The European Space Agency and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s)

By Johann-Dietrich WörnerDirector General, European Space Agency 

What do space and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have in common? What they have in common may be as remote as outer space but several examples illustrate the opposite. Space does matter for the SDGs. Since its creation in 1975, the European Space Agency (ESA) has developed a wide range of space programmes that provide useful contributions for sustainable development. And this is becoming even clearer now with the 2015 adoption of the SDGs  [1]. Consider just a few examples related to some of the 17 SDGs: Continue reading

The role of South-South co-operation in the implementation process of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

By Gina Casar, Executive Director, Mexican Agency for International Development Co-operation (AMEXCID)  

The outcome document of the 2009 High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Co-operation in Nairobi remains the most internationally acknowledged document in this matter. It says that South-South co-operation is a “manifestation of solidarity among peoples and countries of the South” (article 18), “takes different and evolving forms, including the sharing of knowledge and experience, training, technology transfer, financial and monetary co-operation and in-kind contributions” (Article 12), and “embraces a multi-stakeholder approach” (Article 19).

South-South co-operation can be seen as an expression of the growing capacity and political willingness of developing countries to do their part to attain the 2030 development agenda. This builds on their own resources, which in many cases emanate from knowledge gathered by facing their own domestic experiences, and less on financial support. It is in this context that the widely accepted formulation of “South-South co-operation not being a substitute, but rather a complement to North-South co-operation” must be understood.

Indeed, South-South co-operation is an increasingly important element of international co-operation for development. The 2030 Agenda and the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals strive to make co-operation impactful, focused on results, inclusive and, overall, effective.

In that regard, South-South co-operation faces some particular challenges to increase and assess its development impact, while consolidating the institutional and technical capacities of southern countries. These challenges include:

  • systematising and publishing information collected on the national level,
  • increasing predictability and strategic engagement,
  • avoiding proliferation of short-term and isolated activities,
  • establishing specific procedures for monitoring and evaluation and reinforcing results-oriented approaches, and
  • improving the means of coordination and communication.

These challenges need to be tackled to take full advantage of the potential and specific value-added of South-South co-operation. Consider the enormous promise of South-South co-operation.

  • It offers a significant resource channel that is additional to — and different from — Official Development Assistance funds.
  • It builds on “real and proven” development expertise, which is valued by partner countries because of the similarities and relevant know-how among developing countries.
  • It has lower transaction costs, is more demand-driven vis-à-vis traditional North-South co-operation and comes with fewer conditionalities than traditional development co-operation.

The strengths, increasing relevance and potential of South-South Co-operation rightfully have been acknowledged in the context of the 2030 Agenda and financing for development efforts. For example, with SDG 17 focused on revitalising the global partnership for sustainable development, the global community acknowledges the importance of South-South co-operation to fulfill the SDGs. This goal aims at enhancing North-South and South-South co-operation to support national plans to achieve all the targets. Additionally, paragraphs 56 and 57 of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda acknowledge South-South co-operation as an important element of international co-operation for development. The action agenda calls on developing countries to strengthen South-South co-operation and further improve its development effectiveness.

Mexico is an important actor in South-South co-opoeration. As a provider, our priority is with our neighbors in Central America, while also focusing on Latin American and the Caribbean region as a whole. This priority does not mean excluding co-operation beyond our own region as we also undertake development projects in the Asia-Pacific area and Africa. We are increasing our development actions in these places through an enhanced strategic approach. Promoting triangular co-operation is a strategic tool to strengthen our capacities beyond our traditional areas of action, and beyond our own individual capabilities.

Through the establishment of the Agencia Mexicana de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (Mexico’s international development co-operation agency) in 2011, Mexico has tools to better and more strategically deliver its development co-operation. Notably, we continue advancing more systematic planning and monitoring frameworks, as well as a system for registering our development co-operation in monetary terms (RENCID). In terms of financing, Mexico has a national trust fund (FONCID) as well as a number of bilateral trust funds (Chile, Germany, Spain, Uruguay), which are lively tools for increased and improved delivery.

