Accelerating Action for SDGs in Austria

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.

 © Bundeskanzleramt
© Bundeskanzleramt

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.”

 © Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens
© Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens

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!

©Lana Lauren
 

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 KrollBertelsmann Stiftung, Dr. Antonella Mei-PochtlerFederal 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 HeidingerSiemens 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.

               

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!

Austria’s First Voluntary National Review at the HLPF

On July 15th, 2020 Austria presented its first Voluntary National Review (#VNR) on SDG implementation as a part of the High-Level Political Forum. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Austrian delegation was not able to travel to New York to present the report in-person at the United Nations Headquarters. Despite this, the VNR was conducted virtually and vital Austrian stakeholders were invited to watch the presentation at the Austrian Federal Chancellery.

Thomas Alge Oekobüro, Bernhard Zlanabitnig EUumweltbüro, Sabine Schneeberger, BKA,

Sylwia Meier-Kajbic BMEIA, Monika Froehler BKMC

Representatives of the inter-ministerial coordination group (IMAG), NGOs, youth representations and the BKMC were all present for the presentation of the VNR. BKMC CEO Monika Froehler attended on behalf of the BKMC and shared her support and congratulations for the great achievement.

Over the past year, Austria conducted an intensive, multi-stakeholder consultation process for the SDGs and presented many of the outcomes of this process in the final VNR report. The BKMC hosted and facilitated some of these multi-stakeholder events in 2019, including best-practice events spotlighting international examples and a high-level retreat and breakout session at European Forum Alpbach. The international SDG ranking of the Bertelsmannstiftung and SDSN served as a reference point during the preparation and delivery of 14 recommendations by the BKMC for the Austrian government to improve SDG implementation.

Highlights from the 14 recommendations:

  • Focusing the next decade on achieving the SDGs

  • Recognizing the climate emergency and driving climate commitments

  • Strengthening initiatives to close the gender pay gap

  • Raising awareness for the SDGs across society, in particular in schools

  • Strengthening the exchange with Parliament on the SDGs

Learn more about the Ban Ki-moon Centre’s work with the Austrian government on achieving the SDGs here. 

The VNR presentation (below) elaborated on the outcomes of the reporting process and focused particularly on three primary themes: Climate Action and Climate Change, Digitalization, and Youth, Women and Leaving no One Behind. The Federal Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz, various ministers, as well as youth representatives, and representatives of the private sector and civil society organizations featured in the presentation.

 

Austrian Minister Karoline Edtstadler presented the #VNR on behalf of Austria. After the presentation, the Chair opened the floor for questions. These questions were answered by Minister Edtstadtler, Minister for the EU and Constitution.

Read the full report :

Access the Ban Ki-moon Centre SDG Resource Hub here.

Check out pictures from the event here.