The United Nations launched its sustainable development agenda in 2015, reflecting the growing understanding by Member States that a development model that is sustainable for this and future generations offers the best path forward for reducing poverty and improving the lives of people everywhere. At the same time, climate change began making a profound impact on the consciousness of humanity. With the polar ice caps melting, global sea levels rising and cataclysmic weather events increasing in ferocity, no country in the world is safe from the effects of climate change.
Building a more sustainable global economy will help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. It is, therefore, critically important that the international community meet the UN's Sustainable Development Goals – and also the targets for reducing emissions set in the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015.
Sustainable development and climate action are linked – and both are vital to the present and future well-being of humanity.
The Sustainable Development Agenda
MDGs — Close to 40 per cent of the population of the developing world was living in extreme poverty only two decades ago. Since then, the world has halved extreme poverty, with the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) greatly contributing to this progress.
2030 Agenda —Recognizing the success of the MDGs, and the need to complete the job of eradicating poverty, the UN adopted the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes ending poverty; zero hunger; good health and well being; quality education; gender equality; clean water and sanitation; affordable and clean energy; decent work and economic growth; industry, innovation and infrastructure; reduced inequalities; sustainable cities and communities; responsible consumption and production; climate action; life below water; life on land; peace, justice and strong institutions; and partnerships for the goals.
Paris Agreement — While these goals were being formulated and approved, the United Nations supported the climate change negotiations, which led to the Paris Agreement on climate change in 2015. The central aim of the Paris Agreement is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping the global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, or even below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Additionally, the Paris Agreement aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change. In order to reach these goals, financing, new technology and an enhanced capacity-building framework will be put in place. The Agreement also provides for enhanced transparency of action and support through a transparency framework.