In this context, Mexico’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Claudia Ruiz Massieu, is serving as co-chair of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (GPEDC). Within the GPEDC, we are promoting discussions on how to maximise development co-operation impact. We led sessions on this topic at the First High-Level Meeting (HLM1) of the GPEDC in Mexico City in 2014. At HLM2 to be held in Nairobi next November, we will promote a lively, constructive, open and inclusive dialogue for enhancing exchanges on South-South co-operation and triangular co-operation.

In a global community with a great diversity of actors at different development levels, we all share a responsibility to be as effective as possible. Inclusive and flexible partnerships are what we need to achieve the SDGs.

Partnering with philanthropy to optimise a country’s resources: Mexico’s case

By Emilie Romon of the OECD Development Centre’s Global Network of Foundations Working for Development (netFWD)

The Government of Mexico is stepping up its engagement with its philanthropic sector. Three factors fuel this decision. First, the share of official development assistance to middle-income countries, such as Mexico, is expected to significantly decrease in coming years. In 2014, the donor community decided to increase support for least-developed and fragile states rather than middle-income countries.

This means Mexico is exploring new ways to optimise all available public and private resources for development. Second, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) endorsed in 2015 call for public and private actors to better pool and co-ordinate their resources if they are to achieve the goals. And third, as the co-chair of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, which promotes multi-stakeholder partnerships with foundations and other non-state actors, Mexico wants to lead by example. Indeed, Mexico’s move towards its domestic philanthropic sector could not be more timely. Continue reading

Building a GPS for the SDGs: The OECD’s data response to the SDGs

By Martine Durand, Chief Statistician, Director, Statistics Directorate, OECD

World leaders have endorsed 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These comprise some 169 targets in fields ranging from poverty and hunger to equality and climate action to peace and justice. To know where we are starting from, whether we’re making progress, and what we need to improve, we will need good data for governments to make evidence-based decisions and for citizens to hold them to account. In other words, what we need is a global positioning system, or a GPS, for the SDGs. We need a data-driven GPS to help map out the best route to arrive at the successful implementation of the SDGs.

Data have been recognised as central to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. The UN Statistical Commission recently endorsed an official set of SDG indicators as the basis for follow-up and review at the global level in the years ahead.

Implementing and monitoring progress towards the SDGs will be very challenging. The new targets are universal – applying to all countries – and they focus on more than development problems. Many of the targets are complex, interlinked and multifaceted, requiring new concepts and measures. The SDGs’ emphasis on leaving no one behind also will require disaggregated data across multiple dimensions, such as gender, age and socio-economic status.

Yet, good reasons exist to be confident. More data are available today than ever, and technological breakthroughs and improved methods now provide more detailed and granular information. New partnerships also are being set up to harness this data revolution.

This progress must continue if we are to meet the data challenges posed by the SDGs. Even in this era of “big data,” no country, including OECD members, has all the data it needs to monitor the SDGs. New sources must be tapped to fill the gaps, and an unprecedented and sustained international effort will be needed to develop the new information required.

The OECD will take part in this effort fully. We are already renowned for our statistics and have been at the forefront of global innovations in statistical methods, systems and dissemination for over half a century. We are a recognised authority on a vast array of economic, social, environmental and development-related statistics. Consider the fact that we have been leading the search for new statistical measures of progress that go beyond GDP by building indicators for well-being and measuring them consistently across OECD countries. On the education front, the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), already the world’s most widely used gauge of educational outcomes, is being adapted for use in more countries. And we have pioneered other useful tools and concepts to measure progress in areas as diverse as science and technology, income distribution, health, labour, international investment and regional analysis.

But the SDGs require measuring how actions taken in one country affect other countries’ performance. Through our world input-output tables, we track the trans-boundary impacts of production and consumption in OECD countries on CO2 emissions and critical natural resources for example. Our data on Official Development Assistance provide information on country efforts to meet aid targets, and we are developing new metrics, such as Total Official Support for Sustainable Development (TOSSD), to give a more comprehensive view of resource flows. Similarly, our Revenue Statistics provide unique information on the capacity of developing countries’ tax systems to raise domestic resources.

The OECD has been a key contributor to setting global goals for decades. Our 1996 development co-operation strategy, Shaping the 21st Century, was a step towards formulating the Millennium Development Goals, and we have played a vital role in monitoring them over the past 15 years. Now, building a statistical system capable of monitoring the SDGs will demand even greater investment in capacity and skills across the entire spectrum, from conceiving and collecting data to interpreting and communicating them clearly to making them open and accessible to all.

