Coverage of Selected Side Events at the 2018 High-Level Political Forum – Issue #5

“Ethical Markets is encouraged by the extent of the global debate about the necessity of going beyond GDP-economic growth models toward the more systemic Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Our surveys with Globescan in 2007, 2009 and 2013 in 12 countries for the EU Beyond GDP conference ( showed that the public in all these countries understood the need for broader measures of national progress beyond GDP. We were also happy to see the continuing research of  Prof. Sakiko Fukuda-Parr of the New School in New York City, who  appeared, along with Prof. Kenneth Rogoff and author John Perkins, of  “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man“  in our TV series on Reforming Global Finance (on demand at

~Hazel Henderson, Editor“

Coverage of Selected Side Events
at the 2018 High-Level Political Forum (HLPF 2018)
Issue No. 5 – Monday, 16 July 2018
Events covered on Friday, 13 July 2018
Visit our IISD/ENBOTS Coverage for Friday, 13 July 2018 at:
SDG Implementation at National Level: What’s the Point of National Reports?
Presented by Global Policy Forum, Social Watch, Alliance Sud, and Arab NGO Network for Development
This event focused on voluntary national reports (VNRs) and parallel “shadow” or “spotlight” reports generated by civil society organizations (CSOs) on progress towards attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Moderator Roberto Bissio, Social Watch, asked presenters to address whether the shadow reports lead to changes and what can be learned from each other’s experiences.

Blanche Sonon, Social Watch, Benin, said her government has been open to CSO input. She highlighted the need for a focus on detecting and returning government funds lost through corruption.

Mark Herkenrath, Alliance Sud, outlined an effort to create a joint report, organized thematically, with input from different sectors of civil society, including human rights, women, youth, and environmental organizations. He described a joint chapter-writing exercise with the private sector, noting the final baseline report was not included in the Swiss VNR. He said CSO involvement in the VNR process does not preclude a separate spotlight report.

Iara Pietricovsky de Oliveira, Instituto de Estudos Socioeconômicos, said a CSO spotlight report concluded that Brazil is going backwards on all the SDGs and that recommendations using data collected by CSO researchers and institutions were not addressed by the government.

Rene Raja, Social Watch, Philippines, noted his country will present its second VNR in 2019 and highlighted aspects of its spotlight report, including on how to establish baselines for the SDGs. He emphasized the need to address inequality, education, and empowerment, and underscored engaging with local, regional and national sectors to increase solidarity.

Christoph Lang, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, said his country would present its VNR at this HLPF and is working with 85 indicators. He stressed: the importance of broadening civil society engagement; CSO inclusivity for better reports; and openness to improving the process.

Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, New School, outlined work on review of the SDGs by the Committee on Development Policy, a subsidiary advisory body of the UN Economic and Social Council. She said the intent of the review was to nudge governments to do better and emphasized focusing on the issue of no one left behind.

A CSO representative from Sri Lanka said VNRs need to be an honest stock-taking and that his country’s CSO process included trade unions, private sectors, local authorities and government offices, who were excluded from the VNR process. He highlighted: availability of data on only 46 indicators; the importance of SDG interlinkages; and the need for a data acceptance mechanism to expand the ability to include data from non-traditional sources

During ensuing discussion, participants considered, inter alia: use of advocacy to organize grassroots voices; inclusion of children and youth as contributors to CSO reviews; the complementary nature of qualitative and quantitative analyses; and private sector involvement in the review process, including challenges when private sector demands are inconsistent with attainment of the SDGs.

More information:
Roberto Bissio
[email protected]
Energy in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Presented under the leadership of Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, Government of Saudi Arabia
This side event showcased best practices on fostering energy efficiency in Saudi Arabia through public-private partnerships in the construction, transportation and industrial sectors.

Moderator Mustafa Alshehri, Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), opened the event and stressed his country’s efforts to achieve the SDGs by improving energy efficiency through public-private partnerships.

Ahmed Alzahrani, Saudi Energy Efficiency Center (SEEC), noted that three sectors, building, industry, and transportation, account for over 90% of national energy consumption, and said SEEC’s energy efficiency program promotes: full coordination among governments and the private sector; human capital development, including certification programs; and awareness raising and media campaigns on efficiency. He noted the importance of addressing energy efficiency by managing both the demand and supply sides of their businesses, highlighting that SEEC’s program considers end-users as important stakeholders. He emphasized that its initiatives help create business opportunities and quality jobs in Saudi Arabia.

Yara Anabtawi, ACWA Power International (ACWA Power), explained her company is a developer, investor, co-owner, and operator of power generation and desalinated water production plants. She said ACWA Power produces more than 23 GW of electricity and 2.5 million cubic meters of clean water per day. She stressed that the company reduced the cost and tariff in renewables by applying a “cost leadership” business model, highlighting the first utility-scale renewable energy project in Saudi Arabia, the 300 MW Skaka IPP PV solar project. She said the project aims to generate 9.5 GW of renewable energy by 2023. Anbtawi also noted contributions to sustainability, including: assuring legal and regulatory compliance requirements; investing in socio-economic development by creating shared values; and continuing to champion sustainability in the power sector.

Hamed Al Harthy, SABIC, said sustainability is at the core of the SABIC 2025 Strategy, which includes company-wide goals to achieve, by 2025, 25% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, energy, and water intensities, and 50% reductions in material-loss intensity, using 2010 as a baseline. Noting that SABIC achieved 7.6% energy intensity reduction from the 2016 baseline, he said the company remains committed to improving resource and energy efficiency by: implementing the corporate energy policy; better energy management systems that improve coordination across stakeholders in the supply chain; and exploring energy innovation and renewables.

In ensuing discussion, participants commented on: information gaps between Saudi Arabia’s efforts and actions on renewables and energy efficiency; what New York City-based delegates know about the country; and the need to visualize efforts on sustainability to overcome the assumption that Saudi Arabia is solely an oil-producing country.

More information: