“The world is rapidly urbanizing, and so cities are where the battle for sustainable development will be won or lost,” said Ambassador Korosi, Co-Chair of the Open Working Group on sustainable development goals, as he summarized one of the key messages that had come out of the Group’s seventh session. Deliberations of the session had focused on sustainable cities and human settlements, sustainable transport, sustainable consumption and production, and climate change and disaster risk reduction.
The Ambassador presented the Co-Chairs’ draft summary, in which the Co-Chairs outline some of the main arguments made during the five days of discussion. Cities were acknowledged to be large consumers of energy and materials. While they can achieve agglomeration of economies, making available more jobs and affordable network infrastructure services, such as water, transport, and ICT, they also concentrate pollution and waste.
“Cities are home to a large share of the wealthy and middle class, and therefore have relatively high use per capita,” the Co-Chair said. It was noted that social inclusion is an integral part of sustainable urbanization.
Sustainable consumption and production
The cross-cutting nature of sustainable consumption and production was well recognized during the meetings on this issue, but there was no consensus on whether there should be a stand-alone goal on it. However, there were proposals for targets to decouple economic growth from resource use.
“Climate change poses a real and immediate threat to sustainable development, putting at risk developing gains of recent decades”
Co-Chair of the Open Working Group
It was also acknowledged that a mix of policies will be needed to promote sustainable consumption and production, including fiscal instruments, education and awareness raising, voluntary certification schemes, and regulations, standards and legislation. Some Delegates argued for a life-style approach, which would involve different styles of inhabiting the planet, in harmony with nature.
Stressing the urgency of action on climate change that had been highlighted in the course of the session, Ambassador Korosi said that “climate change poses a real and immediate threat to sustainable development, putting at risk developing gains of recent decades.”
There was support for addressing climate change as a cross-cutting issue in the SDGs framework, while respecting the negotiating role of UNFCCC and not prejudging its process.
Members of the Open Working Group also suggested that strong action on climate change mitigation and adaptation are among the most effective means of reducing disasters. Without such actions the frequency, intensity, and vulnerability to disasters would only increase through decades.
More information on the seventh session of Open Working Group, including a short version of the Co-Chairs summary, can be found on the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform.