme — expressed their support for the proposed theme and their deep commitment to contributing to the analysis. They underlined the relevance of national policy frameworks and national development strategies in achieving the Goals, and noted that financing and other means of implementation, such as trade and technology, were often insufficiently developed in such strategies. The thematic chapter would help countries to strengthen financing strategies and international support for them.
Interactive Discussion: The following are highlights of the points made by Member States and responses by members of the Inter-Agency Task Force:
THEME FOR 2020
Megatrends Affecting Financing: For the 2020 Financing for Sustainable Development Report, to be released five years after the adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Task Force proposed a thematic chapter on financing sustainable development in the era of the fourth industrial revolution. It intends for the chapter to provide a wide-angle lens assessment of how certain global megatrends have impacted the financing landscape since 2015. Prominent among them are new and emerging technologies that are having an impact on all aspects of development financing.
New Technologies: In the chapter, the Task Force will explore how new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, big data and blockchain, have affected the action areas of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. The Task Force will assess the opportunities that the new technologies create as well as the risks they pose for households and firms and, more broadly, financial system stability.
The chapter will feature the broad range of the impacts of the new technologies, from the effect they have on financial inclusion, where innovative technologies have facilitated access to financial services for hundreds of millions of people, to tax cooperation, the implementation and financing of clean and sustainable infrastructure and industrialization, trade policies and financial regulations.
Institutions: Representatives of the major institutional stakeholders highlighted their ongoing work on new technologies and the unprecedented opportunities and risks they had created across the action areas of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, underlining the relevance of the chosen theme.
Member States: Delegations broadly supported the rationale behind the proposal, but also expressed some reservations. As indicated in the summary below of their key concerns, delegations:
THE WAY FORWARD
The Task Force will post the outline of the Financing for Sustainable Development Report on its website in October 2018 and will hold a public briefing on the status of its work. The advanced unedited version of the report will be posted on the website at the end of February 2019, as requested by Member States.
Taking Stock: In 2019, the international community will take stock of the progress in the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda at the forum on financing for development follow-up, to be held in April, and at the High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development, to be held at the level of Heads of State and Government in September. Those events will also help to inform the discussions on assessing the progress made on the means of implementing the Goals, be held in July and September at the high-level political forum on sustainable development, also at the level of Heads of State and Government.
Forum on Financing for Development: The 2019 Financing for Sustainable Development Report will serve as a basis for deliberations at the 2019 forum on financing for development follow-up and will provide an analytical framework for the engagement of investors and countries at the Sustainable Development Goals Investment Fair. It will also provide substantive guidance to the organizations and bodies of the United Nations system as they aim to strengthen support for countries in implementing sustainable financing strategies, a key objective of the Secretary-General’s strategy for financing the 2030 Agenda.
Assembly Dialogue: The Secretary-General will prepare an issue note for the high-level dialogue of the General Assembly in September 2019, drawing on the analytical work of the Inter‑Agency Task Force, capturing the latest trends and identifying areas that require high-level political com
This 2014 video makes clear the lack of value of what passes for dialogue in ECOSOC's High Level Political Forum. After you've watched, click here to read IISD's highlights of the HLPF in 2018 (and, if you have the stomach for it, the full reporting from which it is drawn). It is all goobledegook. IISD reporting creates the impression of coherent dialogue when very little is happening.
The United Nations now is in the same situation as the League of Nations in the period before World War II. It needs radical reform and we have a detailed proposal on what can be done to create a successor organization, UN/Globenet.
INDEPENDENT NEWS AND COMMENT ON WORLD AFFAIRS
Issues Eclipsed in Shaping Agenda 2030 eliminated in Key Report
July 2017: The UN benchmark report on Agenda 2030 has no mention of terrorism, theft of resources from poor countries, drug trafficking, corruption and bribery.
Developing countries tagged those issues as key priorities during the negotiation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of Agenda 2030, but they were nevertheless shrunk into a sub-paragraph, Goal 16.4. In the latest report issued by the Secretary-General (document E/2017/66, issued on 11 May 2017), the issues have been entirely ignored.
Whether the missing issues will be addressed in the updated online information promised in the report remains to be seen. As of January 2018, the SDG Indicators Database completely ignores Goal 16.
The following is a lightly edited version of the report, with a number of editorial comments (in blue).
Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
The global poverty rate has been halved since 2000. In 2013, an estimated 767 million people lived below the international poverty line of $1.90 a day — down from 1.7 billion people in 1999. That figure reflects a decrease in the global poverty rate from 28 per cent in 1999 to 11 per cent in 2013. The most significant progress was seen in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, where the rate declined from 35 per cent in 1999 to 3 per cent in 2013. In contrast, 42 per cent of people in sub-Saharan Africa continued to subsist in conditions of extreme poverty in 2013.
In 2016, just under 10 per cent of the world’s workers were living with their families on less than $1.90 per person per day, down from 28 per cent in 2000. In the least developed countries, nearly 38 per cent of workers in 2016 were living below the poverty line.
Social protection systems are fundamental to preventing and reducing poverty and inequality at every stage of people’s lives, through benefits for children, mothers with newborns, persons with disabilities, older persons and those persons who are poor and without jobs. Preliminary data show that in 2016, only 45 per cent of the world’s population was effectively protected by a social protection system and that coverage varied widely across countries and regions.
In 2016, 68 per cent of people above retirement age received a pension. However, that global average masks large regional differences. In Oceania, excluding Australia and New Zealand, and in sub-Saharan Africa, only 10 per cent and 22 per cent, respectively, of people above retirement age received a pension in 2016.
Other vulnerable groups lack social protections as well. In 2016, only 28 per cent of people with severe disabilities collected disability benefits, only 22 per cent of unemployed individuals worldwide received unemployment benefits and only 41 per cent of women giving birth received maternity benefits.
Building the resilience of the poor and strengthening disaster risk reduction is a core development strategy for ending extreme poverty in the most afflicted countries. Economic losses from disasters are now reaching an average of $250 billion to $300 billion a year. Disaster risk globally is highly concentrated in low- and lower-middle-income countries. In relation to the size of their economies, small island developing States have borne a disproportionate impact.
Comment: The longer term poverty reduction trend is good but the latest six-monthly DESA report on world economic prospects says income levels are dropping.
Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, promote sustainable agriculture
Efforts to combat hunger and malnutrition have advanced significantly since 2000. Ending hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition for all, however, will require continued and focused efforts, especially in Asia and Africa. More investments in agriculture, including government spending and aid, are needed to increase capacity for agricultural productivity.
In 2016, an estimated 52 million children under 5 years of age worldwide suffered from wasting (with a low weight for their height, usually the result of an acute and significant food shortage and/or disease). The global wasting rate in 2016 was 7.7 per cent, with the highest rate (15.4 per cent) in Southern Asia.
At the other end of the spectrum, overweight and obesity affected 41 million children under 5 years of age worldwide (6 per cent) in 2016.
Ending hunger demands sustainable food production systems and resilient agricultural practices. One aspect of that effort is maintaining the genetic diversity of plants and animals, which is crucial for agriculture and food production.
In 2016, 4.7 million samples of seeds and other plant genetic material for food and agriculture were preserved in 602 gene banks throughout 82 countries and 14 regional and international centres — a 2 per cent increase since 2014. Animal genetic material has been cryoconserved, but only for 15 per cent of national breed populations, according to information obtained from 128 countries. The stored genetic material is sufficient to reconstitute only 7 per cent of national breed populations should they become extinct. As of February 2017, 20 per cent of local breeds were classified as at risk.
Increased investments are needed to enhance capacity for agricultural productivity. However, the global agriculture orientation index — defined as agriculture’s share of government expenditure divided by the sector’s share of gross domestic product (GDP) — fell from 0.38 in 2001 to 0.24 in 2013 and to 0.21 in 2015. The share of sector-allocable aid allocated to agriculture from member countries of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) fell from nearly 20 per cent in the mid-1980s to 7 per cent in the late 1990s, where it remained through 2015. The decline reflects a shift away from aid for financing infrastructure and production towards a greater focus on social sectors.
In 2016, 21 countries experienced high or moderately high domestic prices, relative to their historic levels, for one or more staple cereal food commodities. Thirteen of those countries were in sub-Saharan Africa. The main causes of high prices were declines in domestic output, currency depreciation and insecurity. Localized increases in fuel prices also drove food prices higher.
Some progress has been made in preventing distortions in world agricultural markets. The global agricultural export subsidies were reduced by 94 per cent from 2000 to 2014. In December 2015, members of the World Trade Organization adopted a ministerial decision on eliminating export subsidies for agricultural products and restraining export measures that have a similar effect.
