The Guest Blog

Guest blog post by Sergi Corbalán, Executive Director of the Fair Trade Advocacy Office and Co-chair of the Civil Society Alliance for the European Year for Development 2015.

Sergi Corbalán argues that the universality of the new Sustainable Development Goals’ framework is one of the most important features as it eliminates the old division between North and Southern countries. It makes us all responsible for the planet we inhabit and respectful of all its populations. The European Union must be a strong bearer of its values in this new era, a promoter of human rights, equity and justice, in Europe and globally.

 

The “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 25 September 2015, consists of a “comprehensive, far-reaching and people-centred set of universal and transformative goals and targets”.

The new Agenda is global in nature and universally applicable (to developed and developing countries alike), while at the same time it takes into account different national situations and respects national priorities. As a result, its goals are both universal and context-specific, thereby generating great opportunities for promoting innovative, localised and interlinked approaches and allowing the international community to move beyond the North/South divide. The signatories to the UN Resolution also pledge to promote “an ethic of global citizenship and shared responsibility”.

Despite these noble declarations, however, a fair balance must be struck when interpreting, in practice, how to share this responsibility. For example, given that unsustainable production in the North has been largely outsourced to the South, a focus on unsustainable production in the South should always be balanced by a focus on unsustainable consumption in the North. We have only one Earth!

Yet the fact that this new universal Agenda applies to “all countries”, and that it must be interpreted in an equitable way, does not mean that the responsibility for keeping to it lies only with governments. On the contrary, it will only work if it is owned by all levels of government, the private sector and, last but not least, citizens around the world.

This is not new for the European Union, the key role of civil society having been recognised by the European Commission in its Communication “The roots of democracy and sustainable development: Europe’s engagement with Civil Society in external relations” (COM(2012) 492 final).

We need to focus on highlighting the important role citizens can play in the implementation of the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The European Year for Development in 2015 is specifically intended to bring citizens closer to those key concepts hoping in their increased involvement, critical thinking and shared responsibility. We call on the European Union and world governments to involve civil society as partners at all levels in the implementation of new Agenda 2030. The universality concept has been one of the key topic under discussion at the EYD2015 Civil Society Alliance event “Development is not about what Europe gives but how Europe lives” in Luxembourg on 9 December 2015. The objective of event was the gathering of Civil Society Organisations, European policy-makers and representatives of the EU institutions to present the EYD2015 Policy Recommendations and discuss what are the lessons learned and what is the future of the Civil Society and its partnerships in the post-2015.

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