Sustainable Development Goals

Political, economic and social chaos – are the 17 SDGs a solution?

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In the European Union (EU) everybody is against everyone; The refugee theme splits the politicians. No one knows what Donald Trump wants but to keep his election promises which are unverifiable and unsustainable. Putin is unpredictable but seductive. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wants more power, inspires the political Islam and locks up his opponents. China’s Premier Xi Jinping praises the free trade of the EU but still harms European industry by dumping prices, but promises now to change to fair global trade, Pyongyang provokes with new rocket tests. Large companies avoid taxes by legal financial transfers. The backward-looking nationalism in Europe spreads. Brazil is sinking into corruption. Venezuela shows the real face of misguided socialism. African leaders are not capable of good governance. The reversed picture of the Arab Spring. Hundred million people are on the run because of war, poverty or political reasons; The population in many cities explodes because of migration (rural to urban). Unfair free trade agreements and agricultural -subvention. Moral upheavals are worldwide. Growing discrimination of women and girls through religion. Politicians are corrupt, and management of corporations behave immorally. Citizen feels insecure and not treated equally by the political and economic elite and establishment.

What is the solution: Strengthening of the United Nations and the European Union.  The engaged stakeholder shall apply the 17 SDGs Sustainable Development Goals, CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), Triple Bottom Line approach (Profit, Planet, People) respectively the Agenda 30 (Prosperity, Planet, People. Peace and Partnership), Global Economic Ethic (Manifesto Global Economic Ethics, Hans Küng). Politicians shall provide appropriate framework conditions to push implementation of sustainable development targets (SDGs) and world’s climate programs, and share responsibility with partners (including the EU Member States).

“We are eagerly awaiting our government’s plans for reform and a new international role of the European Union, and the Austrian implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals” (*) – and the CSR National Action Plan, – comment from the author.

(*) Margit Scherb, Ein Gegenmodell entwickeln, Südwind magazin 3/17

Roland Leithenmayr, VFV

Political Framing and Sustainable Development Goals

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A few years ago the words „tax relief“ and ”tax relief creates jobs” appeared in Austria concluding in a tax reform. According to the theory of political framing, the word “relief” evokes a frame. A frame is a conceptual structure (Sprachbild) used in thinking. The words defined within the frame “creates jobs” even more evokes the frame. The “relief” can be quantified: it can be more or less “tax relief” and the logic of political framing (NOT economical): if “tax relief creates jobs” than more tax relief creates more jobs. Denying the frame “tax relief creates jobs” would further evoke the frame and reinforcing it. Conservatives (in the USA) further built up frames articulating that wealthy people and wealthy corporations create jobs and giving them more wealth creates more jobs, – concluding that giving wealthy people and corporations a “tax relief would create more jobs.” For the author as neo-liberal “hobby” philosopher of this posting is this myth: not just wealth but the infrastructure provided by the government made that wealth realizable. The (Austrian) taxpayers support the infrastructure of wealth accumulation (George Lakoff). Closing this circle: Tax cuts will not necessarily create jobs, and the wealthy (and multinational corporation) should pay their fair share of tax. Reframing takes time and work!


Prof. Dr. Georg Lakoff, Prof. of Linguistics at the University of California, “An Introduction to Framing and its uses in Politics”, Toward a World in Balance, A Virtual Congress for a Better Balanced World, Global Marshall Initiative. Prof. Lakoff is the author of several books like “Don’t think of an Elephant”.

Flut stellt eine Bedrohung dar,” Der Standard Sa./So. 20./21.February 2106. Rosa Winkler-Hermaden interviewed Elisabeth Wehling, born in 1981 in Hamburg, is a linguist and researcher at the University of California at Berkley in the US.  Elisabeth Wehling, “Political framing” Edition media practice was presented on 23 February in Vienna.

Conclusion: The political framing needs to be applied as a tool so that common citizens better understand the 17 SDGs. For the politics and NGOs to conduct debates better and to achieve the SDGs faster.  One example: The frame “Clean energy” describes energy sources like sun, wind and water, contrary to dirty coal, nuclear and oil. The framing of the 17 SDGs should use appropriate language and fundamental values:” empathy, social responsibility (CSR), fairness, community, cooperation, doing our fair share (George Lakoff)

Roland Leithenmayr VFV

Migration as Sustainable Development Goal?

