The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at their core are a groundbreaking, inclusive global initiative to eradicate poverty and achieve a better future for all on a healthy planet. The Agenda and Goals reflect the voices of millions of people from all over the world, and their aspirations for the future they want. I saw first-hand the unprecedented commitment, dynamism and concrete contributions that stakeholders from all sectors of society brought to the intergovernmental process leading to the adoption of the 2030 Agenda. As a result, the Agenda is "of the people, by the people and for the people" (1) and is expected to be implemented with the participation of "all countries, all stakeholders and all people". (2)
This common ownership of the vision of the SDGs is now powering its implementation. The success of our collective journey to 2030 will greatly depend on how effectively Governments, which lead the implementation of this transformative and universal agenda, engage parliaments, local authorities, indigenous peoples, civil society, the scientific and academic communities and the private sector, and bridge the gap between people and national policy setting.
Success will also be measured in how well we live up to the commitment to leave no one behind. We need to ensure that we provide a voice and platforms for the meaningful participation and engagement of the most marginalized, vulnerable and excluded communities and individuals.
In many countries, including some that presented their voluntary national reviews at the United Nations high-level political forum on sustainable development, we are seeing how effective public participation can lead to less corruption, more transparency and better laws, policies and government programming, as well as budgetary allocations that advance a whole-of-government approach.
Raising public awareness about the SDGs can also enable citizens to hold their Governments accountable. Several voluntary national reviews from 2017 highlighted innovative awareness-raising activities to increase ownership of the SDGs, ranging from encouraging citizens to use mobile devices to test air quality to designing school curricula on resource conservation and organizing SDG-themed music festivals. (3) Many countries developed communication campaigns and used tools such as mass media, social media, online portals, workshops, and the production of flyers and posters...