For the first time, Australia has revealed how it is progressing in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
On June 15, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade published the first voluntary national review on Australia’s implementation of the Global Goals.
The progress report addressed how successfully the 17 goals — which aim to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all by 2030 — have been woven into Australia’s private, public, and business sectors.
“There is a very strong alignment between the SDGs and Australia,” Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced at the review launch. “What is important, though, is that we all work in partnership; government, business, civil society, private sector, the public sector. This is an effort for us all.”
At #BanksiaIgnite for Australia’s first report of the progress of achieving sustainable development goals & launching #AusSDGs website https://t.co/Wejd44Nmjj - @BanksiaFdn@globalcompactAU@VividSydney@dfathttps://t.co/Jj8vZwYGuj 🌏🇦🇺⚽️ pic.twitter.com/IwVBZ9HiJn— Julie Bishop (@JulieBishopMP) June 15, 2018
According to the report, in the three years since the SDG were adopted, Australia has fared well — especially in the areas of innovation and technical capacity.
While the report has been largely applauded, various leaders from civil society and academia believe policymakers are failing to address critical shortcomings.
For many, the review unveils the issues Australia holds in dealing with climate change, global partners, obesity and social issues relating to Australia’s Indigenous and Torres Strait population. Australia’s challenges with poverty and gender equality were also highlighted.
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The CEO of the Australian Council for International Development, Marc Purcell, commended the government on its “strong report”, but highlighted the necessity of a national implementation plan and the need for increased public awareness. Purcell also expressed that Australia should play a significantly greater role in the fight to ending extreme global poverty.
“Australia can make smart interventions to multiply our impact. In the Pacific, this means using our aid program to assist communities with climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction," he said.
"We should follow the UK and rebuild Australia’s international aid budget. The foreign minister agrees that Australia needs a bigger aid budget. We are now calling on the government and the opposition to announce an election commitment to increase aid to help attain the SDGs.”
Calling for similar changes is SDG adviser Jane Fulton, who stated at a United Nations Association of Australia Convention that Australia must take considerable action to tackle the issue of carbon emissions and fossil fuels.
“[Australia] is still exporting vast quantities of fossil fuels, and even proposing new fossil fuel extraction projects such as the planned Carmichael coal mine by Indian resources giant Adani,” she said, simultaneously calling for a shift to green alternatives.
“The government can support clean energy and stop subsidising fossil fuels.”
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Likewise, the International Women’s Development Agency has said that changes need to be made in order to achieve the gender equality goals and targets. The agency has called for the Australian Government to put various frameworks and mechanisms in place, including appointing a government secretariat and establishing a Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Advisory Group.
“A fully resourced Government secretariat would enable coordination of Australia’s implementation of the Goals across all levels of government,” IWDA announced to media.
“Formal mechanisms also need to be in place for the government to engage civil society, which could be coordinated through the Secretariat. A Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Advisory Group, for example, focused both on domestic and international aspects of the Agenda, would ensure a critical gender perspective informs all of Australia’s Global Goals endeavours while linking efforts in these contexts.”
Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, the minister for international development and the Pacific, will officially present Australia’s national review to the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development at the United Nations on July 17.