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An integrated, universal approach to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the post-2015 development agenda is essential, according to the 2015 issue of ‘Our Planet,’ a publication from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner discusses the importance of integration, universality, climate change mitigation, governance and accountability, and financing. He writes that linking the SDGs with climate change mitigation will help countries build energy-efficient, low-carbon infrastructure and achieve sustainable development.
In an article by Tommy Remengesau, Jr., President, Palau, he explains that healthy, productive, resilient oceans are critical to preserving and restoring the balance between humans and nature, and ensuring economic prosperity, food security, health and culture, particularly in Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Remengesau advocates for a stand-alone SDG on oceans, and says Palau’s national conservation efforts must be “amplified and augmented by work at the international level” in order to make a difference.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights should guide the elaboration of the SDGs, writes Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. He stresses that human rights, such as the rights to education, food, health and water, are about empowerment, not charity, and underscores the importance of empowering citizens to be involved in crafting and implementing the SDGs. He adds that “universality applies not just to universal application, but also to universal participation and ownership of the goals.”
UK Environmental Audit Select Committee Chair Joan Walley cautions that reducing the number of SDGs “risks relegating environmental sustainability to a side issue,” and could shatter “the carefully negotiated consensus.” She also argues for communicating the goals to the public, particularly youth.
Other articles address: the European Commission’s (EC) energy and climate framework, which will promote a low-carbon, resource-efficient economy; the UN Environment Assembly’s (UNEA) role in moving towards an integrated, universal approach to the SDGs; the role of central banks in shifting towards inclusive, environmentally sustainable development; a carbon pricing system; national accounting systems and inequalities; and chemicals and hazardous substances, among other issues.
The issue also highlights the Montreal Protocol as an “ozone success” and a model for achieving a green economy and the SDGs, achievements by UNEP’s Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI), and the UNEP Finance Initiative’s work to align the financial system with a low-carbon, carbon resilient green economy. [Publication: Our Planet: Time for Global Action]
Credit: SIDS Policy & Practice
The UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Secretariat (UNISDR) has released a study on disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CAA) in the Pacific, titled “Disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in the Pacific: an institutional and policy analysis.” The study analyzes the level of integration of DRR and CCA activities across the region.
DRR is the concept and practice of reducing disaster risks through analysis and management of their causal factors. It reduces exposure to hazards, lessens the vulnerability of people and assets, and improves management of the land and environment and preparedness for adverse events (UNISDR, 2009).
CAA is defined by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCCC) as ‘adjustments in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects that moderate harm and exploit beneficial opportunities. This can include: (a) adapting development to gradual changes in average temperature, sea level and precipitation; and (b) reducing and managing the risks associated with more frequent, severe and unpredictable extreme weather events” (UNISDR, 2010).
The 67-page report includes analysis of seven Pacific island countries: the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Palau, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu. The results indicate that despite the low level of integration at the operational level, countries are making efforts to develop Joint National Action Plans for DRR and CCA.
The report says there is strong evidence of an increase in the observed frequency and intensity of weather and climate-related hazards. An assertion buttressed by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change IPCC), which anticipates that in the short to medium term many impacts of climate change may manifest themselves through changes in the frequency, intensity or duration of extreme weather events. Having made these observations, the report makes an urgent call for a paradigm shift in DRR noting that the recent Global Assessment Report on DRR shows that mortality and economic loss risk are heavily concentrated in developing countries, disproportionately affecting the poor and posing a real threat to the achievement of the MDGs.
The report also outlines challenges and barriers to integration, highlights evolving good practice towards integration, and provides recommendations for regional and national stakeholders for further action. Key recommendations include: the establishment and maintenance of a database of DRR, CCA and related projects, and a database of Pacific-focused case studies and good practices; to co-convene meetings on disaster risk management (DRM) and CCA at times and locations that maximize coordination and integration opportunities; to develop an integrated Pacific Regional Policy Framework for DRM, CCA and mitigation for implementation post-2015; and for donors, Pacific island governments, nongovernmental and relevant regional organisations to work collectively and promote greater integration of DRR and CCA.
The study was produced in collaboration with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), with resources from the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
Peruse the full report here.