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Input to Questionnaire related to the development of Sustainable Development Goals

    Hungary is part of the submission made by the European Union and its Member States.

    Questions and responses
    1. Please list a limited number, preferably between five and ten, of the important priority areas that must be addressed through the SDGs to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development

    Hungary believes that some SDGs should focus on resources (water, energy, land, oceans, food, forests) and some others should be of cross-cutting nature, i.e. focusing on social, legal and economic functioning (human rights and the rule of law, equity, social inclusion, gender equality, demographics, decent work, empowerment of underprivileged parts of societies, good governance, sustainable consumption and production, etc.) As a result of national discussions we would also consider to add sustainable urban development, and disaster risk reduction to that list.
    Hungary is particularly committed to the inclusion of water and integrated water management. Therefore Hungary, being a country dedicated to support and coordinate joint efforts of Member States in this area is continuing her activity within the Friends of Water Group and beyond. Based on our traditional interest in water policy and the specific Hungarian expertise in the field of water management, Hungary aims to contribute to the water related agenda of the post-Rio sustainable development process. As announced in the Rio+20 conference by the President of the country - we are planning to host an international conference on this issue in October 2013, with the aim to contribute to the SDG development process along the agreed Rio+20 line on water and sanitation, in the broader sense of integrated water management.

    2. How might the SDGs strive to balance the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development?

    a. Reflect social, economic and environmental dimensions within each SDG, possibly through the associated targets

    As it was agreed in Rio and reflected in the Rio+20 outcome document, the SDGs should address and incorporate all three dimensions of sustainable development and their interlinkages. This should be a main guiding principle during the development of the concrete goals, taking into consideration each target’s social, economic and environmental dimensions. The SDGs should be limited in number, well prepared and covering all three dimensions of sustainable development in their specific targets.

    The SDGs should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely = SMART. There will be a need for a network of SMART SDGs.

    b. Integrate the MDGs, suitably modified/updated for post-2015, into a larger sustainable development framework

    c. Expand MDG7 (‘environmental sustainability’) into a number of goals with a natural/environmental resource dimension (water, food, energy, etc.)

    d. Other (please describe)

    3. Based on your experience with MDGs or other existing goals, what would be the key use of SDGs for your country (select at most two)?

    Key use #1

    a. Defining national policies

    Key use #2

    f. Guiding development cooperation

    If g. Other (please describe)

    Internationally agreed SDGs should influence national policy development by giving special attention to priority areas identified by SDGs. In our view the development of SDGs should also lead to a change of thinking in the international cooperation including ODA. International cooperation should emphasize the responsibilities of all parties, and sustainability objectives should be defined with that in mind. Identification and implementation of SDGs will require a more holistic approach that is complex and has an ambitious scope reflecting fully the concerns about economic, social and environmental aspects in a balanced manner.

    When developing the SDGs it is important to take into account the existing international development goals and incorporate them in a suitable manner in order to have one common development framework after 2015. Therefore MDG concepts are foreseen to appear among the SDGs in the form of goals or targets.

    4. How can “universally applicable” SDGs be made practically relevant for countries at different levels of development? (Please refer to your country’s situation as appropriate.)

    As one of the features in the Rio outcome document describes SDGs that they are global in nature, this will require special attention during the preparation process. Obviously the difference in the development of countries has to be taken into account along with the geographical, social, environmental and cultural disparities.

    The goal of defining comprehensive, universal goals is laudable, but the specific targets and methods of implementation must allow for flexibility and national ownership. There is a need to find a balance between being comprehensive and global while ensuring local ownership. Therefore the global goals might need to be translated into national and regional targets. The new framework needs to balance its ambition against the need for simplicity and measurability.

    Hungary believes that the concrete areas and targets related to the implementation of the different SDGs should be developed in a process ensuring national ownership. Priority setting depends on national features and circumstances and the concrete measures to reach the targets will also be different, depending on the national conditions and characteristics.

    For example Hungary considers oceans a key issue, but being a land-locked country, Hungary has different stakes in this question than island countries. Hungary, a country having a traditionally strong agricultural sector with good conditions for food production would have different targets in relation to food security than a developing country with much worse conditions and high level of under-nourishment.

    5. The SDGs are supposed to be “global in nature”. Should targets associated with those goals be:

    b. defined by each country

    If c., please explain how:

    In Hungary’s opinion version “b” could represent the best possible option from this list complemented with targets defined for regional level. It is important that the SDGs should address key global challenges, but at the same time they should be interpreted by all countries in order to achieve a full and successful implementation.

    All countries should adopt measures at all levels as appropriate to contribute to the achievement of the goals. The means of implementation should primarily come from domestic sources, private and public, but international institutions and IFIs will also have to contribute. For many developing countries ODA will continue to be a catalyst and play an important leveraging role. To help the process indicators and monitoring systems should be set up.

    6. Which existing goals and targets (e.g., MDGs, goals/targets in Agenda 21, JPOI) do you think should be incorporated - perhaps in updated form - in a proposal for sustainable development goals?

    Hungary shares the view that SDGs should be coherent with existing internationally agreed goals and targets on important areas and should not lead to reopening negotiations on these matters. Objectives of the MDGs concerning in particular poverty eradication, as one of the three overarching objectives of sustainable development, as well as education and health need to be taken into consideration during the development of SDGs.

