The 2017 High Level Political Forum addresses the theme “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world,” an imperative that is also a prerequisite for sustainable peace. Achieving these aims will not be possible unless the structural and systemic barriers to achievement -‐ and root causes of exploitation and degradation of the environment -‐ are addressed. Current neoliberal macroeconomic policy is a major driver of unequal distribution of wealth and power and the destruction of natural resources, and must be reconsidered and replaced. Notions of development based entirely on economic growth present a myopic view of progress and must be discarded, and corporations must be held to account for their social and environmental records. We call for a new development paradigm which furthers the well-‐being of humans, nature and animals, and which sees as its ultimate aim the achievement of equity and justice, to “leave no one behind.”
The practical contributions of civil society are a distinct and important element of this process. The NGO Major Group therefore calls on the United Nations and its Member States to increase the engagement of civil society, by soliciting more extensive inputs from Major Groups and other Stakeholders, and providing their translation into the six UN languages. Allowing ample time for meaningful engagement of civil society in SDG implementation and review processes is essential at global, regional and national levels.
Each country is responsible for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in consultation with its people, to address collective challenges from a place of shared endeavour. From individuals to local authorities to national ministries to UN agencies, each must take ownership of the Goals in their particular contexts – acknowledging that all Goals are interrelated and mutually reinforcing.
The NGO Major Group recommends the following regarding the SDGs under review in 2017:
- Goal 1: Addressing the causes and manifestations of structural poverty requires holistic, context-‐specific solutions interlinked with all other goals. Governments should report on their efforts to increase opportunities, wellbeing, and resilience among all sectors of society.
- Goal 2: To end hunger and all forms of malnutrition, we must change our agricultural production from high-‐input, industrial exploitation towards systems that support smallholders’ livelihoods and preserve cultures and biodiversity.
- Goal 3: Efforts to achieve health-‐related targets should prioritize the full spectrum of services from promotion, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliation. Governments, through a multi-‐sectoral and multi-‐stakeholder approach, must endeavour to remove social, cultural, and economic barriers to ensure full access to affordable, quality physical and mental health services for all.
- Goal 5: Obstacles to the actualization of gender equality and the fundamental rights of women and girls should be overcome through implementing laws and policies that prohibit discrimination, redistribute unpaid care work, promote equality in access to resources, education, and decision-‐making, in alignment with internationally agreed conventions and standards.
- Goal 9: All governments, including regional and local authorities, should promote inclusive, ecologically-‐sound industrialization and the provision of basic infrastructure that incorporates the protection of nature and participatory decision-‐making.
- Goal 14: SDG14 must be a keystone in protecting the oceans as a substantial part of the biosphere, a unique ecosystem, an integral part of human civilization and major food provider, and a common good with equal and fair access rights.
In keeping with the commitment to “Leave No One Behind,” the full position paper of the Non-‐ Governmental Organizations’ Major Group details the ways in which the SDGs are interconnected, locally applicable yet requiring universal commitment, and essential for the eradication of poverty and promotion of prosperity for all.