US deliver another blow to multilateralism at UN Sustainable Development Forum

US deliver another blow to multilateralism at UN Sustainable Development Forum

25 July 2018

Last week in New York I witnessed another blow for multilateralism when the US, joined only by Israel, voted against a joint resolution in support of the UN process to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the voluntary targets to deliver the “2030 agenda”.  The vote gained little media coverage but, like the US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement and the weakening of the NATO alliance, this increasing US isolationism is bad news for the rest of the world.

The UN 2030 agenda, signed up to by 193 countries back in 2015, recognises that the fight against global poverty, inequalities, climate change, loss of biodiversity and discrimination are all linked.  Individual countries agreed to adopt national plans to meet a series of commonly agreed targets and to present them - “Voluntary National Reviews” – or VNRs as they are known, to their peers in New York.  So far, 112 countries have reported, including 24 EU countries (but not the U.K.).

The EU has an objective of being a world leader on the SDGs. It is certainly well placed and   already has a suite of policies to deliver on this kind of integrated policy agenda - marrying economic, social and environmental concerns - that underpin the philosophy of the SDGs. Next year, the EU will present its collective report on progress to date on achieving the SDGs. 2019 will also mark the first 4 yearly review of the process, with Heads of State meeting in New York to take stock. Between now and then the EU must step up to fill any vacuum left by the US whose own support for the 2030 process is now “under review”. We need to see a clear EU plan for each of the goals backed up by a budget to deliver them.    

MEPs will be pushing the EU governments and the European Commission to do just that over the autumn as Parliament and Ministers meet to discuss the new EU 7 year budget - the Multiannual Financial Framework - and a raft of new spending programmes. The hope is to get real progress before the European Parliament elections next May and the appointment of a new European Commission in autumn 2019.

Linda McAvan MEP is chair of the European Parliament Development Committee and led the European Parliament delegation to the UN High Level Political Forum in New York 15-19 July.

Photo: EP Delegation with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.  

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