Amid Faltering Multilateralism, Growing Inequalities, Regional Commissions Report Mixed Results in Advancing 2030 Agenda, as High-Level Political Forum Continues

ECOSOC/6938
12 July 2018
High-Level Political Forum, 10th, 11th & 12th Meeting (AM & PM)

Amid Faltering Multilateralism, Growing Inequalities, Regional Commissions Report Mixed Results in Advancing 2030 Agenda, as High-Level Political Forum Continues

Amid faltering multilateralism and growing inequalities, regional partners shared mixed results in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals today, as the High‑Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development considered how best to support peer-learning among countries and stakeholders in efforts to create a better world for all by 2030.

The Forum — tasked with monitoring global efforts to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — also held a thematic review of perspectives from societies, examining both gains and challenges to achieving Goal 12, on ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns.

A thematic review on lessons from the regions featured presentations by and a discussion with officials from regional commissions, who agreed that success hinged on urgently addressing shortfalls, narrowing gaps and ensuring inclusive approaches.

However, challenges were mounting, said moderator Alicia Bárcena of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).  A looming trade war and a global political conservative movement are exacerbating efforts to achieve the Goals, she said, amid trends showing that advances in gender equality are being reversed.  Moreover, eight companies had amassed the greatest proportion of global wealth at a time when public spending is being cut.

Emphasizing that such issues could be addressed by collectively creating solutions, she said a new development model must be forged, with consumption and production patterns transformed.  Rather than fragmenting the Goals, a new direction could recognize the critical links among them, with all targets being indivisible.

Lead discussant Alma Sinumlag, Programme Officer at the Cordillera Women Education and Action Research Center, stressed that efforts must include addressing systemic barriers to achieving justice and reducing inequalities.  While her indigenous community in the Philippines remains committed to fostering that change, corporations have captured language of renewable and clean energy for their own profit.  Urgent attention is needed to combat regional and global trends showing increased militarization of indigenous peoples’ land and criminalization of their communities.

Presenting regional findings, panellists described mixed progress.  Some highlighted areas that need swift, effective attention to prevent a reversal of gains made.

Vera Songwe of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) said growth is on the rise, but high levels of extreme poverty continue, with projections showing that, by the end of 2018, 3.2 million more people will be living in extreme poverty.  Action is urgently needed to change that trajectory and capitalize on the continent’s vast potential.

Mohamed Ali Alhakim of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) said that to address water scarcity and inequalities in the workforce, efforts must seek to increase financing for development, public-private partnerships, cross-border issues, technology and innovation and data collection.

Kaveh Zahedi of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) reported that mixed progress in some areas, such as reducing inequalities, has actually reversed gains in some countries.  Current trends must be reversed to reach targets in such areas as gross domestic product (GDP) growth, greenhouse gas emissions and forest coverage.  Also, the current rate of progress must be maintained to reach targets related to maternal mortality, access to electricity and mobile network coverage.

Olga Algayerova of the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) said complacency is not an option.  Challenges include creating more dynamic, resilient and inclusive economies, reducing environmental pressures, using resources more sustainably, improving connectivity within the region and developing new forms of mobility.  Attention is needed to address persistent gender bias, environmental pressures, energy efficiency and the loss of biodiversity.  Progress also must be made in areas where the region has global responsibilities and addressing disparities among member countries.

The High-Level Political Forum will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 13 July, to continue its work.

Thematic Review

A discussion on “Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals:  lessons from the regions” was chaired by Council Vice-President Jerry Matthews Matjila (South Africa), moderated by Alicia Bárcena of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and featured the following panellists:  Vera Songwe, Economic Commission for Africa (ECA); Mohamed Ali Alhakim, Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA); Olga Algayerova, Economic Commission for Europe (ECE); and Kaveh Zahedi, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).  Lead discussants were Tatyana Valovaya, member of the Board (Minister) of the Eurasian Economic Commission, and Alma Sinumlag, Programme Officer at the Cordillera Women Education and Action Research Center (Asia-Pacific civil society mechanism).

Mr. MATJILA introduced the panellists, welcoming a constructive dialogue.

Ms. BÁRCENA said regional‑level efforts shed light on needs, providing guidance for future action.

