At this year’s High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, over 40 countries including India, Japan and Brazil submitted progress reports – far more than last year. This demonstrates the growing interest countries have in implementing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda. Germany already presented its first progress report last year. This year, Environment State Secretary Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter and Development State Secretary Thomas Silberhorn represented the German government at the conference on 17 to 19 June 2017 in New York and presented the Hamburg G20 Summit decisions on achieving the SDGs. The consultations also centred around the question of SDG financing.
Thomas Silberhorn, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, remarked: "Germany is a sustainability champion. Other major economies want to follow suit with the G20 decisions. The results from Hamburg are taking effect: sustainability and cooperation are at the top of the agenda, despite all efforts for unilateral interests."
Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, commented: "The 2030 Agenda offers the opportunity for a comprehensive economic modernisation. Many companies are already changing course. We as the government need to set a clear example for this – e.g. as we have done with the Climate Action Plan 2050 and the Sustainable Development Strategy. The necessary changes in agriculture, finance and transport can only be achieved together with all stakeholders in society."
Germany, China and Mexico discussed their experiences with their sustainable development strategies at the fringes of the conference. They were the first of several small groups participating in the new, voluntary Peer Learning Mechanism that the G20 recently adopted. The German government has furthermore committed to expanding its consulting activities on SDG implementation in emerging economies and developing countries.
In the Hamburg Update, the G20 commits to taking concrete steps to implement the 2030 Agenda. This includes an initiative for training and jobs in rural areas, particularly in Africa. The aim is to create more than five million trainee placements and one million jobs over the next five years with G20 support.
According to the United Nations, Africa alone would need to invest 600 million euros in infrastructure every year to implement the 2030 Agenda – an amount ten times greater than the total development funds the continent receives. Against this backdrop, Germany and Norway invited representatives from Ethiopia, Ghana, Bangladesh and the UN to New York to talk about financing the agenda. The consultations focussed on increasing tax revenues in the developing countries, combating tax avoidance and improving investment conditions. "Official development assistance was never intended to cover all needs. The developing countries need more own tax revenues and more private investments. That is the core of our new Africa policy," remarked State Secretary Silberhorn.
Almost two years ago, the international community adopted the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The goals apply universally to all countries, thus making sustainable development a global task for the first time. The agenda and goals focus on social, ecological and economic issues. The High-Level Political Forum is the central monitoring mechanism for the agenda’s implementation.