New York, 17 July 2017: On Monday, 17 July, the sponsors of the High-Level Panel report on Women’s Economic Empowerment are presenting a panel on “Accelerating women’s economic empowerment to achieve the 2030 Agenda”, head-lined by the Secretary-General. They will be joined by a diverse Member State ‘group of champions for women’s economic empowerment’. Given the knowledge and expertise of the High-Level Panel and the national level experience of the group of champions, they will have many examples of opportunities, but will they highlight the risks?  

The High-Level Panel report brought together a wide range of stakeholders to identify drivers of transformation and focus on expanding women’s economic opportunities in the world of work, emphasizing the essential role of the private sector. Despite the benefits such partnership opportunities may bring, the danger in prioritizing them is to neglect the structural and regulatory responsibilities of the state – thereby risking undermining its power to realize women’s human rights – for which it is ultimately responsible.

Will the July 17 panelists examine the risks of using public monies to subsidize private corporations, which would not invest in development projects otherwise? Would this not only divert public resources from strengthening the decent work agenda, anti-violence legislation and service delivery, among other things, but also undermine the ability of the state to honor commitments to the 2030 Agenda, including women’s empowerment? Will they provide examples of how the global tax system, through the erosion of tax bases and continuing existence of secrecy jurisdictions, drain the public purse of the resources needed to promote women’s rights? Will they show how trade and investment agreements, which empower corporations to sue governments that seek to regulate public health or the environment for lost future profits?

These constraints are a key issues for participants in the 2017 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development currently taking place at the UN in New York. They were also a key part of the analysis of women’s empowerment in the UN Women flagship report, Progress of the World’s Women 2015-2016—Transforming Economies, Realizing Rights. Will the High-Level Panel experts take the opportunity to broaden its framework to benefit from this report?

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New York City, 14 July 2017: With the first week of deliberations at the 2017 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development coming to a close this Friday at the UN in New York, civil society activists are criticizing a piecemeal approach to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Especially worrisome to activists is a growing gap between aspirational goals and a lack of proper and comprehensive means of implementation.

On many occasions – during side-events as well as in official sessions – civil society experts pointed out that relying on financial means alone to implement the SDGs represented a reductionist view. “It is important to question whether ‘trillions’ are really needed to achieve the goals. More fundamental are the policy and regulatory challenges,” explained Stefano Prato, Managing Director at Society for International Development.

Rather than looking for ever-new financial products to pay for ‘sustainable investments’, he added, there was the need to challenge production models, with their “externalities” and ossification of gender inequalities in the division of labor. Furthermore, the excessive focus on national level implementation – with the subliminal message that implementation primarily was a job for developing countries – diverted attention away from international economic, environmental and political circumstances. These central pillars in means of implementation for the SDGs continue to restrain the policy and fiscal space of developing countries and provide structural obstacles to their development efforts.

Chee Yoke Ling, Director of Programmes at Third World Network, reiterated: “The HLPF should not just be a space for presenting ever-new schemes for how to funnel money into the place perceived to be the right one”. She added: “Rather, the Forum should give space to a debate around what normative framework is needed to create the necessary policy and political space for countries, particularly in the global South. Only in this way will the renewed global Partnership be able to avoid PPPs increasing costs and worsening inequalities, or trade rules that impede the abilities of smallholder farmers to produce food locally.”

“The rates of return promised on some of the proposed ‘innovative’ financing mechanisms just don’t make any sense. In fact, rather than showing sensible ways of tapping into much needed long-term financing instruments, the suggested ‘bundling’ of risky loans into AAA packages to be sold to pension funds reminds me of practices that are proven to have led us into the latest global financial crisis.”

New York 13 July 2017: As the SDG 17 is under review today at the HLPF 2017, civil society groups express their concern for the inadequacy of the combined MoI/AAAA framework to match the ambition of the 2030 Agenda. The worrying slogan of ‘making the business case for sustainable development’, clearly exemplifies how private finance, rather than public policies and investments, is being portrayed as the fundamental key to SDG implementation, says the Spotlight Report, a comprehensive independent assessment released in New York on the opening day of the High Level Political Forum 2017.
New York, 13 July 2017: Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), usually portrayed as a useful tool towards sustainable development, actually “involve disproportionate risks and costs for people and the public purse”, claims a global coalition of civil society organizations and trade unions in the Spotlight Report 2017 launched earlier this week.
New York, 12 July 2017: SDG2 ‘end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture, articulates one of the highest aspirations of the 2030 Agenda. Failure to advance it will significantly affect the entire agenda, claims the Spotlight report, a comprehensive independent assessment released in New York on the opening day of the High Level Political Forum 2017.
New York, 12 July 2017: Corporate power threatens women´s human rights by promoting a race to the bottom in labour standards and avoiding taxes in the countries where profits are obtained, concludes the report Spotlight on Sustainable Development 2017, in its analysis of the fifth Sustainable Development Goal which promises to achieve gender equality by 2030 and empower all women and girls.
New York, 11 July 2017: “The promise made by governments to eradicate poverty by 2030 is doable if countries cooperate to fight tax evasion and capital flights” argues an independent report submitted to the High Level Political Forum of the United Nations as an input to its debate today around the first of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
New York, 11 July 2017: The “leave no one behind” slogan and the proposition to increase funding “from billions to trillions” made by the development banks and the International Monetary Fund are the two policy messages most commonly heard at the debate around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that started yesterday at the United Nations. “You cannot have both at the same time” commented Roberto Bissio, coordinator of Social Watch, summarizing the analysis of the first SDG by the global Spotlight report, the major comprehensive independent assessment of the SDGs launched here yesterday.
New York, 10 July 2017: A global coalition of civil society organizations and trade unions presents today the report Spotlight on Sustainable Development 2017. It is published on the opening day of the High Level Political Forum at the United Nations in New York. The report provides the most comprehensive independent assessment of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Privatization, partnerships, corporate capture and their impact on sustainability and inequality - assessments and alternatives In the 2030 Agenda governments committed to a revitalized Global Partnership between States and declared that public finance has to play a vital role in achieving the SDGs. But in recent decades, the combination of neoliberal ideology, corporate lobbying, business-friendly fiscal policies, tax avoidance and tax evasion has led to a massive weakening of the public sector and its ability to provide essential goods and services.