Ms. SONGWE, outlining lessons from Africa, said growth is on the rise, but high levels of extreme poverty continue despite some progress in this area.  With projections showing that, by the end of 2018, 3.2 million more people will be living in extreme poverty, action is urgently needed to change this.  In addition, inequality persists as does Africa’s inherent vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.  Moreover, there are high rates of degradation and depletion of land, water, forests and biodiversity resources, upon which 62 per cent of the population depends for food, water, energy, heath and livelihoods.  Rapid population growth rates and urbanization must be well managed as trends are set to escalate requirements for employment, food, water, energy and shelter.  As such, boosted efforts are needed in broad areas, including the provision of clean water, sanitation and affordable and green energy, managing climate change consequences and unlocking Africa’s renewable energy potential.  In addition, efforts must target the building of sustainable cities and communities while fostering responsible production and consumption as well as protecting and restoring land and ecosystems.  Challenges include a limited awareness of the inter-relationship between the Goals and existing international commitments.

Mr. ALHAKIM, presenting a slideshow on developments, said 60 per cent of the Arab region is under age 30.  He noted a range of challenges in achieving the Goals, including that women make up only 20 per cent of the workforce.  Many countries face water scarcity and many Governments are conducting voluntary national reviews to provide more detailed information.  Examining the submitted voluntary reviews, he said observations highlighted a need to focus on boosting financing for development, public-private partnerships, cross-border issues, technology and innovation, and data collection.  Going forward, it is essential to find regional solutions to challenges the region faces.  Efforts are being made to forge partnerships, including among the League of Arab States, financial institutions, academia and civil society.  ESCWA is a platform for such discussions, having held the Arab Forum for Sustainable Development and a ministerial session and having actively reached out to schools, media outlets and civil society to engage stakeholders.

Ms. ALGAYEROVA said the institutional process to mainstream the Goals into national plans across Europe is underway, with two thirds of members having already presented voluntary national reviews at the Forum in 2018.  “However, we cannot be complacent,” she said, noting that much progress is needed to address disparities across the region in many areas and where the region has global responsibilities.  For instance, Goal 3 on health, some countries are doing well while others lagged behind.  Similarly, on Goal 6 on water, scarcity in some States is a major challenge.  Equitable access to water and sanitation also remains an issue in some countries in which low proportions of the population are using safely managed drinking water services and climate change is exacerbating water-related tensions.  Challenges include creating more dynamic, resilient and inclusive economies, reducing environmental pressures and using resources more sustainably and improving connectivity within the region and developing new forms of mobility.  Attention is needed to end persistent gender bias, relieve environmental pressures while boosting energy efficiency, and address the loss of biodiversity.  Advancing gains on the Goals will require updating and developing a set of norms, standards and guidelines that shape international cooperation and guide public and private efforts in support of sustainable development in multiple sectors.

Mr. ZAHEDI, providing a snapshot of the current situation in Asia and the Pacific, said progress is mixed.  In some areas, such as reducing inequalities, gain have been reversed.  The current rate of progress must be maintained to reach targets regarding maternal mortality, access to electricity and mobile network coverage.  In addition, current trends need to be reversed to reach targets in areas including gross domestic product (GDP) growth, greenhouse gas emissions and forest coverage.  Presenting a slide show with further information, he noted that countries with low- and middle-income status have mortality rates that are four to five times higher than in high-income countries.  Moreover, in 2017, the region accounted for 43 per cent of all registered disaster events and 68 per cent of all fatalities in the world.  Up to 35 per cent of the population in affected areas is likely to fall below the poverty line as a result of disasters.  For its part, ESCAP is working to promote ways for countries to move forward towards achieving the Goals, having published the Regional Road Map for Implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific.

Ms. BÁRCENA said Latin American and Caribbean countries are making inroads into realizing the Goals, however multilateralism is faltering.  A looming trade war and a political conservative movement are exacerbating efforts.  Even in gender equality, achievements are probably backsliding.  Income inequalities are also a concern, with eight companies comprising the largest proportion of global wealth at a time when public expenditures are being cut.  Such challenges could be addressed by collectively creating solutions.  Foreign direct investment or remittances are not going to solve the problem.  More innovative mechanisms are needed.  The model of development, as well as consumption and production patterns must change.  Challenges include recognizing the critical links and implementing the nexus approach.  Instead of fragmenting the Goals, a new direction would recognize the critical links and ensure all targets are indivisible.  Her region must continue its efforts to measure progress, she said, noting that 19 countries have submitted voluntary national reviews.

