Highlights Vol 23, No. 03 - March 2019

Climate action and the SDGs: Interlinked and indivisible

Last year’s landmark “Global Warming of 1.5°C” report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that global warming is an urgent worldwide problem that requires an urgent response to prevent its worst effects. Fortunately, we have a plan in place: the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The SDGs are our blueprint for building a better, more sustainable world that works for both people and the environment.

Implementation of the SDGs is accelerating. National governments around the world are making ambitious plans, developing new programmes and undertaking capacity development efforts to lift more people out of poverty and protect natural resources.

Similarly, countries are making progress on their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to reduce carbon emissions as part of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. National Adaptation Plans and National Disaster Risk Reduction Strategies will also be critical in addressing climate change challenges.

However, as it is now, the processes for implementing the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement are progressing in parallel in most countries—and they need not be. SDG 13, after all, is dedicated to taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. By strengthening synergies between the two agenda, we can foster win-win outcomes for climate action and the SDGs.

To better connect these two critical frameworks, UN DESA is partnering with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and Denmark’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Energy, Utilities and Climate, to host a Global Conference on Strengthening Synergies between the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (informally, the Climate & SDGs Synergy Conference). The Conference, to be held from 1 to 3 April in Copenhagen, aims to align the climate and SDG processes, and stimulate action from stakeholders at the global, regional and local levels to maximise benefits.

“We expect that this global conference will deliver […] a set of concrete recommendations for strengthening the interlinkages between climate action and the SDGs,” said Liu Zhenmin, UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General, at an event announcing the Conference at the most recent COP in Katowice, Poland. “This conference will be aimed at promoting action,” he added.

“Climate change and the SDGs are really one integral agenda,” said Patricia Espinosa, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, also at the Katowice event. “In working together, UN DESA and we at UN Climate Change are setting an example of the way the different entities can join forces.”

Conference participants will identify specific examples to illustrate the potential of synergistic and interlinked approaches towards realizing the objectives of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement, including through analyses of NDCs, National Development Plans, National Adaptation Plans and National Risk Reduction Strategies. They will also analyze implementation gaps and challenges and make a set of concrete recommendations for strengthening synergies, increasing ambition, advancing implementation action, maximizing co-benefits and stimulating multi-stakeholder partnerships. These will include directing means of implementation towards more collaborative action, as well as scaling up and enhancing the mobilization of resources that could benefit sustainable development at large including climate action, as well as ensuring effective use of resources and avoiding duplication.

Photo: IISD Reporting Services

You can learn more about the Climate and SDGs Synergy Conference here.

Can multilateralism survive? Examining the future of development policy

International cooperation is under threat along several dimensions: a mounting trade war, stalled global trade talks and the questioning of global institutions by some prominent countries. The media focus is mainly on what this means for wealthy countries, but what does it mean for the rest of the world?

Developing nations already seem to be suffering the consequences. Aid flows to least developed countries are stagnating. The promotion of private financing risks displacing public funds. The number of bilateral trade agreements is increasing, favouring the powerful rather than the worst-off. The defunding of certain multilateral agencies affects women more than men. Inequality within and between countries remains unacceptably high and is in many cases rising. Poorer countries will suffer most from a failure to meet the Paris Agreement climate targets.

What do these trends mean for development policy? Should we press for a return to the old order, or is a pragmatic response required? Does instability even herald opportunity, as the emerging and existing institutions of the global South come to the fore? How should governments in the global South respond? What are the roles of the UN, multilaterals and bilateral trading partners and donors?

A cast of distinguished panellists will try to provide some answers at an open session of the Committee for Development Policy (CDP) at UN Headquarters on 12 March from 3 – 4:45 pm.

The session will feature speakers Winifred Byanyima, Oxfam International’s Executive Director and a women’s rights leader and a global authority on economic inequality; Ha-Joon Chang, Director of the Centre of Development Studies at Cambridge University and author of 15 books including Economics: The User’s Guide; Kevin Gallagher, Director of the Global Development Policy Center at Boston University and co-author of The Clash of Globalizations: Essays on Trade and Development Policy; and Mariana Mazzucato, Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London (UCL) and author of The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy.

The event will be moderated by José Antonio Ocampo, and streamed live via UN Web TV.

For more information: 2019 CDP Plenary: The Future of Development Policy in a Changing Multilateral Context

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