Comment: Surprisingly, there is no mention of reducing waste in food production and processing. Estimates show that a third to a half of all food produced is wasted.
Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all
Available data from 2005 to 2015 indicate that over 40 per cent of all countries have less than one physician per 1,000 people, and around half have fewer than three nurses or midwives per 1,000 people. Almost all least developed countries have less than one physician and fewer than three nurses or midwives per 1,000 people.
Mothers and Children
In 2015, the global maternal mortality ratio stood at 216 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. Achieving the target of less than 70 maternal deaths by 2030 requires an annual rate of reduction of at least 7.5 per cent, more than double the annual rate of progress achieved from 2000 to 2015. Most maternal deaths can be prevented. In 2016, 78 per cent of live births worldwide benefited from skilled care during delivery, compared to 61 per cent in 2000. In sub-Saharan Africa, however, the rate in 2016 was only 53 per cent of live births.
Major advances have been made in combating infectious diseases. Globally in 2015, there were 0.3 new HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infections per 1,000 uninfected people; among children under 15 years of age, there were 0.08 new HIV infections. That data represents a decline of 45 per cent and 71 per cent, respectively, since 2000. The incidence of HIV infection remained highest in sub-Saharan Africa, with 1.5 new infections per 1,000 uninfected people in 2015.
In 2015, 10.4 million new cases of tuberculosis were reported worldwide, which represents 142 new cases per 100,000 people, or a decline of 17 per cent since 2000. The global malaria incidence rate in 2015 was 94 per 1,000 people at risk, a 41 per cent decrease since 2000. In 2015, 1.6 billion people required mass or individual treatment and care for neglected tropical diseases, a 21 per cent decline from 2010.
Around 1.34 million deaths were attributed to hepatitis in 2015, including 0.9 million deaths owing to hepatitis B. Hepatitis B can be prevented through vaccinations; global coverage of vaccinations for that disease among children 1 year of age increased from 29 per cent in 2000 to 84 per cent in 2015.
A major risk factor for infectious diseases and mortality is the lack of safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services, which disproportionately affects sub-Saharan Africa and Central/Southern Asia. Death rates owing to the lack of WASH services in those two regions were 46 and 23 per 100,000 people, respectively, compared to 12 per 100,000 people globally in 2012.
Non-communicable diseases and mental health
Other health risks
Health systems and funding
Comment: The UN's focus on ODA is misplaced. That instrument of funding is entirely unnecessary when crowd-funding can provide all necessary funding with no dependency or political skewing.
Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Equity issues constitute a major challenge in education according to a recent assessment. In all countries with data, children from the richest 20 per cent of households achieved greater proficiency in reading at the end of their primary and lower secondary education than children from the poorest 20 per cent of households. In most countries with data, urban children scored higher in reading than rural children.
Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Gender inequality persists worldwide, depriving women and girls of their basic rights and opportunities. Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will require more vigorous efforts, including legal frameworks, to counter deeply rooted gender-based discrimination that often results from patriarchal attitudes and related social norms.
Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Access to safe water and sanitation and sound management of freshwater ecosystems are essential to human health and to environmental sustainability and economic prosperity.
Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Globally, 85.3 per cent of the population had access to electricity in 2014, an increase of only 0.3 percentage points since 2012. That means that 1.06 billion people, predominantly rural dwellers, still function without electricity. Half of those people live in sub-Saharan Africa.
Comment: The shift to off-grid renewable energy has major implications for every other variable in economic projections. In association with 3D printing, it spells the end of all economies of scale that underpin mass production. Without factory production, the forces that have driven urbanization for the last four centuries will lose force. We are looking at a tidal wave of changes. This means all assumptions related to Goal 8 will have to be redone.
Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
The average annual growth rate of real GDP per capita worldwide was 1.6 per cent from 2010 to 2015, compared to 0.9 per cent in 2005-2009. In the least developed countries, the per capita growth rate accelerated from 3.5 per cent in 2000-2004 to 4.6 per cent in 2005-2009, before slowing to 2.5 per cent in 2010-2015. Overall average annual GDP growth in the least developed countries followed a similar trend, decelerating from 7.1 per cent in 2005-2009 to 4.9 per cent in 2010-2015, below the Sustainable Development Goals target of 7 per cent.
Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Despite steady improvements in manufacturing output and employment, renewed investment will be needed in the least developed countries to build needed infrastructure and ensure the doubling of industry’s share of GDP in those countries by 2030.