Ms. VALOVAYA said ongoing activities are making inroads into achieving a range of goals, including on energy efficiency and forging global partnerships.  In developing partnerships, she proposed that the next Forum feature a side event on regional integration and cooperation.  In her region, indicators for comparison with other partners should be developed.

Ms. SINUMLAG said empowerment efforts by her indigenous community in the Philippines are blocked by systemic barriers.  The language of renewable and clean energy has been captured by corporations for their own profit.  Regionally and globally, a growing patriarchal trend has led to the militarization of indigenous peoples’ land and criminalized their communities.  Businesses are putting profit over people and efforts must address systemic barriers to achieving justice and reducing inequalities.

Following the presentations, participants discussed their concerns, with some countries sharing ways to bolster regional progress and others highlighting the need for an inclusive process that enhances cooperation.

The representative of Senegal said the need for a broad range of programmes to improve conditions in many African countries is clear.  However, it is also important to boost subregional and regional cooperation to ensure success at the country level.

The representative of Togo, agreeing, said regional cooperation with his country had already resulted in gains made in a range of areas, including in providing water, sanitation and electricity services to a growing number of households.

The representative of Mauritania, however, said such gains must be expedited through increased international assistance and national investments in critical areas such as the provision of electricity to rural areas.

The representative of Sweden said many communities lack a voice in the decision-making process.  By including these unheard voices, better policies and decisions will be made.

The representative of the major group for workers and trade unions similarly said the space for discussions has been shrinking, with people being scared to represent their interests.  This must be addressed across all the Goals and the International Labour Organization (ILO) must be brought in to lend its perspective and ensure an inclusive approach at the regional level.

The representative of the major group for children and youth said the Forum must become a genuine space for learning and follow up of recommendations of the voluntary national reviews.  He also proposed more time for thematic discussions, adding that youth must be included in such fora.

The representative of Iraq, noting that his country lags in attaining the Goals in part because of terrorist attacks, asked ESCWA for assistance in addressing such shortfalls.

The representative of Viet Nam said that, despite some gains toward building a sustainable, resilient society, the consequences of climate change continue to create challenges.  To achieve all 17 Goals, Viet Nam requires technical and human resources and strengthened cooperation, with knowledge exchanges.

Also speaking were representatives of Belarus, Iran, Benin, Chile, Mexico, Morocco, Georgia, Lebanon, Iraq, Israel, South Africa, Uganda and Lesotho, as well as the State of Palestine and the European Union.  A representative of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) also participated.

A discussion was then held on the theme “Perspectives of society: Session organized with major groups and other stakeholders,” chaired by Mr. Matjila and moderated by Luisa Emilia Reyes Zuñiga, Programme Director of Policies and Budgets of Equality and Sustainable Development, Gender Equity: Citizenship, Work and Family, as well as Co-chair of the High-Level Political Forum Coordination Mechanism (women's major group), who also delivered a keynote address.  Panellists included:  Haydee Rodriguez, Executive Director, Unión de Cooperativas de Mujeres Productoras “Las Brumas” (Sendai Stakeholders); Ruben Zondervan, Executive Director of the Earth System Governance Project at Lund University, Sweden (science and technology major group); and Jolly Amatya, Secretariat of United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth.  Vitalice Meja, Coordinator/Civil Society Organization Partnership for Development Effectiveness Co-Chair of Reality of Aid Network Africa (financing for development civil society group), and Berry Vrbanovic, Mayor of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada (local authorities major group), were the lead discussants.

Ms. REYES said that, from one perspective, the Forum appears to be a “festive space” for Member States to share experiences and present their voluntary national reviews.  But, stakeholders have been seeing the “dark side”, including attempts at intimidation, harassment and censorship, as well as efforts to limit the expression of legitimate concerns.  It is time to make Member States aware of that, she said, emphasizing that there are several ways in which they can absorb stakeholders’ concerns.  Noting that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development contains structural challenges, she said trade, economic and financial dynamics must be addressed.  Stakeholders are ready to share many proposals in that regard, she said, appealing for the Forum to be more accountable and fit for purpose.

