in: D+C: Development and Cooperation 43 (12), 21-22
The G20 has indicated its support for the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It must now specify how it will contribute to achieving social, environmental, financial and politico-economic goals and thus make the Agenda a core focus of its work. At their summit in Hangzhou in September 2016, the G20 heads of state and government agreed on a G20 Action Plan for the 2030 Agenda, pledging to further align G20 policymaking with the Agenda.
The G20 Action Plan has the same timeframe as the 2030 Agenda. In order for the Action Plan to remain flexible, however, future G20 presidencies can adapt it to new requirements, experiences and challenges. The Action Plan has considerably expanded the mandate of the G20 Development Working Group. The Group now serves a dual function. On the one hand, it is still in charge of support for low-income countries. On the other, it is responsible for coordinating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda with the other G20 working groups. The second role is new and broadens the horizon of the Working Group. It’s mandate is no longer limited to north-south relations, but also includes south-south and north-north relations.
However, compared with many other of G20 action plans, the Action Plan for the 2030 Agenda is imprecise. So far, neither tangible actions nor timeframes have been specified. It is a huge challenge to coordinate the many G20 working groups, and so is managing the Development Working Group’s various tasks. If the group’s different workstreams do not cooperate well, there is a risk of duplication, which would result in lower effectiveness and efficiency.
The Federal Republic of Germany will take over the G20 presidency from China in 2017. It would do well to continue the work on the Action Plan and shape G20 activities in a tangible way. Germany could assume a frontrunner role, setting an example on implementing the 2030 Agenda. It is important, in this context, to develop a common system for preparing national implementation reports concerning the 2030 Agenda.