The UN «2030 Agenda» is a global plan for promoting sustainable development up to 2030. It was adopted by UN Member States in 2015. The 17 goals and 169 targets it contains – the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – encompass all three dimensions of sustainable development, namely the economic, social and environmental aspects. The overarching goal is to leave no-one behind. This is ambitious, considering that the Corona pandemic has just brutally laid bare and compounded existing inequalities. Through its work in Switzerland and abroad, HEKS/EPER is striving specifically to help realise the 2030 Agenda.
Implementation in Switzerland
Many hail the 2030 Agenda as a paradigm shift, for unlike the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which preceded it and concerned only the countries in the global South, the 2030 Agenda holds all countries to their duty to help advance global development. At the national level, this means that all policy-making processes must pay much greater attention to the goals of the 2030 Agenda – including in Switzerland.
Implementing the 2030 Agenda calls for immense political will. Realising the SDGs and combating poverty, social injustice and climate change require the transformation of the economic and political systems of contemporary societies. They further necessitate ambitious action on the part of all stakeholders, including the involvement of civil society and the pressure it brings to bear.
HEKS/EPER and the 2030 Agenda
Learn more here about the HEKS/EPER contribution to implementing the SDGs through its project work (in German).
HEKS/EPER therefore joined forces with some 40 Swiss organisations in 2017 and created the «2030 Agenda Platform», a civil society network that is supporting and monitoring implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Switzerland. In July 2018 the Platform published its report titled «How sustainable is Switzerland?» in which it highlighted the need for action and set out recommendations for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Accordingly, the Platform called for the 2030 Agenda to be more strongly embedded institutionally in the Federal Administration, for the provision of sufficient resources for implementation, and for greater political coherence in pursuit of sustainable development.
In late 2020 the Federal Council too tabled its «2030 Sustainable Development Strategy», in which it laid out how it plans to implement the 2030 Agenda over the next 10 years. The Strategy falls considerably short of the ambitions, however. The draft fails to lay out concrete, binding and measurable implementation goals for Switzerland, or to provide for additional funding to implement the SDGs up to 2030. In the course of the public consultation procedure the HEKS/EPER input included this criticism as well as specific proposals for amendment.
The challenge of multiple crises
In 2019 the United Nations published a report titled «Global sustainable development report», which was the first stock-taking of the progress made. The study found that all the accomplishments of the past two decades were at risk of being undone by the numerous crises of our time, including climate change or the proliferation of armed conflict. Admittedly, the number of children and adolescents not attending school has fallen over recent years, many communicable diseases are on the wane, access to drinking water has improved, and women are much better represented in leadership positions. At the same time, however, ever more people are confronting food insecurity, the degradation of our environment continues at an alarming pace and there is glaring inequality in all regions of the world.
It is already becoming apparent today that the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic and social ramifications will very adversely impact most of the 17 SDGs. In the countries of the global South, vulnerable population groups such as the elderly, children, persons with disabilities, members of minorities, migrants and refugees are being hit considerably harder than the rest of society. Even high-income countries are recording their highest mortality rates among marginalised groups.
The 2030 Agenda in HEKS/EPER's project work
For the current decade, the «2030 Agenda» and its guiding principle of «leaving no-one behind» constitute a key priority and frame of reference for the work of HEKS/EPER abroad and in Switzerland. In keeping with Goal 10, «Reduced Inequality», HEKS/EPER therefore assists disadvantaged people in Switzerland in becoming socially integrated and in playing an active part in society. By providing legal advice, HEKS/EPER ensures that asylum seekers and other socially disadvantaged people have equal access to justice (Goal 16 «Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions»). Through its international project work HEKS/EPER also champions the participation of socially underprivileged, marginalised people in social, cultural, political and economic life. These groups include Roma communities in Eastern Europe, Adivasis and Dalits in Bangladesh or indigenous communities in Latin American countries. HEKS/EPER too is convinced that equitable access to social, economic, cultural and political life strengthens social coherence and thereby lays the solid groundwork needed for thriving, inclusive and peaceful societies.
«How sustainable is Switzerland?»
How is Switzerland implementing the 2030 Agenda? The 2018 report takes stock of the situation and points to instances where action is needed in various fields.