Bonn Symposium 2016

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Leave no one behind. Agenda 2030: a social policy mandate for the local level

Deutsche Welle, Bonn
24-25 November 2016

The United Nations (UN) adopted the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development in autumn 2015. Since their adoption, the question of precisely how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are to be implemented at the various policy levels has been the subject of debate in numerous international bodies, first and foremost the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). It is also intertwined with other global political processes such as the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III).

This is because the 17 Sustainable Development Goals defined in Agenda 2030 expressly aim to balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. ‘Leave no one behind’ is a cross-cutting principle running through the whole of Agenda 2030. Narrowing social inequalities is thus Agenda 2030’s social policy mandate for all policy areas.

The social (policy) dimension of Agenda 2030 is evident inter alia in the commitment to ensuring inclusive quality education (SDG 4), achieving gender equality (SDG 5), promoting full and productive employment and decent work for all (SDG 8), reducing inequality (SDG 10), implementing planned and well-managed migration policies (SDG 10.7), making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable (SDG 11), ensuring access to adequate, safe and affordable housing (SDG 11.1), and revitalising the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development (SDG 17).

The May 2016 draft of Germany’s National Sustainability Strategy also emphasises the social policy dimension of sustainable development. Specific measures include promoting economic and social participation, improving equality of opportunity at the national level, and supporting partner regions’ efforts to reduce income and wealth inequality and establish social protection systems.

The local level has a key role to play in implementing Agenda 2030, especially in relation to the social dimension of sustainable development. On the one hand, it is here that the fault-lines within society manifest themselves in the form of exclusion, divisions, lack of social participation, and inequality of opportunity. Changing family structures, migration and the challenges of demographic change are most palpable at the local level. On the other hand, the local level is where social cohesion is built, with sports clubs, churches, trade unions and business welcoming people from diverse backgrounds. The municipalities’ social policy agendas thus have immense potential to make a difference, provided that the right conditions are in place.

This year’s Bonn Symposium will therefore explore ways of implementing Agenda 2030’s social policy mandate at the local level. To what extent do municipal authorities and other local stakeholders have powers and responsibilities to heal the fault-lines within society, and how much scope for action do they have? How can conflicts of interests be dealt with? What are examples of best practice in implementing the SDGs’ social policy mandate at the local level? How can the municipalities learn from and support each other through global dialogue?


Peace must grow from within – but how?


On 8th February 2018, we invite you to a public evening event at the famous Frauenkirche Dresden. The keynote on "Peace must grow from within – but how?" will be given by the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura. Furthermore, Vera Baboun, former Mayor of Bethlehem, Tanja Gönner from GIZ and Hajer Sharief, Extremely Together Young Leader from Libya, will speak about their experience on the long and winding road to peaceful coexistence.

:further info here

sef: Bonn Symposium 2017

Local partnerships to implement Agenda 2030 worldwide


On 5th and 6th December 2017, sef: hosted, together with the Service Agency Communities in One World (SKEW) of Engagement Global gGmbH, the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and other supporters, its annual Bonn Symposium. More than 120 experts discussed good examples of partnerships within and between municipalities worldwide. You will find all speakers’ presentations here. A conference report will be published soon. 

:further info here

sef: Policy Lunch 2017

Possible UN-Treaty on Business and Human Rights


At the end of October, the third negotiations on a UN-Treaty on Business and Human Rights took place in Geneva. Goal of the negotiations is a legally binding instrument for States and Businesses. With a sef: Policy Lunch, sef: and CIDSE informed the Brussels community on the outcome of the negotiations on 20 November, and discussed the European positions. Our short conference report provides an overview.

:further info here

First Parliamentary Breakfast

sef: in dialogue with Members of Parliament in North Rhine-Westphalia

On 20 December 2017, sef: welcomed nearly 20 Members of the Parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia to a Parliamentary Breakfast. The Chairperson of the Executive Committee, Renate Hendricks, provided  an overview of the history of sef: and its current projects. The subsequent discussion focussed on possible links to the one world and sustainability policy of the federal state.

:further info here

“Sustaining Peace” – Current challenges for democracy


2018 will be the start of a new high-level sef: series called Dresden Forum for International Politics. On 8/9 February 2018, international experts will convene to discuss current challenges for democracies. What are possible pathways towards lasting peace and nonviolent societies? Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy for Syria, and Steve Killelea, Publisher of the Global Peace Index, have already confirmed their participation.

:further info here