Expert voices Vol 23, No. 12 - December 2019

COP25: SDG Pavilion enhances link between climate action and SDGs

As global temperatures keep rising, transformative change is urgently needed to mitigate the climate-related risks to human life and well-being. The UN Climate Change Conference (COP25), to be held on 2-13 December in Madrid, Spain, will bring together the international community to accelerate efforts to reduce global warming. UN DESA is contributing by hosting the SDG Pavilion, an interactive space where relevant actors can share experiences and ideas on how best to leverage tangible action. We spoke with Minoru Takada in UN DESA’s Division for Sustainable Development Goals about what to expect.

Why is it important to connect the climate agenda with the SDGs and 2030 Agenda?

“The first thing to note is that the two agendas are really two sides of the same coin. The Sustainable Development Goals—which include Goal 13 specifically on climate action—provide a blueprint for the transition needed to a healthier planet and a more just world, and climate change provides the urgency for accelerating action now. The other SDGs have direct links to climate change, for instance, protecting our forests, promoting access to water and sanitation, protecting our ocean, supporting clean energy, ensuring sustainable food production, creating jobs—these all will help us mitigate the worst effects of global temperature rise. This is backed up by the findings of the Global Sustainable Development Report that a group of independent scientists issued this year at the Secretary-General’s request. So, action on one agenda supports the other. We just need to make sure that we are working smartly and not in silos.”

How is UN DESA working to break down these silos?

“We’ve been doing a lot of work on this during the past year, starting with organizing the inaugural SDG Pavilion at COP24 in Katowice, Poland, in 2018. That experience not only brought together stakeholders to share best practices on SDG and climate implementation, but also it helped to establish good relationships with colleagues at UNFCCC. Together, our departments held the Climate and SDGs Synergy Conference in Copenhagen last April. That meeting expressly identified gaps and challenges in both climate action and SDG implementation, and resulted in new ideas for collaboration and avoiding duplication of work. UN DESA Under-Secretary-General Liu Zhenmin and UNFCCC Executive Secretary issued a joint op-ed calling for work on both agendas to be better aligned, and in November, our two entities jointly issued an extended report on the Conference findings.

Of course, it’s not only UN DESA and UNFCCC that are working on this. The Secretary-General has been clear in his remarks this year, notably at his Climate Action Summit, that we need to link climate change to a new model of development with less suffering, and more justice and harmony between people and planet. The whole UN system has been mobilized toward this effort to leave no one behind.”

Tell us more about this year’s SDG Pavilion!

“Yes! This is the second year that UN DESA is organizing the SDG Pavilion at a climate COP, and we’re building on the lessons learned last year. It’s a big, colorful space with all 17 SDG icons on the walls, so our guests will have that constant reminder. For our programming, we’ll have panel discussions, Q & A sessions and special events that move forward the climate and SDGs conversation, particularly as they relate to sustainable transportation—aviation, cars and shipping being big drivers of carbon emissions—and the ocean, which is under threat from the impacts of climate change but also provides some solutions. UN DESA is organizing two big conferences in 2020 on these topics, so we want to engage all the stakeholders on those issues to generate some innovative new policies and partnerships next year.”

Learn more about the SDG Pavilion on this website, and follow #SDGPavilion and @SustDev on Twitter and Facebook during COP25 from 2 to 13 December.

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