That question guided the debate during the launch of the the “Spotlight on Sustainable Report” report at the Palais des Nations, headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, last October 24.

Independent monitoring and review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its structural obstacles and challenges are key factors for the success of the SDGs. For this reason, a global alliance of civil society organizations and networks comprising of Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN), Social Watch, Third World Network (TWN) and Global Policy Forum (GPF) with the support of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) produced a Spotlight Report assessing the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the structural obstacles in its realization. The report puts a spotlight on the fulfillment of the 17 goals, with a particular focus on inequalities, responsibility of the rich and powerful, means of implementation and systemic issues. What are currently the main obstacles to achieving the SDGs? Are there transnational spill over effects that influence or even undermine the implementation of the goals? Are the current policy approaches, as they are reflected, inter alia, in the 2030 Agenda, an adequate response to the challenges and obstacles (or are they not fully adequate)? What has to be done? Which specific policy changes (including at international level) are necessary?

At the event, co-organized by UN-NGLS and FES, Roberto Bissio, from the Social Watch secretariat, presented some of the key findings and recommendations of the forty national reports that provided the evidence from as many countries around the world on what obstacles the SDGs face. The Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) that many want to become the main channel to implement the SDGs are an issue of concerns for national civil society coalitions that perceive them as expensive, untransparent and prone to corruption.

Gita Sen (DAWN) introduced the gender perspective of the report and emphasized that women’s rights, including sexual and reproductive rights, are essential to achieving the SDGs. Areli Sandoval, from Equipo Pueblo introduced the Mexican report, highlighting contradictions between Mexican adherence to the SDGs and the recent laws prioritazing hidrocarbons over any other uses of the land. Sandra Vermuyten, from Public Service International, brought to the debate the view of trade unions and their concerns about unbalanced trade and investment agreements. Richard Kozul-Wright, head of UNCTAD’s globalization department praised the report and proposed a “new deal” for development based on reflation, regulation and redistribution.