Overview of the inquiry and the UN SDGs
On 4 December 2017 the Senate referred the following matter to the
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee for inquiry and report
by 29 November 2018:
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), with
particular reference to:
understanding and awareness of the SDG across the Australian Government and in
the wider Australian community;
potential costs, benefits and opportunities for Australia in the domestic implementation
of the SDG;
governance structures and accountability measures are required at the national,
state and local levels of government to ensure an integrated approach to
implementing the SDG that is both meaningful and achieves real outcomes;
can performance against the SDG be monitored and communicated in a way that
engages government, businesses and the public, and allows effective review of Australia's
performance by civil society;
SDG are currently being addressed by Australia's Official Development
Assistance (ODA) program;
of the SDG is Australia best suited to achieving through our ODA program, and
should Australia's ODA be consolidated to focus on achieving core SDG;
countries in the Indo-Pacific are responding to implementing the SDG, and which
of the SDG have been prioritised by countries receiving Australia's ODA, and
how these priorities could be incorporated into Australia's ODA program; and
of best practice in how other countries are implementing the SDG from which
Australia could learn.
On 26 November 2018 the Senate agreed to extend the reporting date to
the last sitting day in February 2019.
Conduct of the inquiry
Details of the inquiry were placed on the committee's website at: https://www.aph.gov.au/senate_fadt.
The committee also contacted a number of relevant individuals and organisations
to notify them of the inquiry and invite submissions by 29 March 2018. The
committee continued to receive submissions after the closing date. Submissions
received are listed at Appendix 1, and tabled documents, additional information
and answers to questions on notice at Appendix 2.
The committee held five public hearings in 2018: on 24 August, 26 November
and 7 December in Canberra; on 29 October in Melbourne; and on 2 November
in Sydney. A list of witnesses who gave evidence is available at Appendix 3.
Submissions and the Hansard transcripts of evidence may be accessed through the
The committee thanks the organisations and individuals who participated
in the public hearings as well as those who made written submissions. The
committee would like to extend its particular thanks to the students and
teachers from Forrest Primary School pictured below for their joint submission and
attendance at the committee's hearing in Canberra on 26 November 2018.
Source: Mr Joe Italiano, House
Structure of the Report
This chapter provides a brief overview of the SDGs. Chapter 2 outlines
the potential benefits, opportunities and costs of implementing the SDGs for
Australia (Term of Reference (ToR) b). Chapter 3 summarises suggestions from
the evidence for improving the national governance of the SDGs, and monitoring
and reporting progress against the goals (ToR c and d). Chapter 4 describes proposals
for partnerships on the SDGs between the Australian Government and the
international, state, territory and local levels of government (ToR c and d).
Chapter 5 includes ideas for partnering with civil society and the private
sector to support their engagement with the SDGs, and illustrates the level of
awareness of the SDGs in Australia (ToR d and a). Chapter 6 notes examples of how
the SDGs are being implemented across the Indo-Pacific, and outlines proposals
from the evidence for how to support this through official development
assistance (ToR e to g). Chapter 7 details the committee's
recommendations. Examples of international best practice are dispersed
throughout the report (ToR h).
Sustainable development and the Millennium Development Goals
A widely accepted definition of 'sustainable development' is 'development
that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future
generations to meet their own needs'.
The United Nations (UN) has recognised three dimensions of sustainable
development: economic, social and environmental.
The international community has undertaken a series of conferences on
these issues over past decades, including the 1992 UN Conference on
Environment and Development (the Earth Summit) and the 2012 UN Conference on
Sustainable Development (the Rio+20 Summit).
It was agreed at the Rio+20 Summit to establish the SDGs.
The SDGs were developed to progress the global momentum on sustainable development
policy and to replace and build on the eight anti-poverty UN Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs) which ceased in 2015.
Establishment of the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda
The international community undertook the 'largest consultation
programme in UN history' to develop the SDGs.
This involved many actors, including a UN System Task Team, a High-level
Panel established by the UN Secretary-General, and an Open Working Group with a
mandate from the Rio+20.
In addition, 'extensive public consultations about the post-2015 development
agenda' were undertaken by the UN, including through the 'My World' survey.
The SDGs and associated targets are:
...the result of over two years of intensive public
consultation and engagement with civil society and other stakeholders around
the world, which paid particular attention to the voices of the poorest and
The Australian Government and civil society contributed to the
development of the SDGs. Australia's first Voluntary National Review notes that
...strongly supported the establishment of new standalone goals
for economic growth (SDG8), peace and good governance (SDG16) and oceans
(SDG14), as well as keeping gender equality as a central contributor through
its own goal (SDG5).
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) was
'actively engaged in more than two years of consultations and negotiations to
shape the 2030 Agenda and to ensure that the issues the 2030 Agenda covers
align with Australia's national interests and the challenges faced in our
On 25 September 2015 all 193 UN member states adopted the 2030 Agenda
for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda).
The 2030 Agenda comprises the SDGs and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (Addis
Agenda). DFAT explained:
The seventeen SDGs provide a roadmap for addressing global
development challenges to 2030 and beyond ('the what'), and the Addis Agenda provides
a global framework for financing sustainable development that aligns financing
flows and priorities with the SDGs ('the how')...
