The United Nations (UN), World Health Organization (WHO), and European Union’s (EU’s) Multi-Purpose 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Agenda: A report on the content of the 4.8.2018 EU conference in Brussels –
by Nora Laubstein
In September 2015, the UN made a bold attempt to try to transform the world by creating the Agenda 2030, a plan of action for the people, planet, and increased economical stability. In the agenda many items were labeled and categorized under the terminology: Sustainability. Examples of this are: Extended peace, ending worldwide poverty, tackling climate change, and ensuring the successful collaboration among stakeholders.
With this agenda, the primary goal was to create a safer and more protected world and planet. The agenda is composed of 17 sustainability goals and sixty-nine (69) aims that the WHO has adopted into its health section. In 2016, the EU developed a specific agenda and January 30, 2019, presented it to the public. Additionally, the High-Level-Conference “Sustainable Europe 2030 - From Goals to Implementation” took place on April 8, 2019 at the EU-commission in Brussels.
Breakdown of the 17 sustainability goals:
1: eliminate poverty, 2: eliminate hunger, 3: focus on health and welfare, 4: high-quality education, 5: gender equality, 6: clean water and sani-tary equipment, 7: affordable and clean energy, 8: humane labour and economical growth, 9: industry, innovation and infrastructure, 10: more equality, 11: sustainable cities and commu-nities, 12: sustainable consumption and production, 13: better measure for understanding cli-mate change, 14: protection of sea life, 15: protection of land beings, 16: peace, justice and strong institutions, 17: partnerships in order to accomplish objectives — which an interdisci-plinary approach can achieve. Goal 3 clearly refers to the health section, however, goals 2, 6, 10,12 and 15 are more likely related to the health section.
As a part of goal 3, Health and Welfare, the EU again defines 15 concepts that include, for example, the “One Health Action Plan,” which is related to antibiotic/antimicrobial resistance and the “Digital Transformation of Health and Care.”
One potential problem that has arisen is that in different countries, different aims/goals will fall under the jurisdiction of different areas. For example, within the German government, there is a heavy focus on “development,” and due to this, the ministry of development and collaboration has greater political voice than the health ministry. This then begs the question as to whether “sustainability” work will then fall under the jurisdiction of the ministry for agriculture and environment.>
European Political Strategy Center (EPSC), the organizer of the conference in Brussels, has created a diverse program together with the organizers, Mrs. Ann Mettler and Mr. Said El Khadraoui. Mrs. Mettler formulated the following conditions to be kept in mind when inter-preting the SDG’s:
- adhere to scientific criteria
- scientific criteria should be particularly adhered to by politicians using science
- acknowledgment and acceptance that scientific truth needs time in order to be validated
- the private sector will be responsible for innovation on a scientific basis to close the “data hole”
Due to the recommendations, biological agriculture and an initiative for “food-rescue” were introduced under the conference item: “The food system — a paradigm change in the produc-tion.” This was something that was completely new. Nonetheless, blatantly missing was one standard/classic of the biologic/organic agriculture process and certification, DEMETER; this was neither mentioned nor alluded to.
Representatives from World Bank Group, the German engineering company BASF, 3M, as well as a representative from the European Investment Bank (EIB) introduced visions of “In-vestment in a sustainable future,” claiming: “We are the GREEN bank!” “We comply with politics, we don’t do politics!” The message that came from this was that big companies were the top driving forces and attempting to monopolize the concept of sustainability! Not only this, but due to increased popularity of sustainability as a ‘keyword,’ there is indication that it is contextualized and connected to the likes of other terms such as artificial intelligence (AI).
Mr. Manservisi, EU-Director General for international collaboration and development, high-lighted the following challenges in the implementation of the 2030-SDG-framework: Collab-oration with the private sector, technological changes, and climate change. He also discussed the large significance
Mrs. Mettler underscored the “holistic approach“ of the future strategy of the EU and referred again to the point that the world has to be changed and transformed. Marianne Thyssen, the EU-commissionaire for labour and social affairs pointed to the “Pillar of Social Rights” in her closing remarks.
The claim: “We want to transform the world in a scientific way” is familiar. But isn’t our planet perfect already and being threatened to loose balance? I wonder: Where is the real sustainability?
The cumulatively takeaway from Brussels was that, on one hand, the intention behind the topic may be well-intended by the UN but, on the other hand, big business reinterpreted this topic so that it would not harm economic prospects —which presents a conflict of interest. Course corrections did not happen; instead, once again, little money was invested in support projects.
The politicians and scientists who convened at the event both professionally considered themselves to be experts and removed from the rest of the world. It is unsettling that this will be the political basis of any EU-development for the next ten years to come. The sustainabil-ity of natural medicine and the biological-dynamic agriculture ( i.e., the preservation of pri-meval forests) that has existed for centuries is not at the forefront of interest.
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