Education International
Education International

Education International speaks on behalf of workers and trade unions at UN high-level forum

published 20 July 2016 updated 1 August 2016

Meeting in New York City, the High-Level Political Forum is convening to review the progress on the Sustainable Development Goals, and EI is there to share the voice of the trade union movement.

The High-level Political Forum reviews progress on meeting the Sustainable Development Goals and takes place at the UN in NYC in July every year. It aims to “provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations on the 2030 Agenda’s implementation and follow-up; keep track of progress of the SDGs; spur coherent policies informed by evidence, science and country experiences; as well as address new and emerging issues.”

Education International (EI)’s Antonia Wulff spoke on behalf of the Workers and Trade Unions in the session on multi-stakeholder engagement looking specifically at the role of different stakeholders. The Workers and Trade Unions statement raised concerns about the assaults on trade unions and the decent work agenda seen across the globe as well as the lack of public financing to ensure human rights and decent work for all.

Wulff proposed  “courageously and coherently” broadening the scope of social dialogue as a way to overcome tensions between the economic and social pillars of sustainable development. She also expressed concern that SDG 10 (reducing inequalities) did not have a “mother agency” or ministry to ensure its implementation.

National Voluntary Reviews

At the centre of the discussions are the so-called National Voluntary reviews. This is a voluntary process where countries can sign up to review and present progress made. Twenty-two countries signed up during the first year alone – learn more here.

With less than a year having passed since the adoption of the SDGs, the reviews are challenging to carryout. Countries have focused on analysing their progress to date, and on integrating the SDG targets in national plans and strategies. Many of the 22 countries have put some mechanism into place to include civil society in these processes, with Norway, Finland and Germany including representatives of civil society as part of their official presentations. In the case of Germany, it was Ansgar Klinger, of the teachers’ union GEW who presented a joint statement on behalf of NGOs, trade unions and private sector, calling for structured and binding stakeholder participation in implementation of the SDGs.

Most countries have highlighted education as an area where good progress already has been made, with countries like Finland highlighting free tuition at all levels of the education system and free school lunches for all as key success factors.

Strengthening and broadening social dialogue was highlighted as both a means and an end of the Agenda 2030, and a best practice for democratic and participatory decision-making. It is also a powerful tool for resolving the inherent tensions between the social and economic pillars of the SDGs.

Finally, the goal on reducing inequality within and between countries was highlighted as a priority, especially given that there is no obvious agency or ministry in charge of implementation.