Ms. RODRIGUEZ, speaking on behalf of the Sendai Stakeholders Group, said the Goals cannot be achieved without addressing disaster risk.  Speaking from her own experience in Nicaragua — where she is part of a grass‑roots women’s agriculture cooperative — she said investment in community infrastructure, such as forest and water resource management, helped build resilience, promote economic growth and women’s empowerment, and protect natural resources.  That, in turn, raised awareness of disaster risk while steering development away from high-risk areas.  Communities used risk information to prioritize efforts and engage with local governments.  Good practices, tools and expertise are shared with neighbouring communities, as well as regionally and globally.  Noting that her cooperative’s efforts are recognized by the Government of Nicaragua, she said its model worked only where there is a political commitment to engagement.  The reality, however, is that such efforts are still the exception, not common practice, she said, urging countries to take a risk-informed approach and to meaningfully engage locally focused stakeholders.

Mr. ZONDERVAN, speaking on behalf of the science and technology major group, said it is alarming that scientific ability is unevenly distributed around the world.  To achieve the 2030 Agenda, it is necessary to fill gaps, create capacities and strengthen the production of scientific knowledge, particularly where such knowledge is under‑presented.  Emphasizing the importance of coherence, he pointed to a guide published in 2017 by the International Council for Science that showed how action under one Goal can reinforce progress with other Goals.  The degree to which the Goals and their targets are achieved over time will be the test of the widely assumed hypothesis that a higher degree of institutional integration will advance Goal achievement.  He went on to underscore how, through teaching, the scientific community is contributing to the Goals.  Most scientific knowledge creation is taking place in universities, where scientists are also teachers.  Their students will be the ground-breaking scientists, innovative entrepreneurs, sustainable business leaders and representatives of Member States and civil societies for decades to come.

Ms. AMATYA, speaking on behalf of the children and youth major group, said the current economic paradigm of “growth for growth’s sake” must be reoriented to one that internalizes social and environmental externalities.  There must also be progress towards accountability frameworks for the Goals that emphasize transparency.  The systemic development finance problem must be fixed, she said, calling the much-talked-about concept of partnerships “unsubstantiated hype” given the absence of an agreed definition or governance framework for public-private partnerships.  She suggested that the Economic and Social Council convene a process to ponder, evaluate and define common standards for public-private partnership.  She went on to suggest that new innovative and sustainable investment mechanisms be created to tackle the financial resource gap while combating such systemic issues as tax havens, illicit financial flows and financial speculation.  Incentives for a green and circular economy must be created, too.  Noting that the institutional capacity of local government in the global South is very weak, she wondered how to make local government a first career choice for the next generation of young professionals.

Mr. MEJA said community-level ownership and engagement in the 2030 Agenda must be enhanced.  That is the only way to build resilience, he said, adding that careful thought must be given to ways to empower communities to design projects that will change lives.  There has been insufficient investment in this regard, he said, adding that progress on the Goals was not just a matter of reporting, but also a matter of political accountability and clarity.

Mr. VRBANOVIC, from the local authorities major group, said a “silent constructive tsunami” has been occurring, with local governments taking ownership of the 2030 Agenda and implementing it, often without the required means.  Local and regional governments are making significant efforts to foster local ownership of the 2030 Agenda and their involvement in implementing the Goals is growing.  Progress, so far, has been remarkable, but full ownership requires strong joint efforts, clearer high-level government support and stronger alliances, he said, adding that local and regional government participation in the preparation of voluntary national reviews must be improved.

Following the presentations, speakers stressed the role of partnership, collaboration and inclusion in working towards the Goals.

The representative of the older persons stakeholder group said not enough priority is being given to ageing and older people in sustainable development planning.  There must be greater recognition of the need for human rights to underpin the implementation and review of the Goals.

The representative of the persons with disabilities stakeholder group said that such persons face a lack of accessible services of any kind in small cities and rural area.  In times of disaster, persons with disabilities are four times more likely to die, she added, calling for their fundamental rights, including civil and political rights, to be highlighted.

The representative of the local authorities major group said “learning cities” — those, which, among other things, promote inclusive learning from basic to higher education and foster a culture of life-long learning — demonstrate how the Goals can work at the local level.  Education for resilient cities is not only about preparing people for whatever happens, but to help them become proactive and to be masters of their own lives.