    The goals and targets will have to cover the three dimensions of sustainable development and draw primarily from and build on existing international agreements, first of all Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI). Important emerging issues should also be addressed.

    The updating of existing targets should be done along the agreed characteristics of the SDGs (not only development but sustainable development, and not only for developing countries but for all). It should be emphasized that SDGs are not new versions of MDGS. It is important that the SDGs take in account the post-2015 development framework and are developed with the idea of having one instead of parallel development agendas.

    7. What specific steps can be taken to ensure that the SDGs are coherent with and integrated into the UN development agenda beyond 2015?

    Paragraphs 246 and 249 of the Rio+20 outcome document state that the SDG process needs to be coordinated and coherent with the processes to consider the post-2015 development agenda and that the development of SDGs should not divert focus or effort from the achievement of the MDGs. Identification of concrete SDG targets should be based on a thorough assessment of implementation of MDGs but SDGs cannot be considered as continuations of MDGs (see the aspect of sustainability).

    The process of elaboration of the goals needs to be transparent. In order to achieve coherence and integration of SDGs with UN development Agenda beyond 2015, we need to make sure that they rely on the same assessment, vision and strategy. Running two parallel programs should be avoided in the long term. The MDG review needs to inform the SDG process and integration of the two processes should be achieved.

    8. How should assessments of progress toward the achievement of the SDGs be carried out at the global level?

    It will be necessary to ensure that a system for monitoring and accountability is created during the SDG development process in order to enable reporting on national, regional and global levels. A consensus between the UN system and the national governments will be required on reporting and new indicators (beyond GDP – as agreed in Rio+20) to be used during the monitoring process.

    Sound, broadly accepted and used, well-functioning set of indicators and monitoring system are crucial to the successful implementation of SDGs. The SDG elaboration process should pay proper attention to this aspect as well.

    The implementation of the internationally agreed SDGs and the proper use of the indicator, monitoring and reporting systems may require improved institutional capabilities and significantly expanded training programs.

    9. What measures should be taken to make the process of developing a proposal for SDGs inclusive and participatory? How should civil society and other relevant stakeholders be engaged?

    It will be necessary to start as soon as possible the identification of the internal structure and working method of the UN SDG working group itself including its own rules of procedure.

    Hungary deems it also very important, that the work of the working group should be informed by research-based evidence and expert analysis to the maximum extent possible, inter alia, through the full involvement of the broadest possible range of stakeholders, expertise from civil society, local governments and the scientific community.

    Stakeholders should be involved and consulted properly throughout the whole process of developing SDGs, with due respect to the effectiveness of the work of the working group in its limited timeframe. Hungary believes that the feedback provided by stakeholders is very important and can influence the process in a positive way.

    It is crucial to secure strong coordination between the intergovernmental and other channels of developing the SDGs.

    10. What principles should underpin the development of the SDGs? (the UN TT report, for example, recommended adding (i) reducing inequalities and (ii) promoting human rights (iii) ensuring sustainability);

    In our view when developing the SDGs we should take the principles and characteristics agreed on in the Rio+20 outcome document as a basis. Hungary is in favour of the principles recommended by the UN TT report and we would welcome them as linking guidelines for the development process as long as they have the wide support from the majority of the UN member states.

    11. How should a new Global Partnership for Development be constructed within or around the SDGs?

    This question addresses the structure of SDG implementation: new structures, new rules, new players required. A new Global Partnership for Development must be adjusted to the nature of the SDGs as adopted at the Rio+20 Conference, and address all three dimensions of the sustainable development in a balanced manner. New forms of cooperation and mobilisation of new partners (e.g. emerging economies, private sector, donor countries, private donors and NGOs) are necessary in order to move from the MDG related classical forms of donor-recipient model. We should not forget that countries themselves have an important responsibility for their own development.

    (see also MDG Gap Task Force Report 2012: ”Millennium Development Goal 8 - The Global Partnership for Development: Making Rhetoric a Reality”)

    12. Do you have any other observations, ideas or inputs you would like to offer to inform the initial work of the open working group on sustainable development goals?

    In our view it is crucial to ensure (already from the very beginning) a proper communication among several processes within the UN Structure (e.g. link to the HLP and other HL bodies of the UN system) as well as among the initiatives of relevant organisations (including coordination with MEAs as appropriate) and country contributions offered to facilitate the challenging process of SDGs development.

    This communication is a precondition for coherence of these processes and for compatible outcomes/ results at the end.

    Having this in mind Hungary has offered her contribution concerning the water goal and will host a stocktaking and forward looking international conference in Budapest in October 2013.

    Finally our question is whether the Special Envoy for Future Generations (to be nominated by the Secretary General -as announced at plenary session of the Rio+20 Conference by Germany) will have a role in the process?

    General comments - npt related to this question but the whole questionnaire

    SDGs should represent both thematic (resource based) and cross cutting issues. In the process of elaboration of SDGs proper attention should also be given to the establishment of the SDG related supporting systems (e.g. indicators, monitoring) which will be crucial for a successful implementation and follow-up. Compared to the MDGs, that are development oriented and limited in terms of target countries-, the SDGs will take into consideration of all three pillars of sustainable development and be universal for all requiring thorough consideration of existing programs and possible future directions. The sustainable development goals should be defined as global goals for at least the next 15 years and have to be reached through the implementation of regionally defined targets supported by national targets and programs. It has to be defined by taking into account the post 2015 development agenda.

    Submitted by: Mission of Hungary
United Nations