Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development

Sustainable development

Sustainable development has been defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It calls for concerted efforts towards building an inclusive, sustainable and resilient future for people and planet.

The Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development

“In a world in which everything is global, in which the problems are global – from climate change to the movement of people – there is no way countries can do it by themselves. We need global responses, and global responses need multilateral institutions able to play their role.” UN Secretary-General, António Guterres’s remarks at the World Government Summit 2017.

The 2030 Agenda is a major milestone in sustainable development. Since 2016, it has provided a globally applicable framework for national and international efforts to find shared solutions to the greatest challenges facing the planet and humanity, such as extreme poverty, climate change, environmental degradation and health-related crises. The 2030 Agenda is universal: it is binding for all states, whether north or south of the equator, and sets the framework for national policies on sustainable development until 2030.

The Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) form the core of the 2030 Agenda. These replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which ended in 2015, as well as Agenda 21 adopted in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro. The SDGs build on the success of the MDGs and aim to go further to end all forms of poverty. The goals are unique in that they call for action by all countries, both developing and developed, to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. They recognise the need to eradicate poverty and promote sustainable economic growth while tackling climate change and environmental protection as well as ensuring a more equal distribution of resources.

In contrast to the UN Millennium Development Goals, the 2030 Agenda made it possible to break away from the logic that prevailed with the MDGs, where the Northern Hemisphere brought its solutions to the Southern Hemisphere. It is above all about helping the majority of states to raise the necessary funds at the national level. This is the only way to achieve genuinely sustainable development.

It is not possible to achieve the ambitious sustainability goals with traditional state development aid alone. The implementation of the 2030 Agenda is everyone’s business and the private sector must contribute financially. Sustainable finance presents many opportunities.

In order to leave no one behind, it is important that all Goals and targets are achieved by 2030. They take account in equal measure of the economic, social and ecological dimensions of sustainable development, and place sustainable development and the fight against poverty on the same agenda for the first time. In addition, the 2030 Agenda takes into account the fact that sustainable development requires peace, security and respect of human rights.

The 17 goals are:

  1. No poverty: Economic growth must be inclusive to provide sustainable jobs and promote equality;
  2. Zero hunger: The food and agriculture sector offers key solutions for development, and is central for hunger and poverty eradication;
  3. Good health and well-being: Ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being for all at all ages is essential to sustainable development;
  4. Quality education: Obtaining a quality education is the foundation to improving people’s lives and sustainable development;
  5. Gender equality: Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world;
  6. Clean water and sanitation: Clean, accessible water for all is an essential part of the world we want to live in;
  7. Affordable and clean energy: Energy is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity;
  8. Decent work and economic growth: Sustainable economic growth will require societies to create the conditions that allow people to have quality jobs;
  9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure: Investments in infrastructure are crucial to achieving sustainable development;
  10. Reduced inequalities: To reduce inequalities, policies should be universal in principle, paying attention to the needs of disadvantaged and marginalized populations;
  11. Sustainable cities and communities: There needs to be a future in which cities provide opportunities for all, with access to basic services, energy, housing, transportation and more;
  12. Responsible production and consumption: Sustainable consumption and production aims at “doing more and better with less”;
  13. Climate action: Climate change is a global challenge that affects everyone, everywhere;
  14. Life below water: Careful management of this essential global resource is a key feature of a sustainable future;
  15. Life on land: Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss;
  16. Peace, justice and strong institutions: Access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable institutions at all levels;
  17. Partnerships for the goals: Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals

The Addis Ababa Action Agenda that resulted from the Third International Conference on Financing for Development provided concrete policies and measures to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Implementation and success will rely on countries’ own sustainable development policies, plans and programs, and will be led by countries. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will serve as a compass for aligning countries’ plans with their global commitments.

National sustainable development strategies led by individual countries will require resource mobilisation and financing strategies.

All stakeholders including governments, civil society and the private sector are expected to contribute to the implementation of the new agenda, in the context of their internal policies.

