What is the 2030 Agenda?
Part of the answer is in the agreed mandates for the UN Economic and Social Council and the High-Level Political Forum open to all UN member states.
Extracts from 2500-page draft of 22 March 2018
The mandates are very clear in the 2012 conference document,
in resolution 67/290 of 2013 on the high-level political forum and even in the
2015 summit document, which reaffirms existing conference and summit decisions
in paragraph 11:
"We reaffirm the outcomes of all major United Nations conferences and summits which have laid a solid foundation for sustainable development and have helped to shape the new Agenda."
It seems difficult to understand how that could mean throwing out Agenda 21's goals for 2025.
Leaders also said in 2015:
"The challenges and commitments identified at these major conferences and summits are interrelated and call for integrated solutions. To address them effectively, a new approach is needed."
Again, it is hard to see how that can be consistent with the high-level political forum of all UN member states, and the Economic and Social Council, and the Second Committee, repeatedly failing to mention the existing post-2015 goals in Agenda 21 which nations agreed in 2012 to implement fully - or the goals of water and sanitation for all in "least developed countries" by 2020.
In fact not only are the 2025 goals on water and sanitation greater tasks than in the "SDGs", but achieving those goals would need, and cause, progress in many other areas covered by other "SDGs".
The EU countries' wish to concentrate on the "2030 Agenda" may not be consistent with their - or other governments' - apparent desire to avoid mentioning the Agenda 21 goals.
If they mean "2030 Agenda" to refer to resolution 70/1, the agreement by world leaders in 2015, then they are omitting the key point that it decided to stick with resolution 67/290, which is about following up all the conference outcomes.
Leaders in 2015 said:
"The high-level political forum will have a central
role in overseeing a network of follow-up
and review processes at the global level, working coherently with the General
Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and other relevant organs and forums,
in accordance with existing mandates"
"The high-level political forum, under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council, shall carry out regular reviews, in line with General Assembly resolution 67/290 of 9 July 2013."
So leaders in 2015 agreed to stick with "existing mandates".
What are the "existing mandates"?
To follow up all major conferences and summits.
"The General Assembly...Recalling...Agenda 21...Recalling the commitments in the outcomes of all the major United Nations conferences and summits...
Reaffirming also the commitment to strengthen the Economic and Social Council, within its mandate under the Charter, as a principal organ in the integrated and coordinated follow-up of the outcomes of all major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social, environmental and related fields..."
"the meetings of the forum... Shall follow up and review progress in the implementation of all the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and environmental fields..."
(General Assembly Resolution 67/290, 9 July 2013)
In 2015 and 2016, the Secretary-General seems to have taken "2030 Agenda" to mean the 2015 summit document, not just the "SDGs":
"In the 2030 agenda, the high-level political forum on sustainable development is called upon to assume a central role in overseeing a network of follow-up and review processes at the global level, working coherently with the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and other relevant organs and forums, in accordance with existing mandates. The agenda underscores that effective linkages need to be established with the follow-up and review arrangements of all relevant United Nations conferences and processes"
"In the 2030 Agenda...the
high-level political forum on sustainable development was mandated....with “the
central role in overseeing follow-up and review at the global level”."
(From the Secretary-General's reports on the implementation of Agenda 21 and the other sustainable development conferences since then)
It would seem that either the EU countries are saying
a) they want to concentrate on "the 2030 Agenda" in the sense of the easier water and sanitation "SDGs" for 2030,
in which case they grossly mislead in saying the "2030 Agenda" incorporates Agenda 21,
b) the EU countries want to concentrate on "2030
Agenda" as the Secretary-General meant that phrase in the reports above,
including the mandate to follow up all conferences and summits,
in which case the EU countries are bound as part of the forum (taking into account the voluntary nature of reporting) to follow up on Agenda 21's goals for 2025.
In any case, the mandate seems clear: UN member states have decided to follow up all relevant conferences and summits.
So it looks like as before, governments are pretending to stick to previous agreements when they are not.