The representative of the indigenous peoples’ major group emphasized the barriers posed by political and economic systems in enabling them to achieve the Goals.  Indigenous peoples are rights-holders and must be given priority, she said.  They are protecting the planet and it is time for the world to listen and learn from them.

The representative of the workers and trade unions major group said the 2030 Agenda could be a vehicle for privatization and maintaining the status quo, or it could provide an alternative to the neo‑liberal narrative.  Governments must address the question of wages and decent work if they are serious about addressing poverty, she said, adding that multi-stakeholder processes cannot replace collective bargaining.  She went on to say that 2018 would see “a tsunami of trade unions” descend on the United Nations for Goal-related meetings.  “Let’s ensure that the Goals put people over profit,” she added.

The representative of the non-government organizations major group said momentum towards achieving the Goals is being lost “due to the challenge of simply working together”.  Emphasizing that no one issue fits neatly into one finite box, she called on stakeholders to work collaboratively and holistically, not just to solve problems, but also to address deeper issues that cause delays.  Human rights must be at the heart of action, she added, rather than a politically charged term.

The representative of the women’s major group said women bear a disproportionate burden of development failures.  Space is closing for civil society, with women’s groups being criminalized and harassed in person and online.  Members of the women’s major group are doing creative work in the areas of implementation and accountability, while, at the same time, sharing knowledge broadly.  Feminists worldwide are pushing for progress, breaking barriers, putting people over profit and leading the change that everyone needs, she said.

The representative of the business and industry major group stressed the importance of partnership between major groups.  More and more companies are striving to report on their Goals-related efforts, he added.

Ms. RODRIGUEZ said that what is most important is to work tougher through partnerships and platforms to strengthen resilience.  She also pointed to the differences in the challenges faced by cities and the countryside.

Mr. ZONDERVAN said local contextual scientific knowledge is needed to feed the global discourse on sustainable development.  All too often, that discourse is being shaped by those with the capacity to do so.  He also emphasized the need for scientific freedom.  More and more, scientific facts could be inconvenient, with “alternative facts” providing a way out for those who disagree with them.

Also speaking were representatives of Norway, Mexico, France, as well as the European Union, and the representative of the Asia-Pacific Regional Civil Society Organization Engagement Mechanism.

Review of Sustainable Development Goal Implementation

In the afternoon, the Forum held a discussion on “Goal 12 — Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns”, chaired by Council Vice‑President Inga Rhonda King (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) and moderated by Elliot Harris, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development and Chief Economist at the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.  Panellists included:  Nur H. Rahayu, Director of Forestry and Conservation of Water Resources at the Ministry of National Development Planning of Indonesia; Petra Bayr, Chair of the Sustainable Development Committee in the Parliament of Austria; Jane Nyakang’o, President of the African Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production; and Ulf Jaeckel, Head of Division of the Federal Ministry for the Environment of Germany and 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns Board Member.

Lead discussants were:  Amy Luers, Executive Director of Future Earth and Julius H. Cainglet, Vice‑President for Research, Advocacy and Partnerships of the Federation of Free Workers (workers and trade unions major group).  Peter Thompson, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, delivered a keynote address, and Shaswat Sapkota, Statistics Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, provided a snapshot of Goal 12.

Mr. SAPKOTA, providing a statistical snapshot of activities related to Goal 12, said developed countries have at least double the per capita footprint of developing countries, whose raw materials are being extracted to support consumption patterns of richer nations.  But, changes have occurred, he said, pointing out that 93 per cent of the world’s 250 largest companies are now reporting on sustainability, as are three quarters of the top 100 companies in 49 countries.  In addition, by 2018, a total of 108 nations had national policies and initiatives relevant to sustainable consumption and production, including many in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.

Mr. THOMPSON delivered the keynote address, saying that Goal 12 is intimately linked with all the other Goals, being an enabler of the pack.  Consumption and production patterns shape the world’s balance with the environment.  Progress in needed in that regard and on dealing with climate change.  Renewed trust and partnerships are required between the private sector, Governments, consumers and citizens.