Revitalised partnerships are needed at all levels to support governments’ efforts. This is recognised in the 2030 Agenda.

”The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019“ prepared by the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterrez, demonstrates that progress is being made in some critical areas, and that some favourable trends are evident:

  • significant decrease in extreme poverty ;
  • 49% drop in the under-5 mortality rate between 2000 and 2017;
  • immunisations have saved millions of lives, and
  • the vast majority of the world’s population now has access to electricity.

Countries are taking concrete actions to protect our planet:

  • marine protected areas have doubled since 2010;
  • countries are working concertedly to address illegal fishing;
  • 186 parties have ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change, and almost all have communicated their first nationally determined contributions.
  • About 150 countries have developed national policies to respond to the challenges of rapid urbanization, and
  • 71 countries and the European Union now have more than 300 policies and instruments supporting sustainable consumption and production.

The UN report identifies many areas that need urgent collective attention. The natural environment is deteriorating at an alarming rate: sea levels are rising; ocean acidification is accelerating; the past four years have been the warmest on record; one million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction; and land degradation continues unchecked. The UN report states that we are also moving too slowly in our efforts to end human suffering and create opportunity for all. Global hunger is on the rise, and at least half of the world’s population lacks essential health services. More than half of the world’s children do not meet standards in reading and mathematics; only 28 per cent of persons with severe disabilities received cash benefits; and women in all parts of the world continue to face structural disadvantages and discrimination.

Sustainable Development Strategy of the Federal Council

The Federal Council’s Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) aims to ensure a coherent policy for sustainable development in Switzerland, with the 2030 Agenda as the reference framework. It defines the political priorities that the Federal Council has set for sustainable development in the medium and long term. The Strategy’s Action Plan describes the measures that the Confederation will take during the legislative period to meet its objectives. The Sustainable Development Strategy is under revision. The new strategy will define the main objectives to be achieved and the strategic axes until 2030 and will be completed by an action plan for the period 2020-2023.

State of implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Switzerland

With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, in 2018 the Federal Council published, the national report on Switzerland’s implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is based on an inventory. As part of this review, the Federal Administration has translated the 17 objectives and 169 targets into the Swiss context as part of a comprehensive process to determine where Switzerland stands, which measures are being implemented and what challenges lie ahead for Switzerland in achieving the SDGs by 2030.

Switzerland is already at an advanced stage in implementing various SDGs and has already achieved a number of targets. For example, Switzerland is free from extreme poverty, and there is no hunger. Education is free, compulsory and of good quality.

However, the baseline assessment identifies areas where efforts at national and international level beyond existing policies would be needed in order to achieve the SDGs. Consumption of natural resources, for example, is increasing overall. Switzerland’s material footprint is growing, which is contrary to sustainable development. The consumption of natural resources necessary for the production and transport of goods and services consumed in Switzerland is increasing, in particular the share linked to imports leading to an increasing environmental burden abroad.

Other areas call for continued commitment so that the SDGs can be achieved. With regard to the principle of ‘Leave no one behind’, Switzerland ensures the involvement of disadvantaged groups – for example people with disabilities – and their contribution to the country’s prosperity.

International implementation

Switzerland’s foreign policy also contributes to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 2030 Agenda constitutes the reference framework for Switzerland’s 2017-20 international cooperation strategy. Through its programmes and projects, Switzerland helps its partner countries to achieve the SDGs and their development objectives. Among other things, this requires effective statistical systems within the partner countries, in order to properly evaluate development projects. Partnerships between governments, the private sector and civil society, for example, are essential to the achievement of the SDGs as a whole. SDG 17 was formulated specifically for this purpose, and Switzerland helps its partner countries to achieve it by helping to mobilise resources at the national level. At the multilateral level, it promotes a trading system that is universal, regulated, open and non-discriminatory.

