New York, 18 July 2017: During the Voluntary National Reviews (VNR) of 44 countries at the 2017 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, many civil society activists raised questions, criticizing government (in-)action as well as crippling framework conditions that slow down implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the national level.
Ziad Abdel Samad, Director of Arab NGO Network for Development, highlighted the situation in his region: “Foreign occupation, armed conflicts and wars are key challenges, even before talking about stability and essential political reforms. It is obvious that there is no development without peace and no peace without development. Moreover, systemic challenges, which are the result of persisting neoliberal authoritarianism after the Arab uprisings, are going side by side with austerity measures and neoliberal economic policies imposed and promoted mainly by the International Financial Institutions and other partners
“Conditionalities imposed by lenders and demanded by foreign investors, together with a lack of genuine political will and an ignorance towards rights based approaches at national level, decrease policy space which in turn increases tensions between decision makers and societies at large. Additional restrictions are imposed on civil society and social actors, limiting participation and civic engagement in public policy making.”
In a different part of the world, Brazil, a deep economic recession – aggravated by political uncertainty in the wake of a corruption scandal rooted in PPPs – is being used as an excuse for further privatization. Dramatic cuts in social security and government spending, as well as a reform of the pension system have had no immediate positive economic effect. The logical conclusion is that “in this context it is highly unlikely for Brazil to achieve proper implementation of the SDGs,” as a civil society report from Brazil explains. To make things worse, the country is left with an acting president charged with corruption, as are several of his ministers and parliamentarians. All this after the impeachment of president Dilma Rousseff in what many have called a “legislative coup”, as no criminal charges have been brought against her.
Brazil is not the only country hit by the scandal of PPP-related bribes that emerged after a pattern of systematic corruption by infrastructure giant Odebrecht was revealed across Latin America. In Peru, ex-president Humala joins the list of former leaders under legal prosecution or in exile. All political parties are implied in the Odebrecht scanal. To add a