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A Foreign Policy Perspective On The Sustainable Development Goals

The side-event  TODAY 17 July will discuss how the SDGs under review are connected to peace and, with the look to the HLPF 2019, how they can contribute to achieving SDG16 and strengthening climate resilience (SDG13). This will be done on with a focus on illustrative regional and country examples, i.e. small island developing states (SIDS) and the MENA region. The aim is to provide context-specific, in-depth insights and equip various stakeholders involved in SDG-processes with conceptual knowledge and examples.

After short reflections from foreign policy makers, from national government, the United Nations as well as from civil society/academia, the discussion will revolve around these questions:

  • Why and how is the 2030 Agenda relevant for foreign policy and what can we learn in this regard from the SDGs under review in 2018?
  • How does slow progress on the SDGs impact on progress on SDG16 and how can positive developments be supported?  
  • What are the conflict drivers linked to SDGs in fragile countries? How would progress on SDG targets affect conflict – to what extent are peace dividends likely?
  • How can the links between the SDGs under review and peacebuilding be best accounted for by programming and activities in fragile contexts?

Furthermore, adelphi will provide a foreign policy perspective on the SDGs under review in 2018 through a think piece that argues that implementing the 2030 Agenda will affect global order and is linked to external action priorities, such as conflict prevention, stabilisation, migration, or peacebuilding.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are unprecedented in their scope and ambition for human progress. By removing or mitigating many grievances that fuel conflict, progress on the SDGs can be a critical lever to build and sustain peace and stability worldwide. The transformative change they aim to bring about can also affect geopolitical dynamics, balances of power and interdependencies. Thus, progress on the SDGs has significant implications for foreign policy. In brief, core foreign policy priorities depend on SDG progress, and foreign policy makers also have a critical role to play in supporting implementation and managing the challenges associated with transformational change. Despite these critical stakes, the foreign policy dimensions of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda have not been sufficiently broached by foreign ministries to date.

This paper maps out the relevance of the SDGs to foreign policy. Taking the six SDGs under review at the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) in 2018 as entry points, we analyse how progress on specific SDGs may support or undermine progress on foreign policy priorities, especially SDG 16: peace.

For each SDG under review, we provide a detailed analysis under the annex section. We conclude with three steps for action through which foreign policy can better anticipate and steer the geopolitical implications of a sustainable transformation to minimise the risks and maximise the positive impacts on sustainable development.

Policy Brief: A Foreign Policy Perspective On The Sustainable Development Goals - adelphi

See page 9 :

Decreasing land and soil productivity can be a driver of environmental migration, both voluntary and forced. People may migrate in quest of a more livable environment, or move as a reaction to tensions posed by conflicts resulting from resource  scarcities. (see SDG 15)


Annex: A Foreign Policy Perspective On The Sustainable Development Goals See SDG 15 as well ( page 17)

This publication is going to be presented at the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations in New York on 17 July 2018 at 6.30 PM (EDT) (more information on the HLPF special event).