Following Austria’s presentation of its first Voluntary National Review (VNR) to the United Nations in July 2020, the Ban Ki-moon Centre, in cooperation with the Austrian Federal Chancellery and Think Austria, organized a virtual high-level event, “Accelerating Action for SDGs in Austria,” on November 12, 2020, moderated by BKMC CEO Monika Froehler.
The virtual high-level event was opened by H.E. Austrian Federal Minister for EU and Constitution, Karoline Edtstadler, who emphasized Austria’s commitment to the Agenda 2030: “We have to proceed with the consistent implementation of the SDGs until 2030 and set measures now to see visible effects in 10 years. The Agenda 2030 remains a main ambition in Austria.”
Ban Ki-moon, 8th UN Secretary-General and Co-chair of the Ban Ki-moon Centre, welcomed participants and lauded the participatory, multi-stakeholder process that led up to Austria’s first VNR report: “Austria’s first Voluntary National Review to the High-Level Political Forum of the United Nations was very well received by the international community and I want to commend all stakeholders for the work accomplished thus far.”
Dr. Antonella Mei-Pochtler, Special Advisor to the Chancellor and Head of Think Austria, delivered a keynote where she emphasized the goal: “To position Austria as one of the most liveable and innovative countries in the heart of Europe. To do this, we cannot rest on our laurels, but must increase our ambition, strengthen our commitment, and decisively drive the process forward!”
The Covid-19 pandemic, together with the three VNR focus areas (digitalization, climate action and women, youth, and leaving no one behind) were cross-cutting themes throughout the event. Mag.a Alexandra Wegscheider-Pichler, Senior-Advisor of Statistics Austria presented recent SDG data and reflected that: “COVID19 has had various effects on the SDGs in Austria, mainly negative on health, economy, education, inequality, and the environment. One positive impact is that it has enhanced people’s views on sustainably sourced food and products.”
To read the recently published report from Statistics Austria, click here!
One of the highlights of the event was the virtual high-level panel “What is next? Accelerating Action for the SDGs in Austria” which welcomed speakers Dr. Christian Kroll – Bertelsmann Stiftung, Dr. Antonella Mei-Pochtler – Federal Chancellery of Austria and Think Austria, Dr. Astrid Rössler – parliamentarian from the Green Party, Mag.a Carmen Jeitler-Cincelli – parliamentarian from the Austrian People’s Party, and Klaus Heidinger – Siemens Advanta.
The panel discussion started with each speaker sharing their statement of central concern and especially addressed the question of how we can positively use the Covid-19 pandemic to accelerate action for SDGs and leave no one behind.
Astrid Rössler, recommended that the SDGs should form the meta-level of every political discourse, in particular in the parliament: “There are many possibilities to include the SDGs in Parliament. Starting from addressing them in committees, to interactions with the government, integrating them in all departments, and the visible embedment of civil society and academia.”
In addition, Dr. Christian Kroll named multilateralism as key for Austria and other states to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs: “Many states in Europe have the same weaknesses, and because of this, it is extremely important that states learn from each other for how to overcome these weaknesses with multilateral approaches.”
In the last hour of the event, four best practice champions for the SDGs in Austria were showcased. The four examples came from private, education, and civil society sectors.
- “17 Stimmen für 17 Ziele“: Annelies Vilim, CEO, Globale Verantwortung
- Donauzentrum: Zsolt Juhasz, Shopping Center Manager, Donau Zentrum
- Boutiquehotel Stadthalle: Michaela Reitterer, Hotelière & President of the Austrian Hotelier Association
- Bildung 2030: Heide Tebbich, CEO, Baobab – Globales Lernen
Heinz Fischer, 11th Federal President of the Republic of Austria and Co-Chair of the BKMC closed the event on a positive note: “I am convinced that it is possible to achieve our ambitious goals. Where we protect our environment and its biodiversity where every citizen can live FREE and EQUAL IN DIGNITY.”
Stay tuned for more updates on our cooperation with the Austrian Federal Chancellery for promoting the SDGs in Austria!