Efficient transportation services generate employment and wealth and drive economic development. In 2015, the estimated global economic impact (both direct and indirect) of air transport was $2.7 trillion, equivalent to 3.5 per cent of global GDP. The least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States represent far less air travel and freight volumes, with each country group accounting for only 1 per cent to 2.7 per cent of the global total.
Manufacturing is a principal driver of economic development, employment and social stability. Globally, manufacturing value added as a share of GDP increased from 15.3 per cent in 2005 to 16.2 per cent in 2016. In 2016, manufacturing value added per capita amounted to $4,621 in Europe and Northern America, compared to about $100 in the least developed countries.
As many countries move to more efficient and less energy-intensive industries, their emissions of carbon dioxide per unit of manufacturing value added are generally declining. From 2000 to 2014, Europe and Northern America reduced their emissions intensity by 36 per cent. All of the 10 largest manufacturing countries saw decreases in their emissions intensity. Such promising trends are not reflected in the global emissions intensity level, however, since a significant share of global manufacturing value added has moved to countries with generally higher intensity levels.
In 2014, investments in research and development stood at 1.7 per cent of global GDP, up from 1.5 per cent in 2000. Worldwide, there were 1,098 researchers per million inhabitants in 2014, ranging from 63 in the least developed countries to 3,500 in Europe and Northern America.
ODA for economic infrastructure in developing countries reached $57 billion in 2015, an increase of 32 per cent in real terms since 2010. The main recipient sectors were transport and energy ($19 billion each).
Manufacturing is increasingly shifting towards more technologically complex products. While medium- and high-tech products continue to dominate manufacturing production in industrialized economies (where they contribute about 80 per cent of total manufacturing output), the share has barely reached 10 per cent in least developed countries.
Mobile-cellular services have spread rapidly and have allowed people living in previously unconnected areas to join the global information society. In 2016, 95 per cent of the world’s population and 85 per cent of people in the least developed countries were covered by a mobile-cellular signal.
Comment: Global connectivity and projected universal access to the Worldwide Web will allow crowd-funding to replace all conventional forms of finance. See here.
Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
Inequality within and among countries is evident in hard per capita income figures as well as in such factors as relative strength in international decision-making forums and significant differences in the cost of transferring money across national borders.
From 2008 to 2013, the per capita income or consumption of the poorest 40 per cent of the population improved more rapidly than the national average in 49 of 83 countries (accounting for three quarters of the world’s population) with data.
Developing countries represent 74 per cent of the membership of the International Monetary Fund but 37 per cent of its weighted voting (upped in 2016 from the 33 per cent it used to be). The 38 per cent share of developing country votes in the World Bank has not changed since 2000.
In 2015, total resource flows to the least developed countries and small island developing States amounted to $48 billion and $6 billion, respectively. Eight donor countries met the target of 0.15 per cent of gross national income (GNI) for ODA to the least developed countries.
The benefits of remittance from international migrant workers are reduced somewhat by the generally high cost of transfer. On average, post offices and money transfer operators charge over 6 per cent of the amount remitted; commercial banks charge 11 per cent. Both are significantly above the 3 per cent target.
Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
In recent decades, the world has experienced unprecedented urban growth. In 2015, close to 4 billion people — 54 per cent of the world’s population — lived in cities and that number is projected to increase to about 5 billion people by 2030. Rapid urbanization has brought enormous challenges, including growing numbers of slum dwellers, increased air pollution, inadequate basic services and infrastructure, and unplanned urban sprawl, which also make cities more vulnerable to disasters. Better urban planning and management are needed to make the world’s urban spaces more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. As of May 2017, 149 countries were developing national-level urban policies.
The proportion of the urban population that lives in developing country slums fell from 39 per cent in 2000 to 30 per cent in 2014. Despite some gains, the absolute number of urban residents who live in slums continued to grow, owing in part to accelerating urbanization, population growth and lack of appropriate land and housing policies. In 2014, an estimated 880 million urban residents lived in slum conditions, compared to 792 million urban residents in 2000.
As more and more people move to urban areas, cities typically expand their geographic boundaries to accommodate new inhabitants. From 2000 to 2015, in all regions of the world, the expansion of urban land outpaced the growth of urban populations. As a result, cities are becoming less dense as they grow, with unplanned urban sprawl challenging more sustainable patterns of urban development.