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One of the sub-goals of the Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs) is the “Sustainable Industrial Development”. The UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization in Vienna/Austria) is in the fortunate position to command this goal. The migration crisis offers UNIDO exceptional opportunities to highlight its importance. The SDGs don’t address directly the issue of immigration,  but positively viewing it would boost the Sustainable Industrial Development in developing countries with positive impacts in the developed countries: a win-win situation! To achieve those SDGs it requires the cooperation and collaboration of companies (including SME) and international and local NGOs. The UNIDO and the UNO provide a platform with their website, respectively, notifying about programs, projects, and tenders.

Nevertheless, it appears that Austrian companies and other organization are irritated about short communication with UNIDO. Austria is proud to have the UNIDO here in Vienna/Austria and wants to convince the lost member-states to become members again by receiving for their membership dues an adequate performance. Programs and projects for Sustainable Industrial Development should include measures for the solution of the migration crisis. The UN NGO Committee on Sustainable Development in Vienna/Austria with international and national members of NGOs and links to industry-, trade- and other organizations are ready to collaborate with UNIDO on this issue.

UNIDOs collaboration with Austrian companies ->

UNIDOs collaboration with Austrian companies

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For the implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 subordinated goals, the United Nations needs about USD 2.5 trillion[i] for the next years till 2030. Although the EU has promised to raise 0.7% of Gross National Income (GDI) for development cooperation, the private sector must be stronger involved covering the drastic financial gap. To achieve this, the concerned institutions (governments, development cooperation, UNIDO, etc.) must offer corporations and NGO’s a suitable framework to motivate them to provide financial and gratuitous investments. Less motivating is currently the low-level cooperation of the UNIDO with Austrian companies. Their manager was stunned to hear from Barbara Kreissler, UNIDO Business Partnership Group at the Energy Forum in Vienna 2015 that she prefers to collaborate with multinational corporations only because Austrian SME’s are too short term minded and they assume wrongly that UNIDO is a funding organization. To dispel this misunderstanding “Smart Engagements Meetings” shall be organized to ascertain the goals, expectations, commitments and “smart engagement.”

[i] To the French, German, Austrian and other countries a billion is thousand times larger than the modern English billion, and a trillion is thousand times thousand times larger: 2.5 trillion = 2,500 000 000 000 million