“We can find our solutions in the unstoppable move away from fossil fuels to renewable energy through solar, wind, thermal, wave power and so much more technological innovation that lies ahead of us,” he said.  “There is great hope to be found in the development of circular economies with emphasis on recycling, re‑use and end-of-life management.”  Meanwhile, the success of environmentally sound international conventions, such as the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, fortify our resolve to pursue universal multilateral solutions to global problems.

“No agency stands alone, and neither does the United Nations,” he continued.  “We are in partnership with science, business, civil society and Governments.  We are in partnership with the people of this planet, united in our quest to provide a secure future by embedding the principle of sustainability.”

Mr. HARRIS said there is no hope of achieving sustainable development without changing consumption and production patterns.  He asked the panellists to address the actions and practices that have proven most successful in ensuring sustainable consumption and production patters at the global, regional and national levels.  It was also important to consider how actions aimed at meeting Goal 12 can be taken, with a view to maximizing co‑benefits and minimizing negative trade-offs in relation to other Goals, as well as how to enhance effective partnerships and identify who had been left the farthest behind.

Ms. RAHAYU said Indonesia has taken various steps, including reaching out to businesses to bolster efficiency, and fostering standards regulations to increase sustainable tourism and green economic growth.  Campaigns have led to empowering groups to apply green management practices, while advocacy efforts sought to promote sustainable waste management practices.  Stakeholders have been engaged to discuss consumption and production patterns, including plastic bag use.  Changing such behaviour is connected to efforts focused on other Goals, including targets on education, human rights and the promotion of peace, he stressed.

Ms. BAYR said awareness-raising should be accompanied with incentives to make it easier for consumers to make sustainable choices that have financial benefits.  For instance, a product becomes attractive if it can be easily repaired rather than simply disposed when broken.  Efforts should also be made to educate the public about sustainable public services.  Public contracts must be transparent and consumers must have the tools to hold the public and private sectors accountable.  Public procurement meanwhile should promote sustainable principles.  Guiding principles and codes of conduct make some progress, but do not change the economy.  As the current economic system does not consider the environment or human rights, a new model is needed that is aligned with sustainable development.  Until then, international law must ensure companies follow the core values.  Robust taxation systems are also needed to generate funding.  Member States should take the lead in making sure every effort is made to advance the Goals.

Ms. NYAKANG’O highlighted success stories across the continent, including establishing a road map, regularly holding regional round tables on pertinent issues and creating National Cleaner Production Centres.  Other actions include the adoption of national and regional plans, policies and green economy strategies.  The challenges included weak institutional linkages, a lack of mainstreaming consumption and production efforts into the other Goals and a lack of clear messages on the targets.  In addition, there is little support for regional platforms, research and information exchanges and efforts to ensure inclusion of vulnerable groups, such as women, youth and indigenous communities.  To address these concerns, she suggested intense networking to build partnerships, retooling national policies and institutional arrangements to support sustainable consumption and production, and translating related targets into national plans.  She also recommended providing resources to promote the benefits of participating in sustainable consumption and production initiatives and supporting regional platforms to take the agenda forward.

Mr. JAEKEL outlined activities under the 10-Year Framework of Programmes, its fund and plans for action.  A new strategy, One Plan for One Planet, was developed to ensure improvements in implementing Goal 12, with related efforts focusing on results.  Sustainable consumption and production have increased in all regions, and scaling up projects and improvements are now needed to reach all related targets, with partnerships and steady support to get the job done.  Policies must prioritize the issue at the national level, he said, adding that biodiversity loss is often linked to related regulations.  In Germany, for example, efforts are aimed at making sustainable consumption and production beneficial for all.  In that work, ministries are taking a cooperative approach to implementing programmes and activities.

Ms. LUERS said much progress on Goal 12 has centred on efficiency gains, while little progress has been made in changing systems.  Making a range of suggestions on how to trigger progress, she emphasized that institutions should strive for efficiency, not just sufficiency.  In addition, expanding policies to incentivize sustainable lifestyles, such as smaller homes, less consumption of meat and other actions, can produce positive results in many areas.  Another effective approach involved cooperatives or worker- and community-owned companies, which tended to be more accountable to communities and be more accountable.  Science‑based targets related to Earth systems also needed attention and should come with sufficient guidelines, she said, adding that more specific targets are needed.

