Message from Co-Chairs Krista Nadakavukaren Schefer and Suresh Nanwani (12 September 2016)
Welcome to the SIEL IEL and Development Network’s Blogsite. Made up of scholars and practitioners interested in the interaction between trade, investment, finance, intellectual property, and tax on the economic and social growth of countries, the IEL and Development Network (IDN) aims to be an inter- and intradisciplinary platform for the discussion of current events, old concepts, and new ideas. We encourage your active participation in these discussions.
To start our blog, the Network participants meeting at the SIEL Biennial Conference in Johannesburg in July 2016 decided to have a basic theme for the year and four core pieces dedicated to this theme. Everyone is welcome to comment upon or add to the discussions of these pieces, but do feel free to send in pieces that do not relate to the annual theme. There is a lot out there worthy of discussion!!
The theme for September 2016-August 2017 is The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Looking to “stimulate action” to protect People, the Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnership (Preamble, “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”; https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/transformingourworld), the Goals are the most important focus for global development discussions today. Whether or not they are attainable, whether or not they omit essential aspects of development, reference to the SDGs is unavoidable to a full debate on the role international economic law can play in the evolution of human development.
The follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals, the SDGs were drafted and approved by the United Nations General Assembly on 25 September 2015 (UNGA Resolution A/RES/70/1), placing governments under a (political) commitment to pursue economic growth while protecting the environment and the human rights of all. The post-2015 development agenda is different from past global development agreements in particular the MDGs as it will apply universally, to all countries, whether poor, middle-income or rich, recognizing that no country has yet achieved sustainable development.
The seventeen goals contained in “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” are wide-ranging, covering economic well-being, environmental protection, and socio-political issues. While most of the goals are deeper than their predecessor MDGs (for example, the MDG 1 of halving extreme poverty is now SDG 1.1, which aims to eliminate extreme poverty; the health-related MDGs for women and children are now supplemented by SDG 3, which aims at promoting the health of all people) or broken into component parts; others are new (e.g., SDG 2 on sustainable agriculture, SDG 7 on access to energy, and SDG 12 on sustainable consumption), emphasizing the shift in emphasis toward environmental sustainability.
Made more explicit by the addition of multiple (169) targets, each goal is supposed to be measurable by sets of indicators (many of which are yet to be developed) at the global and national/local level. While collaboration and international support is key to the overall success of the SDGs, the 2030 Agenda leaves substantial responsibility with national governments to ensure progress. The goals and targets came into effect on 1 January 2016 and will guide efforts over the next 15 years (to 2030).
Governments, in turn, are to strive for inclusive programming and reviews – cooperating with private business, indigenous peoples and other local communities, and civil society.
In addition to “all” countries, the Preamble states that “all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership, will implement this plan.” An important group of stakeholders are international financial institutions (IFIs) such as the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the European Investment Bank. These IFIs have committed to step up their support to implement the SDGs. The will also examine on how they can their own financing and also to work to ensure a greater mobilization of domestic resources and expanded funding from the private sector. See World Bank press release on International Financial Institutions back new global development agenda with stepped-up support (25 September 2015) at http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2015/09/25/international-financial-institutions-global-development-agenda.
The SDGs, like the MDGs, are not universally admired. Criticism of their scope is one aspect. Good governance, for instance, is not an explicit goal and migration is found only in one target (SDG 10 on inequality). Feasibility is the more obvious target of critique, however. While the UN Members are rightly proud of the enormously broad Agenda, the mechanisms to ensure that these goals are even approached, let alone reached, are largely lacking. Financial, technical, and managerial frameworks will need to be put into place before the will to bring sustainable development to all can be implemented.
Over the next 12 months, we hope to present considerations relating to the SDGs that will generate considered (and considerate) responses from all of you. We begin with an article by Gillian Moon, of the University of New South Wales. Gillian jumps right in to take up the big question of IEL and SDG’s – will trade law help in achieving an elimination of extreme poverty. Thank you, Gillian for a great start to what we hope will be an active and informative chapter in the Network’s life. We also thank Ohio Omiunu of De Montfort University, Leicester for providing IT support on this blog site.