NGOs call for ‘cultural coherence’, ‘cultural responsibility’ to achieve SDGs | News | SDG Knowledge Center

The Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) Major Group has submitted its position paper to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) as an input to the 2022 session of the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) which will take place under the auspices of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in July. To support a holistic approach to the implementation of the SDGs, the Group calls for the promotion of such an “intangible” culture to help people integrate, unite and connect for a better world.

The in-person session of the HLPF will take place July 5-15, 2022 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, USA. Under the theme “Building back better after coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, it will conduct an in-depth review of five SDGs: SDG 4 (quality education); SDG 5 (gender equality); SDG 14 (life below water); SDG 15 (life on land); and SDG 17 (partnerships for the goals).

Paragraph 85 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls on stakeholders to participate in thematic reviews of progress on the SDGs at the HLPF. Major Groups and other stakeholder organizations are invited to submit coordinated sectoral position papers related to the HLPF theme and the SDGs under review. Papers are considered official contributions to the HLPF, and executive summaries of all papers submitted are translated into the six official UN languages.

Major groups and other stakeholders include representatives of business and industry, children and young people, farmers, indigenous peoples, local authorities, NGOs, science and technology community, women, workers and trade unions, people with disabilities, volunteers, older people, and education and academia.

To achieve integrated action across sectors and build better, governments need to support cross-cutting policies at the local level.

For each goal discussed at the July HLPF, the NGO Major Group position paper: provides recommendations on how governments should implement it; identifies the structural obstacles that hinder its implementation at the local, national, regional and/or global levels; describes the role that civil society can play in achieving this; highlights links to other SDGs and international frameworks; and identifies any relevant emerging issues.

The major NGO group’s position paper calls for a “cessation of hostilities” as geopolitical instability negatively impacts progress on all SDGs. It calls on UN Member States to:

  • Ensure political will and global commitment to ensure quality formal and informal education (SDG 4);
  • Adopt and implement policies and, where appropriate, temporary special measures aimed at eliminating gender-based discrimination and violence, including the recognition of sexual and reproductive health and rights for all women, as the gender-based discrimination and violence hinder the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDG 5);
  • Increase funding for adaptation efforts and place greater emphasis on prevention, regulation and enforcement of sustainable marine and industrial practices to address the lack of resources for climate change mitigation and adaptation in the coastal communities, small island developing states (SIDS) and other remote communities (SDG 14);
  • In light of accelerating climate change, safeguard wetlands, forests and agricultural lands, prioritizing carbon storage and sequestration and sustainable practices that do not encourage human exploitation, animals and the environment (SDG 15); and
  • Ensure equitable access to green technologies that impact health, education, jobs and sustainable development, recognizing that “protectionist policies inevitably limit access to those who need it most”, and bridging the global North/South divide while “addressing the historical, colonialist, and systemic separation of donor/recipient countries”, where listening and cooperation are as essential as leadership (SDG 17).

The document further argues that “to achieve integrated cross-sectoral action and build better, governments must support cross-cutting policies at the local level” and involve non-state actors in decision-making and actions. In light of “the growing likelihood that our growth-based global economy will cause ecological collapse”, NGOs urge governments to prioritize “minimum consumption of environmentally expensive goods and services”, avoid siled approaches to social and environmental challenges, and working to achieve the SDGs in an integrated way.

The document should be available online, on the UN website Sustainability Knowledge Platform. [SDG Knowledge Hub Sources]

James C. Tibbs