H.E. Amb. Gerhard Putman-Cramer
Chief Executive Officer,
DIHAD Sustainable Humanitarian Foundation
The Sustainable Development Goals can only be realised with strong global partnerships and cooperation. Hence Sustainable Development Goal 17 (SDG 17), “partnerships for the goals”, established by the United Nations in 2015 with the following formally phrased purpose: “to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.” SDG 17 has 17 targets to be reached by 2030, broken down into five categories: finance, technology, capacity building, trade and systemic issues.
SDG 17 refers to the need for cross-sector and cross-country collaboration in the pursuit of all goals. It is further defined as “a vision for improved and more equitable trade, as well as coordinated investment initiatives to promote sustainable development across borders. It is about strengthening and streamlining cooperation between nation-states, both developed and developing, using the SDGs as a shared framework and a shared vision for defining that collaborative way forward.”
A successful development agenda requires inclusive partnerships, at the global, regional, national and local levels, these to be built upon shared values and a common vision of the future with people and the planet at the centre. Many countries require Official Development Assistance to promote growth and trade. Yet, given that multilateral and global partnerships were already challenged due to scarce financial resources, trade tensions, technological obstacles and humanitarian crises, the Covid-19 pandemic has delivered an unprecedented and sizeable blow to progress in the pursuit of all goals. Governments have turned inwards to face their individual domestic crises; the private sector has re-determined its priorities and civil society’s now diversified preoccupations have lost some of their initial SDG-centred focus. Foreign direct investment is under severe pressure and expected to drop considerably. According to the United Nations Secretary-General’s Report on the Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, the numerous fiscal impacts of the pandemic are leading to debt distress and, in many countries, limiting those investments that would be required for recovery (including the purchase of vaccines), and the SDGs. The 2021 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), the UN’s flagship platform for follow-up and review of the 17 SDGs, concluded on July 15th, focused on the theme of “Sustainable and resilient recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic”. Throughout the HLPF, participants reviewed ways to bring the SDGs back on track (and the UN’s SDG Lab in Geneva – www.sdglab.ch – provides very useful information on related events and discussions.)
The pandemic has duly put the spotlight on the crucial role of global partnerships, SDG 17. It is the realisation of the importance of partnerships and global cooperation that has led the International Advisory Board to decide that the DIHAD 2022 event would focus on SDG 17, “Partnerships for the Goals”.
While all goals are obviously important, we have opted to review ten of these more specifically during the Conference, all being looked at through the prism of SDG 17. We shall thus have individual Sessions devoted to “Zero Hunger” (SDG 2) and “Climate Action” (SDG 13) in addition to a Special (half-day) Session on “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions” (SDG 16). Then we shall have four Sessions that each link up two SDGs, as follows:
- “Good Health & Wellbeing” (SDG 3) and “Clean Water & Sanitation” (SDG 6);
- “Economic Growth and Decent Work for All” (SDG 8) and “Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure” (SDG 9);
- “Gender Equality” (SDG 5) and “Reduced Inequalities” (SDG 10);
- “Life below Water” (SDG 14) and “Life on Land” (SDG 15).
In regard to “Zero Hunger”, we have considered the impact of Covid-19, which has further intensified existing vulnerabilities and the inadequacies of global food systems; hundreds of millions could be added to the number of those currently chronically undernourished. It is worth recalling that some 690 million people were hungry in 2019, i.e. 8.9% of the world population.. The World Food Programme and others at the front line in this context have a number of interesting suggestions on how to significantly reduce these numbers, most of which involve enhanced partnerships and cooperation.
In terms of “Good Health and Wellbeing”, the pandemic has now halted and in fact reversed progress made in many health areas, including maternal and child health, immunisation coverage and the reduction of communicable diseases. It was hoped that the Global COVAX Initiative would ensure the urgently needed, equitable global distribution of Covid-19 vaccines but statistics show that, in spite of some noteworthy contributions (e.g. from the EU, the UAE and the USA), we are far from where we should be. In this respect also, partnerships and cooperation should be both enhanced and accelerated. We should be able to reiterate and endorse the phrase of Albert Camus in “The Plague”: “What one takes away from scourges is that, in men, there is more to admire than to despise.”
As far as “Clean Water & Sanitation” is concerned, billions of people worldwide still live without these services, essential as they are in ensuring and protecting human health. It is duly recognized that we are collectively not on track to achieving this Goal by 2030.
