NORTHRIDGE, California — On January 11, 2021, Rep. Barbara Lee [D-CA-13] introduced H.Res.30: Supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Rep. Adam Smith [D-WA-9] and Rep. Adriano Espaillat [D-NY-13] are the original cosponsors of H.Res.30. This resolution points to a larger shift away from military action and toward multilateralism in the Biden presidency’s foreign policy. Supporting the Sustainable Development Goals is essential to ending global poverty.
The Sustainable Development Goals
In 2015, all United Nations member states adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which outlines 17 goals and 169 targets designed to promote peace and prosperity around the world. The Sustainable Development Goals build upon the Millenium Development Goals, a set of eight goals established in 2000 to reduce extreme poverty by 2015. The Sustainable Development Goals address issues such as education, public health, food insecurity, inequality, preserving natural resources and responding to climate change. There is also an emphasis on global partnerships, which includes foreign aid, to achieve these goals as stated in SDG 17.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres acknowledges that more ambitious action is needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. He labels the decade of 2020-2030 as the “Decade of Action” and called upon all sectors, both on the global and local levels, to mobilize for this decade. The COVID-19 pandemic underscores the importance of the 2030 Agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals and the Decade of Action because it started as a global health crisis but quickly transformed into a humanitarian and socio-economic crisis that could reverse much of the progress made in recent decades toward poverty reduction and sustainable development.
The Foreign Policy of the Representatives
On January 25, 2021, Rep. Barbara Lee [D-CA-13] became the new chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, the first African American Congressmember to hold this position. This subcommittee is responsible for funding the United States’ international affairs activities not pertaining to defense, such as diplomatic activities, cultural exchanges and participation in multilateral organizations. Because of her background in global health security, Rep. Lee is well-suited for the role, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. She believes that the United States must use the Sustainable Development Goals as a guide to responding to pressing global issues such as global poverty, food insecurity and access to education.
Rep. Adam Smith [D-WA-9] serves as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. He recognizes the importance of addressing the aforementioned global issues, which influences his holistic approach to national security. Smith is also the co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Effective Foreign Assistance and is a strong supporter of organizations that use innovative methods to reduce poverty and strengthen healthcare systems in developing nations.
Rep. Adriano Espaillat [D-NY-13] serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee. As a proud Dominican American, he strongly supports investing in Central America and the Caribbean. He also pushes for increased funding for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
H.Res.30 acknowledges the ways in which the Sustainable Development Goals align with the United States’ priorities, regardless of party affiliation. This includes ending human trafficking, partnering with the private sector to create jobs, promoting gender equality and good governance. The resolution also notes that much progress has been made to realize the Sustainable Development Goals but more opportunities remain for development. It also calls for the 2030 Agenda to include more provisions for dismantling systemic racism around the world, taking into consideration the recent racial injustices in the United States.
The resolution also places a particular emphasis on gender equality, noting that women and girls are among the groups most greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It also asserts that investing in the Sustainable Development Goals, and international development in general, is the best use of U.S. resources to protect national security and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Ultimately, H.Res.30 calls upon the United States to recommit to the Sustainable Development Goals. By adopting this resolution, the House would reaffirm its support for multilateral organizations and meeting the key goals of the 2030 Agenda.
Diplomacy is Back
H.Res.30 points to a broader shift toward multilateralism in the Biden presidency. In his remarks on February 4, 2021, President Biden announced that the United States re-engaged with the World Health Organization and rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement, reversing the actions of his predecessor. He proudly stated that “diplomacy is back at the center of our foreign policy,” recognizing the need to work with other nations to solve the most pressing global challenges of our time. Although President Biden has not yet made specific remarks about the Sustainable Development Goals, it is clear that his administration is positioned to work on achieving these goals.
H.Res.30 signals a shift toward diplomacy in the Biden administration. If adopted by the House of Representatives, it will be a step toward creating a more sustainable and equitable future for all. Supporting the Sustainable Development Goals shows the United States’ commitment to ending global poverty.
– Sydney Thiroux