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2030 Agenda: Development for whom?

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Binding trade treaties versus non-binding development agenda

Other members of civil society have also expressed concerns on how the SDGs will be implemented. One reason to worry, according to Paul Quintos of IBON International is the apparent over emphasis on business sector participation in the 2030 agenda. Like many CSOs, Quintos too is cautious, if not skeptical, of the 2030 sustainable development agenda that according to him "was launched by the UN with much hype and fanfare, with advice from professional corporate marketing agencies."

"This is ironic, because 15 years ago, when the Millennium Declaration was unveiled, much the same aspirations, hopes and promises had been pledged by these same governments in these very halls. And 15 years hence the world faces the same problems, if not worse," he added.

The paradox, according to Quintos, lies in the fact that while governments seem to commit to ending poverty by 2030 by agreeing on a 'non-binding' global agenda, these same governments are also in the process of negotiating free trade agreements, which are binding and may potentially reverse any development progress the world has gained in the last century. Quintos further warns that these FTAs will grant enormous new powers to corporations by allowing them to veto laws and national regulations in the name of profit making.

Public Private Partnerships (PPP)

Quintos is also vocal about governments raising the ambition of the Global Goals while at the same time avoiding making concrete commitments in terms of public financing. Governments are constructing a narrative wherein there are not enough public resources to fund such an ambitious development agenda, which consequently justifies greater private sector involvement under the garb of PPP, Quintos noted.

"But by resorting to the private sector as being the main driver of development, we are making interests of the private sector primary in terms of what is likely to be prioritized in this agenda," said Quintos.

PPP has been prominently featured in various development forums and seminars as an innovative means to bridge the funding gap in terms of financing national development. Civil society however fears that PPPs primarily serve business interests over public welfare. In most cases of PPPs, governments end up paying more to cover 'regulatory risk guarantees' in order to ensure the profit returns of business concessionaires.

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