International review process
The UN High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on sustainable development is
the central platform for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda. A core
feature of the HLPF is the presentation of voluntary national reviews (VNRs) by
member states on their implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.
The HLPF also includes an annual international thematic review of
progress. The 2018 topic was 'transformation towards sustainable and resilient
societies', and in 2019 the topic will be 'empowering people and ensuring
inclusiveness and equality'. The Secretary-General also prepares an annual
progress report on the SDGs based on the global indicator framework and data
produced by national statistical systems and information collected at the
In 2019, the quadrennial Global Sustainable Development Report will also
be presented, which is drafted by independent experts and intended to provide
evidence to inform the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
While the MDGs were focused on developing countries, the 2030 Agenda is 'accepted
by all countries and is applicable to all, taking into account different
national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting
national policies and priorities'.
DFAT reiterated that 'each country's approach to implementing the SDGs is
shaped by its own national context and priorities'.
The SDGs officially came into force on 1 January 2016. They are listed on the
following two pages.
Sustainable Development Goals
Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition
and promote sustainable agriculture
Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at
Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and
promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water
and sanitation for all
Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and
modern energy for all
Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic
growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and
sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe,
resilient and sustainable
Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its
Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine
resources for sustainable development
Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial
ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and
reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable
development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable
and inclusive institutions at all levels
Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize
the global partnership for sustainable development.
Supporting targets and indicators
The SDGs are accompanied by 169 targets. Some targets are relatively
specific, such as reducing the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70
per 100,000 live births by 2030 (target 3.1). Other targets are more general,
Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the
provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and
the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as
nationally appropriate (target 5.4).
The 2030 Agenda established that the SDG goals and targets will be
followed up and reviewed using a set of global indicators.
A global indicator framework was developed by the Inter-Agency and Expert Group
on SDG Indicators and agreed in 2017.
The indicator framework includes 232 individual indicators.
These are more detailed than the targets, for example, target 3.1 is supported
by the following indicators:
3.1.1 maternal mortality ratio; and
3.1.2 proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel.
Target 5.4 is supported by indicator 5.4.1 (proportion of time spent on
unpaid domestic and care work, by sex, age and location).
The indicators have been grouped into three tiers. As of 31 December
2018, Tier I included the 101 indicators that have an internationally
established methodology and are supported by relevant data that is regularly
produced by countries. The 84 Tier II indicators have an internationally
established methodology, but data are not regularly produced by countries. The 41
Tier III indicators are not yet supported by internationally established
methodology or standards.
The indicator framework is 'a voluntary and country-led instrument' that
is 'complemented by indicators at the regional and national levels, which will
be developed by Member States'.
The global indicators are to be refined annually and reviewed comprehensively
by the UN Statistical Commission in 2020 and 2025.
Principles underpinning the 2030
Agenda and SDGs
The preamble to the 2030 Agenda includes what are referred to as the '5Ps',
the five interlinked and integrated areas for action:
- We are determined to end poverty and hunger, in all their
forms and dimensions, and to ensure that all human beings can fulfil their
potential in dignity and equality and in a healthy environment.
- We are determined to protect the planet from degradation,
including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing
its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it
can support the needs of the present and future generations.
- We are determined to ensure that all human beings can enjoy
prosperous and fulfilling lives and that economic, social and technological
progress occurs in harmony with nature.
- We are determined to foster peaceful, just and inclusive
societies which are free from fear and violence. There can be no sustainable
development without peace and no peace without sustainable development.
- We are determined to mobilize the means required to implement
this Agenda through a revitalised Global Partnership for Sustainable
Development, based on a spirit of strengthened global solidarity, focussed in
particular on the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable and with the
participation of all countries, all stakeholders and all people.
Another key aspect of the 2030 Agenda set out in the preamble is the
pledge 'that no one will be left behind'.
The 2030 Agenda also reaffirms a range of existing international instruments,
such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Framework
Convention on Climate Change.
Addis Ababa Action Agenda
The Addis Agenda is the 'financing framework for sustainable development'.
...supports, complements and helps to contextualize the 2030
Agenda's means of implementation targets. It relates to domestic public
resources, domestic and international private business and finance,
international development cooperation, international trade as an engine for
development, debt and debt sustainability, addressing systemic issues and
science, technology, innovation and capacity-building, and data, monitoring and
DFAT summarised the key action areas in the Addis Agenda as follows:
Domestic public resources
Mobilise domestic resources including remittance flows and tax
Improve transparency, efficiency and effectiveness of tax systems
Scale up international tax cooperation
Domestic and international private
business and finance
Build dynamic private sectors
Promote financial inclusion
Reduce costs of remittances
Find new ways to attract both public and private sources of
financing for development
Modernise forms of cooperation
Promote foreign direct investment
International trade as an engine
Ensure trade expansion benefits developing countries
Strengthen regional economic integration and interconnectivity
Debt and debt sustainability
Strengthen macroeconomic and public resource management
Coordinate policies to foster debt financing, debt relief, debt
restructuring and debt management
Address systemic issues
Strengthen international coordination and policy coherence to
enhance global financial and macroeconomic stability
Science, technology, innovation and
Investing in multi-stakeholder partnerships
Invest in infrastructure and public services.
Navigation: Previous Page | Contents | Next Page