On the subject of “Economic Growth and Decent Work for All”, the pandemic has caused the worst global economic recession since the Great Depression and massive damage to working time and income. In this context, can digitalisation and new technologies help and, if so, how else than through enhanced partnerships and cooperation? The pandemic has hit the manufacturing and transport industries hard, causing declining incomes and job losses in these and associated sectors. The World Bank and some of the Regional Development Banks are taking laudable initiatives to assist Governments in mitigating the damage and recovering therefrom, but it is not enough and … the crisis is far from over.
In terms of “Gender Equality” and “Reduced Inequalities within and among Countries”, it is clear that the pandemic, here too, has adversely affected progress made in earlier years. Violence against women and girls has intensified. Women, while playing a critically important role in the response to Covid-19, remain under-represented in leadership positions in most countries and their rights and needs are often overlooked in recovery processes. The poorest countries and the most vulnerable people are hit hardest, thereby dramatically highlighting the issue at hand. Many organisations exist at all levels to reduce the inequalities in question and others have these objectives duly mainstreamed into their overall work programmes. However, there too, the agreed upon global approach should be intensified and accelerated.
On the subject of “Urgent Action to combat Climate change”, the wording is self-explanatory; it is indeed urgent and what is required is action. Recent and indeed ongoing extreme climate-related events worldwide speak for themselves and their impact on the totality of SDGs is self-evident. While the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the primary international, intergovernmental forum for ensuring the required partnerships and cooperation in this context, the objective during the DIHAD 2022 event will be – for this and indeed all topics to be addressed – to focus on practical aspects of selected areas of common concern, thereby identifying and highlighting best practices, promoting new collaborative links among participants and strengthening existing partnering arrangements.; this for the benefit of those we are collectively dedicated to assist in our respective aid-oriented endeavours.
The Session dealing with “Life below Water” and “Life on Land” is in some ways “cross-cutting” with others and thereby making the point that all SDGs are so very intricately linked. Three billion people rely on the ocean for their livelihoods. The oceans, seas and marine resources are under continual threat from pollution, warming and acidification, which are disrupting marine ecosystems and the communities they support. Marine environments need protection; existing legislative instruments need effective enforcement and enhanced partnerships and cooperation , in this context also, are a must. Life on land seems to be equally essential. The protection, restoration and promotion of terrestrial ecosystems, the sustainable management of forests and the combating of desertification and biodiversity loss are but a few of those priority actions we should all jointly dedicate ourselves to. Our survival depends on it.
Lastly, “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions”, SDG 16. As outlined in the above-mentioned Report of the UN Secretary-General, millions of people are still living in fragile and conflict-affected States. At the end of 2019, 79.5 million people had been forcibly displaced worldwide. Homicides, civilian deaths in armed conflicts, violence against women and children, human trafficking, and unlawful detentions are but a few of the many tragic occurrences highlighting how far we are from achieving the goal of peaceful, just and inclusive societies. The lack of good governance, included in the ever-vicious circle of poverty and conflict, is definitely a driver of underdevelopment; this too needs to be addressed, by the variety of existing global partnerships. While our multiple collective efforts towards “Peace” and “Justice” over time have not been universally successful, we may recall that Albert Einstein is to have said: “the world will not be destroyed by those doing evil but rather by those who, looking on, don’t do anything..”
At DIHAD 2022 we will once again gather friends and colleagues from national government authorities, international and non-governmental organisations, the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, foundations and charities, academic institutions, the media and the private sector. As in previous editions of the Conference, we will attempt – duly inspired by our most distinguished Opening and Keynote Speakers – to come up with a number of actionable agreed conclusions and recommendations.
On behalf of the International Advisory Board of the DIHAD Sustainable Humanitarian Foundation, I am very pleased to invite you to attend the event’s 18th edition. We much look forward to welcoming you and to thank, on that occasion, all who actively contribute to the acknowledged success of the Conference, the Premium Webinars held online in anticipation thereof, the pre-Conference Workshop and the Exhibition.
Each edition of this unique event, held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime-Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, highlights different aspects of our collective humanitarian aid and development endeavours. Moreover, the selected theme and related presentations, as well as the interaction that takes place both at the event and in the margins thereof, continue to enhance the knowledge that humanitarian and development actors have about each other, thereby ensuring greater clarity in regard to respective roles, capacities and mandates and further reinforcing the notion of effective coordinated action.
DIHAD 2022 promises to be, yet again, a landmark event!