27 juni 2012

Sustainable Development Goals

In 283 paragraphs of what George Monbiot at The Guardian refers to as ”fluff” world leaders ”reaffirm their commitment to sustainable development. The document is already infamous for its absence of targets, plans of action and concrete commitments. As I see it, the main successes of the Rio +20 conference are these: governments have a weak mandate to formulate sustainable development goals, to strengthen UNEP (hopefully provide more funding to its activities), to encourage companies to report on their activities and impact on nature, develop indicators beyond GDP and adopt a ten year programme on sustainable consumption and production. It is difficult to say how successful the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be.

The idea is to merge the SDGs with the current Millennium Development Goals in 2015. If both sets of goals run parallel, there is a risk that they run against each other. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon encouraged governments that the goals merge or are run together. The SDGs can provide a certain level of measurement and supervision for governments and civil society. If they are clearly stated, then evaluation of progress is possible, although there is no punishment to countries that fail to deliver on commitments. Again, the structure of the ‘anarchic’ international system prevents effective oversight. There is no world government that can punish a state for not keeping its commitment to sustainability. There is only the UN, made up of member states, and an increasingly global civil society pushing for stronger commitments. This is where our role becomes important. We can follow the development and drafting of the SGDs and try to send a unified message about our concerns so that they get incorporated. Rio +20 ended with a very weak declaration but the SDGs are not yet drafted, and they may contain some concrete targets. The chances are greater that they do if we get involved in the process.  

The Rio Declaration called “The Future We Want”, paragraph 248 states that  “We resolve to establish an inclusive and transparent intergovernmental process on SDGs that is open to all stakeholders with a view to developing global sustainable development goals to be agreed by the United Nations General Assembly” and “We also underscore that SDGs should be action-oriented, concise and easy to communicate, limited in number, aspirational, global in nature and universally applicable to all countries while taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities.” I hope that these goals will focus on poverty alleviation, sound resource use, energy and water provision for all and technology sharing between countries. If youth organizations collaborate, we may also be able to include targets on youth employment and other concerns that matter to us.

Cliff and Fred from YMCA Kenya

Pauline, George, Fred, Marcus, Philip, Cliff and Annika keeping the spirit up in times of political dissapointment

Sofia and Philip in front of an extraordinary tree close to the YMCA

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