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?

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sef: Policy Lunch 2018

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sef: and CIDSE – International Alliance of Catholic Development Agencies discussed these questions during a Policy Lunch in Brussels. Read the report now!

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