EU-Commissions View on SDGs

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Mariusz Tamborski[i] catalyzed the mutual interest in the perspective of the EU focusing on a “stronger role of the private sector in achieving inclusive and sustainable growth” [ii] in developing countries in his presentation at the corporAID[iii] Conference “Reinventing Cooperation”, Vienna, 29. September 2015. The post-2015 framework directs the subjects away from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The MDGs has been a success nevertheless biased on Chinese Success Story. The SDGs add two new dimensions to the social dimension[iv]: the environmental- and economic dimension and that the SDGs shall be applied universally not only for undeveloped countries. The transformation of MDGs to SDGs includes monitoring, ownership, and accountability.  The 2030 Agenda implementation will go beyond the official development policy. The political context had been discussed at three conferences in 2015:  July in Addis Ababa about Financing; September in New York about SDG’s; and November/December in Paris about climate change.  Caused by the recent economic and financial crisis, the situation is more complicated than before: budget restrictions in developed countries and fewer trade opportunities for developing countries.  Although the emerging BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) encounter economic crunches, they increase their role in the cooperation South-South.  The conflicts in the Middle East and Libya, the refugee and migration crisis, and the political instability in many developing countries increased the complexity. Politics and experts in advanced countries realize that there is an urgent need to increase the support in war zones, hot spots, and refugee routes and so on.The EU initiated Trust funds for the regions Sahel, Lake Chad, North Africa, Horn of Africa. Initially, it had been assumed that the financial support for the public sector is sufficient, but now in the Post 2015 agenda, the public sector[v] will play a crucial role to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth. A better understanding of the urgency of partnerships, impact financing, social entrepreneurs, social bonds is needed and should not more considered as “Philanthropic.” The funding of USD 135 billion (2014) provided by the Official Development Assistance (ODA) is not sufficient: additional private capital flow is crucial. In the economic context for sustainable economic growth more global opportunities must be offered to increase the employment[vi]. In many developing countries the public sector provides 90% of the jobs, which doesn’t contribute to economic growth and productivity. The private sector is required as an investor: Sustainable energy, infrastructure, mobility, green economies and ICT. Innovative applications should improve the efficiency of agriculture and agribusiness to feed 9 billion people by 2050. In the African continent, eight countries record an economic growth of 7%, nine countries a growth rate of 6% and ten countries of 5%. However, there are many challenges in African countries: governance issues, rules of law, regulatory frameworks, infrastructure gap, access to finance for SME, skills (labor management quality) gap, information gap (digital change). Many countries lack on risks-, and crisis-management and in the application of risk-mitigating instruments. The new perspective on POST-2015 is in the implementation of the Agenda 2015 requiring adaptable changes and ownership of the domestic and global private sector, engagement of national authorities and institutions like NGOs. The dialogue between the public sector the private sectors (SME, multinational corporations, and NGOs) must be encouraged. The most significant challenge is the advancement of the collaboration of Government with the Private Sector to achieve shared visions of sustainable growth. The Government must create a business environment conducive to private sector initiatives, a predictable legal framework, step up the support not only to micro enterprises, but to Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME), and to promote the transformation from informal to the formal economy. The Government must support sustainable labeling and sustainable reporting (like CSR Reports); eco-entrepreneurship; empower women as entrepreneurs and workers and deepen financial institutions. The Government is asked to support the economic transformation through diversification, technology, innovation and production and consumer patterns, and modernization of infrastructure. It has to introduce policies aiming to increase the productivity and competitiveness, sustainable industrialization and enhance value addition. The Government must provide financial and regulatory incentives for responsible business practices and promote and scale up market-based solutions for sustainable development. The Government must encourage the private sector to develop innovative sustainable business models that integrate the poor into local and global markets as consumers as well as producers. It must continue with initiatives that improve the working conditions and opportunities (both goals of CSR) in the green economy. The Government must encourage innovative practices blending public development financing with private development investment to leverage the resources to meet the sustainable development objectives and to reinforce the development of the local private sector. The Government has to engage in structured dialogue with the local and global private sector. The Private Sector must adopt sustainable, socially responsible and innovative business models and improve the sustainability and performance of products and services. That support must focus on areas with strong multiplier effects: agriculture, energy, digital technologies, infrastructure and green technology (green industry). It should be part of core business strategies[vii]. The Private Sector must implement corporate policies to improve the transparency, fight corruption and prevent bribery and tax evasion. It has to develop systems (including risk- and crisis management) to assess risks and mitigate potential adverse impacts when operating or investing in emerging or developing countries. The Private Sector must address human rights by improving labor conditions, health and safety at work, access to social protection, voice, gender equality and empower all women and girls (SDG 5). The Private Sector must engage more in emission trading schemes and provide adequate financing to adapt climate change and biodiversity conservation. The Private Sector must promote Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the Government the motivating framework. The Companies and Institution shall report comprehensively, besides their financial situation, about their social and environmental performance and work condition. Through international business networks, the best practices in CSR and Sustainability shall be published and shared. The Private Sector must develop further reliable and comparable sustainability standards, instructions, schemes, information and labels on products and services. The private financial sector must apply innovative methods to extend financial inclusion: micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises. The objective of the new EU Private Sector Policy (endorsed by EU Members in 2014) is to make the private sector to a real partner in sustainable development. The EU policy contains principles and criteria guiding EU’s engagement of collaboration with the private sector in developing countries. Its intention is to promote the dialogue and joint action with business and civil society. It focuses on sectors such as energy, agriculture, and infrastructure. In summary, the EU Private Sector Policy focuses on private sector development in developing countries and such sectors such as energy, agriculture, and infrastructure.

Roland Leithenmayr VfV

Additional remarks from the Author:

The Agenda 2013 is the political decision of 192 States, 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), – which consists of 169 sub-objectives -, to implement in the next 15 years. This transformation agenda came into force on January 1, 2016. The global goals (SDGs) are universal for all countries regardless of whether developed, undeveloped or in between: all states have their homework to do to improve their sustainability. Now the non-binding resolutions of NYC have to be implemented nationally in binding political objectives, government plans, and strategies; therefore, it requires a political mandate as well as apparent authority and responsibilities. However, still lacking on details of the methods of indicators and mandatory reports, some politician, and civil servants are delaying the development of government plans and strategies. In contrast to the MDGs, the SDGs want a stronger involvement of businesses in achieving the objectives. These needs an enhanced dialogue between government, business, enterprises and NGOs to share visions, missions and strategies inclusive the use of resources efficiently. That is the opportunity for each State to offer innovations in cooperation with its entrepreneurs to solve economic, environmental and social problems (TBL, PPP: Private, Planet, Profit). The author proposes stronger collaborations between politicians, civil servants and experts like CSR-, and Sustainability-, and Environmental-Consultants and NGOs to prepare complete plans and strategies for the Agenda 2030.

[i] Mariusz Tamborski, Private Sector development, trade and regional integration unit, Directorate General for Development and Cooperation EUROPAID – European Commission.


