The G20 should champion the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Photo: UNO HQ

G20 are committed to the 2030 Agenda

One major objective of the German G20 Presidency is to make progress on realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) it enshrines. The 2030 Agenda is essential in order to tackle the most pressing domestic and global challenges the world is facing. Therefore, the 2030 Agenda should be understood as providing overarching guidance for all workstreams of the G20. By identifying collective and individual action, the G20 can contribute considerably to the implementation of the Agenda.

At the Hangzhou Summit in 2016, the G20 adopted the “Action Plan on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” The Action Plan identifies 15 priority sustainable development sectors (SDS). In the Annex, each G20 country offers a short overview of its national efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda. Moreover, the Action Plan describes in detail how Sherpas and the G20 Development Working Group (DWG) can act to support this innovative endeavor in a number of ways. Our recommendations for the G20, formulated at the occasion of the DWG meeting in Bonn on 15 and 16 March, build on this description of the agreed-upon role of the G20.

Renewing the commitment for the 2030 Agenda

First of all, at the summit in Hamburg, the G20 needs to show a strong renewal of its commitment to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, as done in Hangzhou 2016. Reference to the 2030 Agenda should appear in the G20 communiqué in order to emphasize its relevance, inter alia for job creation and income generation, reduction of poverty and inequality, enhancing global trade and economic cooperation, and protecting the Earth’s climate and its ecosystems, globally and in each G20 Country.

Second, based on their first outlines of national actions in the G20 Action Plan all G20 members should clarify their individual timetables respectively on working out their national action plans. The G20 members should commit to updating these outlines by the 2018 G20 Summit. Moreover, the G20 should agree that all members report at the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) in 2018 at the latest in order to reaffirm their commitment to the 2030 Agenda and to inject energy into the implementation process around the world.

Third, the G20 should call on its members to ensure the evaluability of all SDG-related policies and major programs when designing and formulating national interventions and the evaluation of the Action Plan’s performance and of the impact of national policies towards SDGs. This will allow for sharing lessons learned among countries and across sectors, and nurture the global development community with fresh findings and knowledge. Positive experiences with implementing the SDGs should be shared among G20 members, especially with a view to monitoring and evaluation.

Sharing best practices and fostering multi-stakeholder exchange

Fourth, the DWG should work on a review system for the collective implementation of the 2030 Agenda by the G20. Such a review system could help to increase coordination between the DWG and other G20 working groups regarding mainstreaming development issues and contribute to pertinent accountability reports. The review system could also establish a process for identifying specific successful policies, programs or projects at national level which are innovative, sustainable and replicable. These policies, programs and projects could be documented and shared as SDG Solutions within a DWG knowledge platform, and thus enable knowledge sharing within and beyond the G20.

Fifth, following the multi-stakeholder approach of the 2030 Agenda, the DWG should establish regular dialogue events with the G20 engagement groups with a focus on implementation. In addition, regular consultations with other line ministries beyond those responsible for development policy and cooperation should be held. Regarding the composition of the DWG delegations, it is essential that they include those institutions responsible for 2030 Agenda implementation at a national level.

Reforming international cooperation towards transformative change

Last but not least, the G20 should elaborate tangible steps to reform international cooperation for the effective delivery of the 2030 Agenda while taking into consideration existing commitments and differences in resources and capabilities between countries. In the context of partnerships, international cooperation will have to change its one-way approach from developed to developing countries, moving towards reciprocity and joint knowledge creation. Reforms by the G20 should put a specific focus on global economic governance and coordination as suggested by SDGs 10 and 17.

The G20’s confirmation of the UN as the most important international body for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda indicates that the G20 does not seek to generate a parallel process that could undercut the UN. The G20 should encourage its members to tap into the UN Development System when formulating their national action plans, acknowledging the indispensable role of the UN Development System (UNDS) for implementation.

More specifically, the G20 should promote a dialogue among its members in order to develop a common agenda for reforming and strengthening the UNDS, in order to adjust the institution to the challenges posed by the 2030 Agenda and to enable the integration between the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, thereby addressing systemic interlinkages, reducing fragmentation and fostering developmental partnerships. Consideration should be given to change its name into UNSSD (United Nations System for Sustainable Development) and to adapt its mandate accordingly.

Tackling pressing domestic and global challenges

Without G20 countries, today’s pressing challenges cannot be tackled. Putting the spotlight on the 2030 Agenda in the G20 can generate peer pressure among the world’s major economies, initiate fruitful learning processes and contribute to keeping the momentum for transformative change and achieving the SDGs. It is therefore commendable that the G20 countries, since the adoption of the Action Plan during the Chinese G20 presidency, are committed to the 2030 Agenda. At the same time, it remains to be seen whether the G20’s commitment to foster the implementation of the 2030 Agenda will amount to tangible Progress.

This blogpost builds on the work of the T20 Task Force on 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The T20 Taskforce is co-chaired by Imme Scholz (DIE, Bonn, Germany), CHEN Dongxiao (SIIS, Shanghai, China) and Jann Lay (GIGA, Hamburg, Germany) and has more than 60 members from around 20 countries. The Task Force has produced a series of policy briefs on the 2030 Agenda. For more information, see

Image: Imme Scholz

Imme Scholz is Deputy Director of the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) and Deputy Chair of the German Council for Sustainable Development

Image: Clara Brandi

Clara Brandi is a co-head of the Research ProgrammeTransformation of Economic and Social Systems programme at IDOS and an expert on global economic governance, international trade and sustainable development. She holds a PhD from the European University Institute, an MPhil from Oxford University and a Diplom from the University of Freiburg. She is Professor in International Economics / Development Economics at the University of Bonn

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  1. Pingback: The 2030 Agenda: no poverty reduction without policy coherence - T20 Blog

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