Maurizio Reale is an adviser to the Italian National Confederation of Farmers (Coldiretti) on international institutional issues. He was recently appointed president of the Sustainable Development Observatory and has been a member of the EESC (Employers' group) since 2007. He's committed to sustainable development and in particular its link with agricultural policies.
As the new president of the Sustainable Development Observatory, what are your expectations for this mandate?
My wish is to promote the strategic role of the observatory, in continuity with its past work, to help accelerate the implementation of the SDGs in a realistic and effective manner. It will therefore be necessary to take into account the different elements that make up the economic, social and environmental dimensions of our work for sustainability in a balanced and shared way. In this context, civil society can and must play a very important role, also thanks to the commitment of the EESC to developing policies that will underpin this process.
The first SDO meeting of your mandate focused on next steps for SDGs after the High-Level Political Forum. What were the key takeaways from this meeting?
The observatory's first meeting was very rich in content and included ideas linked to the High-Level Political Forum in July and the SDG Summit, which was held in September in New York. More information and a video recording of the event are all available online, but in my opinion there are two key messages that emerged.
The first message is the importance of talking about the SDGs. As Camilla Brückner, United Nations representative in Brussels, also very well said, we must make an extra effort to explain to citizens what the SDGs mean, in order to bridge the gap between political decision-makers and people on the ground, and to involve them in the practical implementation so that the 2030 Agenda becomes everyone's agenda and leaves no one behind. I believe that the Committee (and the Observatory in particular) can play a key role, especially in communication efforts.
The second message is the need to listen to and involve all stakeholders and sectors of civil society. During the meeting we listened to the perspectives of small and medium-sized enterprises, trade unions, young people and NGOs. The various speakers discussed very interesting ideas and proposals on the future of the SDGs, the challenges to be addressed, the measures to be taken, and the fundamental role of civil society, converging on the need to become involved in a more regular and structured way in political decision-making. Here the Committee can offer a unique space for dialogue and a deeper understanding.
How does your work on sustainability connect with your experience on the ground?
I believe that my decade-long commitment at both international and institutional level, and in particular my background as the director of Coldiretti in Brussels, allow me to provide hands-on experience (rather than abstract ideologies) to the observatory. However, I believe it is necessary to add to this the teamwork that we are already carrying out with the secretariat, as well as the contributions that my fellow vice-presidents and all members of the observatory will want to bring to our work. And all of this without forgetting the need to develop a real collaboration with the various components of the Committee.
I believe that this is the only way we will be able to combine the interests of EU citizens and businesses in terms of sustainable development, and serve as an example for our counterparts at global level.