Mr. CAINGLET said vulnerable communities will continue to be left behind unless actions were taken, especially for women and children.  Workers must see the protection of their rights, including to safety and health.  Indeed, the fundamental principles set out by the International Labour Organization (ILO) could lead to more sustainable societies.  Profit is driving unsustainable practices, such as disposable technologies.  Resources and waste should be managed, he said, adding that multilateral enterprises must respect human rights.

Following the presentations, participants shared their experiences and suggested ways to improve existing measures.

The representative of the stakeholder group for civil society shared concerns about the involvement of large companies that side-lined vulnerable communities who asserted their rights to spotlight unsustainable practices.  Instead, people-powered and people-centred efforts must be supported.

The representative of Kenya said current consumption patterns are destroying the planet and must be changed.  For its part, Kenya has drafted plans and strategies promoting, among other things, low-carbon initiatives, eliminating plastic bags and climate-smart agricultural production.  However, more partnerships are needed to implement all plans and programmes.

The representative of Finland said efforts must continue to decouple economic growth and environmental degradation.  Countries like hers must lead the way to promote pilot programmes and trials in areas such as public procurement, with a view to moving to a revolutionary circular economy.  Efforts must be scaled up, however, if the Goals are to be met.

The representative of Israel said her country was an innovation leader.  Efforts aimed at supporting new ideas and solutions for sustainable consumption.  Citing a recent example, she said a public-private initiative supported projects focused on key areas for testing new technologies.

The representative of Turkey said ecotourism projects are under way, which considered long-term benefits to local communities.

The representative of the European Union said circular economic policies must be adopted to promote further progress.  In addition, a mix of legislation and incentives should guide actions, she said, highlighting policies being developed on single-use plastics.

The representative of Mexico said Goal 12 clearly shows the cross-cutting nature of the 2030 Agenda.  As such national voluntary reviews are essential, she said, emphasizing that all sectors must cooperate towards common objectives.  The bottom line is that efforts must focus on changing the way people consume.

The representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), speaking on behalf of the Rome-based food agencies, said one third of all food produced for consumption is lost or wasted — the equivalent of 8 per cent of global greenhouse‑gas emissions.  He reviewed a variety of solutions, from legislation and market-based instruments to placing dinner-party leftovers into the refrigerator for later use.  Another idea, he added, is to stop throwing out “ugly” but otherwise perfectly good tomatoes.

The representative of Switzerland said Goal 12 will figure prominently in the Voluntary National Review that it would present to the Economic and Social Council next week.  For his country, he added, three topics are emerging as global concerns — food waste and sustainable food systems, marine plastics pollution and transparency in raw materials extraction.

The representative of the indigenous peoples major group said the prevailing capitalist system is highly destructive, profit-oriented and inequitable.  Despite their small environmental footprint, indigenous peoples constituted 15 per cent of the global poor.  They also faced “ethnicide” through the alarming destruction of land, resources, collective rights and well-being.  In achieving Goal 12, indigenous peoples had much knowledge to share about sustainable resource management and lifestyles.  She called on States to urgently recognize indigenous peoples’ collective rights to land, territory and resources.  They must also take steps to protect and support traditional knowledge and innovation for sustainable practices; to enhance the role of indigenous women; and to adopt coherent policies and mechanisms to stop unsustainable production and consumption systems while at the same time ensuring human and environmental rights.

The representative of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said global material resource use could more than double by 2050.  A shift to more sustainable consumption patterns would lower both resource use and greenhouse‑gas emissions while boosting global economic activity.  Many policies and technical tools are in place, but not being implemented sufficiently to make a difference.  Transformational action on Goal 12 will require more financial investment, he added.

The representative of Thailand said a national five-year action plan aims at strengthening partnerships with stakeholders, especially regarding environmentally friendly Government procurement, tourism, food production and the development of sustainable buildings.  Strong cooperation with all stakeholders in moving towards sustainable consumption and production patterns will help to achieve not only Goal 6, on clean water and sanitation, but other related objectives.

Representatives of Romania, Norway, France, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Mali, South Africa, Belgium, Malaysia and Poland also participated in the discussion.  In addition, representatives of UN-Habitat, ILO, International Maritime Organization and ESCWA delivered statements, as did speakers representing the education and academic stakeholder group and the major groups for children and youth, non-governmental organizations, women, and business and industry.

For information media. Not an official record.