[iii] corporAID the platform is an initiative by ICEP:

[iv] The Triple Bottom Line Approach (TBL) considers three dimensions equally: economic, environment and society or PPP (People, Planet, Profit)

[v] One of the principal findings is that the private sector played a larger than expected role contributing to the MDGs (Business Impact Report 2010).

Measuring the impact of projects

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Measuring impacts of projects were NGOs collaborated with public actors and institutions like  UNIDO is not an easy task. Before entering in cooperative projects particular an NGO with a company, sponsor or institution it needs a common understanding and goal; therefore, the communication including “smart engagement” is the most important aspect. The first stage (stop or go) is to investigate what the NGO with the support of a private actor (a company or sponsor) or institution can do to achieve the required impact which is essential for a community or a country. A common goal, – that makes it easier -, is not necessary, but the basis for a good partnership are at least overlapping interests. The success of a project depends on a good project management and controlling having precise Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and Benchmarks for measuring project progress. For measuring the impact it needs to approach a tool-kit containing relevant impact indicators based on the Triple Bottom Line (People, Planet, Profit, PPP) and guidelines such as ISO 26000, UN Global Compact, Austrian Chamber of Commerce – CSR, Industrieellen Vereinigung (IV –resPact), etc., and naturally the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). To put the “tool-kit” to work it needs more time at the beginning of the project but is less complex and time-consuming at the end. Impact measuring will be successful when the expectations of the stakeholder (stakeholder-mapping, stakeholder-engagement) match. Besides to understand what each partner wants to do carry out, it requires trust between the partners and all stakeholders. The actors may have different backgrounds and goals and report to different stakeholders.About measuring indicators, benchmarks and project progress it needs to rely on local partners. Data collection and the executions of statistical and neuro-fuzzy analysis is an effective way to create indices, indicators, and benchmarks. It needs access to proper data available in institutions like Worldbank, UNIDO and private Data collection. To investigate the links between the impact and indicators, it requires the development of proper instruments for the tool-kit. The WU Vienna works on a project (GLOBAL VALUE – Assessing the Impacts of Multinational Corporations on GLOBAL Development and VALUE Creation) developing a toolkit for measuring the impact of Corporation in developing and emerging countries.  It’s not clear to the author if this project includes the impact of NGOs as an important partner in a project.

Roland Leithenmayr VfV

Alternative economic and social concepts to Post-Capitalism

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“If there is a magic formula for reducing poverty without growth, I would like to know!”

Jesus Crespo Cuaresma, Advisor to the World Bank, Professor at the Wirtschaftsuniversität Vienna, Institute for Money – and Financial Policy. Learn more about him:

The UN NGO Committee on Sustainable Development (CSD) in Vienna/Austria elaborates  on the project

“A Healthy Planet for Future Generations, Human Rights and Sustainable Development – 2 obstacles to progress in the present world economic system.”

how the current economic system can be positively adapted to gain sustainability.

Many (hobby) economists make the claim that their interpretation of economics is the only correct one. The discussions denigrate at the low level with the aim of trying to enforce their view and ideas about the economy. When analyzing comprehensive their contrary opinions, it turns out that there are numerous similarities.

Arthur Koestler’s describes in his book the “Sleepwalkers” how many great thinkers of the past seem to have wandered around and around the concepts they were seeking until they eventually stumbled upon them. Researchers, Hobby-Economics. Realists and Idealists and others are “sleepwalking”  around trying to come up with concepts to solve the big problems of our time such as over- indebtedness of countries, resource depletion, economic growth and unemployment, climate change, the growing gap between rich and poor, etc.

Below is an overview of alternative economic and social concepts: (source modified and supplemented: RELEVANT, Das Magazin der Österreichischen Kontrollbank Gruppe, Sondernummer # 1a/2013)

Green Economy: The vision is the green transition of the economy leading to sustainable development; representatives of this vision are UNEP and OECD; it’s a political national and international approach,

Inclusive Growth: The goal is employing productively many people as possible to generate economic growth for example by means of endorsing education in all it’s alternative forms; representatives are EU, UNDP and others. The approach is political national and international;

Europe 2020: smart, sustainable and inclusive economy should help the EU and the Member States deliver high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion; representatives are the European Commissions and European Council; the approach is political, European and national.