We will do all we can to build the GPS that will help member and partner countries and the whole international community rise to the even greater measurement challenges presented by the SDGs. Building better data for better policies to improve people’s lives today and tomorrow is one goal we are determined to achieve.


 

This article should not be reported as representing the official views of the OECD, the OECD Development Centre or of their member countries. The opinions expressed and arguments employed are those of the author.

SDG data discussion: what next?

By Johannes Jütting, PARIS21 Secretariat Manager

After months of intense discussions, representatives from more than 190 national statistical offices agreed on a global monitoring framework for the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 17 goals and 169 targets of the framework will be complemented by 230 indicators. This is a huge achievement given the complex political and technical challenges that had to be solved to reach a consensus. Now, the United Nations Economic and Social Council and the United Nations General Assembly formally will endorse the framework.

Avoiding a stalemate with this finish line in sight and addressing the framework’s remaining blind spots require urgent attention. The two main points that still need to be addressed are: i) integrating the SDGs into national priorities and strengthening national statistical capacities for that process and ii) improving the indicator set.

Integrating SDGs into national priorities

The following table captures different reporting levels, organizations in the lead and the purpose of the reporting exercises:

SDG monitoring – roles and responsibilities

Global Regional and thematic National
Responsibility for SDG reporting UN Statistics Division based mainly on national data collected by international agencies Regional organizations, UN and other agencies harmonising SDG methodology for regional reporting National statistical systems and third-party providers supplying national and subnational data
Original data sources Country-level Country-level Country-level
Purpose Global monitoring focusing on world progress overall Regional and thematic monitoring focusing on relevant progress National monitoring focusing on national and subnational priorities

The relationship between UN technical agencies, such as WHO, UNICEF and FAO, and national governments in the production of statistics is complex. Much of the data we have currently on poverty, health, education or nutrition comes from large-scale international household surveys run by these agencies in countries. This is done in close collaboration with national statistical offices and often includes a capacity-building component that is very useful. However, involving agencies in the production of data can be problematic too as they have their own thematic agenda that might not align with national priorities or could even contradict those priorities. With the heavy SDG agenda, this risk increases substantially and could lead to a crowding out of national capacities.

Another equally important issue is the measurement exercise’s purpose. Do we focus all our attention on how best to do global monitoring? Or do we also focus urgently on producing national SDG data roadmaps that identify country-specific baselines, data needs and data filling plans for effective country-level actions? We should not forget that the data are supposed to help policy makers make evidence-based decisions and achieve impact. This happens primarily at national and subnational levels.

Improving the indicators

Even with general agreement on the indicator set, the real work remains. The consensus is clear that the indicators will need to be defined further over the coming months and years. Many indicators are yet to be supported by the required data or methodology. National statistical systems will face trouble with certain indicators or simply will lack the incentives to measure them at all. A good example is indicator 10.5.1 that measures the “financial soundness” of national policies: no government will be motivated to report on this aspect if the country is not doing well, especially given the possible impact on foreign direct investment decisions. Or take indicator 16.4.1 that asks for a country’s total value of inward and outward illicit financial flows. Illicit flows by their very nature are clandestine, making only vague estimates possible at best. Another blind spot is the current indicator on corruption: bribery is measured in the public sector whereas the private sector is not considered. Moreover, the indicator set ignores some important problems entirely. Obesity, for example, is not included but is a growing health problem in many middle-income countries, straining public services.

More technical work clearly is needed. But more importantly, the international community needs to provide the financial means to enable national statistical systems to do the job they are asked to do without undermining national priorities and taking into account their current capacity.

Where to go from here

The agenda needs to move now from the global to the national and finally to the local levels. Building partnerships among public institutions – agencies of the national statistical system – citizens and the private sector at the local level is critical. This hopefully will lead to better planning of conventional statistical operations and to building new models that involve citizens, businesses and nongovernmental organisations.

The conclusion is that achieving the SDGs will depend largely on strengthening national and local capacities in a creative synergy of data producers and users. Only then can we hope that policies will be able to reach those who live on the fringes of society. This is how we can leverage data effectively to fulfil the 2030 Agenda’s promise to “leave no one behind.’’

