PFD 2019: Trade unions advocate stronger monitoring system for SDG implementation

A global trade union delegation participated in the EU’s 7th Policy Forum on Development (PFD), which was organised by the European Commission on 13-15 March 2019 in Brussels. The delegation advocated stronger monitoring systems for the implementation of the SDGs, including higher standards of business accountability.


The trade union delegation joined stakeholders from across the world - including civil society organisations and local authorities - to discuss with the European Commission on the EU’s development policies.

The programme dedicated each day to a specific thematic, such as strengthening the 2030 Agenda implementation and diverse EU policy processes that impact development, such as the Mulitannual Financial Framework (MFF) and the NDICI (Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument).


2030 Agenda Implementation

The discussion on the state of 2030 Agenda implementation revolved around how much progress has been achieved and what can be done better in the future. Alex N’Kosi - Coordinator with Africa Trade Union Development Network (ATUDN/ITUC Africa) contributed to a panel discussion on innovating financing for the SDGs at local level, which was moderated by Giulia Massobrio, Advocacy Officer with the Trade Union Development Cooperation Network (TUDCN/ITUC).



Alex Nkosi presented the findings of the ITUC research on blended finance in development cooperation in Africa. Based on the examples of private engagement in development projects in Malawi, Zambia and Senegal, he called for stronger mechanisms of business accountability to ensure private sector’s alignment with the SDGs, and proposed a set of criteria that the ITUC has created to help governments to select private sector actors in development cooperation programmes. Alex N’Kosi insisted in the innovation capacity of public finance, notably when it is used to promote policies on progressive taxation, extension of social protection coverage and living wages, three tools that fight directly poverty and inequality.

Public finance can be innovative too, by promoting courageous policies on progressive taxation, extension of social protection coverage, and living wages.

- Alex N’Kosi, Coordinator with Africa Trade Union Development Network (ATUDN/ITUC Africa).


On the role of MFF and NDICI

Is the the EU’s proposal of NDICI equipped to contribute to democratic ownership of development? The question set the basis for the next thematic discussion of the Policy Development Forum.

The NDICI is the new instrument related to development cooperation that the European Commission is proposing in the framework of the next EU budget (Multiannual Financing Framework - MFF). The Confederal Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), Liina Carr, presented the key asks of the labour movement. She reaffirmed that the simplification of the EU external funding architecture –foreseen in the NDICI - cannot come at the cost of diluting the EU’s values and principles; in particular, that development cooperation commitments cannot be subordinated to broader EU’s external relations objectives.

The simplification of the EU external funding architecture cannot come at the cost of diluting the EU’s values and principles.

- Liina Carr, Confederal Secretary of the ETUC.

In terms of priorities, she called for a better balance between the geographic and thematic programmes in the NDICI proposal. It should include a greater allocation for thematic programmes and, within them, a wider space for the programme proposed by CSOs.

On NDICI governance, Liina Carr highlighted the need for ensuring a multi-stakeholder and participatory policy dialogue with CSOs, including trade unions throughout the implementation of the programmes.


Lastly, she demanded increased accountability mechanisms for private sector engagement in development cooperation in the NDICI framework - meaning the European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus (EFSD+) and the External Action Guarantee - through binding criteria for eligibility and compliance with international labour standards, fiscal and environmental rules and instruments granting responsible business conduct.