Download our 2019 Annual Report in French (English version forthcoming) here.
Letter from the President and Director
It is our pleasure and duty to introduce this third Annual Report for our young organisation, which continues to expand its work providing support for international development actors in France and Spain to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Despite our own commitment to the SDGs, four years after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, it is clear to see that the results are somewhat mixed on their implementation worldwide.
Indeed, it is plain to see that these 17 Goals, intended as the ultimate beacon to guide public policy and economic actors across their value chains, are far from being the intended point of reference for politicians, economists or the media.
And yet the necessity and urgency to deploy the 2030 Agenda roadmap has never been greater - or more obvious. In 2019, a group of independent scientists, commissioned by the UN to report on progress in implementing the SDGs, once again rang the alarm bell. With only ten years to go before the 2030 deadline to achieve the SDGs, the report shows that global greenhouse gas emissions are on the rise, inequality is deepening, and environmental destruction continues unabated. All the while, populist political movements emerging across the planet have slowed the kind of international cooperation necessary to face today’s major global challenges.
But we refused to let this dampen our own determination to promote uptake for the SDGs. Instead, we used 2019 to hone our approach and methods, and to broaden our community through an increasing number of audible and influential partners.
In 2019, Focus 2030 structured its work around three flagship programmes: "The G7 and the Global Fund: France, champion for multilateralism"; "The SDGs: 10 years to change the world" and "Spain is back: for a new ambition on development aid in Spain".
This was this collective framework for Focus 2030’s work to put the Sustainable Development Goals at the heart of the political, media and public agenda in 2019, and to create an informed debate to encourage appropriately ambitious commitments from world leaders.
In 2019, Focus 2030 organised several multi-stakeholder workshops. These regular meetings involve our NGO, thinktanks, public institutions, foundation or international partners, and were focused in particular in 2019 on three key themes: global health; gender equality; and development aid.
Our workshops enable participants to share information, analysis and action plans to maximise synergies and accelerate global progress on sustainable development. In 2019 this was especially important given the opportunities which would arise from two major events due to be held in France that year: the French G7 Presidency and Heads of Government and State summit in Biarritz in August 2019; and the replenishment conference of the Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which would take place in Lyon in October 2019.
Upstream of these two events, and in order to facilitate our partners’ advocacy work, we continued with our opinion poll analysis, publishing two International Development Barometers: "French views on the G7 and Global Inequality" and "French views on the fight against health pandemics". This research was carried out jointly with the University College of London (UCL) and Birmingham University, as part of the Development Engagement Lab.
From this research, we showed that a large majority of French people felt strongly about social justice. This was already evident domestically through strong French public support for the "Yellow Jackets" (gilets jaunes) movement, but it became apparent also (and perhaps more surprisingly) in strong support for increased international solidarity. For example, we found that 65% of French people wanted the G7 to commit to fighting global inequality, or that 64% thought that France should commit more to fighting the Aids pandemic across the world.
In addition to our 2019 workshops and research, Focus 2030 also funded three projects in the run-up to the G7 and the Global Fund replenishment conference:
The Sustainable Development Goals provide a both a comprehensive framework for evaluation of the biggest challenges facing humanity, and an internationally-approved roadmap to tackling them.
It is for this reason that it is essential for the SDGs to be widely known and understood by citizens, institutions, and civil society actors, not only to integrate the framework into their own actions, but also to hold our governments - who have signed up to implementing the 2030 Agenda - to account for meeting their commitments.
Given the need to build this knowledge of the SDGs, Focus 2030 partnered with French NGO 4D to support their project "Handprints" which used participative street art to inform and engage the general public on the SDGs.
We also decided to dig a little deeper to understand public perceptions of major global issues, notably climate change. Our third International Development Barometer, "French views on climate, the environment, and development" revealed that 52% of French people saw environmental protection (climate change, pollution, biodiversity) as the greatest challenge facing humanity. Such a high level of concern about climate change and environmental issues echoes the popularity of the "climate marches" which took place in 2019, and perhaps explains - or can be explained by - growing political attention to climate issues in France.
Conversely, and despite this support, there is a clear lack of public awareness and knowledge about the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in France. In 2019, four years after the framework was adopted by the UN, only 11% of French people had heard of the SDGs. This lack of awareness might be explained by the reluctance of French politicians and decision-makers to champion the 2030 Agenda by name, as demonstrated by our analysis of how often the SDG framework featured on French ministerial websites or portals and in French political manifestos in advance of the European Parliament Elections.
Lastly, and specifically for this workstream, Focus 2030 launched a workgroup of very diverse actors (local authorities, businesses, foundations, NGOs and institutions) to collectively prepare a campaign in 2020 to mark "a decade of action", a reminder that the SDGs are due to be achieved in 2030.
Launched at the start of 2018 to run over 3 years, this ambitious programme aims to inspire a new ambition in Spain on development aid and international solidarity. Focus 2030 is supporting three complimentary projects bringing together communication, mobilisation, advocacy and research, run by three development organisations in Spain: research group ISGlobal, NGO Oxfam Intermón, and international relations thinktank, Elcano. Since the launch of the project, and despite political instability and successive elections, Spain has surprised the world by making several ambitious international commitments. In September 2019, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez committed to providing 100 million Euros for the Global Fund to fight Aids, TB and Malaria, a clear reversal of Spain’s decision in 2010 to withdraw from the organisation. And at the start of 2020, the Spanish government appointed one of its Vice-Presidents with a portfolio on "social rights and... the 2030 Agenda". Shortly after this, the new coalition also committed to doubling its development aid to reach 0.5%/GNI by 2023. Might Spain be well and truly back, as a major international development partner?
As we put the finishing touches to this 2019 annual report, we find ourselves part of a world reeling from the Covid-19 pandemic. There is no better case-study than this current health crisis to demonstrate just how fragile and interdependent our world is. No further proof is needed to validate the central tenant of the Sustainable Development Goals that pandemics and climate change cannot be constrained by borders; and that whatever is happening in one country will influence, and will be influenced by, what is happening in ours. We are increasingly conscious of how inextricably linked human life has become across the planet. The Covid-19 pandemic demonstrates the urgent necessity for a coordinated and shared roadmap on a global scale. In a world with 7 billion inhabitants, the only solution is a shared solution, a multilateral effort on a global scale.
The Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by 193 countries in 2015, offer this solution. They provide a framework to form the basis of public policy and the kind of action which governments, civil society, business and citizens can take to "reinvent" society and build tomorrow’s world. To respond to the biggest global challenges, the world requires an ambitious, quantified, measurable and coordinated plan across local, national and international actors. We already have that plan, in shape of the 2030 Agenda and the 17 SDGs. We must now implement it, without any further delay.
In 2020, thus, Focus 2030 intends to build on all of this work, expanding our "SDGs: 10 years to change the world" programme, continuing with our efforts to bring Spain back to the international donor table, and creating a new stakeholder group to work together for a successful Generation Equality Forum on gender equality (organised by UN Women and co-hosted this year by France and Mexico). In parallel, we plan to continue to promote official development assistance by building new narratives demonstrating how essential development aid is to redistributing wealth on a global scale. Lastly, with our partners, we will be closely monitoring the international response to the fight against Covid-19, to ensure that the tests, treatments and future vaccines are considered as global public goods, and made available according to the needs of individual countries and citizens, rather than their wealth.
Focus 2030 is grateful to all of its partners for their continued support, and to all those with whom we have the pleasure of working together to achieve our goals, every day.