Guest Post by Alberto Vélez Valdés, Vice-Chair of the Student Research Committee on International Law and Governance. 

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals 2030 is more than a resolution signed by the country member of the United Nations Organization. The 2030 Agenda implies a multilateral commitment of cooperation between different sectors: national and local governments, civil society, the private sector, universities, etc. However, there are at least three challenges that countries must take to achieve this multilateral commitment that serves as a means to build a sustainable global governance.

  1. It is necessary for the countries to adopt goals and targets as a commitment to present generations, but especially with future ones, to guarantee that at least in 2030 “nobody will be left behind”. This also implies adapting the goals to the priorities and socio-political context of each country within the scope of its national sovereignty. The order of the 17 goals is important, although the 16 “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, facilitate access to justice for all and build at all levels effective and inclusive institutions that are accountable” is the basis of all, regardless of the form of government or political-ideological organization of the countries. Similarly, it is essential to endorse the commitment with actions to mitigate climate change (goal 13), for example, the Paris Agreement.
  2. Prepare strategic development plans or short, medium, and long-term country visions to implement actions that affect the achievement of goals. These plans must be accompanied by multi-annual budgets, which quantify the public resources allocated to finance each goal of the agenda. For this, budgetary governance is necessary to ensure balanced public finances based on performance, since future generations will be taxpayers and fiscal policies must allow them to pay rates corresponding to quality public goods and services.
  3. Generating alliances between governments and key actors is a necessary condition for the achievement of the goals to be shared. An agenda with long-term aspirations involves organizing human capital, technology, natural resources, time, and financing to achieve each goal in a collaborative and efficient manner. This organization will depend on the degree of inclusiveness among nations and interpersonal trust and the institutions they have. This challenge is transversal to achieve goals 1 to 16, which is reflected in goal 17 that invites to the cooperation between countries, specially the support of the most developed to the less developed.

In the context of a global commitment such as the 2030 Agenda, governance serves to understand how countries interact to achieve their goals. Governance can be understood according to Kaufmann (2010: 3) as the authority exercised in a country through traditions and institutions, which includes three areas: the process of election, monitoring and replacement of a government, the ability to effectively formulate public policies, and the respect of citizens and the state to the institutions that govern social and economic interactions between them. In an international approach, global governance can be interpreted as the authorities of the countries interacting through treaties, in order to collaborate for a sustainable development agenda.

Two years after being signed by the member countries of the UN, the 2030 Agenda includes goals whose achievement transcends three or more terms of an average national government. This is complex because usually, the governments’ main priority is to provide the population with short-term results; instead, its second priority is to leave a legacy for which it is remembered through public policies whose impact is reflected in future generations.

An advantage of the 2030 Agenda with respect to the Millennium Development Goals is a greater legitimacy. Nowadays the countries have a greater capacity to call for cooperation among them and key actors, since the goals and targets were carried out based on consultations and public forums.

Finally, the UN HighLevel Political Forum on Sustainable Development, a mechanism to monitor the progress of the 2030 Agenda, has the challenge of designing a standard to evaluate the goals achievement, rather than receiving self-assessment reports by countries. The role of this mechanism can be as a repository of plans, budgets and public policies accredited with the approach of sustainable development. This will be a kind of radar to know if the global governance towards the sustainable development of nations is on the right track.

Picture AlbertoAlberto Vélez Valdés holds a BA in Political Science and Public Administration from the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, México