Enquete Commission für Wachstum, Wohlstand und Lebensqualität: concrete policy recommendations to create more prosperity and quality of life in Germany; 17 deputies of the German Bundestag, 17 external experts; Germany in international context,,

Blue Economy: The innovative use of waste and resources leads to a prosperous Zero Emission Economy; Gunter Pauli, Blue Economy Institute, Blue Economy Alliance; Applying internationally, scientific and entrepreneurial.;

Cradle to Cradle: Closed material cycles make “intelligent waste” possible, Michael Braungart, William McDonough, International, scientifically and entrepreneurially,

Faktor X: More prosperity from less nature by increasing resource productivity by a factor of X; Friedrich Schmidt-Bleek, Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, factor X Institute; on the national and international level; scientific, entrepreneurial and political;

Steady State Economy: Economic development at an optimum physical level; Herman E. Daly; global, scientifically;

Degrowth: Downsizing of the economy for more social equality, environmental sustainability and well-being; many activists and scholars; local to global; science and civil society;

Degrowth Society: An economy that leads to high standard of living within ecological limits without growth; Tim Jackson, Niko Paech, Peter Victor; national, scientific and civil society,

Buen Vivir:  Economical Development model which leads to a good life; Alberto Costa, Eduardo Gudynas; South America, Ecuador, and Bolivia, national, civil society and enterprising,;;

Common Welfare Economy  (The Economy for the Common Good): economy based on welfare-oriented principles; Christian Felber, 500 pioneering companies, national, civil society and entrepreneurial;;;

Solidarity Economy: The variety of grass-roots democracy and needs-based forms of economic life: many actors, mostly locally, civil society, self-organized;

Global Economic Ethic: approach on global understanding and ethical force (Principle of Humanity and Golden Rule) bringing the ethical framework into the heart of business, economic and management actions  – Economic success (profit) and ethical action are not mutually exclusive; Hans Küng, Klaus M. Leisinger, Josef Wieland; national and international approach on all levels: political, economical and management;

Value Based Economics (Wertewirtschaft) : Bridging the gap between “egoistic ” economy and for the called “values”; Austrian School of Economics; Institut für Wertewirtschaft (“Institute for value-based economics”) in Vienna/Austria), Rahim Taghizadegan, Eugen Maria Schulak; international, national, political, philosophical, economical and management.;;


“Social-solidarity economies” applying the concept of co-operatives (Genossenschaften): Appreciation and application of the “original” cooperative thoughts of co-operatives; local and internationally, scientific and entrepreneurial approach. Persons giving momentum in Austria:;;

These are just some of the concepts of post-capitalism. The NGO Committee on Sustainable Development (SDG) would be pleased to learn about other existing concepts, or you represent your own.

Roland Leithenmayr VfV

2015 International Year of Soils

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Human Rights: Reducing land degradation and desertification:

The Sekem Initiative (Egypt) received for their contribution combating soil erosion and reclamation of desert soils the “Land for Life Award 2015” of the UNCCD (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification).The approach of Sekem is based on biological and dynamic farming methods.

Another important contribution to this topic is the scientists and practical afford (Erna Smidt, Johannes Tintner) of the “Platform for the Humus Research” of BOKU (Universität für Bodenkultur Wien). The approach is based on the thematic cycle: humus – humic substances – soil fertility – carbon sequestration – climate. BOKU’s project the “BOKU Mobile” has been was awarded by UNESCO to the UN Decade Award “Education for Sustainable Development”.,

Jadav Payeng, a Mishing tribe environmental activist and forestry worker from Jorhat, India planted and tended trees, – over the course of several decades -, on a sandbar of the river Brahmapitra covering now more than 50 hectars.

Summer of Soil, an association of agronomists and ecologists, is concerned about the misuse of soil in agriculture and forestry on all 5 continents. They work closely together with John D. Liu and with Willem Ferwerda of the Commonland Foundation in the Netherlands and created a “centre of excellence” offering research and training attracting people from all over the world both on a practical and scientific level. One of the ambitious projects is in Ayoó de Vidriales, Spain..

WELTjournal+: Grüne Wüsten – Visionen für die

Roland Leithenmayr VfV

Human Capacity Building and the SDGs

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The Sustainable Development Goals contain 17 goals and 169 targets. Many criticize that the scope is too broad, lacking coherence, priorities and a clear time frame; however, all agree that the six thematic elements are essential: People, Planet, Partnership, Justice, Prosperity and Dignity. Compare to the Triple Bottom Line Approach: People, Planet, Profit (for all).

There are direct and indirect references to Human Capacity Building:

Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages

Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong opportunities for all

Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower women and girls

Goal 8.5: By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for women and men, including for young people and humans with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value. Compare to the goal “Energy for All”.

Goal 8.6: By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training.

(Source: Human capacity building and the SDGs, OFID Quarterly, April 2015)

Roland Leithenmayr VfV