The safe removal and management of solid waste represents one of the most vital urban environmental services. Uncollected solid waste blocks drains, causes flooding and may lead to the spread of water-borne diseases. On the basis of data from cities in 101 countries from 2009 to 2013, 65 per cent of the urban population was served by municipal waste collection.
Air pollution is a major environmental health risk. In 2014, 9 of 10 people who live in cities were breathing air that did not comply with the safety standard set by WHO.
The global energy and technology trends gathering force now point to a future of de-urbanization. Most of the projections relating to this Goal will have to be redone. See here for our projection of megatrends
Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Achieving Goal 12 requires a strong national framework for sustainable consumption and production that is integrated into national and sectoral plans, sustainable business practices and consumer behaviour, together with adherence to international norms on the management of hazardous chemicals and wastes.
Decoupling economic growth from natural resource use is fundamental to sustainable development. Global figures, however, point to worsening trends: domestic material consumption (the total amount of natural resources used in economic processes) increased from 1.2 kg to 1.3 kg per unit of GDP from 2000 to 2010. Total domestic material consumption also rose during the same period — from 48.7 billion tons to 71.0 billion tons. The increase is due in part to rising natural resource use worldwide, in particular in Eastern Asia.
Countries continue to address challenges linked to air, soil and water pollution and exposure to toxic chemicals under the auspices of multilateral environmental agreements. Almost all States Members of the United Nations are party to at least one of those conventions. Under the conventions’ obligations, countries are requested to regularly report data and information related to hazardous wastes, persistent organic pollutants and ozone depleting substances. However, from 2010 to 2014, only 57 per cent of the parties to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, 71 per cent of the parties to the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade and 51 per cent of the parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants provided the requested data and information. All parties reported to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Planetary warming continued in 2016, setting a new record of about 1.1 degrees Centigrade above the preindustrial period, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Drought conditions predominated across much of the globe, aggravated by the El Niño phenomenon. The WMO also noted that the extent of global sea ice fell to a minimum of 4.14 million km2 in 2016, the second lowest extent on record. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels also reached a record high of 400 parts per million that year. Mitigating climate change and its impacts will require building on the momentum achieved by the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which entered into force on 4 November 2016. Stronger efforts are needed to build resilience and limit climate-related hazards and natural disasters.
As of 20 April 2017, seven developing countries successfully completed and submitted the first iteration of their national adaptation plans, in response to climate change.
Developed countries have committed to jointly mobilizing $100 billion per year by 2020 to address the climate-related needs of developing countries and to continue that level of support through 2025. Initial efforts to mobilize resources for the Green Climate Fund raised $10.3 billion and developed-country parties are strongly urged to scale up their financial support.
Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
The increasingly adverse impacts of climate change (including ocean acidification), overfishing and marine pollution are jeopardizing recent gains in protecting portions of the world’s oceans.
Global trends point to continued deterioration of coastal waters owing to pollution and eutrophication (excessive nutrients in water, frequently a result of run-off from land, which causes dense plant growth and the death of animal life from lack of oxygen). Of the 63 large marine ecosystems evaluated under the Transboundary Waters Assessment Programme, 16 per cent of the ecosystems are in the “high” or “highest” risk categories for coastal eutrophication. They are located mainly in Western Europe, Southern and Eastern Asia, and the Gulf of Mexico.
Ocean acidification is closely linked to shifts in the carbonate chemistry of the waters, which can lead to a significant weakening of the shells and skeletons of many marine species (such as reef-building corals and shelled molluscs). Studies of marine acidity at open ocean and coastal sites around the world have indicated that current levels are often outside preindustrial bounds.
Overfishing reduces food production, impairs the functioning of ecosystems and reduces biodiversity. The proportion of world marine fish stocks within biologically sustainable levels has declined from 90 per cent in 1974 to 68.6 per cent in 2013. However, the trend has slowed and appears to have stabilized from 2008 to 2013.
Small-scale fisheries face numerous challenges. In response, about 70 per cent of the respondents to a survey representing 92 countries and the European Union have introduced or developed regulations, policies, laws, plans or strategies specifically targeting small-scale fisheries.
When effectively managed and well resourced, marine protected areas are important mechanisms for safeguarding ocean life. In 2017, protected areas cover 13.2 per cent of the marine environment under national jurisdiction (up to 200 nautical miles from shore), 0.25 per cent of the marine environment beyond national jurisdiction and 5.3 per cent of the total global ocean area.
