From 13 till 14 April the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) brought together experts from a wide range of civil society groups along with national, EU and UN stakeholders to discuss the challenges and prospects for the preparation of the Post-2015 Agenda on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Poverty eradication and sustainable development were both at the heart of the debates of the Global Partnership Conference.
"We need to turn the 21st century from a century of fragility into a century of sustainability," argued Commissioner Janez Potočnik, who also highlighted that poverty could only be effectively eliminated if we accepted the planet's boundaries. According to him, the Post-2015 framework on Sustainable Development Goals could be as important a landmark for humanity as the declaration of human rights.
The importance and relevance of this conference was borne out by the wide range of topics discussed during the one and a half day-long event. The issues on the agenda included the promotion of gender equality and women's empowerment, calls to curb money laundering and combat corruption as well as proposals for a quota model for environmental footprints, among many others. The overarching message was that all countries needed to be on board, accept their specific responsibilities and increase their efforts in this area.
Csaba Kőrösi, Permanent Representative of Hungary to the United Nations and Co-Chair of the UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, highlighted the UN's vision of building consensus around a limited but ambitious set of goals and warned against emphasizing the North-South divide.
EESC Vice-President Hans-Joachim Wilms stressed the need to identify and tackle the roots of poverty, inequality and environmental degradation. "Sustainable development must become a political reality," he concluded.
A common agreement was reached on the crucial role of civil society stakeholders, business, local and regional governments, which needed to be fully involved in the policy development and implementation framework.
The conclusions of this conference, which will be communicated to the European Commission, Parliament and Council, will inform these institutions about the process of defining an EU position on the launch of negotiations on the Post-2015 framework.
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