This blog also appeared on The Huffington Post. Click here to read it anew.


This article should not be reported as representing the official views of the OECD, the OECD Development Centre or of their member countries. The opinions expressed and arguments employed are those of the author.

The SDGs are here… Now what?

By Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and former Prime Minister of New Zealand

We face the challenge of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in a world faced with multiple and diverse forms of crisis. What do the SDGs mean for countries where families have to flee their homes to escape conflict, where rising sea levels threaten lives, livelihoods and infrastructure, and where economies are devastated by the impact of epidemics or terrorism?

Clearly, the effects of such trends are not confined to the countries in which they originate. Instead, they spill over to neighbouring countries and far beyond, with regional and global consequences that are now posing challenges to many countries, north and south.

The interlinked and comprehensive nature of the SDGs challenges us to identify entry points in many different contexts, and to address the critical bottlenecks that must be removed if no one is to be left behind.

Four areas are fundamental to achieving the SDGs.

1)      Strong national ownership and leadership: Theexperience of implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) showed that the most important determinants of progress include strong leadership committed to global goals and proactive and capable governance institutions at the national and local levels to ensure that the global agenda is translated into national strategies, budgets and actions. We need to work together more closely than ever to help strengthen capacities, whatever the country context.

2)      Active coalitions, engaged stakeholders and knowledge exchange: The 2030 Agenda will need to draw on solutions and experiences from across countries, stakeholder groups and sectors. Today’s world offers new and diverse resources and technologies. UNDP values its engagement with the OECD in support of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation that seeks to maximize the impact of development co-operation.

3)      Enabling resources: The 2015 Addis Ababa Action Accord on Financing for Development emphasizes that financing for development requires far more than traditional development assistance. Countries will need to tap all forms of finance — public and private, domestic and international, and environmental and developmental. A critical challenge will be to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable are reached and that Official Development Assistance (ODA) is used in catalytic ways to leverage additional domestic financing. For instance, the UNDP-OECD Tax Inspectors Without Borders initiative works to help local officials in the tax administrations of developing countries access cutting-edge tax audit expertise to increase tax revenue.

4)      Robust follow-up and review: The 2030 Agenda challenges every country to assess progress. Sound accountability mechanisms and timely, disaggregated data are among the minimum requirements for designing, monitoring and evaluating progress towards the SDGs. UNDP and OECD are collaborating closely to help support data-driven decision-making by initiating more open, new and usable data through the new Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data.

The 2030 Agenda was adopted by 193 governments, but governments on their own cannot drive the agenda. Leadership is needed from the multilateral system. UNDP is working within the UN Development Group to implement a common approach to SDG implementation. We title our approach MAPS – which stands for Mainstreaming, Acceleration, and Policy Support. This will see the UN development system in-country working to:

  • land the agenda at national and local levels (mainstreaming);
  • target resources at removing bottlenecks to sustainable development (acceleration); and
  • make UN thematic expertise available in an effective and coherent way (policy support).

As the UN’s broad-based development organisation, which also is responsible for leading the coordination of all agencies in the UN development system, UNDP is well placed to play its part in supporting governments to drive forward on the SDGs, in promoting citizen engagement and in convening the broad partnerships necessary for SDG success. We also will support review processes at the global level and the all-important SDG reporting at the national level.

We look forward to continuing our close work with the OECD over the lifetime of the 2030 Agenda — to strengthen analysis to help inform sound policymaking, foster global partnerships, help catalyse the necessary data revolution and foster innovative financing solutions to ensure the realisation of the agenda’s aspirations. The objective is for all people, everywhere, to enjoy well-being and to safeguard the natural environment for future generations.

Gender discrimination in social institutions and long-term growth

By Gabriela Ramos, Special Counsellor to the OECD Secretary-General, OECD Chief of Staff and Sherpa to the G20 

Read this post in Spanish

Women’s economic empowerment remains a critical challenge around the globe. Only half of working-age women are in the labour force, earning on average 24% less than men and are less likely to receive a pension (UN Women, 2015). Women are also disproportionately concentrated in informal and precarious employment, and they spend nearly two and a half more times than men in unpaid care and domestic work (OECD 2014). In schools, girls are less likely to choose STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) careers, choosing other options that are less promising. Continue reading