Goal 15. Protect and restore terrestrial ecosystems, manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss
Progress in preserving and sustainably using the Earth’s terrestrial species and ecosystems is uneven. The pace of forest loss has slowed and improvements continue to be made in managing forests sustainably and protecting areas important for biodiversity. However, declining trends in land productivity, biodiversity loss and poaching and trafficking of wildlife remain serious concerns.
The net loss of forest continues to slow and forest biomass stock per hectare is stable. More forests are being protected and areas under long-term management plans and voluntary certification have increased. From 2010 to 2015, the annual net loss of forest area globally was less than half that of the 1990s. The proportion of land area covered by forest decreased from 31.6 per cent in 1990 to 30.8 per cent in 2010 and 30.6 per cent in 2015.
Fifteen per cent of land is currently under protection, but that does not cover all areas important for biodiversity. Protecting key biodiversity areas is necessary to strengthen natural resource management and biodiversity conservation. From 2000 to 2017, average worldwide coverage of terrestrial, freshwater and mountain key biodiversity areas by protected areas increased from 35 per cent to 47 per cent, from 32 per cent to 43 per cent and from 39 per cent to 49 per cent, respectively.
As of 2017, 76 per cent of the world’s mountain areas are covered by some form of green vegetation, including forests, shrubs, grasses and crops. Green cover on mountains is lowest in Central Asia (31 per cent) and highest in Oceania (excluding Australia and New Zealand) (98 per cent).
From 1998 to 2013, about one fifth of the Earth’s land surface covered by vegetation showed persistent and declining trends in productivity. South America and Africa are most affected; in some cases, advanced stages of land degradation there are leading to desertification in dryland areas, particularly in the grasslands and rangelands. Land and soil degradation undermine the security and development of all countries. Reversing the effects of land degradation and desertification through sustainable land management is key to improving the lives and livelihoods of more than 1 billion people currently under threat.
Biodiversity loss continues at an alarming rate according to the Red List Index. The extinction risk for corals is increasing most rapidly among all assessed species groups owing to the growing threat from climate change and local impacts. Chytrid fungal disease, another grave concern, is decimating many amphibian species and increasing their risk of extinction.
Wildlife poaching and trafficking continues to thwart conservation efforts. Illicit wildlife markets are complex and subject to rapid fluctuations. Demand for a given wildlife product can grow quickly, before the international community can react. In 2013, elephant ivory, rosewood and rhinoceros horn comprised over 60 per cent of total wildlife and timber product seizures.
The global community is committed to conserving biodiversity. Two international agreements aim at sharing the benefits from using genetic resources in a fair and equitable way. As of April 2017, 144 countries ratified the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and 96 countries ratified the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization.
In 2015, bilateral ODA in support of biodiversity amounted to $8.8 billion, an increase of 39 per cent in real terms over 2014.
Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
In 2015, between 5.2 persons and 6.7 persons per 100,000 persons worldwide were victims of intentional homicide. While the homicide rate has declined over the past decade, people in some countries located in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia face increased risk of intentional murder.
Various forms of violence against children persist, including discipline that relies on physical punishment and psychological aggression. In 76 countries (most are developing countries) with available data from 2005 to 2016, about 8 in 10 children from 1 to 14 years of age were subjected to some form of psychological aggression and/or physical punishment on a regular basis.
Countries have made solid progress in terms of detecting victims of trafficking in persons, as reflected by the increasing number of detected victims over the last decade. Globally, more women and girls than men and boys were identified as victims of trafficking in 2014. However, the share of women and girls has slowly retreated, from 84 per cent in 2004 to 71 per cent in 2014. While the share of victims trafficked for sexual exploitation has declined, the proportion of those trafficked for forced labour has increased. About 28 per cent of all trafficking victims detected in 2014 were children, with girls outnumbering boys (20 per cent and 8 per cent, respectively, of total victims).
Sexual violence is perhaps the most disturbing of children’s rights violations. Underreporting and a lack of comparable data limit understanding of the full extent of the problem. In 35 low- and middle-income countries with data, the proportions of women between 18 and 29 years of age who experienced sexual violence for the first time before 18 years of age ranged from 0 per cent to 16 per cent.
Rates of pretrial detention suggest that progress with respect to the rule of law and access to justice has been slow. Globally, the proportion of people held in detention without being sentenced for a crime has remained almost unchanged — from 32 per cent of total prisoners in 2003-2005 to 31 per cent in 2013-2015 — which indicates that substantive progress has not been achieved in the ability of judicial systems to process and try the accused in a fair and transparent manner.
