Australia Files First UN Report Card on Sustainability

15 Jun, 2018

CEO of the Australian Council for International Development, Marc Purcell, has responded to today’s launch of the Voluntary National Review (VNR) on Australia’s implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Following Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop’s speech at the Banksia Ignite event in Sydney to launch the VNR, Marc Purcell said: 

“This is a significant milestone for Australia’s implementation of the SDGs. We congratulate the Australian Government on a strong report and the highly consultative approach it took in its creation. This is a clear statement that the Government recognises the Goals as ‘the’ blueprint for a collective response to shared global challenges, one which requires a contribution from the whole of Australia.”

Writing in the VNR, Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, recognised that “Australia, like all countries, faces challenges” and there were areas “where more could be done”.

Marc Purcell continued:

“The VNR profiles early-adopters who have implemented highly effective initiatives, but they are too few and far between. To have any realistic chance of achieving the Goals by 2030 Australia needs to rapidly transform the way it’s working and put sustainability at its heart.

“We should not be imposing the burden of our failure to act on the next generation. The time for talking has passed, now is the time for action on the SDGs.”

Commenting on specific areas for improvement, Purcell added:

“The Government has acknowledged that prosperity is not shared across Australia, giving an assessment that the nation still grapples with ‘long-standing policy challenges such as improving health, economic and wellbeing outcomes for Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’. Comprehensive action and redress is long overdue.

“Life for the poorest and most marginalised is getting worse. After nearly 27 years of uninterrupted economic growth, there is no excuses left to tackle the growth of inequality. There is a lot of work to do to deliver on one of the key SDG principles of ‘leaving no-one behind’.

“Australia is performing poorly against the environmental goals and targets. Economic growth cannot continue to be tied to environmental degradation. Our greatest natural assets like the Murray-Darling basin and the Great Barrier Reef are in crisis. We urgently need intervention to protect our environment and create affordable, reliable and clean energy for the future.

“The face of poverty is changing. Most of the world’s poor now live in middle income countries. Australia can make smart interventions to multiply our impact. In the Pacific, this means using our aid program to assist communities with climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. We can afford to make these investments. We should follow the UK and rebuild Australia’s international aid budget to 0.7 per cent of our national income.

“The Foreign Minister agrees that Australia needs a bigger aid budget. We are now calling on the Government and the opposition to announce an election commitment to increase aid to help attain the SDGs.” 

As part of a recent submission to the Senate inquiry on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, ACFID made thirteen recommendations to significantly accelerate progress towards Australia’s implementation of the Goals. Commenting on ACFID’s primary recommendation, Marc Purcell said:

“When Australia committed to the Goals in 2015, Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, described how the SDGs would only ever be a “statement of ambition unless we plan for how we will achieve them”. We agree. The efforts of the Federal Government, state and territory governments, business, academia and civil society should not exist in isolation. We need a national plan to draw these strands together to drive implementation.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

ACFID's submission to the Senate Inquiry on the UN's Sustainable Development Goals: https://acfid.asn.au/sites/site.acfid/files/201803%20ACFID%20Submission%20to%20FADT%20-%20UNSDG%20Inquiry.pdf

Sustainable Development Goals: Australia’s Voluntary National Review 2018: http://dfat.gov.au/aid/topics/development-issues/2030-agenda/Pages/voluntary-national-review.aspx

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