Success of new UN sustainable development goals rely on Paris

2nd September 2015

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  • Natural resources ,
  • Ecosystems ,
  • Biodiversity



Climate change and poverty campaigners are looking to a high-level meeting in September to act on new global sustainable development goals (SDGs).

The 17 goals and 169 targets were agreed by 193 UN member states, and include action to both mitigate and adapt to climate change, moves that have been hailed by campaigners.

Some countries had resisted the inclusion of climate change, arguing that it should be tackled through the UNFCCC process, according to David Taylor, economic justice policy adviser for Oxfam. “It would have been a disaster if it was not included. It’s such a huge development issue,” he said. Pat Lerner, Greenpeace senior political adviser, said: “For the first time, the world has acknowledged that these problems can’t be dealt with in isolation.”

The goals also include a pledge to conserve marine resources, as well as sustainably manage forests, stop desertification, and halt land degradation and biodiversity loss. The agreement states: “We recognise that social and economic development depends on the sustainable management of our planet’s natural resources.”

The SDGs follow on from the millennium development goals, which expire this year, but differ in so far as they cover all peoples in every country, rather than just in developing nations. The 2015 goals were drawn up after a two-year global consultation process, involving all sections of society. However, they are not legally binding and will rely on signatory states producing action plans to achieve the goals in their own country and through development aid to others.

The environmental goals in particular still rely heavily on UNFCCC negotiations in Paris, Lerner warned. “The goals will mean nothing if governments in Paris don’t sign up to switch to 100% renewable energy by 2050,” she said. Once the agreement on the SDGs is ratified by heads of state at a UN meeting in September, work will begin on developing indicators to measure progress.

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