Opaque, burdensome and inefficient regulations and procedures nurture opportunities for corrupt officials to extract bribes or unofficial payments. In 2015, over 18 per cent of firms worldwide reported receiving at least one bribery payment request. The share of firms in low- and lower-middle-income countries totalled 25 per cent, compared to 4 per cent in high-income countries.
To provide a sound basis for development, government budgets should be comprehensive, transparent and realistic. While expenditure in nearly 2 in 3 countries was within 10 per cent of their original national budgets, more than 1 in 7 countries deviated by at least 15 per cent. Nevertheless, budget reliability has improved over time, with about 8 in 10 countries in Southern Asia and Eastern Asia and the Pacific showing improvement.
Birth registration is a first step towards safeguarding individual rights and providing every person with access to justice and social services. While many regions have reached universal or near universal birth registration, globally the average is just 71 per cent, on the basis of available country data reported from 2010 to 2016. Fewer than half (46 per cent) of all children under 5 years of age in sub-Saharan Africa have had their births registered.
Legislation that calls for freedom of information has increased steadily, but slow or inefficient implementation of such laws remains a concern. More than 110 countries have adopted freedom of information legislation and policies. However, expert assessments suggest that 47 of those countries fall short of having clear legal provisions for exceptions to that right, while another 47 countries lack sufficient provisions for public education.
Independent national human rights institutions play an important role in ensuring that States deliver on their human rights obligations and that no one is left behind. By the end of 2016, 37 per cent of countries had a national human rights institution that was compliant with internationally agreed standards (the Paris Principles), while 57 per cent of countries had been reviewed for compliance by their peers.
Comment: There is no mention of Goal 16.4:
"by 2030 significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen recovery and return of stolen assets, and combat all forms of organized crime."
Terrorism was originally included in Goal 16.4 but seems to have been moved to a new Goal 16.a:
"Strengthen relevant national institutions, including through international cooperation, for building capacity at all levels, in particular in developing countries, to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime." That too is missing from the report.
These omissions and changes reflect the continuing success of the United Kingdom in deflecting attention from its role in managing the global money laundering system which it built as its Empire dissolved in the decades after World War II. The system consists of some 70 "tax havens," most of them in small islands that were former British colonies and remain strongly linked to London.
The tax haven system supports the drug trafficking industry Britain pioneered as a colonial Power. It also finances the terrorist organizations that protect the growing, processing and distribution of drugs. The system also allows the massive corruption that has allowed all forms of organized crime to thrive in the underground economy and generate trillions of dollars for the British elite.
That money has ensured the cooperation of national elites around the world and bought the silence of international agencies and most economists. See here for more on this.
Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development
Despite some positive developments, a stronger commitment to partnership and cooperation is needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. That effort will require coherent policies, an enabling environment for sustainable development at all levels and by all actors and a reinvigorated Global Partnership for Sustainable Development.
Information and communications technology
Data, monitoring and accountability
12 August 2017: Cooperative organizations have a significant role in supporting sustainable development across the world and in both developing and developed countries, says a new report of the Secretary-General to the General Assembly (A/72/159). They serve more than 1 billion members or clients and employ more than 100 million people worldwide, 20 per cent more than the number employed by multinational enterprises. In 2014, the world’s 300 largest cooperatives had a total turnover of more than $2.5 trillion in agriculture, banking and finance, insurance, health care and wholesale and retail trade. They could be a powerful force to promote awareness and action to support the Sustainable Development Goals, finance developmental action and help monitor progress.
There are about 53,000 credit cooperatives and credit unions worldwide serving more than 857 million people, with 45 per cent of their branches in rural areas (as compared to only 26 per cent of commercial bank branches). In many developing countries, financial services in small villages are offered only by cooperatives, and their clientele include 78 million who earn less than $2 a day. In sum, the sector contributes about 7 per cent of global GDP and employment.
The report cites a global census conducted by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs in 2014 that found 2.6 million cooperatives employing 12.6 million workers worldwide. They operated approximately 770,000 offices and outlets, including close to 211,000 cooperative banks and credit unions worldwide, with more than 700 million members or clients and total assets in excess of $11 trillion, generating more than $167 million in annual gross revenues.. Globally, they had more than 1 billion individual members.