On June 1-2, 2015, the Spanish SDSN (REDS: Red Española para el Desarrollo Sostenible) held an inception workshop to kick off the debate on the implication of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for Spain. The first session focused on the Post-2015 Development Agenda and the SDGs to be adopted by the United Nations in September 2015.

Day 1: Opening Presentations 

[pullquote align=”right”] Read Miguel Ángel Moratinos’ reflections on the Spain SDSN Workshop.[/pullquote]

The session was opened by Miguel Ángel Moratinos, Co-Chair of REDS, who expressed his support for the network in its efforts “to move forward in its goal of raising awareness in Spain about the sustainable development agenda.” He emphasized how “Spain can contribute creativity and innovative ideas to attain sustainable development goals in the future with the necessary support of all sectors – politics, business, finance, academics, civil society and so on.” Moratinos noted he was hopeful about “our country being one of the pioneering states which include sustainability as an essential goal in their policies.”

María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, President of the Fundación Mujeres por África (Women for Africa Foundation) and Advisory Board Member of REDS, emphasized the importance of “making an all-out effort to ensure environmental protection and recover lost time in our fight against climate change.” This is a key point, given that “we may advance in governance or equality, but our days are numbered unless we protect our only home: the planet.” She also underlined the importance of gender equality, which “should be the first of the Sustainable Development Goals,” because it leads to the fulfillment of other objectives. “New ideas must be put on the table, and transformed into proposals, decisions, rules, and then laws with budgets,” said Fernández de la Vega.

Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the SDSN, joined via video and underlined the importance of events scheduled in upcoming months: the Post-2015 Development Agenda Summit in Addis Ababa in July, the Special Summit on Sustainable Development in New York in September, and the Conference of the Parties (COP21) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris in December. “The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are positive, including matters such as education, gender equality, energy system reform, and the drive for all nations to participate in a global alliance to make all of this possible on global, regional and local levels,” said Sachs. In this respect, he pointed out the importance of the creation of REDS, the Spanish Sustainable Development Solutions Network, which will serve “to enable Spain to achieve the SDGs and help implement them, so this country will lead the sustainable development agenda.”

Guido Schmidt-Traub, Executive Director of the SDSN, also discussed the profound importance of this time: “despite numerous obstacles faced by all countries, never before have we had so many opportunities. In the past, nations distrusted one another; now, they ask how things can be changed. We can do this. We can form a network among all of us.” He notes that “today, all the world’s countries are developing nations because not one has yet found a way to grow sustainably.”

Marta Pedrajas, Executive Advisor at the Office of the Secretary General for International Development Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (MAEC), described the long consultative process of the SDGs: “The negotiations leading up to them were quite complex but also rich, involving a very new and surprising debate.” For Pedrajas, although some states’ positions will make it difficult to include human rights and dignity in this new agenda.

The process of creating the indicators to review the progress towards the SDGs is well underway. The Spanish Agency for International Cooperation has created a document entitled “Compromiso Universal por un Desarrollo Humano y Sostenible. Posición española para la agenda post 2015” (Universal Commitment to Human and Sustainable Development: Spain’s Position for the Post-2015 Agenda). Civil society, in addition to the Coordinator of NGOs for Development and committee of experts, participated in the development of this document.

The Day 1 presentations were brought to a close by Federico Mayor Zaragoza, President of the Fundación para una Cultura de Paz (Foundation for a Culture of Peace) and Advisory Board Member of REDS. In his speech, Mayor Zaragoza gave an overview of the international community’s attempts to reach their targets in fighting poverty: “We have plenty of diagnoses but lack timely treatments, and in terms of intergenerational responsibility, this is inadmissible.”

“We are in a system ruled by markets,” said Mayor Zaragoza. “But we have reached the point where we have intergenerational responsibilities we cannot renounce.”

Day 2: Roundtables: Energy, Gender and Biodiversity

The second day of the Workshop featured roundtables focused on three specific SDGs: Energy, Gender and Biodiversity – three areas where Spain can lead implementation of the Post-2015 Agenda. We need “an agenda by everyone for everyone, not by the rich for the poor,” said Teresa Ribera, Co-President of REDS, in the opening address. “No development is possible without a social component which distributes prosperity jointly and collectively,” said Ribera. “No development agenda is possible if it is at the cost of depleting that which is irreplaceable.”

The first roundtable centered on the energy debate, included in the SDGs as: “guaranteeing access to affordable, safe, sustainable and modern energy for all.” Moderated by Valentín Alfaya, Director of Quality and Environment at Ferrovial and advisory board member of REDS, the roundtable included Antonio Lucio, Director of Ecosostenible and legal counsel to the Asamblea de Madrid (Madrid Assembly); Pedro Linares, Professor at the Universidad Pontificia Comillas and Director of Economics for Energy; Albert Cuchí, Architect and Associate Professor at the Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña; and Teresa Ribera, Co-President of REDS.

The second roundtable addressed gender issues, included in the SDGs as “achieving equality between genders and the empowerment of all women and girls.” The session was moderated by Inés Sánchez de Madariaga, Professor of Urban Planning at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Delegate to the Chancellor on Gender Issues, and Advisory Board Member of REDS. Other discussants included Angela Mwai, Head of the Gender Equality Unit at UN-Habitat, and Carmen de la Cruz, international consultant and specialist on gender issues.

In closing, a roundtable was held devoted to the preservation of biodiversity, set forth in the SDGs as “to protect, reestablish and foster the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, ensure sustainable management of forests, fight against desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, and halt the loss of biological diversity.” The roundtable was led by José Esquinas, who held various posts as director during thirty years with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and is an Advisory Board Member of REDS. He was joined by Juan Fajardo, a researcher at the Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria (National Institute for Agricultural and Food Research and Technology) and Constanza Martínez, Deputy Head of the Global Policy Unit, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Xavier Longan, ‎Programme Analyst at UN Millennium Campaign, presented on UNMC’s activities at the conclusion of the meeting.