In keeping with the principle of leaving no one behind, as set out in the 2030 Agenda, Switzerland’s international cooperation focuses on people who live in poverty, paying particular attention to the most vulnerable. Switzerland helps to combat exclusion, discrimination and gender inequality, for example by strengthening the capacities of institutions and supporting reforms. It also works to improve information systems and the production of disaggregated data, enabling identification of the challenges facing those left behind and making public authorities more accountable to the population. In Benin, for example, with Swiss support the government has adopted a new approach, which focuses on the needs of the poorest 20% of the population. This approach, known as ‘P20’, provides the Benin authorities with an understanding of how data can help governments identify and monitor development progress among populations at risk of being left behind.

Switzerland also implements the 2030 Agenda in its bilateral relations with its direct neighbours, other European countries and most industrialised nations. In a variety of areas, for example in the fields of energy (promotion of renewable energies) and education (promotion of dual vocational education and training), Switzerland ensures that development objectives are an integral part of its international relations. At the multilateral level, for example within the UN, WHO and ILO in Geneva, it is also an active proponent of the 2030 Agenda.

Monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals

Progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the global level is monitored through a list of 232 indicators developed by the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators. This group, composed of representatives of national statistical offices, is under the aegis of the UN Statistical Commission. Each country is required to provide data for this set of indicators, which was approved by the United Nations General Assembly on 6 July 2017. The data are delivered to the UN agencies (custodian agency) responsible for the indicators in their field of competence. Each year, about 50 agencies participate in the collection and harmonisation of the required national data, which are then transmitted to the UN Statistics Division for publication.

Governments are invited to develop their own national indicators to support the monitoring of objectives and targets in their national context.

In Switzerland, the 2030 MONET indicator system is used to monitor the 2030 Agenda SDGs at national level and the targets translated into the Swiss context. Originally created in 2003 to keep track of sustainable development in general, this system was subsequently upgraded to ensure monitoring of Switzerland’s progress towards realising the 2030 Agenda., At the same time, it allows the monitoring of certain aspects important to sustainable development in Switzerland and which are not – or hardly – touched upon. These include culture, mobility and transport, and social cohesion.

The MONET 2030 system is also used to monitor the Federal Council’s strategy for sustainable development.

The indicators published online form the basis for national and international reports on the country’s implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The MONET 2030 indicator system is a joint activity between the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), who has overall responsibility for it, and the Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG), the Federal Office for the Protection of the Population (FOPP), the Federal Office for Public Health (FOPH), the State Secretariat for the FDFA as well as the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).

The “Cercle Indicateurs” serves as the monitoring instrument at cantonal and city level. It is currently undergoing modification to better integrate the 2030 Agenda elements.

Role of Official Statistics in the monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals

Without evidence of where we stand now we cannot confidently chart our path forward in realizing the Sustainable Development Goals.” António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations in the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018.

On 6 July 2017, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution 71/313 “Work of the Statistical Commission pertaining to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. This resolution emphasises in particular the need for quality, accessible, timely and reliable disaggregated data and stresses that all activities of the global statistical system must be conducted in full adherence to the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics that guarantee transparency, neutrality, independency and comparability of data. The global indicator framework to monitor the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is part of this resolution. The 232 global indicators are complemented by indicators at the regional and national levels developed by United Nations Member States.

Data from national statistical systems are the basis for the compilation of global indicators. Such systems around the world have been the source of many important initiatives to develop new tools and frameworks to integrate new data sources, with the aim of fully harnessing the power of the data revolution and monitoring the goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda. These efforts are especially important in identifying those left furthest behind, since data are increasingly disaggregated by income, sex, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics. This type of detailed information is the basis upon which effective policies are shaped.

National reporting and dissemination platforms for SDGs are indispensable to policymakers and, indeed, to all stakeholders to understand where progress is being made and in which areas measures still need to be implemented. They also serve a critical function in national data compilation, since they bring together data and metadata from across the entire statistical system. This helps ensure data quality and improve the coordination of the national statistical system.