Published 25 May 2022 in Analysis
What challenges will France have to meet in the next five years to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals?
As the world’s seventh largest economy, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, a key country among the 27 members of the European Union, and the fifth largest provider of Official Development Assistance (ODA), France plays a leading role on the international scene, enabling it to drive the global achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
It is therefore incumbent upon France to live up to its global responsibilities. This requirement is all the more necessary given the withdrawal of certain countries, such as the United Kingdom.
Whether or not France encourages an international dynamic to fight climate change (following the example of COP21), to fight pandemics (COVAX, ACT-A), or to promote gender equality (Generation Equality Forum), can indeed be a determining factor in the international community’s ability to reduce global inequalities, protect the planet and contribute to peace.
International issues, a driving factor in the French presidential election votes
And the French seem to be fully aware of this, as illustrated by the results of our opinion surveys.
The positions of the presidential candidates on major international issues appear to be an important determinant of their votes. According to a BVA survey for Ouest France conducted on April 24, 22% of voters in the second round stated that the candidates’ positions on international relations motivated their choice. The importance of international issues in influencing the vote differs widely according to the political orientation of the electorate: these issues were important to 36% of Emmanuel Macron’s voters, compared to only 2% of Marine Le Pen’s voters.
Opposite views on international issues between the two second-round candidates
Even though these issues are important to the French, France’s role in international development and cooperation with the most vulnerable countries and populations has remained mostly absent from the 2022 presidential campaign, with the notable exception of the war in Ukraine and its cascading aftermath.
This observation is all the more damaging since it constituted a notorious dissension between the candidates in the second round. This antagonism, revealed by the analysis of their public positions, led many international solidarity players to openly take a position.
Climate, health, gender equality around the world: a challenging five-year term ahead
The next five years will most likely be the last full presidential term before the 2030 deadline. Therefore, the period 2022-2027 will be decisive for the collective achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
It will therefore be up to the new government and the elected President to ensure that France plays a role on the international stage that is in keeping with the scale of the global challenges to be met over the next five years.
Faithful to the motto "to govern is to foresee", Focus 2030 draws up a non-exhaustive inventory of the major international events that will take place until 2027.
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The years 2022 to 2027 will be crucial for the future of the planet and of humanity, as the slow progress made so far by the international community towards the reduction of poverty and inequality has been slowed down, and often reversed, by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The obvious setbacks in global health have led to cascading consequences on the reduction of poverty, the fight against hunger, access to education, or the achievement of gender equality. In addition to this crisis, Russia’s war on Ukraine and the increasingly visible manifestations of climate change could have dramatic consequences, especially for the most vulnerable countries on our planet. These new crises call for new efforts.
Important meetings await the new government in the first months of its mandate. The G7 and G20 summits will be an opportunity for the world’s richest countries to demonstrate their solidarity with the rest of the world by making concrete commitments to fight Covid-19, ensure a sustainable and equitable global recovery, and prepare the world for future pandemics. The next steps will involve reforming the global health architecture and regulations, and implementing an agenda for greater health sovereignty.
The first anniversary of the Generation Equality Forum, at the end of June, will recall the commitment made by many public and private actors, including France, to implement a Global Acceleration Plan by 2026 to advance gender equality. The review of France’s international strategy for gender equality, which ends in 2022, could also be an opportunity to safeguard France’s various commitments, such as its feminist diplomacy or the Support Fund for Feminist Organizations launched in 2020.
In the fall, donor countries will gather around the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to finance the fight against these three pandemics in the world. The lives of 20 million people depend on the success of this replenishment, in which the participation of France, the organization’s 2nd largest donor, will be decisive.
COP 27 in November 2022 will also provide an opportunity to take stock of the international response to the climate crisis, as the IPCC warned last April that if global greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced by 2025, it will be impossible to limit global warming to 1.5°C as agreed upon at the COP 21 in Paris.
In the following years, France will have to ensure the implementation of the law on inclusive development and the fight against global inequalities adopted unanimously in 2021. This law notably foresees the achievement, by 2025, of the symbolic target of allocating 0.7% of its Gross National Income to Official Development Assistance, compared to 0.52% in 2021 - a target that will undoubtedly need revision in light of the numerous current and forthcoming crises. This increase in funding, which could represent an additional 6 billion euros in 2025 compared to 2021, will also have to be complemented by modernization efforts, in order to increase its impact on the fight against global poverty and inequality.
The French presidency of the G7 in 2026 will coincide with the end of the implementation period of the commitments made at the Generation Equality Forum, which France co-chaired in 2021 with Mexico and UN Women. As a leader of the "Bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive health and rights" Action Coalition, France will have to continuously advocate for women’s rights, through a fully embodied feminist diplomacy and appropriate funding, as foreseen in the Law on inclusive development.
In 2027, when the presidential term ends, it will be time to take stock. Twelve years after its adoption, and only three years away from the 2030 Agenda deadline, will France have fully contributed to an international dynamic enabling the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals?
In the run-up to the presidential election, Focus 2030 interviewed civil society actors about their assessment of Emmanuel Macron’s first term in office regarding international solidarity and their expectations for the next five years.
Discover their opinions in the articles below (in French).