The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were acknowledged with great enthusiasm by Xavier Bettel, Head of the Luxembourgish government, during his speech at the UN General Assembly on September 27, 2015. He noted that "...a rigorous follow-up of the implementation of the measures adopted today will be crucial".
Since then, several events about the future implementation of the SDGs have been organised in Luxemburg, which raised a lot of interest. The huge welcome of the SDG’s was followed by great enthusiasm and expectations regarding the future domestic transformation towards a more sustainable society. However, this is now threatened to be forgotten in the shadow of new political concerns and left behind without a convincing follow up.
VNR: Implementation of the 2030 Agenda in and by Luxembourg
Today, almost two years later, it appears to be easy to live sustainably in Luxembourg, at least according to the voluntary national report (VNR) on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. In the recently published VNR the reader finds a vast amount of transformative initiatives and activities. It raises an important question, namely whether it is really possible to live sustainably in Luxembourg. For this to happen, a real transformation is needed rather than a “tick the box exercise” of the 17 goals and 169 targets. This is one of the main points of concern of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). An initiative of the Ministry, also mentioned in the VNR, was to launch a website for all stakeholders to register their activities. But many didn’t and the result was very weak.
The 2030 Agenda is a guideline to define challenges and opportunities
Caritas Luxemburg insists that the 2030 Agenda is much more than a simple checklist. It should be considered as a guideline to define challenges and opportunities for a holistic development in Luxembourg and in developing countries. It should influence the government’s actions, while facilitating the contributions of all stakeholders. This would require high levels of coherence and co-ordination within the government. At the moment, the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Luxembourg is a shared responsibility between the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure (MDDI), which focuses on domestic implementation, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAEE), which is responsible for international cooperation and development. The implementation of the 2030 Agenda also requires stable partnerships with local municipalities, the civil society, academia and the private sector. However, the VNR does not state the involvement of all stakeholders.
The 2030 Agenda: An invitation to put policy coherence for development first!
With the leitmotiv “no one is left behind”, one of the aims of the 2030 Agenda is to decrease global inequality. The question whether policy coherence for development (or for sustainable development) has really guided the VNR was discussed last April by the Interdepartmental Commission on Sustainable Development, in which all members of the government are represented. It appears that the national answer to the 2030 Agenda is the relabeling of existing policies and efforts instead of defining new measures, i.e. the next National Plan for Sustainable Development.
The VNR does not highlight the national governments’ strong support for development cooperation and Official Development Assistance (ODA). Regarding the chapters on the goals that are crucial for sustainable development, SDG1 and SDG10, they are either not supported by enough evidence or the information is limited to poverty and inequality at the national level. CSOs are determined to raise the real challenges, ask the real questions and determine the required actions to be taken by the government.
All stakeholders around the table!
On 14 November 2016, the Documentation Center of the Executive Secretariat of ENDA Tiers Monde in Dakar, Senegal, together with the Luxembourgish embassy, hosted a panel discussion on the theme: "Perspectives on the Operationalization of 2030 Agenda: Challenges and Perspectives for a New Paradigm of Sustainable Development". The purpose of this event was to discuss the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The Secretary General of ENDA concluded that: "Through the adoption of the SDGs, the world is trying to create a new humanism where everyone can get by. But to do this, the different actors must talk!" Consequently, to achieve this new humanism within the 2030 Agenda we must launch a multi-stakeholder dialogue, while also listening to our partners in the global south.
Caritas Luxembourg, together with other CSOs, asks that our government should acknowledge the challenges of the real transformation. The political leadership should focus on the actual transformation and implementation of policies instead of relabeling existing policies. We call for a new engagement from the Prime Minister to support the 2030 Agenda with all stakeholders. It is also necessary to reinforce awareness-raising activities addressing the 2030 Agenda and involve our partners from the global south in these discussions.